The Best Face Wash for Acne 2020

Do you know anyone who hasn’t dealt with breakouts and acne-prone skin in their life? We don’t — pimples and acne happen to the best of us and to all skin types. 

Acne breakouts is sometimes it’s the result of too many nights burning the candle at both ends or seasons changing or hormonal acne. Whatever the cause, blemishes, irritation, blackheads, adult acne and whiteheads are never something you want to see when you look in the mirror while washing your face. 

Fancy skincare devices and products are nice-to-haves, but you don’t need them to take care of your skin. Can face wash really make a big difference for your acne since it only stays on your skin for less than a minute? Yes, it really can. Face cleanser resets your skin so that the active ingredients can work more effectively; this is especially true for acne-prone skin. Dermatologists suggest looking for acne face wash ingredients like benzoyl peroxide (to help kill acne-causing bacteria), salicylic acid or alpha hydroxy acid such as glycolic or lactic acid (to dissolve dead skin cells and clean out pores). Also look for active ingredients like aloe vera, niacinamide, chamomile and green tea to calm your skin. If you have a skin type that tends to dry out quickly, look for a facial wash that has hyaluronic acid or ceramides on the ingredient list to help keep your skin hydrated. 

We rounded up some highly effective skin care product options for acne solutions — including facial cleansers, facial wash and foaming face cleansers — that will quickly work to help you achieve clear skin and reduce your skin irritation, breakouts, redness and won’t over-dry your skin (which is often a concern with anti-acne products).

Ahead, check out our top picks for the best face wash for acne, ahead.

Kate Somerville’s keep breakouts at bay and is clinically formulated cleanser for blemish-prone skin. Use this product daily to unclog pores, clear pimples, balance oily skin and help prevent future breakouts.

BareMinerals Blemish Remedy Acne Treatment Gelee Cleanser combats current and future breakouts with its formulation of acne-fighting salicylic acid, sea salts, ginger extract, and peppermint extract.

This sensitive skin facial cleanser contains 5% benzoyl peroxide, which is super effective at quashing oil and clearing out comedones but isn’t likely to dry out your skin. Just in case, though, this dual-action formula also contains a moisturizer to prevent any feeling of tightness and helps keep your skin hydrated.

This Clinique mild mousse uses salicylic acid to get rid of pore-clogging dead cells and helps tamp down acne-induced redness, irritation and inflammation with caffeine and sea whip and kola nut extracts. These natural ingredients will set you on the path for healthier-looking skin.

Tea tree oil, a natural zit-zapper, is the star ingredient in this sensitive skin gel cleanser formula that also contains hydrating squalene (derived from plants) and purifying magnesium. Not only will it get rid of surface oil on your skin cells, it will also detox pores.

TULA’s Acne Foam Cleanser contains 2% salicylic acid which provides serious acne-clearing. Its other ingredients including superfood licorice helps brighten the look of previous acne marks. This foam cleanser is alcohol and fragrance-free and treats both regular or occasional breakouts.

The office of Beverly Hills dermatologist Harold Lancer, MD, is populated with more A-listers than the Oscars red carpet. Lancer Skincare is formulated for folks with oily skin and clogged pores. See what all the fuss is about when you try this exfoliating face cleanser made with jojoba beads, beta-hydroxy acid and tea tree oil.

Use this acid-based foaming cleanser  as a supplement to your favorite face wash up to three times a week while washing your face, whenever your acne prone skin needs an exfoliating boost. The glycolic acid will eliminate pesky dead cells while chamomile, yarrow and sage will help soothe.

If you’re looking for a botanical-based solution with natural ingredients and gentle cleanser for breakouts for all skin types, try this Burt’s Bees gel made with willow bark, a natural source of exfoliating salicylic acid. It also contains extracts of evening primrose and beet root to calm skin.

Neutrogena’s oil-free face wash is a cult classic for a reason. This facial cleanser helps to both treat acne and prevent future breakouts for clearer skin in just one week. It’s salicylic acid-based, so it can treat everything from blackheads to breakouts to acne marks, plus it has vitamin C to balance out T-zone oil. And the oil-free formula rinses clean without over-drying.

This liquid cleanser is formulated to help remove dirt, debris and other gunk from deep within clogged pores. It uses tiny exfoliating beads to (gently) resurface dull skin cells and leave you with a complexion that’s blissfully soft and smooth. FYI: Proactiv offers three multi-step skin care treatment systems for those with acne-prone skin.

Perfect for sensitive skin, this cleansing gel is a soap-free facial cleanser that’s gentle enough for even the most delicate skin. It’s enriched with a skin healing blend of soothing chamomile, green tea, refreshing cucumber and avocado oil to perfectly purify and cleanse the skin. Formulated for aging, oily skin that’s prone to breakouts, this deep cleansing gel gently refines the appearance of congested pores and helps to reduce blemishes without drying the skin. LHA Cleanser Gel features a blend of salicylic acids to address breakouts and visible signs of aging.

This gentle-but-potent foaming face wash is part of NeoStrata’s AHA skin care system. The formula exfoliates clogged pores and congested skin, enhancing skin cell renewal, while minimizing the potential for irritation. Bonus: This facial cleanser also smooths the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improving its texture.

This Peter Thomas Roth acne facial wash is perfect for all skin types and is designed to deep-clean your pores without drying out your skin or causing redness. The salicylic acid in this face wash helps break up the breakout cycle while banishing excess oil, makeup and bacteria. In addition to its amazing citrus scent, the fact that it contains zero parabens and alcohol makes it one of our top picks.

Tata Harper’s pricey but popular clarifying cleanser is the perfect option for the holistic-loving, green-living crowd. This gel cleanser targets impurities to give you a deep-clean feel and comfortably matte finish without zapping moisture. It’s formulated for oily skin types, targets blemish-causing impurities and works to balance oil with natural salicylic acid and AHAs.

Each product has been selected, and each product’s style has been reviewed, by our editorial team; however, we may receive affiliate commissions from some links to products on this page. Prices listed are subject to change by the retailer. 

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