If you struggle with acne, one of the most important things you can do for your skin is invest in a proper face wash. Not sure what to look for? Generally, the best cleansers for acne will contain one of these key ingredients: benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, tea tree, or sulfur.
All of these ingredients work in their own way to unclog pores and prevent new blemishes from forming. Some are better for certain types of skin; benzoyl peroxide, for example, is known to be quite drying (albeit extremely effective), so is best-suited for oily complexions. Tea tree is typically what anyone looking for a natural alternative goes for, and salicylic acid, when used properly, works for pretty much everyone. Keep in mind — all of these agents are going to be somewhat drying, so it’s essential to follow each application up with a hydrating moisturizer (which you should be doing anyway, since dry skin can actually cause breakouts).
Below, you’ll find a roundup of the best face washes for acne that exist; From classic French pharmacy favorites to innovative K-beauty formulas, each of these cleansers is highly-rated for their blemish-busting abilities. You’re just one click away from better skin — so what are you waiting for?
1. This Affordable Japanese Cleansing Oil That People With Acne-Prone Skin Swear By
Kose Softymo Speedy Cleansing Oil
A solid choice for all skin types, this insider-y cleansing oil is perhaps Japan’s best kept beauty secret. It can be used on wet or dry skin; upon contact with water, the oil emulsifies into a milky lotion that erases every last trace of makeup — even waterproof (no need to precede with micellar water or follow up with foam). Many customers with cystic acne swear by it, and it’s gentle on the eyes, so you can rub off mascara without any concern. Also great for unclogging blackheads and regulating sebum production, this “holy grail cleansing oil” will only set you back $10.
2. This Cult-Favorite French Gel Cleanser For Oily Skin
La Roche Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser
If you have oily, acne-prone skin, there’s no better face wash out there than La Roche Posay’s Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser. Free of alcohol, parabens, and soap, this pH-balanced face wash produces a foamy lather that completely rids skin of any built-up makeup and oil. Though I personally love this product (I have combination skin), I wouldn’t recommend it for severely dry complexions, as it can feel somewhat stripping. The scent is mild, but fresh, and the gel formula will leave your skin looking squeaky clean and oil-free. Choose from three sizes: standard, travel, and value.
3. Or, This Slightly Less-Drying Cleansing Mousse — If You Prefer A Cream Formula
La Roche Posay Effaclar Deep Cleansing Foaming Cream
A lot of people prefer cream formulas — and for that, there’s La Roche Posay’s Effaclar Deep Cleansing Foaming Cream, which is very similar to the product above, but more moisturizing. Like the Effaclar gel, this face wash is ideal for oily skin; however, since it’s slightly less harsh, I wouldn’t be as wary of using it on drier complexions. This French pharmacy product produces a nice, milky lather and is unique for its ability to clear out blackheads like nobody’s business — so if clogged, congested pores are your main issue, this is the cleanser to buy.
4. This Korean Exfoliating Scrub That's Made From Volcanic Ash — And Has A Five-Star Rating
The Face Shop Jeju Volcanic Lava Pore Scrub Foam
It's nearly impossible for a beauty product to get a perfect five-star rating on Amazon — yet, this cult-favorite face scrub has one. Its unique formula is made of volcanic ash from Korea's Jeju Island, which is known for its natural abilities to deeply cleanse the skin and protect it from environmental aggressors. It also works wonders on deeply-clogged pores, and, in addition to balancing oil production, leaves skin baby soft. If you're scared that a scrub might be too abrasive — don't be; this one lathers up nicely and leaves skin feeling slightly moisturized, rather than dried out. Since it's technically an exfoliator, it's probably not to use daily — consider swapping it out with a gentler option (like the one below) every other day, or at least until your skin gets used to it.
5. This Gentle, All-Natural, Vegan Face Wash Made With Tea Tree Oil
Desert Essence Thoroughly Clean Face Wash
Whether you make an effort to only buy green beauty or have sensitive skin that gets easily irritated, this gentle, eco-friendly pick is for you. Where does its acne-fighting ability come from, you might ask? Tea tree oil — a natural antiseptic. There's also chamomile in the formula, which is incredibly soothing, and bladderwrack, a type of seaweed that's rich in minerals. It works wonders on cystic acne, doesn't dry out skin, and reduces the appearance of pores by unclogging them. A little goes a long way, so between that and its incredible price tag, you're getting an amazing value.
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