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12 Best Facial Cleansers for Acne-Prone Skin

You can find the best face cleanser for acne prone skin

Unfortunately, acne is a common problem and can affect anybody. A recent study reveals that acne and pimples can appear at any age, particularly during the teen years and after. Indeed, nobody deserves to suffer. Cynthia Bailey, MD, who is the CEO of Advanced Skin Care and Dermatology Physicians, Inc. shares some useful tips on how to select the best face cleanser for acne prone skin and how to use it correctly for the best results.

Facial cleansers are formulated to treat mild to moderate acne problems. Due to this, you can use them to reduce the growth of acne-causing bacteria that make your skin peel and feel dry.

Woman with pimple acne on face

image credit: Kjerstin_Michaela/Pixabay

The Right Ingredients

To choose the best face cleanser for acne prone skin, Dr. Bailey suggests that the product should have at least one of these active ingredients: salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or glycolic acid. Not only do these ingredients help penetrate your pores, but they also remove pore-clogging impurities such as bacteria, dead skin cells, excess oil, and even makeup. This is important because these impurities can irritate your skin, making your acne worse.

Salicylic acid unclogs your pores to treat and prevent lesions. It is important to note that you need to apply this ingredient continuously. This is because the beneficial effects stop when you discontinue daily use. Your pores merely clog up again, and acne reoccurs. Salicylic acid is derived from willow tree bark, sweet birch, or wintergreen oil. Similarly, it naturally occurs in some fruits such as cantaloupe, raspberries, and granny smith apples.

Benzoyl peroxide works by killing the bacteria associated with acne. This compound usually takes at least four weeks to get results and should be applied continuously so that acne will not reoccur. Benzoyl peroxide comes in many forms, including lotions, creams, gels, and washes. However, the compound can cause dryness and bleach fabrics, making it best to take extra care when using it.

Glycolic acid works best when it is combined with benzoyl peroxide to treat acne because the formula stops the growth of acne-causing bacteria. Creams and peels that contain glycolic acid exfoliate your skin by removing dead skin cells and unclogging pores.

Proper Way of using a Face Cleanser For Acne Prone Skin

Man washing and properly using a Face Cleanser For Acne Prone Skin
image credit: Greatist

Still, Dr. Bailey shares that using a face cleanser for acne prone skin alone is not enough to fight blemishes. Half of the battle is in washing your face properly. First, she recommends wetting your face with warm water. Next, lather the cleanser all over your face. Depending on your skin type, you can use your fingers, an exfoliating cloth, or a sonic skin-cleansing brush. Be sure to rinse your face thoroughly with warm water to remove the lather completely. Although some of your cleanser ingredients may leave behind a residue, the foaming agents along with accumulated oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells will all be washed off your skin.

Dr. Bailey recommends washing your face twice: morning and evening. This will thoroughly cleanse your face and allow the acne-fighting agents to work best.

Top 12 Best Facial Cleansers for Acne-Prone Skin 

Woman Using Face Cleanser For Acne Prone Skin
image credit: Preview magazine

1.  CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser

This foaming facial cleanser from CeraVe contains hyaluronic acid to help keep your skin moisturized. Additionally, the niacinamide calms the skin, while ceramides aid in eliminating excess oil secretions or sebum without damaging the skin barrier. Formulated for individuals with normal to oily skin types, it comes in a clear liquid and should be lathered in small, circular patterns.


  • Non-comedogenic agents, so it will not clog your pores
  • Foaming effects include refreshing and cleansing sensation
  • It has a mild fragrance to avoid skin and nasal irritation
  • Aids in clearing acne while maintaining the natural moisture of your skin


  • Does not remove blackheads, discoloration of the skin, or black spots
  • Available in the USA only

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser Buy Button

2. Phisoderm Deep Cleaning Cleanser

Phisoderm Deep Cleaning Cleanser

pHisoderm Deep Cleaning Cleanser eliminates dirt, oil, and makeup without drying or removing the essential moisture from your skin. It leaves your skin feeling fresh, soft, and radiant. This face cleanser for acne prone skin is formulated with chamomile and aloe, which gently cleanses, calms and soothes the skin for those with normal to dry skin types.


  • Aids in balancing pH levels, which is vital for your skin health
  • Deeply cleanses your skin without drying it
  • Alcohol-, dye-, and soap-free
  • Removes makeup without tightening or drying your skin
  • Leaves no residue on the skin that causes pore clogging


  • Strong fragrance

Phisoderm Deep Cleaning Cleanser Buy Button

3. Keeva Organics 5-in-1 Essential Oil Clarifying Acne Face Wash 

Keeva Organics 5-in-1 Essential Oil Clarifying Acne Face Wash

Keeva Organics 5-in-1 Essential Oil Clarifying Acne Face Wash  contains organic tea tree oil and aloe vera to help penetrate your pores and removes acne-causing bacteria – within seconds. These disinfecting ingredients claim that they will not remove the natural oils of your skin, which could cause further damage. This facial wash fits all types of skin.


  • Contains tea tree oil and aloe vera for smoother and refreshing skin
  • Paraben- and sulfate-free
  • Ingredients are organic, formulated with non-GMO ingredients


  • Keeva products are formulated with organic ingredients, so if you have some allergies to any of the natural ingredients contained in the product, avoid using this cleanser.
  • Although the bottle is beautifully-designed, others are complaining about the pump.
  • It was claimed that the product works on most of the users, but might not work on some individuals.

Keeva Organics Clarifying Acne Face Wash Buy Button

4. Biore Charcoal Acne Cleanser

Biore Charcoal Acne Cleanser

This charcoal acne cleanser from Biore combines salicylic acid and charcoal to remove excess oil from open pores, leaving your face feeling moisturized and clean. It claims to have a mild tingling effect that feels rejuvenating for your skin. For best results, you may apply non-oily moisturizer after using this cleanser. This fits those with oily skin types. The face cleanser for acne-prone skin can also be used for combination skin types, but avoid using the moisturizer.


  • Cleanses the skin, leaving your skin feeling fresh and clean
  • Unclogs your pores to prevent accumulation of acne
  • Penetrates oily residue left behind on your skin
  • Use as a daily facial wash


  • Not recommended for dry skin types
  • Can cause slight redness for those with very sensitive skin
  • May dry out natural oil on your face or sebum – quickly
  • Can be best during summer to combat sweat, pollution, and oily skin

Biore Charcoal Acne Cleanser Buy Button

5. Exposed Skin Care Facial Cleanser

Facial Cleanser from Exposed Skin Care

This creamy but gentle facial cleanser from Exposed Skin Care is uniquely formulated to clear skin and prevent blemishes. It combines three active ingredients: salicylic acid (0.5%), sage, and pro-vitamin B5. Salicylic acid helps in cleaning your pores and removing the bacteria that causes acne. Sage extract provides a soothing feeling. The pro-vitamin B5 helps prevent irritation. The product is soap-free and hypoallergenic, leaving your skin fresh without removing its natural moisture. This facial cleanser fits those with oily skin but also works with acne-prone skin types as well. Avoid using this product if you have allergies to salicylic acid.



  • Not recommended for those with a history of early adverse experience with products containing salicylic acid
  • The product is specially formulated as an anti-acne cleanser. So, if you have occasional blackheads or whiteheads, this facial cleanser may worsen your condition.

Facial Cleanser from Exposed Skin Care Buy Button

6. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleanser

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleanser

Neutrogena is well known for its credibility in facial wash products. This pink grapefruit cleanser is recommended for those with breakouts, blackheads, and rough skin. It has vitamin C that naturally relieves excess oil secretion. This face cleanser for acne prone skin even has a nice fragrance, making you feel rejuvenated. It is best for individuals with severe acne breakouts and contains 2% salicylic acid.


  • Oil-free facial cleanser formula removes excess oils or sebum
  • Vitamin C extract acts as an astringent agent
  • Prevents re-appearance of acne and pimples
  • Treats acne by eliminating the root of the problem


  • Effective only with continuous usage of the product
  • May cause severe skin dryness because of oil control
  • Takes a long time to start seeing results
  • Tightens your skin, therefore requiring moisturizer after the wash

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleanser Buy Button

7. Christina Moss Naturals Organic Face Wash 

Christina Moss Naturals Organic Face Wash for Acne

Christina Moss Naturals Organic Face Wash is specially formulated to protect your skin from drying and further damage. Washing your face every morning plays a significant role in moisturizing and nourishing the skin. Use this organic face wash from Christina Moss for gentle cleansing. It contains a mild, non-drying formula that is perfect for both men and women. This wash doesn’t leave any residue while absorbing the oils that are in the formula. At the same time, it nourishes and moisturizes your skin from deep within, giving you clear and radiant skin. This facial wash is recommended for all types of skin, but those with very sensitive skin and dry skin should be careful using this product.


  • Organic face cleanser for men and women
  • Free from harmful chemicals, without dyes, parabens, or other synthetic fragrances
  • Cleanses your skin, making it fresh, clear, and smooth
  • Hypoallergenic so it will not cause allergic reactions
  • Guarantees freshness and purity within six months after the date of your purchase


  • This product is not a quick-fix, it requires ample time for best results
  • Expensive
  • Not recommended for those who have allergies to essential oils such as rosemary
  • Can be “very greasy” for oily skin

Christina Moss Naturals Organic Face Wash for Acne Buy Button

8. Origins Zero Oil Deep Pore Cleanser

Origins Zero Oil Deep Pore Cleanser

The Origins Zero Oil Pore Cleanser contains saw palmetto, which is known to have antiseptic properties. The berry extract helps in fighting oily skin secretions and inhibits the bacteria from growing on your skin. It has a mint infusion that keeps acne and other skin impurities from your face, leaving you with a healthy glow.


  • Helps remove dead skin cell build-up
  • Slowly reduces pores
  • Decreases the growth of acne and blackheads
  • Helps regulate excess oil secretion


  • Should be used twice
  • A bit expensive
  • May cause skin dryness due to oil control

Origins Zero Oil Deep Pore Cleanser Buy Button

9. Peter Thomas Roth Acne Clearing Wash

Peter Thomas Roth Acne Clearing Wash

This acne clearing face wash contains salicylic acid, which fights against open pores and reduces oil secretion, preventing recurrence of acne and pimples. The product also contains pro-vitamin B5, helping reduce redness and keeping your skin soft. Allantoin calms and soothes the skin. This is formulated for all types of skin – normal, dry, oily, sensitive, and combination skin types.


  • Aids in removing acne breakout cycle without added residue
  • Great use after everyday and party makeup
  • Helps in eliminating excess oil from your skin


  • Expensive face wash
  • Requires regular use for best results
  • To be applied only in specific areas on the skin of your face

Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Cleanser Buy Button

10.  Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Cleanser

Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Cleanser Buy Button

Also by Neutrogena, this stubborn acne cleanser is formulated as a heavy-duty face cleanser for acne-prone skin to fight the bacteria that cause acne and other skin problems. It aids in reducing dark spots due to pimples and acne breakouts, making your skin clear and fresh with regular usage. This cleanser is proven to reduce acne redness within a day and contains 10% benzoyl peroxide formula to minimize skin irritation.


  • Aids in removing dark spots
  • Reduces swelling around acne
  • Removes redness and discomfort due to acne
  • Available in various sizes


Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Cleanser Buy Button

11.  Olay Foaming Face Wash

Olay Foaming Face Wash For Sensitive Skin

Considered the best face wash for those with sensitive skin, foaming face wash from Olay gently helps to eliminate dirt and bacteria from your skin. Though it does not have those well-known acne-fighting components, it can aid in keeping your skin bright and clean. This product is recommended for individuals with sensitive, oily, and combination skin types.


  • 100% oil- and soap-free, leaving your skin smooth and clean
  • Does not irritate your skin
  • Fragrance-free


  • May be difficult to wash off compared to ordinary soap bars
  • It has a faint smell but is not heavily-perfumed
  • It requires more, rather than a pea-size, of this face wash to perform effectively

Olay Foaming Face Wash Buy Button

12.  Cetaphil Dermacontrol Foam Wash

Cetaphil Dermacontrol Foam Wash

This foaming face cleanser for acne prone skin from Cetaphil is formulated to remove excess oil and makeup without causing skin irritation and redness.


  • Formulated for everyday face wash
  • Contains an oil control formula that can work with other prescription products to resolve skin problems
  • Aids in maintaining the pH balance of your skin
  • Gently cleanses oil and impurities, such as clogged makeup


  • Does not help remove blackheads or dark spots
  • For best results, this face wash should be used twice a day
  • Requires regular use for best results

Cetaphil Dermacontrol Foam Wash Buy Button

So, that’s our list of the top-selling face cleansers for acne prone skin on the market today.

In summary, remember to always keep your skin clean, especially when it is acne-prone. It is also best to avoid using topical medications without first consulting your doctor or a licensed dermatologist. If your skin is susceptible to allergies, you can choose non-allergenic washes and creams to protect your skin and health.

If you have acne on your body, make sure to check out our Best Body Washes For Acne post.

Your diet and lifestyle play a huge role in acne, make sure to check out our article on lifestyle and acne

Now It’s Your Turn

I hoped you enjoyed my choosing the best face cleanser for acne prone skin post.

Now I want to hear from you:

Which of these cleansers in this post are you most excited to try?

Are you going to use any of them? Or do you have a suggestion for something that has worked for you?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment.

What do you think?

Written by Maria

My passion is helping other people overcome the pain and embarrassment of acne. I have dealt with acne since my teenage years and know first-hand how hard it is to suffer from this condition.

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