20 Of The Best Face Washes For Acne-Prone Skin

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Acne is arguably one of the top skin concerns that the skincare market attempts to target. You'll often notice the trigger words "acne" "breakouts" and "pimples" painted across new skincare products. Having acne-prone skin is a very common battle and it's one that can feel extremely daunting. Whether you suffer from occasional breakouts or hormonal acne, it always feels very disheartening. Acne also happens to be extremely tricky to treat. 


When it comes to acne it's always best to keep things simple. Over-treating the issue can only cause it to spiral out of control. This is why the number one recommendation for dealing with acne-prone skin is to simply always keep it clean. Leftover makeup or a buildup of debris can be one of the leading causes of breakouts. By not washing your face thoroughly you could be doing more damage than you realize. 

While simply deeply washing your face can work wonders when it comes to breakouts, reaching for face washes specifically designed to target breakouts can take things to the next level. Here is a roundup of the best face washes for acne-prone skin with every possible need — from sensitive skin types to those suffering from scarring.


How we selected the face washes

Acne products are not one-size-fits-all. Just because you are struggling with acne-prone skin, does not mean your skin doesn't have other needs and concerns. Ignoring those in favor of whichever product promises to treat your acne best can only worsen things. That is why when it came to selecting these face washes, we made sure to do the research to ensure that each acne face wash caters to every specific category listed below. If you have sensitive skin, you definitely can't use the heavy-duty acne face wash. And if you have a budget then you can't drop $60 on a face wash. There is something for everyone on this list.


But don't take it from us, every single one of the listed products was scanned for reviews in order to consider real people's experience with each of them to ensure they actually work. More specifically, reviews from people with the same skin concern of each category were taken into account to make sure your needs are heard and met.

Best overall acne face wash

If you are looking for one overall acne face wash then Murad's Acne Control Cleanser should be your first pick. Murad tends to be one of those very clinical and serious-looking skincare brands, but it delivers results.


When it comes to treating your acne, the cleanser is formulated with the number one acne fighter: salicylic acid. It also contains green tea extract to help soothe irritated breakouts in order to heal them while also treating them. Ideal for oily skin types, this cleanser continues working on healing your acne long after you wash it off. One fan of the 4.9 star-rated Murad face wash shares, "I have been using this for the last 3-4 years and I plan on continuing forever. This truly makes your skin feel so smooth and happy!"

Purchase Murad Acne Control Cleanser at Murad for $36.

Best affordable acne face wash

It's often best to keep things simple when it comes to treating acne — and that includes the price of cleansers. Coming in at under $10, Neutrogena's Oil-Free Salicylic Acid Acne Fighting Face Wash is as simple as it gets.


The gel cleanser is no fluff and it works with salicylic acid medication to treat your breakouts while deeply cleansing your skin to avoid further breakouts. The oil-free and non-comedogenic face wash also uses Neutrogena's trademark MicroClear Technology to clear up acne and blackheads. One Target reviewer shared, "I use this product on a regular basis to keep my complexion clear of the occasional breakout from makeup. I've tried other products but this one works for me."

Purchase Neutrogena Oil-Free Salicylic Acid Acne Fighting Face Wash at Target for $9.39.

Best foaming acne face wash

Foaming face washes are popular for their ability to deeply cleanse skin with an immediate lather. This can leave your skin feeling a little dry, but that's what makes them so perfect for oily skin types. Tula Skincare's Keep It Clear Acne Foam Cleanser is a foaming face wash designed specifically to tackle breakouts. 


The cleanser also contains 2% salicylic acid to treat breakouts. But it also uses licorice and azelaic acid to brighten and fade any scarring, alongside tea tree oil and ginger to soothe the irritation of angrier breakouts. This face wash is surprisingly gentle for an acne face wash, as it is formulated without parabens, sulfates, mineral oils, retinol, and fragrance. One Tula Skincare fan raved, "Has really seemed to help my acne-prone skin! I went a couple of months without this cleanser and definitely noticed my skin took a turn for the worse. Breakouts have been minimized since returning to this product."

Purchase Tula Skincare Keep It Clear Acne Foam Cleanser at Tula Skincare for $36.

Best cream acne face wash

Cream cleansers on the other hand are a little gentler on your skin and tend to feel hydrating rather than stripping. Because not only oily skin types suffer from acne, Versed Keep The Peace Acne-Calming Cleanser is the perfect pick if your skin can't handle the drying effect of other acne face washes. 


Rather than treating acne with active ingredients, this face wash actually aims to soothe and calm skin down instead. It also contains a hint of 1% salicylic acid to help cure active breakouts, but it mainly uses calming blue tansy extract, a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient, to "Keep The Peace" on your skin and calm breakouts down. This acne face wash also contains apple fruit extract which works as a gentle exfoliant to de-clog your pores and prevent new breakouts. 

Purchase Versed Keep The Peace Acne-Calming Cleanser at Versed for $17.99.

Best heavy duty acne face wash

On the opposite end of the spectrum come heavy-duty acne face washes, which are not for sensitive skin types. When it comes to getting the most out of an acne face wash you should first make sure your skin can handle it, and then you should reach for PanOxyl's Acne Foaming Wash. 


PanOxyl's Acne Foaming Wash is about as serious and intense as its packaging looks. The dermatologist recommended acne face wash uses salicylic acid's just-as-powerful acne-treating sister benzoyl peroxide, an antibacterial ingredient used to treat breakouts and prevent new ones. The only con to note is that due to its 10% potency, you should be careful with what towels and clothing it touches because it can bleach them.

This face wash is so good at healing acne that it's also suggested to be used on your back and chest to clear up any acne in those areas. One iHerb reviewer wrote, "Helped a lot with my face, back, and hands acne. Important to keep it on the skin for a little while, during a shower, maybe no more than 5 minutes, definitely makes wonders." 


Purchase PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash at iHerb for $11.33.

Best clean acne face wash

Making the move to a completely clean skincare routine is commendable and luckily it's very doable these days. You don't have to forgo quality when you forgo animal testing. If you have acne-prone skin and are looking for a clean acne face wash then fan favorite Youth To The People Superfood Cleanser has your back.


The Superfood Cleanser is a gel cleanser packed full of great ingredients to cleanse, soothe, and heal your acne. Formulated with green tea that is antioxidant-rich and helps fight signs of aging as well as calm your breakouts down, this acne face wash also contains glow-giving kale and spinach which soothes your skin by providing it with essential fatty acids. The pH-balanced cleanser will keep your pores unclogged and your skin clean to avoid future breakouts. One Youth To The People fan shares, "I am easily prone to breakouts. I had tried everything. Expensive, cheap, custom formulas... then 3 years ago I finally found YTP. The superfood cleanser is exactly what my skin was looking for."

Purchase Youth To The People Superfood Cleanser at Youth To The People for $36.


Best salicylic acid acne face wash

By now, you've probably gathered that salicylic acid is the star ingredient in most skincare targeting acne-prone skin types. The active acid can repair and treat acne like no other, and most acne face washes contain it. If you want to hone in on this powerhouse ingredient, then using it in its purest form with The Inkey List's Salicylic Acid Acne + Pore Cleanser is the pick for you. 


This cleanser uses 2% salicylic acid to treat your acne while cleansing your face. It also contains a zinc compound that helps to remove any excess sebum that can cause further breakouts. To help soothe your irritated acne-prone skin this face wash is also formulated with 0.5% allantoin to soothe breakouts and promote the growth of healthy skin tissue. The 4.4 star-rated face wash is a fan favorite, and one Sephora reviewer writes, "At first my skin was breaking out badly but after using this product for a week, I have noticed a big difference. My skin is much smoother and clearer than it was before."

Purchase The Inkey list Salicylic Acid Acne + Pore Cleanser at Sephora for $11.99.

Best tea tree acne face wash

On the more natural side, another acne powerhouse ingredient is tea tree, which is known for its ability to soothe breakouts and gently heal them. This is why it's often found in the ingredient lists of acne face washes. The Dr. Jart+ Teatreement Cleansing Foam shines a spotlight on that specific ingredient with the brand's own unique blend. 


The Teatreement Cleansing Foam is formulated with the brand's trademark Teatreement Solution, a combination of Tea Tree Leaf Extract, Tea Tree Leaf Oil, and 4-Terpineol that work together to cleanse your skin while also supporting your skin's pH balance. It also contains a Green Calming Complex which consists of Green Tea Extract, Aloe Vera Leaf Extract, Chamomile Flower Extract, and Pinus Pinaster Bark Extract, all designed to heal and hydrate your irritated skin. Of course, it also contains salicylic acid to gently exfoliate your skin and treat your acne. One Sephora reviewer makes a bold claim about the Teatreement Cleansing Foam's efficacy, "The best for active breakouts. Literally will be gone in a day or two."


Purchase Dr. Jart+ Teatreement Cleansing Foam at Sephora for $29.

Best pore unclogging acne face wash

One of the leading causes of acne is clogged pores. This can occur due to a number of reasons such as having oily skin or just not removing your makeup properly, which is why the prime suggestion to clear it up is to deeply cleanse your skin. Most acne face washes target existing acne, but Paula's Choice Pore Normalizing Cleanser places emphasis on unclogging pores to keep your skin in check.


The Pore Normalizing Cleanser is a gentle gel cleanser that softly removes excess oil and unclogs your pores without being too harsh on your skin. This cleanser works deeply enough to clear out any sebum and debris from your pores without stripping your skin and leaving it feeling even more irritated, which makes it ideal for sensitive skin types. One Paula's Choice reviewer shares, "The cleanser is great! I have really bad hormonal acne from birth control. This cleanser with the liquid exfoliant are the two things that cleared up my skin." 

Purchase Paula's Choice Pore Normalizing Cleanser at Paula's Choice for $15.

Best herbal acne face wash

A lot of skincare products today consist of an endless list of ingredients that we can't even spell, let alone recognize half the time. If you prefer simpler skincare that focuses on natural and herbal ingredients, then Kiehl's Blue Herbal Acne Cleanser is the best of both worlds. 


Since 1964, the Blue Herbal Acne Cleanser has had its own fan base, of which Andy Warhol is rumored to have been a member, per Kiehl's. The fragrance-free foaming cleanser contains the popular salicylic acid of course, but it highlights herbal ingredients such as frankincense which helps to reduce excess sebum production, and ginger root essential oil which provides antioxidant protection. 

The Blue Herbal Acne Cleanser deeply cleanses pores and helps reduce blackheads and whiteheads, and it has even been tested under dermatologist supervision. One Kiehl's fan shares the difference she noticed when she stopped using this acne face wash, "Before I used this, I would get those giant zits that lasted for weeks and then would leave a dark spot. When I started using this, those giant zits stopped. I ran out and they came back."


Purchase Kiehl's Blue Herbal Acne Cleanser at Kiehl's for $28.

Best active acne face wash

Skincare actives are a blessing. While you have to tread carefully so as to not compromise your skin's barrier, actives such as BHAs and AHAs can work wonders when it comes to acne-prone skin. Dermalogica's Acne Clearing Skin Wash Cleanser uses a combination of active ingredients to help cure your acne. 


The Acne Clearing Skin Wash Cleanser is formulated with encapsulated 0.5% salicylic acid alongside phytic acid which both work to gently exfoliate your skin and unclog your pores while also visibly brightening it to help heal any scarring or hyperpigmentation. The face wash also contains plant-derived glycerin which is a strong prebiotic that keeps your skin looking and feeling balanced. 

One Sephora reviewer explains why she's so loyal to it, "I noticed a huge difference in my skin about 3 weeks into using it, my skin is less oily, I break out less and the breakouts are less severe, it's really helped me get my skin under control."

Purchase Dermalogica Acne Clearing Skin Wash Cleanser at Sephora for $39.50.


Best soothing acne face wash

In a very different vein, you may actually be looking to avoid any actives when it comes to your acne face wash. Perhaps your skin feels far too irritated and angry and you'd rather have something as soothing as possible. In that case, it doesn't get more soothing than Kiehl's Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash.


Calendula is infamous for its healing powers, which is why it is so often used in sunburn care products. This face wash uses calendula flower extract which consists of five compounds that work to visibly soothe your skin and reduce any redness around your breakouts. The sulfate-free cleanser is very gentle and calming, and its foam will deeply cleanse your skin and remove any excess oil and sebum that may be causing breakouts. One Kiehl's reviewer noted, "It's my first time to using it and I love love it, the smell it's just like I'm doing spa at home and feel fresh and clean after using it."

Purchase Kiehl's Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash at Kiehl's for $38.

Best acne face wash for scarring

Often acne face washes target active breakouts and attempt to heal them while preventing future breakouts, but what about the aftermath? Try as we might, it's almost impossible to avoid scarring when you have acne-prone skin no matter how gently you treat the breakouts. If you are looking for something designed to specifically target scarring then Joanna Vargas' Vitamin C Face Wash should do the job.


Don't worry, you don't have to take a break from treating your acne when using this face wash as it also contains salicylic acid to keep your skin gently exfoliated and treat active breakouts. But the star ingredient is vitamin C, which works to visibly brighten dark spots and even out your skin tone. The face wash also contains hyaluronic acid to keep your skin hydrated. One Joanna Vargas reviewer can't get enough of it, saying, "The best face wash I've ever used. I will not use anything else. Leaves my skin clean, moisturized, and smooth."

Purchase Joanna Vargas Vitamin C Face Wash at Joanna Vargas for $40.

Best sulfur acne face wash

It's crazy to think we are this deep into this list and have yet to mention another acne-treating powerhouse ingredient aside from salicylic acid: sulfur. Different ingredients work best with different skin types, so if you have acne-prone skin and have found that salicylic acid doesn't work on you, then sulfur and Kate Somerville's Eradikate Daily Foaming Cleanser might be the answer. 


The clinically formulated foaming cleanser contains sulfur, which is an effective acne treatment that heals active breakouts while preventing new ones. Kate Somerville herself explains, "I specially formulated my whipped, foaming cleanser with 3% Sulfur to deliver clinical strength acne control while cleansing to keep skin clear from breakouts." The 4.8 star-rated acne face wash also contains natural oat extract which reduces and balances sebum production, alongside a patented botanical complex with honey and rice bran extracts that soothe irritated skin.

Purchase Kate Somerville's Eradikate Daily Foaming Cleanser at Kate Somerville for $44.

Best jelly acne face wash

When a brand that is deeply loved for its pimple patches expands into skincare, one must pay attention. Mighty Hero pimple patches are a viral fan favorite, and the Clear Collective Exfoliating Jelly Cleanser is their new acne-fighting partner.


Hero Cosmetics has created a unique jelly-to-foam consistency with this acne face wash, which is paraben-, fragrance-, and phthalate-free and is packed full of acne-treating ingredients. The cleanser is formulated with a potent combination of glycolic and mandelic acid designed to dissolve dead skin buildup, as well as willow bark extract and Gluconolactone which both work to exfoliate your skin and even skin tone. 

This face wash has quite the fan base already as one Ulta Beauty reviewer shares, "My skin cleared up to perfect smooth healthy skin in 3 days. I use this every night before bed, I usually get really bad hormonal acne on my chin around that time of the month and since using this I get little to none!"


Purchase Hero Cosmetics Clear Collective Exfoliating Jelly Cleanser at Ulta Beauty for $12.99.

Best acne face wash for fungal acne

There are many different extremes of acne-prone skin. Some may only suffer the occasional breakout, while others have to deal with the agony of fungal acne. It can be hard to find an acne face wash designed to specifically tackle fungal acne, but Skinfix's Acne+ 2% BHA + Azelaic Acid + Niacinamide + AHA Cleanser focuses on just that. 


Tested and recommended by dermatologists, this face wash uses a potent combination of three active ingredients; salicylic acid, azelaic acid, and niacinamide. The three ingredients work to decongest and minimize pores, while more importantly fighting off bacteria to help clear up fungal acne. The formula helps balance your skin pH to provide a balanced surface microbiome that is essential for avoiding fungal acne. One Sephora reviewer raves, "This is the only product that has ever worked for my cystic acne. I've tried every product in the market from expensive to cheap. I saw results with this product overnight. I will repurchase forever."

Purchase Skinfix's Acne+ 2% BHA + Azelaic Acid + Niacinamide + AHA Cleanser at Sephora for $35.


Best gentle acne face wash

When you have sensitive acne-prone skin things can get a little tricky, especially considering most acne face washes on the market contain a myriad of active ingredients that your skin can't handle. That doesn't mean there aren't any options for you. There are plenty of gentle options that can get the job done without causing more harm than good, and La Roche-Posay's Purifying Foaming Face Wash is at the top of that list. 


The face wash is dermatologist tested and is ideal for all skin types. It is gentle while still deeply cleansing and removing excess oil and sebum without stripping your skin. Formulated with La Roche-Posay's trademark prebiotic thermal spring water, niacinamide, and ceramide-3, it manages to cleanse your skin while maintaining its natural moisture barrier. The cleanser has earned a 4.6-star rating on Target specifically when it comes to being good for sensitive skin, as one reviewer shares, "I love this cleanser. I started using it a few months ago. I have really sensitive skin and it has never been too harsh yet still feels and looks like cleaner skin. It has helped with my clogged pores."

Purchase La Roche-Posay's Purifying Foaming Face Wash at Target for $18.89.


Best niacinamide acne face wash

Niacinamide has received a few honorable mentions at this point, but it certainly deserves a lot more hype when it comes to helping acne-prone skin. It is a miracle worker when it comes to redness, oil regulation, and clogged pores. Naturium's Niacinamide Cleansing Gel 3% focuses on using the star ingredient. 


With a unique gel/essence-like texture, the face wash uses clinical strength niacinamide to break down any debris and makeup left on your skin and deeply de-clog your pores. Niacinamide also has brightening properties so it can help to calm down redness and even visibly improve scarring. Naturium places heavy emphasis on the cleanser being a pH level of 5.5-6.5 to provide optimal potency and maintain a healthy skin balance. All of this while being a cruelty-free, paraben-free, and fragrance-free formula. One Target reviewer sings its praises, "This cleanser is nothing like I have used before. It is so different and exciting every time I wash my face! It's gentle, feels super clean, does not strip away my skin and leave it dry (so important)."


Purchase Naturium's Niacinamide Cleansing Gel 3% at Target for $17.99.

Best anti-inflammatory acne face wash

You hear people say they're suffering from "angry breakouts" all the time, but what does that actually mean? When a breakout is so bad that it's painful and turns its entire surrounding bright red, that means it is inflamed. Luckily, certain acne face washes, such as Good Molecules Acne Foaming Cleanser, are designed to help treat just that. 


The Acne Foaming Cleanser is formulated with 2% salicylic acid and also contains witch hazel and aloe which work wonders on soothing any inflammation and helping to ease irritation and redness around your active breakouts. With a pH balance of 4.0-4.4, this foaming face wash deeply cleanses your pores without compromising your natural moisture barrier. One Good Molecules fan shares how well it worked for her, "This product has been very gentle on my sensitive skin, with no burning or redness in sight. I'm currently in the purging stage, but I'm already seeing a difference in how my skin is responding!" 

Purchase Good Molecules Acne Foaming Cleanser at Good Molecules for $12.

Best luxury acne face wash

Within any skincare category, you always have the option to scour the drugstore to save some money or hit up Sephora if you're feeling spendy. Whatever the budget, there is something for everyone, and if you're in the mood to treat yourself to some luxury skincare then it doesn't get much more luxurious than Lancer The Method: Cleanse. 


The cleanser step designed specifically for oily/congested skin is the ideal acne face wash. It is formulated with salicylic acid to treat breakouts as well as anti-inflammatory tea tree oil to reduce excess oil and soothe your angrier breakouts.

The gel provides extra exfoliation by containing visible jojoba beads that deeply cleanse your skin and remove any trace of debris while still leaving your skin feeling hydrated. It even has the unique Lilac Stem Cell Compound which is especially anti-inflammatory and can help reduce redness. One Lancer reviewer confirms it is worth the price point, "This is by far the best face wash I've ever used for my acne-prone skin! Worth every penny.

Purchase Lancer The Method: Cleanse at Lancer for $60.


Best fan-favorite acne face wash

When a skincare product causes so much commotion online, it's guaranteed to end up in countless baskets. In the case of acne face washes, none have gotten as much hype as CeraVe's Acne Control Face Cleanser. 


CeraVe is known for its affordable products that are gentle and super effective, and this cleanser is no exception. Developed with dermatologists, it promises to reduce acne and prevent future breakouts. Of course, it is only right that the final product on this list also contains 2% salicylic acid as well as Hectorite clay which helps absorb excess oil. 

The cleanser's niacinamide and three essential ceramides soothe your skin and keep it balanced and hydrated. There's no shortage of rave reviews, but one Ulta Beauty reviewer summed it up pretty well, "I always have a hard time with products but this has been clearing my skin and I have not had any breakouts since!! It's only been a week but I can definitely see and feel the difference!"


Purchase CeraVe's Acne Control Face Cleanser at Ulta Beauty for $15.99.