I spent the first two and a half decades of my life with mostly blemish-free skin. But when I turned 25, I started noticing clusters of pimples appearing on my jawline whenever my period was approaching. It took a while for me to accept the fact that I was struggling with late-onset hormonal acne — but once I did, I decided to switch things up and immediately went out and bought a bottle of one of the best face washes for acne on the market.
Sure, there are countless ways to get rid of acne, from prescription medications to clean, green diets. But, regardless of your lifestyle habits, the foundation of a good skincare routine all starts with your face wash — and if you’re struggling with pimples and want to make a change, it’s important that you’re using a bacteria-fighting formula daily.
When choosing an anti-acne face wash, you want something that contains benzoyl peroxide — a medication that kills bacteria and has long been used to treat acne — or salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid that gets rid of pore-clogging skin debris. You might find that one works better for you than the other. For instance, my sister, who has oily skin, swears by benzoyl peroxide, while my skin reacts best to salicylic acid. Other awesome acne-fighting ingredients to look out for include tea-tree oil, sulfur, and glycolic acid.
Of course, choosing the perfect face wash all depends on your skin type. If you have sensitive skin, you’ll want something gentle that won’t cause irritation. Or, maybe you struggle with redness and want a cleanser that’ll combat that, too. Whatever your main concern is, there’s a blemish-busting formula to suit every need, below.
1. A French-Pharmacy Favorite That’s Great For Oily Skin
This face wash happens to be my personal favorite; I use it every night. Formulated with zinc and without soap or alcohol, it’s gentle enough to use on most skin types, though honestly, it’s ideal for oily skin. It lathers into a foamy texture that removes every last trace of makeup and keeps the skin's pH balance in check. People who are sensitive to fragrances will love the clean, barely-there scent, and your skin will feel oh-so-refreshed.
2. A Salicylic Acid-Infused Scrub That Targets Future Breakouts
This brand-new cleanser from Neutrogena focuses on long-term results. It uses maximum-strength salicylic acid to clear and prevent breakouts and its scrub formula gently exfoliates skin. Like any good face wash, it’ll remove all traces of dirt and makeup, but what makes this one unique is its ClearDefend Technology, which repairs the skin’s barrier and makes it more resistant to acne. It’s best suited for oily skin, and remember — like with any product containing salicylic acid, daily sunscreen use is essential.
3. A Heavy-Duty Cleanser That’s Also Great For Bacne
The first and most important thing to note about this product is that it’s not for sensitive skin — so, if that’s something you have, scroll on. This face wash is packed with 10 percent of bacteria-killing benzoyl peroxide — the highest available amount allowed without a prescription — so it’s best for someone who's feeling like they want to combat frequent, hardcore breakouts. Unlike many other similar cleansers on the market, it’s paraben, fragrance, and cruelty-free, and comes in a creamy, non-foaming formula. It’s also great for use all over your body, if you’re someone who struggles with outbreaks on your back, arms, and chest. A little goes a long way, too, so one bottle should last you for awhile.
4. A Korean Cleansing Foam That Uses Volcanic Clay To Deep Clean Pores
Cult-favorite K-beauty brand, Innisfree, is known for their many products containing mineral-rich volcanic clay from the Korean island of Jeju — and this cleanser is one of their best. The volcanic clusters in this cream-to-foam formula are microscopic, which allows them to deeply penetrate pores and banish excess sebum. Reviewers report no tight or dry feeling with daily use and say it’s also an extremely effective makeup remover.
5. An All-Natural Gel Formula That Brightens And Exfoliates
If you have dry skin or are sensitive to fragrances and other chemicals, this is the face wash for you. The foaming gel formula uses a natural blend of exfoliating ingredients, like sugarcane, which removes oil and unclogs pores without stripping skin. Other key ingredients include aloe, which soothes inflamed complexions, and green tea, which protects against free radicals. On top of all that, it smells absolutely delicious, due to a blend of essential oils like spearmint, lime, rosemary, and lavender.
6. A Prestige Foaming Cleanser That Suits All Skin Types
Aesthetician to the stars Kate Somerville developed this face wash to work alongside her cult-favorite EradiKate Acne Treatment, both of which use sulfur to fight blemishes. This daily cleanser is creamy, but foams up upon contact with water, and has a subtle but slightly sulfer-y smell. It’s a solid choice for all skin types, as it balances oil production and soothes irritated or inflamed complexions with honey and rice bran extracts. While it’s a bit pricier than the others on this list, it remains one of the best prestige anti-acne cleansers out there.
7. A Botanical Cleanser That’s A Great Alternative To Other Maximum-Strength Formulas
If you’re looking for a gentle, everyday face wash, this K-beauty cleanser is alcohol-free and uses primarily botanical ingredients, making it a great choice for most skin types. Infused in this formula are Triclocarban, an ingredient that fights bacteria and controls sebum production, and green tea, which soothes inflamed or irritated complexions. It’s a great alternative for those who are looking for something that’s just a little less heavy-duty than other benzoyl peroxide-packed formulas.
8. An Oil-Free Formula That Reduces Redness
If your skin is prone to redness, consider this soothing version of Neutrogena’s beloved oil-free acne wash. Formulated with salicylic acid, this foaming cleanser uses chamomile and aloe extracts to calm irritation while unclogging pores and ridding skin of dirt, makeup, and oil. This is another option that’s great for oily skin, as salicylic acid helps control oil production, though it’s gentle enough to use on other skin types.
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