If you have acne prone skin, it can feel like you're walking a fine line between removing excess sebum to prevent acne and completely stripping your face of essential moisture, which can actually cause more acne. The best face washes for acne prone skin are a lot gentler on your skin than you probably think. Their goal is to nourish oily skin — not torture it — and to dig deep within pores to remove clogging oil and debris while balancing your skin's natural oils.
So, how is this magic accomplished? By simply using effective ingredients like glycolic acid and fruit extracts to gently exfoliate dead skin cells, or bamboo and charcoal extracts to lift sebum up, up and away from within pores. And since we love surprises, it never hurts to throw an incredible wildcard ingredient into the mix: like grape seed and olive oil that will attract surface facial oils and deeply cleanse the skin without drying it out. Bring 'em on.
A few ingredients you won't find in any of these highly rated acne cleansers include alcohol — which can leave your skin parched and create flaky patches, and mineral oil — a clog-poring no-no for all skin types, but especially for acne prone complexions.
1. A Vitamin A & Glycolic Acid Cleanser For Speedier Cell Turnover
This sulfate-free deep cleanser is chock-full of glycolic acid, Vitamin A, marine plant extracts, and papaya which help clear up acne and minimize the appearance of pores. The vegan and gluten-free formula helps renew cells for fresher, healthier skin, while whisking pore-clogging dirt and oil away.
2. A Healing Thermal Mud & Bamboo Powder Bar Cleanser
This exfoliating bar cleanser dissolves oil with thermal mud and bamboo powder, brightens skin, and makes pores less visible. It's also ideal for sensitive, acne prone skin because it contains zero fragrances and, unlike soap (which typically has a pH level of 9 or more), boasts a 6.34 pH that won't strip skin of essential moisture.
3. A Travel-Friendly Chamomile Stick That Provides A Gentle, Thorough Cleanse
Remove every last stitch of makeup without drying out your skin with this chamomile cleansing stick, which is free of fragrances, synthetic dyes and preservatives, and animal origin ingredients. Reviewers love the convenience of this travel-friendly stick and say it provides a super speedy and thorough cleansing.
4. A Medicated Gel Cleanser For Stubborn Acne
If you suffer from stubborn acne that won't respond to ordinary cleansers, don't lose hope: This medicated gel cleanser is formulated with two percent salicylic acid to help clear up even super stubborn breakouts. In a clinical test, this cleanser, which contains mico-exfoliating Lipo Hydroxy Acid, reduced surface oil by up to 47 percent. Reviewers who say they have tried everything under the sun reveal that this acne cleanser works — but it may prove drying on sensitive skin, so be sure to start off slowly and use it in conjunction with a great moisturizer.
5. A Cleansing Balm With Grape Seed & Olive Oils That Removes Every Last Trace Of Makeup
The reason why oil cleansers work so well on oily skin is because oil attracts oil — and stubborn makeup and debris. This Korean cult-favorite, a balm formula made with nourishing grape seed and olive oil, hydrates skin while it cleanses and is ideal for both acne prone and sensitive skin types.
6. An Exfoliating Gel Cleanser With Glycolic Acid
This deep cleansing gel facial wash gently exfoliates dead skin cells with glycolic and salicylic acids. Reviewers suggest using it twice daily and rave about how it treats bumps and blemishes on even the most sensitive skin and, despite its salicylic acid content, they say it won't dry out skin.
7. A Deep Cleansing Treatment With Red Clay To Draw Out Dirt & Oil
This perfect combo of gel and deep foaming cleanser draws out impurities and prevents breakouts using red clay, rosemary leaf oil, and botanical antioxidants. It keeps normal to oily skin balanced and in harmony and reviewers report fewer breakouts while using this deep cleanser.
8. A pH Balanced Powder Cleanser With Acne-Fighting Enzymes
Rice bran extract found in this unique enzyme powder wash has anti-inflammatory properties that are believed to heal damaged skin — making it perfect for acne prone skin. This exfoliating cleanser is also infused with soothing and repairing ingredients like grape seed oil, pollen extract, folic acid, B vitamins, Co-Q10, and ultra cleansing papaya extract. It's a hypoallergenic cleanser packed with 50 natural antioxidants and safe for sensitive skin.
9. A Gentle Micellar Water For Sensitive, Acne Prone Skin
Something as unassuming as water can prove too harsh for some sensitive, acne prone skin types. This micellar water is a rinse-free alternative that gently removes dirt, oil, and makeup (even waterproof mascara) and helps balance your skin's oils. It's a one-step cleansing solution that won't irritate acne or sensitive skin.
10. A Refreshing Gel Cleanser That Calms Inflammation
The makers of this acne cleanser know what we really, really want and need: a gel cleanser that rids pores of excess oil and calms irritated and inflamed skin. This 100 percent fragrance-free cleanser has 0.5 percent salicylic acid and soothing ingredients like glycerin and panthenol. Reviewers say it does an outstanding job of removing makeup and dirt and won't leave your skin flaky and dry.
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