(Last Updated On: February 1, 2018)

Of course, given a choice, you’d rather not have to deal with Acne at all.

But that, unfortunately, ain’t gonna happen.

And you’re not alone. 85% of people between the ages 12 and 24 have to deal with acne.

It’s not young people alone. Acne can be a problem for older individuals as well.

 

OK, enough with the pep talk, coach. What are we doing here?

 

The first port of call in treating acne are facial cleansers.

This is where I come in.

I’ve reviewed the hottest 25 products available and listed out the Top 10 Face Washes for Acne.

 

At A Glance: The Best Acne Face Washes

Humane Benzoyl Peroxide 10% Acne Treatment Body & Face Wash is a good Benzoyl Peroxide-based cleanser but it may be good to preserve it as a fall-back.

The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash depends on Tea Tree Oil’s anti-bacterial properties to deal with acne bacteria while Menthol cools and soothes your inflamed skin.

PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash has a brilliant texture and works into a rich lather.

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Face Wash Daily Scrub uses Salicylic and Gycolic Acids to exfoliate your face while Menthol cools your inflamed skin. Titanium Dioxide provides limited sun protection.

Safe House Naturals Detox Face & Body Wash pairs Activated Charcoal with Bentonite Clay to cleanse your skin while Aloe Vera Gel soothes inflammation and keeps your skin supple.

 

The Best Acne Face Wash

01. Humane Benzoyl Peroxide 10% Acne Treatment Body & Face Wash Review

Works Best For: Mild, Moderate and Moderate to Severe Acne.

Benzoyl Peroxide is a recognized acne treatment. However the 10% concentration is best used if lower concentrations like 2.5% or 5% don’t work.

Also, it is advisable to limit sun exposure while using this face and body wash.

So you may consider keeping this as a fall-back if a milder wash doesn’t help you with your acne.

It’s very powerful against blackheads, blemishes and so on but it may not work against cystic acne.

If cystic acne persists, use another product or consult a doctor. Do NOT go overboard with this.

Cocamidopropyl Betaine is a good cleanser but it may cause irritation (which may aggravate up to contact dermatitis).

So consult your dermatologist if your skin reddens, itches or flakes.

One thing I really liked about this face wash is it’s foaming but sulfate-free (sulfates can make washes foam too).

The foaming helps moisturize your face but without stripping away essential oils because it’s sulfate-free.

The key ingredients are listed below.

Active Ingredient: 10% Benzoyl Peroxide (Acne Anti-bacterial).

Cleansing AgentCocamidopropyl Betaine
Thickening AgentCarbomer
AntioxidantGluconolactone (Poly-Hydroxy Acid)
Buffer/pH adjusterSodium Hydroxide
PreservativeSodium Benzoate
Water/SolventDeionized Water

Directions

  • Rinse and dampen your face (and body) with cool water.
  • Apply the face and body wash to your damp skin.
  • Leave on for 1 minute.
  • Follow up with an oil-free moisturizer.
  • While using this use a sunscreen for sun exposure.
  • Benzoyl Peroxide may leave stains. So make sure to rinse the face wash off thoroughly and use a towel you don’t really care about (perhaps the one your mother-in-law gave you?)

What I Liked

No Parabens, Formaldehyde or added fragrance.

Sulfate-free foaming cleanser.

Thick and foaming face wash helps moisturize your skin.

What I Didn’t Like

Carbomer is mildly comedogenic.

It is advisable to limit sun exposure while using it.

The Best Face Wash For Acne-prone Skin

02. The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash Review

Works Best For: Moderate to Severe and Severe Acne. May be overkill for Mild and Moderate Acne.

The efficacy of Tea Tree Oil in reducing acne is well-documented.

You will enjoy the cooling effect of Menthol against the inflammation of acne. However some people may not be able to bear Menthol.

People with acne will be very interested in the anti-inflammatory and soothing effects of the facial wash, courtesy of Allantoin and other ingredients.

The surfactants will help it foam nicely and moisturize your skin. They are also good at cleansing your skin by separating oil and dirt from skin.

Glycerin and pro-Vitamin B5 will then soothe and replenish any disturbance to the skin barrier caused by the surfactants.

You will really appreciate the inclusion of Benzophenone-4. It scatters UV rays.

This helps to both protect you from harmful sunrays (sunscreen) and stop the other ingredients degrading (photostabilizer).

Caveat: Denatured Alcohol will give your skin a quick matte finish. However in the long run it can dry out your skin so you should think about making this your go-to face wash for a night out or a short-notice office meeting rather than your regular face wash.

The key ingredients are listed below.

Active Ingredient: Tea Tree Oil (Anti-bacterial).

HumectantGlycerin, pro-Vitamin B5*
SurfactantSodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine
Viscosity ModifierPEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate
EmulsifierPEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Polysorbate 20
Soothe and Condition your skinCalophyllum Inophyllum Seed Oil**, Allantoin
Cool your skinMenthol
AntioxidantVitamin E***
Buffer/pH adjusterCitric Acid, Sodium Hydroxide
Scatters UV RaysBenzophenone-4
FragranceLimonene, Lemon Tea Tree Oil
SolventDenatured Alcohol
*As Panthenol.

**Kind of Tamanu Oil.

***As Tocopherol.

Directions

  • Wash your face, neck etc with cool water.
  • Massage the facial wash into your face and neck with your fingertips.
  • Rinse off with cool water and pat yourself dry.

What I Liked

 No Parabens or Formaldehyde.

 Benzophenone-4 scatters UV rays and offers limited sunscreening.

 Nicely foams and moisturizes your skin.

 It reduces inflammation, soothes and cools acne-stricken skin.

What I Didn’t Like

PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil and Sodium Laureth Sulfate are mildly comedogenic.

Limonene may irritate your skin.

The Best Over The Counter Acne Face Wash

03. PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash Review

Works Best For: Mild, Moderate and Severe Acne.

The use of Benzoyl Peroxide in removing acne is well-known. However the 10% concentration is best used if lower concentrations like 2.5% or 5% don’t work.

I especially liked the rich texture of this face wash. You can easily work it up into a rich lather.

It is good for reducing pimples, blackheads, whiteheads and blemishes. It may also help reduce cystic acne.

However it may be too strong for some users. If you experience red skin, irritation or burning, you would be advised to stop using it or at least use it less often.

Potassium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate cleanse your skin by forcing oil and dirt to mix with water so they can be cleared away. Both chemicals are completely safe for use.

Cetearyl Alcohol is a fatty alcohol which keeps your skin moist and soft. It is not like Denatured Alcohol or Isopropyl Alcohol and will not dry your face with repeated use.

Titanium Dioxide is an industry-grade sunscreen.

There is evidence Mineral Oil accumulates in women. So it’s better if pregnant and breastfeeding women avoid this wash.

The key ingredients are listed below.

Active Ingredient: 10% Benzoyl Peroxide (Acne Anti-bacterial).

EmollientCetearyl Alcohol, Mineral Oil
Cleansing AgentCocamidopropyl Betaine, Potassium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
HumectantGlycerin, Lactic Acid, Sodium PCA
ExfoliantGlycolic Acid, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Lactic Acid
Buffer/pH AdjusterGlycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, Potassium Phosphate, Sodium Hydroxide
Sunscreen AgentTitanium Dioxide
PreservativeImidurea (Imidazolidinyl Urea), Methylparaben

Directions

  • Rinse your face with cool water.
  • Apply the face wash and keep it on for one to two minutes. Keep massaging the skin.
  • Rinse it off with cool water and pat dry.
  • Excessive use may dry your skin so adjust frequency of use accordingly.
  • Remember to use a sunscreen while using this acne wash.

What I Liked

 No added fragrance.

 Helps reduce pimples, blackheads, blemishes and whiteheads.

 Potassium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate are very good cleansing agents.

 Titanium is an industry-grade sunscreen.

 Good foaming face wash.

What I Didn’t Like

 Imidurea (Imidazolidinyl Urea) is a formaldehyde-releasing preservative (though within permissible limits). Formaldehyde has many adverse effects.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate may irritate your skin.

Contains Methylparaben.

Cetearyl Alcohol, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Mineral Oil are comedogenic.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid this due to Mineral Oil.

The Best Face Wash For Oily Acne Prone Skin

04. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Face Wash Daily Scrub Review

Works Best For: Mild and Moderate Acne. May also reduce Severe Acne.

The first thing you will notice about this face wash is how mild it is.

Granted, it may not be that effective against severe acne but that’s a trade-off worth making if you don’t have severe acne.

It works best reducing pimples, blackheads and blemishes.

The extensive foaming spreads the face wash evenly across your face.

Steareth 21 cleanses oil and dirt from your skin while Glycolic Acid exfoliates your pores.

There are various conditioners to keep your skin supple and prevent excessive stripping of oils.

Menthol’s cool and fresh feel will alleviate the painful inflammation of acne.

Titanium Dioxide is a good sunscreen but you will still need to apply sunscreen while using this face wash.

The key ingredients are listed below.

Active Ingredient: 2% Salicylic Acid (Exfoliant).

EmollientCetyl Alcohol, PPG-15 Stearyl Ether, C12-15 Alkyl Lactate, Cetyl Alcohol
HumectantGlycerin
Cleansing AgentSteareth 21
Emulsifying AgentCetyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate
ExfoliantGlycolic Acid
Cooling AgentMenthol
AntioxidantBHT
Slip ModifierCellulose
Bulking AgentCellulose
Buffer/pH AdjusterGlycolic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide
SunscreenTitanium Dioxide
ThickenerXanthan Gum
PreservativeBenzalkonium Chloride
Chelating AgentDisodium EDTA

Directions

  • Rinse your face with cool water.
  • Apply the face wash to your damp face and work into a lather.
  • Keep massaging the lather into your face for a minute or so.
  • Rinse off and pat dry.
  • Use a sunscreen during periods of sun exposure.

What I Liked

No Parabens or Formaldehyde.

Extensive foaming action.

Titanium Dioxide is a good sunscreen.

What I Didn’t Like

Cetyl Alcohol is mildly comedogenic.

Added fragrance and Benzalkonium Chloride may irritate your skin.

The Best Natural Acne Face Wash

05. Safe House Naturals Detox Face & Body Wash Review

The Argan plant mainly grows in a single 8000 sq km area in Morocco. The area has been designated a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

Works Best For: Mild and Moderate Acne. Also good for Severe Acne.

Activated Charcoal is a good astringent (shrinks your pores), exfoliator and cleanser.

Bentonite Clay eliminates stale sebum, soothes red skin, reduces inflammation and clears away blackheads.

The Activated Charcoal-Bentonite Clay combo is highly regarded. Vogue featured a Persian face mask featuring it last year.

Aloe Vera Gel will reduce and soothe acne inflammation. It also keeps your skin soft.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil goes deep into your skin, moisturizing and conditioning it.

Castor Oil is good for removing dead skin cells that may accumulate on your skin.

This face and body wash should lather reasonably well. If it doesn’t reduce the amount you are using. Generally a pea-sized amount should suffice.

The key ingredients are listed below.

Active Ingredient: Activated Charcoal with Bentonite Clay (Astringent, Exfoliant, Cleansing, Anti-Inflammatory).

EmollientAloe Vera Gel, Coconut Oil, Rice Bran Oil, Extra Virgin Organic Olive Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil, Castor Oil
HumectantAloe Vera Gel
Buffer/pH AdjusterPotassium Hydroxide, Citric Acid

Directions

  • Rinse your skin with cool water.
  • Apply a pea-sized amount on your face and massage it into your skin.
  • Keep it on for a minute or two.
  • Rinse it off with warm water and pat dry.
  • If the pump gets clogged use warm water to clear it up.

What I Liked

 Sulfate-free but lathers quite well.

 Activated Charcoal with Bentonite Clay is good at clearing away sebum, shrinking your pores and reducing inflammation.

 Castor Oil clears dead skin cells and stops them clogging your pores.

What I Didn’t Like

 It may not foam that well.

 If you get it into your eyes, use warm water to clear it immediately.

 Some users may experience irritation.

The Best Face Wash For Acne-prone Sensitive Skin

06. Clearasil Daily Clear Hydra-Blast Sensitive Face Wash Review

Works Best For: Mild and Moderate Acne. May also work for Severe Acne.

This lacks a strong fragrance so it’s particularly good for younger users. However younger users should be careful that it doesn’t dry out their skin.

Works well at reducing pimples, blackheads, whiteheads and even cystic acne.

Please note this product may cause ‘skin purging’ (a temporary breakout when you start using it). However if acne continues to break out after say three weeks to a month stop using it.

Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate is very good at ridding your skin of unwanted sebum.

And then of course you have Salicylic Acid which is a brilliant exfoliant. It helps break down blackheads and whiteheads. It’s good for your skin in various other ways.

The key ingredients are listed below.

Active Ingredient: 2% Salicylic Acid (Exfoliant).

HumectantGlycerin
Cleansing AgentMyristic Acid, Stearic Acid, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Palmitic Acid
EmollientStearic Acid, Palmitic Acid
Opacifying AgentPalmitic Acid
Buffer/pH AdjusterPotassium Hydroxide
PreservativeMethylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Propylparaben, Potassium Sorbate
Chelating AgentTetrasodium EDTA

Directions

  • Rinse your face with warm water.
  • Massage the wash into your face till you get a nice lather.
  • Rinse it off with warm water and pat dry.
  • You can apply up to 3 times a day. However it may dry out your skin so adjust usage accordingly.

What I Liked

 Good for younger users.

 Good for dealing with pimples, blackheads, whiteheads and cystic acne.

 Good for cleansing dirt, sebum and dead skin cells.

What I Didn’t Like

 It may lead to ‘skin purging’.

 It may dry your skin excessively and strip away necessary oils so adjust usage accordingly.

The Best Anti-Aging Acne Face Wash

07. Cristina Moss Naturals’ Organic Facial Wash Review

Works Best For: This is a mild cleanser suited for Mild and Moderate Acne. May also be useful for Severe Acne.

Good for handling pimples, blackheads and even cystic acne.

Decyl Glucoside is a mild cleanser that clears away unwanted sebum while not stripping your skin of oils completely. It’s even used in baby products.

In addition to being a great conditioner, Coconut Oil can also help you exfoliate dead skin cells.

Olive Fruit Oil, in addition to helping you deal with acne scars, nourishes your skin with vital nutrients.

Rosemary Essential Oil removes excess oil from your skin and reduces inflammation.

It’s very mild, without sulphates etc but foams nicely, ensuring a soothing experience for you.

It contains a number of antioxidants which helps your skin rid itself of acne scars.

The key ingredients are listed below.

Cleansing AgentDecyl Glucoside
EmollientCoconut Oil, Olive Fruit Oil, Sunflower Seed Oil, Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, Shea Butter
HumectantAloe Vera Leaf Juice
AntioxidantOilve Fruit Oil, Rosemary Essential Oil, Rosemary Flower Extract
Replenish your skinOlive Fruit Oil
Buffer/pH AdjusterSodium Hydroxide, Citric Acid

Directions

  • Rinse your face with cool water.
  • Take a dime-sized amount of the facial wash and massage it into your skin.
  • You can work it into a rich lather.
  • Keep it on for a minute or two.
  • Wash it off with cool water and pat yourself dry.

What I Liked

 No comedogenic ingredients.

 Good for eczema as well.

 No sulfates yet foams well.

 Rosemary Essential Oil is anti-inflammatory and cleansing.

What I Didn’t Like

 Rosemary Essential Oil may irritate your skin.

08. Diva Stuff Premium Charcoal Acne Face Wash Review

Works Best For: Can work for Mild, Moderate and maybe even Severe Acne.

Good at dealing with pimples, whiteheads and blackheads. May even help you reduce cystic acne.

Sulfur especially helps Asian individuals deal with acne. It can kill off acne-causing bacteria.

However certain individuals may be allergic to sulfur or its odor.

Tea Tree Oil will also fight acne-causing bacteria while soothing inflammation from acne.

Vitamin B3 replenishes and restores your skin, guarding against excessive stripping of oils.

Activated Charcoal Powder shrinks your pores (Astringent) and exfoliates your skin.

The key ingredients are listed below.

Active Ingredient: Activated Charcoal Powder with Sulfur Powder (Anti-Bacterial, Astringent and Cleansing).

Cleansing AgentSodium Laureth Sulfate
AntioxidantVitamin B3, Tea Tree Oil
Restore your skinVitamin B3
Soothe your skinTea Tree Oil
Anti-bacterialTea Tree Oil
Solvent/AquaDistilled Water
Thickener/EmulsifierXanthan Gum
PreservativeLiquid Germal Plus

Directions

  • Rinse your face with warm water.
  • Place a dime-sized amount (adjust amount as needed) on a warm wet cloth and massage it onto your face.
  • Rinse with warm water.

What I Liked

 Good especially for Asian users.

 Sulfur and Tea Tree Oil are Anti-bacterial.

 Activated Charcoal is Astringent and Exfoliant.

What I Didn’t Like

 You may be allergic to Liquid Germal Plus so do a patch test.

 You may be allergic to sulfur.

09. Himalaya Neem & Turmeric Natural Face Wash & Cleanser for Oily and Acne Prone Skin Review

Works Best For: Can work for Mild, Moderate and maybe even Severe Acne.

Neem Leaf Extract has a powerful Anti-bacterial action which eliminates acne-causing bacteria.

Neem Leaf Extract also contains a lot of Vitamin C. Vitamin C encourages your body to produce collagen, a kind of protein.

Why is that important? Collagen helps your skin heal from scars and blemishes. If collagen production is insufficient, your acne scars will take longer to heal.

Coco-Glucosid and Decyl Glucoside are mild cleansers which will remove oil and dirt from skin without irritating it or drying it out.

Due to abundant alpha-curcumene and other sesquiterpenes, Turmeric Root Oil can soothe inflammation, reduce irritation and stave off infection.

Its nice creamy lather gives you a comfortable cleansing experience. Sweet Marjoram Oil enhances the soothing experience.

The key ingredients are listed below.

Cleansing AgentCoco-Glucoside, Decyl Glucoside
Replenish and Restore your skinVegetable Glycerin
HumectantGlucose
Soothe and Condition your skinGlucose Oxidase, Turmeric Root Oil
AntioxidantVitamin E*, Turmeric Root Oil
Anti-bacterialNeem Leaf Extract, Sweet Marjoram Oil
Buffer/pH AdjusterCitric Acid
Thickener/EmulsifierXanthan Gum
PreservativePotassium Sorbate
Solvent/AquaWater
*As Tocopherol.

Directions

  • Rinse your skin with cool water.
  • Take a pea-sized amount (adjust it as required) and massage it into your skin.
  • Keep on for a minute and then rinse off with cool water.

What I Liked

 Neem Extract is Anti-bacterial and encourages collagen production.

 It’s a mild cleanser with humectants and other ingredients to keep your skin supple and replenished.

 Turmeric Oil can soothe inflammation.

What I Didn’t Like

 Neem Leaf Extract may irritate your skin.

 It contains added fragrance which may irritate some users.

10. Skin Medica Purifying Foaming Wash Review

Works Best For: This is a strong face wash. It is best used for Moderate to Severe and Severe Acne.

Quite good for dealing with pimples, whiteheads and blackheads.

Allantoin has a nice anti-inflammatory and soothing effect.

Witch Hazel Extract has lots of Tannins which make it a good Astringent. It is soothing as well.

Menthol cools your skin giving you relief from inflammation.

This cleanser happens to be especially good against hormonal acne.

It’s almost fragrance-free so the chances of irritation are lower. However Camphor Oil is also volatile so you shouldn’t use this if you are allergic to Camphor Oil.

The key ingredients are listed below.

Active Ingredient: 2% Salicylic Acid (Exfoliant). Willow Bark Extract contains Salicin which is converted to Salicylic Acid.

Cleansing AgentSodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Cocamidopropylamine Oxide
HumectantButylene Glycol, pro-Vitamin B5*
Soothe and Condition your skinWitch Hazel Extract, Allantoin, Camphor Oil
AntioxidantCommon Sage Leaf Extract, Sodium Citrate
Anti-bacterialTea Tree Oil
Cooling AgentMenthol
Buffer/pH AdjusterSodium Citrate
PreservativeSodium Citrate, Methylisothiazolinone
Chelating AgentDisodium EDTA
Solvent/AquaWater, Butylene Glycol
*As Panthenol

Directions

  • Rinse your face with warm water.
  • Take two pumps of the face wash and massage onto your face.
  • Keep massaging for a minute.
  • Wash it off with warm water and pat yourself dry.

What I Liked

 No added fragrance.

 Foams nicely.

 Quite good for dealing with pimples, whiteheads and blackheads.

What I Didn’t Like

 Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Camphor Oil, Menthol and Methylisothiazolinone may irritate your skin.

What did I look for?

Well, acne is caused by an oily substance called sebum and dirt clogging your pores. Bacteria then grow in acne sites.

Inflammation is seen at acne sites.

On the other hand, excessive cleansing strips your skin of moisture and oils. That too should be avoided.

Given that layout, here’s the 411 on the specific properties I kept citing (like Anti-bacterial and so on)

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

Antioxidants firm up your skin, reduce inflammation and scars.

Emollients and Humectants are different kinds of Moisturizers. They help your skin get and retain moisture and keep it soft and supple.

Skin restoring and Replenishing ingredients protect your skin from moisture loss and other damage.

Skin conditioning and Soothing agents will relieve any discomfort you are experiencing from your drying skin.

A pH imbalance will irritate your skin. pH adjusters/Buffers stop that.

Astringent ingredients (sometimes clean and) shrink your pores.

You will want Preservative(s) to maintain product quality if you want to keep the product for a while.

Exfoliants clear away dead skin cells stopping them from clogging your pores.

It will be good if your moisturizer itself contains Water because that would reduce the chances of it drying your skin ‘inside out’.

You talked about ‘purging’ problems….

‘Purging’ is an initial increase in breakouts when using a new anti-acne product, particularly those including retinoids or hydroxy acids (like Salicylic acid).

Dr Sejal Shah, MD, explains that purging will NEVER result in breakouts in new areas.

Purging subsides within a month at most.

So, if you’re breaking out for over a month OR if you keep breaking out in newer areas, the product you’re using isn’t working. Change it or consult a dermatologist.

This video explains it pretty well.

What did you mean by skin drying inside out?

Some Moisturizers (mainly Humectants) work by attracting moisture towards the skin surface.

If they can’t get sufficient moisture from the atmosphere they will draw moisture out from deeper in your skin, thus drying it ‘inside out’.

Well that was a lot to take in

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

Of course, you’re free to choose any face wash you want but I think there’s a clear best face wash for acne prone skin you should check out.

Cristina Moss Naturals’ Facial Wash, Organic and 100% Natural Face Cleanser

It’s mild and won’t dry your skin excessively.

The cleansing agent, Decyl Glucoside, is so mild it’s used in baby products.

The moisturizers too are mild and should not expose you to the ‘drying inside out’ problem.

It also contains a number of antioxidants that help you deal with blemishes and scars.

Another big positive is that it foams nicely even without any sulfates.

Remember what I said about such face washes and cleansers being the ‘first port of call’. If they don’t work, consult a licensed dermatologist.

If you think my list is incomplete or there’s a product better suited to be in the Top 10 Face Washes for Acne Prone Skin, feel free to tell me! The ones I like will get a shout-out on Facebook and may even be included with attribution.

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