(Last Updated On: February 2, 2018)

If you’re thinking of using ‘will power’ to wait out your acne, don’t.

Acne leads to severe depression, even suicide.

Isotretinoin, a common medication prescribed for severe acne, leads to more depression.

It’s always better to act on your acne NOW, and without resorting to medication.

I’ve selected a list of the BEST cleansers for acne available right now that will clear your acne.

I even promise to tell what to look out for so you can check the benefits yourself.

So sit back, read on, and by the time you’re done, you’ll have made an informed decision of which cleanser is the best for your acne.

Fear not, I didn’t make this up. I actually reviewed the 30 hottest acne cleansers around to make my choice.

 

At A Glance: My Choices For The Best Acne Cleansers

Murad Acne Clarifying Cleanser is a Salyclic Acid based cleanser effective on most skin types. It also has a number of essential oils like citronella oil and green tea extract.

Body Merry’s Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Cleanser is a Glycolic Acid based cleanser effective on most skin types. It has Jojoba beads which are excellent exfoliants.

Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Cleanser is a Benzoyl Peroxide based cleanser with Petrolatum (humectant) and Menthol (cooling).

InstaNatural’s Vitamin C Facial Cleanser is a Vitamin C based cleanser with Jojoba esters, Grapefruit Seed extract and Cucumber extract.

Dr Brian Zelickson’s MD Complete Oil-Free Cleanser is a Salicylic Acid based cleanser effective on most skin types. It contains Algae extract.

The Best Acne Cleanser

01. Murad Acne Clarifying Cleanser Review

Active Ingredient – 1.5% Salicylic Acid

Best For – Combination, Oily and Smooth Skin. People with Sensitive Skin may experience irritation; in that case stop using it. People with Dry Skin may consider using a moisturizer after applying this.

Dr Howard Murad of Murad, Inc. is a 25 year veteran in the skincare space. But that’s not why I incuded Murad’s cleanser in my list of best cleansers for acne.

Salicylic Acid helps unclog pores. It also helps stop unnatural shedding of cells.

In addition to salicylic acid, this cleanser has a host of essential oils like citronella oil (anti-inflammatory), green tea (Camellia sinensis) extract (anti-oxidant), lemon peel oil (eliminates sebum) and so on.

It lathers quite well and is generally easy to use.

Generally effective on hormonal acne.

Works well for mild and moderate acne. May be used to supplement prescription drugs in severe acne.

As a thumb rule, remember that salicylic acid-based products must be used continuously. If you stop using it, the acne will recur.

What I Liked

Active Ingredient Salicylic Acid unclogs pores.

Citronella oil is anti-inflammatory.

Green tea extract is anti-oxidant.

Lemon peel oil eliminates sebum.

Silver Citrate (ingredient) is bacteriostatic (stops bacteria from reproducing) and bacteriocidal (kills bacteria).

Butylene Glycol (ingredient) is a humectant, that is, helps your skin retain moisture.

Menthol cools the skin.

What I Didn’t Like

People with sensitive skin may experience irritation.

It contains Methylparaben (hence not paraben-free).

Butylene Glycol (ingredient) may cause irritation and rashes in some users.

It is a great cleanser but falls a little short in exfoliation.

You will have to keep using it till you grow out of acne.

Butylene Glycol is also mildly comedogenic.

The Best Facial Cleanser For Acne

02. Body Merry’s Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Cleanser Review

Active Ingredient – Glycolic Acid

Best For – Oily Skin, Sensitive Skin, Smooth Skin and Combination Skin. May not be good for Dry Skin.

With its combination of Glycolic Acid and essential oils, Body Merry’s cleanser is an easy selection in the 10 best cleansers for acne.

Glycolic acid loosens the bonds between the top layers of skin cells making it easier for dead skin cells to be cleaned away. It also helps keep the skin moisturized.

Jojoba beads excellent exfoliants. They are biodegradable, unlike microbeads.

This cleanser also has kojic acid (antimicrobial and exfoliating), olive oil (anti-inflammatory and emollient) and tea tree oil (powerful antibacterial), among others

It lathers quite well and is easy to use.

Generally effective on hormonal acne.

It works best on mild acne. It will gradually reduce moderate acne. However it is milder than most other cleansers.

What I Liked

 Active Ingredient Glycolic acid is the primary ingredient.

 Jojoba beads are exfoliants.

 Unlike microbeads jojoba beads are biodegradable.

 Kojic acid is antimicrobial and exfoliating.

 Olive oil is anti-inflammatory and emollient.

 Tea tree oil is a powerful antibacterial.

 Rosehip oil (ingredient) is rich in essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are essential in combating acne.

What I Didn’t Like

May worsen matters for people with dry skin.

It is very mild so results may not be apparent for weeks.

You may need sunscreen while using it because it may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.

The Best Drugstore Cleanser For Acne

03. Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Cleanser Review

Active Ingredient – 10% Benzoyl Peroxide

Best For – Oily Skin and Smooth Skin. You should use an oil-free moisturizer if you have Dry Skin. May not work for Combination Skin. Better avoided if you have Sensitive Skin.

Benzoyl Peroxide is an anti-bacterial.

Don’t worry, the ingredient petrolatum (petroleum jelly) is not harmful. Petrolatum is used to treat diaper rash in babies. Here it will stop your skin from losing moisture.

Cetyl alcohol (ingredient) is a fatty alcohol. It is a good emollient (it softens and conditions your skin). However it proves harmful to sensitive skin which is why this product is generally not recommended for people with sensitive skin.

It doesn’t lather or foam that well, may be a bit difficult to use.

Generally effective on hormonal acne.

Works against mild to moderate acne. You may try against severe acne but stop using if you experience any side effects.

What I Liked

 Active Ingredient Benzoyl Peroxide is a good anti-bacterial. It may also reduce inflammation.

 Petrolatum arrests moisture loss from your skin.

 Cetyl alcohol is a good emollient.

 Menthol (ingredient) imparts a cool and refreshing feel.

What I Didn’t Like

 Ingredients Laureth-4, Steareth-2, Cetyl Alcohol and Petrolatum are mildly comedogenic.

 Menthol (ingredient) may irritate your skin.

 If you have sensitive skin do a patch test to see if you can use it.

 Use sunscreen while using this product.

 You should not stop using this product. If you stop, acne will recur.

 Benzoyl Peroxide is also a powerful bleaching agent so be careful with towels and clothes while using this.

The Best Cleanser For Oily Acne Prone Skin

04. InstaNatural’s Vitamin C Facial Cleanser Review

Active Ingredient – Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C derivative)

Best For – Oily Skin, Combination Skin and Smooth Skin. It dries the skin a little so you should do a patch test if you have Dry Skin. You should also do a patch test if you have Sensitive Skin.

Vitamin C is a terrific antioxidant. It is also a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and helps heal scars.

Hydrolyzed Jojoba esters (ingredient) are an excellent emollient.

Grapefruit Seed Extract (ingredient) is a good acne skin cleanser.

Cucumber extract (ingredient) is an antioxidant and has a cool feeling.

It lathers quite well and is easy to use.

Seems to be effective against hormonal acne.

This is another mild cleanser and works well against mild to moderate acne.

What I Liked

Active Ingredient Vitamin C is a good antioxidant, anti-inflammatory agent and helps heal scars.

Green Tea Extract (ingredient) is good at reducing lesion count in acne vulgaris.

Hydrolyzed Jojoba esters are an excellent emollient

Chamomile extract (ingredient) is a good anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent.

Good at removing make-up.

What I Didn’t Like

Decyl Glucoside (ingredient used as a surfactant) is generally considered mild. However it may cause irritation in some people with very sensitive skin.

May take some time to noticeably reduce acne.

The Best Cleanser For Sensitive Acne Prone Skin

05. Dr. Brian Zelickson’s MD Complete Oil-Free Cleanser Review

Active Ingredient – 2.0% Salicylic Acid

Best For – Oily, Smooth, Sensitive and Combination Skin. It may be a little drying hence those with Dry Skin should do a patch test.

Dr Brian Zelickson, MD, is an adjunct associate professor at the University of Minnesota.

2.0% concentration is a common one for Salicylic Acid (1.5% in Dr Murad is popular as well).

Algae Extract is both an emollient (conditions skin) and a humectant (helps skin retain moisture).

Papain (Papaya proteinase) is a good exfoliant and anti-inflammatory agent.

It lathers quite well and is easy to use.

Effective against hormonal acne.

Effective against mild acne. Works well against moderate to severe acne.

What I Liked

 Active Ingredient Salicylic Acid unclogs pores.

 Panax Ginseng (ingredient) is an antioxidant.

 Algae Extract is an emollient and humectant.

 Papain is a good exfoliant and anti-inflammatory agent.

 Removes make-up.

What I Didn’t Like

 Algae Extract is comedogenic; Glycol Stearate (ingredient) is mildly comedogenic.

 Cocamidopropyl Betaine (ingredient used as a surfactant) may trigger allergic reactions like itching and burning in some users.

The Best Oil Cleanser For Acne

06. Era Organics’ Tea Tree Oil Face Cleanser and Body Wash Review

Active Ingredient – Tea Tree Oil

Best For – Oily, Dry, Sensitive, Smooth and Combination Skin

Tea Tree Oil has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to fight acne.

Tea Tree Oil is a powerful anti-microbial. Tea Tree Oil contains Sesquiterpenes which may be more powerful against acne than Benzoyl Peroxide which is the medical benchmark.

Pomegranate Seed Oil is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.

Aloe Vera is another anti-inflammatory agent and helps heal affected skin.

It lathers well and is easy to use.

Effective against hormonal acne.

Mild cleanser effective against mild to moderate acne.

What I Liked

 Active Ingredient Tea Tree Oil is anti-microbial.

 Pomegranate Seed Oil is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

 Aloe Vera is anti-inflammatory and helps heal affected skin.

What I Didn’t Like

 May not remove make up.

 Cocamidopropyl Betaine (ingredient used as a surfactant) may trigger allergic reactions like itching and burning in some users.

The Best Cleansers For Acne Prone Skin

07. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser Review

Active Ingredient – 2.0% Salicylic Acid

Best For – Oily, Sensitive, Smooth and Combination Skin. It may be a little drying so if you have Dry Skin do a patch test.

It contains Lipohydroxic Acid (LHA) that has skin renewing, exfoliating and other acne-treating properties. The LHA used is a proprietary product of La Roche-Posay.

FYI: The term ‘Effaclar’ refers to a skincare regime involving some La Roche-Posay products including this one.

Glycerin (ingredient) is a good humectant (helps your skin retain moisture). It is also hygroscopic (absorbs water from the atmosphere) making it a good moisturizer as well.

It lathers well and is fairly easy to use.

Effective against hormonal acne.

Effective against mild to moderate acne. May also be used against severe acne.

What I Liked

 Active Ingredient Salicylic Acid unclogs pores.

 Lipohydroxic Acid is good at treating acne.

 Glycerin is a good humectant and moisturizer.

 Hexylene Glycol (Ingredient) is a good skin conditioner as well as a surfactant.

What I Didn’t Like

 Hexylene Glycol and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (Ingredient) are mildly comedogenic.

 It may seem runnier than a typical gel so make sure to close the bottle tightly.

 It may be a little drying so you should consider applying a moisturizer after using it.

The Best Oil Free Acne Cleanser

08. AcneFree’s Oil Free Acne Cleanser Review

Active Ingredient – 2.5% (w/v) Benzoyl Peroxide

Best For – Oily, Sensitive, Smooth and Combination Skin. May be a little drying so do a patch test if you have Dry Skin.

2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide can be as potent as 10% Benzoyl Peroxide in treating acne. A higher concentration does not always mean better.

The product actually uses Micro-Benzoyl Peroxide which kills acne-causing bacteria and dries and peels off dead skin.

Sea Whip Extract is a good skin conditioning agent. It is also known for its skin-soothing properties.

It may not lather that well but is still easy to use.

May not be 100% effective against hormonal acne.

Effective against mild to moderate acne. May also be used against severe acne.

What I Liked

 Active Ingredient Benzoyl Peroxide unclogs pores and stops acne-causing bacteria from growing.

 Sea Whip Extract conditions and soothes your skin.

 German Chamomile (ingredient) has a strong anti-inflammatory effect because it has a high concentration of Azulene.

What I Didn’t Like

 Ingredients Butylene Glycol, Cetyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate are mildly comedogenic.

 Ingredient Stearic Acid is comedogenic.

 If you are breastfeeding DO NOT use this product. Otherwise its Phenoxyethanol content may be transmitted to the baby. Phenoxyethanol is DANGEROUS for infants.

 It contains both Methylparaben and Ethylparaben so it is NOT PARABEN-FREE.

09. Mario Badescu Acne Facial Cleanser Review

Active Ingredient – Salicylic Acid

Best For – Oily, Smooth and Combination Skin. Do a patch test if you have Dry or Sensitive Skin.

Thyme leaf extract (ingredient) is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory.

 Aloe Barbadensis leaf juice (ingredient) is anti-inflammatory and very soothing.

It also contains German Chamomile Flower Extract

It does not lather but is still easy to use.

You can try it out on hormonal acne.

Effective against mild to moderate acne. May be effective against severe acne.

What I Liked

 Salicylic Acid is generally mild yet effective against acne.

 Thyme Leaf Extract is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory.

 Aloe Barbadensis leaf juice is anti-inflammatory and soothing.

 German Chamomile is strongly anti-inflammatory.

What I Didn’t Like

 Not Paraben-free.

 4 ingredients – Carbomer, Dimethicone, Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Triethanolamine are mildly comedogenic.

 You may need to use a make-up remover along with this for a complete face cleansing.

The Best Charcoal Acne Cleanser

10. Biore Charcoal Acne Cleanser Review

Active Ingredient – 1% Salicylic Acid

Best For – Oily and Smooth Skin. You may need to use a moisturizer if you have Dry Skin. May not be suitable for Sensitive Skin because of its cooling effect. If you have Combination Skin do a patch test.

This is the only charcoal-based product to make it onto my list. I like charcoal as a very ‘earthy’ and natural ingredient. Charcoal helps Salicylic Acid clean out your pores to prevent acne.

NB – Charcoal use against acne does have its share of critics. However everybody agrees that charcoal is inert so it won’t cause allergic reactions or irritate your skin. Even if you are a Disbeliever, why not try it and see whether you become a Believer?

This product contains Menthol. Menthol has a powerful cooling effect. That may not be good for people with sensitive skin.

This product contains Glycerin and Sorbitol which are both humectants (help your skin retain water).

It lathers well and is easy to use.

Seems to work well on hormonal acne.

Effective against mild to moderate acne.

What I Liked

 Good at removing make-up.

 Methol (ingredient) cools your skin.

 Glycerin and Sorbitol both help your skin retain moisture.

What I Didn’t Like

 Be careful to not get it too close to your eyes, your eyes will start watering.

 Sodium Laureth Sulfate (ingredient) is mildly comedogenic.

What did I look for?

Well, acne is caused by your pores getting blocked. Oil and something called sebum clog your pores.

The clogged pores create an environment where acne-causing bacteria can thrive.

Acne sites also experience inflammation.

You will remember how I kept talking about the ingredients having properties like anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and so on.

Well, this is the 411 of why those properties are so crucial.

An anti-bacterial property will kill off acne-causing bacteria directly.

An anti-inflammatory property will reduce inflammation typical to acne sites.

Sebum-producing cells have stress-receptive receptors. A soothing property would reduce stress and reduce sebum production.

An anti-oxidant property probably helps reduce acne by destroying free radicals which help acne develop

Exfoliant so there will be no dead skin cells accumulated on your skin to cause acne.

 Excessive drying up of skin leads to acne formation. To counter that we look for humectant and moisturizing properties.

Well that was a looong list…

Yeah, it was, and you know I won’t leave you hanging.

Of course, you’re free to choose any cleanser you want but I think there’s a clear winner you should check out

Era Organics’ Tea Tree Oil Face Cleanser and Body Wash is full of natural ingredients. OK, it does have some chemicals but none of them are comedogenic and they’re almost all skin-friendly. Zinc Oxide has some chance of accumulating in your body and aloe vera is suspected to have a mild chance of being carcinogenic (that too is disputed). And this product is suitable for every skin type on average.

Is that it?

Just a few more things to clear up.

Even though some of the products in my list do seem to work on severe acne, if you do have severe acne, PLEASE CONSULT A DERMATOLOGIST. As we discussed earlier, medication for severe acne is extremely difficult to manage so it’s imperative you get medical advice ASAP.

You will often find reviews complaining a certain product has worsened the person’s acne.

Always take this with a pinch of salt. The person could be experiencing a ‘Purge’ which is an initial breakout cause by increased skin cell turnover.

The purge should subside with a month at the most. AND the purge never happens in areas where you did not have acne previously.

So, if you break out for more than a month or if you’re breaking out in new areas, discontinue use of the cleanser.

That’s about the size of it. If you feel we’ve missed something or you just want to talk, feel free to leave a comment below!

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