Every skin care regimen starts with a good cleanser, and if you're dealing with cystic acne, ensuring that you're using the right one is more important than ever. According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Y. Claire Chang, with whom Elite Daily spoke for this article, the best face washes for cystic acne contain one of two key ingredients: benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. She explains, “Benzoyl peroxide has been shown in clinical studies to significantly improve acne by decreasing inflammation and fighting acne-causing bacteria. Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid that goes deep in the pores to remove impurities, reduce comedones, and prevent inflammatory acne."
Dr. Chang also says to look for noncomedogenic facial cleansers, and to avoid ingredients like coconut oil, wheat germ oil, cocoa butter, sodium lauryl sulfate, isopropyl palmitate, lanolins, and certain alcohols. Acne-prone patients should stay away from cleansers that contain added fragrance, too. "Fragrances are a common cause of allergic skin reactions, which can worsen irritation and inflammation in patients with skin that is already inflamed," Dr. Chang explains.
Since acne-fighting face washes often work synergistically with other topical acne products for increased efficacy, Dr. Chang has patients use a benzoyl peroxide cleanser in addition to a salicylic acid acne spot treatment or topical prescription antibiotic. Or, a patient could pair a salicylic acid cleanser with a topical retinoid, like Differin Gel, to effectively reduce both non-inflammatory and inflammatory acne.