The 15 Best Face Washes for Acne of 2022

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser hydrates the skin barrier without adding extra oil

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Best Face Wash for Acne

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If you experience acne, blemishes, pimples, or zits, you’re in the company of over 50 million people in the United States. Beyond impacting your emotional wellbeing, acne can cause physical pain, scarring, and can even result in infections of the skin. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, clearing acne starts with your skincare regimen.

Reviewed & Approved

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser, our best overall pick, restores the skin’s barrier and rehydrates skin without increasing oil production. Our choice for sensitive skin, Aveeno’s Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser, is formulated with feverfew to reduce redness and irritation.

“The best face washes for resolving acne will generally contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid,” says Anthony Nuara, MD, PhD, board-certified dermatologist who specializes in cosmetic and pediatric dermatology. “For dry and sensitive skin you’re going to want ceramides to protect the skin barrier, hyaluronic acid for hydration, and niacinamide to control oil production. Generally avoid cleansers with alcohol, especially for oily skin, because that will just amp up oil production.” 

For the best results, your dermatologist may also recommend an acne-reducing moisturizer that is tailored to your skin type. 

Below, we’ve compiled a list of the best face washes for acne, so you can enjoy healthy and beautiful skin, no matter your skin type.

These are the best face washes for acne.

Our Recommendations

Best Overall: CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser, Makeup Remover and Daily Face Wash
Amazon

Why We Like It: Formulated with the brand’s signature ceramide mix, this wash is hydrating without causing oil buildup.

It’s Worth Noting: It may be irritating for dry skin. 

When identifying the best face washes for acne, we had a number of criteria, including that it was developed by and endorsed by dermatologists. The product also had to be affordable, widely available, useful for a wide variety of skin concerns and made without extra unnecessary ingredients such as fragrances and other harsh chemicals. CeraVe, one of the most dermatologist-trusted brands, met all of these requirements with its Foaming Facial Cleanser.

This cleanser is specially formulated for sensitive skin that is normal to oily, tried-and-true for controlling oil while also hydrating and protecting the skin with the brand’s ceramide-focused formulation.

If you have dry skin, note that this cleanser also contains niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, which often treat blemishes and acne by reducing oil production.

Price at time of publication: $17

Product Details: 

  • Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, ceramides NP and AP, hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid
  • Texture: Foaming gel
  • Size: 16 or 19 oz
  • Medicated: No

Best for Sensitive Skin: Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser

Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser

Walmart

Why We Like It: Feverfew extract, the active ingredient, helps visibly reduce redness and irritation in sensitive skin.

It’s Worth Noting: The bottle’s pump can be a little unreliable. 

Sensitive skin can make it hard to find a reliable cleanser, especially for clearing away stubborn acne. If you’re looking for a facial cleanser that is formulated with red, irritated skin in mind, Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser is a great choice.

This cleanser’s active ingredient is feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), which is an herb that reduces redness without irritating sensitive skin. This product is a parthenolide-free extract (PFE), which means that it has been formulated so that skin-aggravating sesquiterpene lactones—naturally found in the plant—are removed from the feverfew. 

This wash is also fragrance-free, soap-free, hypoallergenic, and non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores. 

Price at time of publication: $29

Product Details: 

  • Active Ingredients: Feverfew
  • Texture: Cream 
  • Size: 6 oz
  • Medicated: No

Best for Oily Skin: Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Fighting Facial Cleanser

Best Face Washes for Acne-Prone Skin
Amazon.com

Why We Like It: It’s formulated with 2% salicylic acid to clear blemishes. 

It’s Worth Noting: Its acid-based formulation can dry out some skin types. 

Our top pick for the best face wash for oily skin was Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Fighting Facial Cleanser because it is formulated with optimal doses of salicylic acid.

“Salicylic acid works by decreasing oil and dissolves dead skin cells which essentially clears clogged pores and exfoliates the skin,” says Rita Balyan, PA-C, a board-certified physician assistant who specializes in cosmetic dermatology. “Using salicylic acid to clean out debris will also boost the delivery of other acne treatments.” 

Because salicylic acid is such an excellent exfoliant, it can also help to improve your other topical products targeting acne vulgaris, melasma, sunspots, and psoriasis.

Price at time of publication: $24

Product Details: 

  • Active Ingredients: 2% salicylic acid
  • Texture: Gel 
  • Size: 9 oz
  • Medicated: Yes 

Best for Acne Rosacea: Avene Antirougeurs FORT Relief Concentrate

Avene Antirougeurs FORT Relief Concentrate

Amazon

Why We Like It: Ruscus extract and dextran sulfate are key ingredients for treating acne rosacea.

It’s Worth Noting: This product may be better used as a secondary wash if you are removing sunscreen or makeup. 

Acne rosacea is commonly associated with redness, heat, and tightening and irritation of the skin. While fighting these stubborn red spots is difficult, ingredients like dextran sulfate and ruscus extract can help.

“Ruscus extract (Ruscus aculeatus) is a vasoconstrictor, which means it can help reduce the size and redness of blood vessels beneath the skin,” says Tressa Pinkleton, ND, an integrative and naturopathic physician who specializes in holistic dermatology. “While ruscus extract reduces the redness appearance of blood vessels, dextran sulfate minimizes swelling and inflammation.” 

Avene Antirougeurs FORT Relief Concentrate contains both ingredients in a calming, creamy wash that helps to soothe irritation from acne rosacea. FORT Relief is also non-comedogenic, reduces irritation, and decreases overall skin sensitivity.

Price at time of publication: $50

Product Details: 

  • Active Ingredients: Dextran sulfate, Ruscus aculeatus root extract
  • Texture: Cream
  • Size: 1.01 oz
  • Medicated: No

Best for Dry Skin: Good Light Cosmic Dew Water Cleanser

Good Light Cosmic Dew Water Cleanser

Amazon

Why We Like It: This pH-balanced cleanser locks moisturizer into skin and fortifies it with skin-nourishing prebiotics. 

It’s Worth Noting: It contains sodium chloride and citric acid, which may be over-stripping for those with sensitive skin. 

While oily skin is more commonly associated with acne, blemishes in dry skin carry their own set of problems. Acne in dry skin is often caused by the buildup of dead skin cells, but most acne treatments target blemishes with skin-drying ingredients that can exacerbate the issue rather than solve it. Good Light Cosmic Dew is a pH-balanced wash that deeply heals and rejuvenates skin without drying it out. 

Glycerin and hyaluronic acid hydrate skin, false daisy leaf and seaweed strengthen the skin barrier and detoxify your skin, while prebiotic plant sugars support the microbiome. Hyaluronic acid also shrinks pores, boosts collagen, and reduces the appearance of wrinkles.

In addition to offering a deep and refreshing cleanse, it removes all makeup, sunscreen, dirt, and other acne-causing impurities. 

Price at time of publication: $18

Product Details:

  • Active Ingredients: Glycerin, seaweed, prebiotic plant sugars, hyaluronic acid
  • Texture: Foaming gel 
  • Size: 6 oz
  • Medicated: No

Best for Cystic Acne: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Acne Face Wash

Best Face Washes for Acne-Prone Skin
Amazon.com

Why We Like It: This medicated formula reduces surface oil in the skin, stopping cystic acne before it starts. 

It’s Worth Noting: Its heavy-duty formulation can be stripping and drying for some.

Cystic acne causes painful, pus-filled acne deep under the skin that can be frustrating and difficult to get rid of. According to the dermatologists we consulted, the most important ingredient for this particular kind of blemish is 2% salicylic acid. Salicylic acid exfoliates skin to encourage quicker healing of acne while soothing painful and inflamed skin.

“If you have larger pores, and struggle with sebaceous filaments—tiny collections of sebum and dead skin cells around your hair follicles—you should consider a product containing salicylic acid,” says Dr. Pinkleton. Cystic acne results from blocked pores deep in the skin—like the ones Dr. Pinkleton mentions—that can get infected and swell up.

A dermatologist favorite, La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser works to reduce oil on the skin’s surface, a leading cause of cystic acne. 

Health asked Dr. Pinkleton for her favorite hacks for cystic acne: “Cystic acne is related to excess oil production, large pores, as well as a high sugar diet or imbalances in hormones. Making a few small changes to your health regimen in addition to the right cleanser can result in big improvements in your skin,” she says. 

Price at time of publication: $16

Product Details:

  • Active Ingredients: 2% salicylic acid
  • Texture: Foaming gel
  • Size: 6.76 fl oz
  • Medicated: Yes

Best with Glycolic Acid: Revision Skincare Brightening Facial Wash

Revision Skincare Brightening Facial Wash

Amazon

Why We Like It: Its glycolic acid formula is great for combating wrinkles, pigmentation, acne, and scarring from blemishes. 

It’s Worth Noting: Glycolic and salicylic acid can make skin more sensitive to the sun, so this wash is best used with sunscreen. 

Glycolic acid—an alpha hydroxy acid that comes from sugar cane—is a two-in-one solution for combating acne and clearing wrinkles. Revision Skincare Brightening Face Wash is favored by dermatologists we spoke to because it contains optimal doses of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), which exfoliate skin to remove dead cells that can cause acne. 

This cleanser also combats signs of aging like pigmentation and wrinkles, while brightening and nourishing skin with a combination of healing botanicals, exfoliating alpha hydroxy acids, and anti-aging beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). 

Price at time of publication: $40

Product Details:

  • Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid, glycolic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, licorice, lily extract
  • Texture: Cream
  • Size: 6.7 oz
  • Medicated: Yes

Best with Benzoyl Peroxide: CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser

CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser

Amazon

Why We Like It: This formula uses benzoyl peroxide to combat acne-causing bacteria and ceramides to heal skin and prevent new acne from forming.

It’s Worth Noting: Benzoyl peroxide can cause redness and peeling in sensitive skin.

If you need quick results fighting stubborn acne breakouts, dermatologists recommend 4% benzoyl peroxide, which can quickly eliminate acne and prevent new lesions from forming.

"In addition to being a great exfoliator, benzoyl peroxide is also bactericidal, which means it kills bacteria—many of which contribute to some forms of acne,” says Dr. Pinkleton, noting that this powerful ingredient does have some drawbacks. “It does not distinguish between acne-causing bacteria and the healthy microflora of your face so adding a good probiotic to your protocol can make a big impact.”

CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser not only clears acne with benzoyl peroxide, but it also contains a potent blend of other skin-friendly ingredients like ceramides to promote healing in the skin’s acid mantle, hyaluronic acid for anti-aging and moisturizing properties, and niacinamide to reduce inflammation. 

Price at time of publication: $14

Product Details:

  • Active Ingredients: 4% benzoyl peroxide, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide
  • Texture: Foaming cream
  • Size: 5 oz
  • Medicated: No

Best for Kids: Evereden Kids Multi-Vitamin Face Wash

Evereden Kids Multi-Vitamin Face Wash

Evereden

Why We Like It: This wash gently cleanses and hydrates while delivering health-promoting micronutrients directly to the skin. 

It’s Worth Noting: It may be a little difficult for younger kids to use. 

It’s never too early to start teaching your kids healthy habits, and that includes a skincare routine that incorporates a quality facial cleanser designed for kids. 

Formulated with the unique needs of kids' skin in mind, Evereden’s Kids Face Wash is great for children ages four and up. Available in three 100% natural scents—Cool Peach, Fresh Pomelo, and Melon Juice—this formula is fun to use while being gentle and hydrating. 

It contains anti-inflammatory and soothing nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, which nourish the skin mantle and regulate oil production, along with micronutrients like niacinamide to balance oils and rejuvenate the skin, as well essential micronutrients vitamins B5 and C.

Price at time of publication: $17

Product Details:

  • Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, niacinamide
  • Texture: Foam
  • Size: 3.4 oz
  • Medicated: No

Best for Teenagers: Starface Space Wash

Starface Space Wash

Amazon

Why We Like It: It contains natural ingredients that are dermatologist-approved for clearing acne-prone combination skin.

It’s Worth Noting: Its foaming texture comes from surfactants, which can be drying for non-oily skin.

One of the best ways for anyone to see results from any product for acne-prone skin is consistent use—this is especially true for teens. Starface Space Wash is a great option for teenagers thanks to its trendy branding and ingredients that target adolescent skin issues. 

It contains soothing ingredients like sage leaf for soothing and relieving acne, calendula flower extract to expedite healing and reduce inflammation, and white willow bark extract, which helps exfoliate and deeply clear pores to alleviate acne and irritation. 

Price at time of publication: $11

Product Details:

  • Active Ingredients: Willow bark extract, sage, calendula
  • Texture: Foam
  • Size: 4.2 oz
  • Medicated: No 

Best Organic: Renew Nourishing Cleanser by True Botanicals

Laura Dern Makeup Free
Courtesy

Why We Like It: It contains willow bark extract to gently exfoliate and improve signs of aging while leaving the skin more hydrated than salicylic acid does. 

It’s Worth Noting: The fragrance may be too strong for some.

Our top pick for the best organic and natural face wash for acne is True Botanicals’ Clear Cleanser. While this cleanser is a bit pricier than some other brands, it delivers an antioxidant-rich, deeply nourishing product that’s perfect for signs of aging.

Green tea and willow bark protect the skin barrier while balancing oily skin. This formula also includes glycerin and aloe vera, which are deeply nourishing and hydrating, along with a blend of grapefruit, lavender, vetiver, and jasmine, which not only smell incredible but also work synergistically to reduce inflammation.

True Botanicals’ Clear Cleanser is certified nontoxic, paraben-free, sulfate-free, cruelty-free, vegan, and sustainably made.

Price at time of publication: $48

Product Details:

  • Active Ingredients: White willow bark extract, green and white tea, aloe vera
  • Texture: Cream
  • Size: 4 oz
  • Medicated: No 

Best for Use During Pregnancy: Belli Skincare Anti-Blemish Facial Wash

Belli Skincare Anti-Blemish Facial Wash

Amazon

Why We Like It: Formulated for pregnancy acne, this blend is also free of allergens and harmful chemicals.

It’s Worth Noting: The texture is a little thick, which could make oily skin more greasy.

If you’re pregnant and struggling with blemishes, sensitive skin, blackheads, and breakouts due to hormonal skin changes, you need a facial cleanser that can pamper and protect without potentially harmful ingredients such as retinoids and parabens.

Belli’s Anti-Blemish Facial Wash is a great face wash for pregnancy acne. It gently cleanses without drying and irritating skin and is free of harmful ingredients. It contains glycerin for deep hydration, green tea and cucumber for delivering antioxidants to the skin, and lemon peel oil for natural antibacterial and skin brightening.

This wash offers a fresh, clean face and peace of mind from using a product containing natural ingredients to clear existing acne and prevent breakouts from occurring. While this formula is made with natural ingredients, its texture is a little thicker than other cleansers, which may be an issue if you’re prone to oily skin.

Price at time of publication: $20

Product Details:

  • Active Ingredients: Glycerin, green tea, cucumber, lemon peel oil 
  • Texture: Cream
  • Size: 6.5 oz
  • Medicated: No

Best for Menopause: CeraVe Renewing SA Face Cleanser

best-face-wash-for-acne-CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser

Why We Like It: Designed to clear acne and rejuvenate and restore youthfulness to mature or aging skin. 

It’s Worth Noting: Its exfoliating salicylic acid can cause extra UV sensitivity. 

Developed with dermatologists, CeraVe’s products are specially formulated with anti-aging in mind. As skin ages, it becomes more fragile and loses elasticity and we become more prone to discoloration, changes in texture, and irritation—including acne. While acne is most associated with changing hormones in adolescence and young adulthood, those same hormones are to blame for menopausal breakouts.

Your number one solution in protecting your skin from blemishes and combating signs of aging is to use a cleanser designed to rejuvenate and support optimal skin health.

CeraVe Renewing SA Face Cleanser is the best facial cleanser for menopause, as well as for those who want to prevent signs of skin aging. CeraVe is formulated with hyaluronic acid to hydrate and plump to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, three types of ceramides to restore your skin's protective barrier, and niacinamide to rejuvenate and improve circulation to the skin.

The SA in this cleanser’s name refers to exfoliating salicylic acid, an acne-busting ingredient that not only clears out pores, but also provides relief for dry skin and rough, bumpy texture.

Price at time of publication: $12

Product Details:

  • Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, ceramides
  • Texture: Foaming gel
  • Size: 8 oz
  • Medicated: No

Best for Beards: Horace Beard Shampoo

Horace Beard Shampoo

Horace

Why We Like It: It supports beard fullness and growth while soothing and nourishing the skin.

It’s Worth Noting: The bottle cap can get a little sticky and gummy during use. 

If you have a beard, you might have run into beard acne at some point. Facial hair tends to trap dead skin cells and oil, creating an acne-prone petri dish right under your beard. Regardless of if you have a full beard or prefer to rock the five o'clock shadow, you need a face wash that is tenacious enough to cleanse the skin under your facial hair without neglecting the health of your hair follicles.

The best beard cleansers will be able to penetrate thick beard hair to clean skin and support beard growth in the follicles directly, all while keeping your face supple and fresh. Horace Beard Shampoo checks all these boxes, which is why we selected it as the best face wash for beards.

Some of our favorite active ingredients include: Jamaican black castor oil to promote hair growth and add softness and body to your beard, organic aloe vera for reducing inflammation and soothing irritated skin, and deeply hydrating glycerin to keep skin from drying out.

Price at time of publication: $16

Product Details:

  • Active Ingredients: Glycerin, Jamaican black castor oil, organic aloe vera
  • Texture: Low-foaming
  • Size: 8.5 fl oz
  • Medicated: No

Best Budget: Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser

Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser
amazon.com

Why We Like It: Formulated with plenty of skin-protecting ingredients, including ceramides and zinc oxide, this face wash helps to battle UV rays and reduce irritation.

It’s Worth Noting: It contains behenyl alcohol, which can dry out skin. 

This cleanser from Vanicream—a go-to brand for dermatologists—proves that you don’t have to leave the drugstore to get effective skin care. Vanicream’s cleanser is endorsed by the National Eczema Association as an effective and affordable face wash for acne, eczema, and sensitive skin.

With its skin-friendly ceramide blend, this product is designed to protect the skin barrier by reducing harmful damage while also locking in precious moisture. It also includes pyrithione zinc, an ingredient that helps relieve itchy and irritated skin. If you have combination skin, be aware that this formulation also contains behenyl alcohol, which can dry skin out.

Price at time of publication: $9

Product Details:

  • Active Ingredients: Ceramides, pyrithione zinc
  • Texture: Cream
  • Size: 8 oz
  • Medicated: No

How We Selected the Best Face Washes for Acne

To identify the best facial cleansers for acne, blemishes, pimples, and blackheads, we explored the research on treatments for acne and spoke with several dermatologists about the differences between acne facial cleansers and the ingredients they contain. In reviewing the many acne face washes on the market, we took into consideration ingredients, sustainability, accessibility, and cost. We offered a range of skin cleanser types so you can find the one that best suits your needs and your budget.

What to Know About Face Washes for Acne

What to Look for When Choosing a Face Wash for Acne

When shopping for an acne face wash you’re going to want to keep three important ingredients in mind: ceramides to protect the skin barrier, hyaluronic acid for hydration, and niacinamide to control oil production. 

“When buying a skin cleanser for acne you should pay attention to ingredients. For acne-prone skin look for products containing retinol or salicylic acid to clean up the pores, for dry and sensitive skin you’re going to want ceramides, and across the board avoid cleansers with alcohol, especially for oily skin because that will just amp up oil production,” says Rita Balyan, PA-C, a board-certified physician assistant who specializes in dermatology.

Dipa S. Patel, MD, adds to Balyan’s recommendations, advising cleansers containing vitamins C and E to protect the skin from free radical damage, improve the texture and skin tone, and enhance the skin’s bright, youthful appearance. Victoria Lofdahl, ND, a physician with expertise in integrative dermatology, says to avoid facial cleansers that have parabens and fragrances.

What You Can Expect to Pay for a Quality Face Wash for Acne

You can typically expect to pay less than $10 for a face wash for acne, particularly products that are widely available. We’ve included a few more specialty products here, including True Botanicals’ Renew Nourishing Cleanser and Revision Skincare’s Brightening Facial Wash—at $48 and $40, respectively—which are more expensive than more common brands. Our least expensive pick was the Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser at $9.

Your Questions, Answered

How does acne face wash work?

Face wash for acne works by reducing the presence of oil and other pore-clogging impurities that can cause buildup on the skin. By washing your face, especially with a cleanser designed for your skin type, you’re breaking down leftover sweat, dead skin, makeup, and even bacteria.

Many acne face washes also contain skin-soothing ingredients like ceramides that help to reduce redness and irritation or acids that work to break down blemishes under the skin. 

What’s the best way to use face wash for acne?

The best way to use face wash for acne is by following the manufacturer’s instructions. This typically involves using your cleanser twice a day, in the morning and evening. You should also follow cleansing with a moisturizer, even if you have oily skin. Cleansers can dry out skin, which can cause additional oil production and worsening acne if the skin isn’t properly moisturized.

Who We Are

Nicole Cain ND, MA, is an Arizona-based integrative physician. She is the founder of the Holistic Wellness Collective, which focuses on teaching you how to be your own health expert. In addition to physical holistic wellness, Dr. Cain has a particular passion for mental health and is the author of the forthcoming book PANIC PROOF. She can be found at DrNicoleCain.com.

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Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  7. American Academy of Dermatology Association. DIY treatment for 5 common beard problems.

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