If you’ve been experiencing an uptick in breakouts (especially since the pandemic began), it could be related to stress. Research has shown that chronic stress can exacerbate acne and breakouts when cortisol (the body’s primary stress hormone) slows down the natural production of hyaluronic acid, which helps keeps skin hydrated. A decrease in hyaluronic acid can trigger the production of excess sebum, creating an ideal breeding ground for breakout-causing bacteria.
We asked three skincare experts to weigh in on the best face washes for managing acne-prone skin.
The good news is that a great face wash can help minimize pimples and blackheads. We’ve asked several dermatologists and skincare experts to recommend the best cleansers for acne-prone skin. Ahead, find everything from a face wash for improving post-acne hyperpigmentation to the best cleansing wipe for acne-prone skin. These skin-loving formulas will make the first step in dealing with acne—and the drama that goes along with it—a bit easier.
Best Acne Face Wash For Oily Skin
A Great Pick For Busting Up Build-Up
This all-in-one cleanser removes excess oil, dirt and makeup without stripping the skin of moisture—all thanks to ceramides, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, which are key moisturizing ingredients. “It’s great for keeping the skin hydrated and protected throughout the entire day,” says cosmetic scientist and Acaderma co-founder Dr. Shuting Hu.
Best Exfoliating Acne Face Wash
A Top Choice For Glowing Skin
This cleanser is recommended by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Milton R. Moore and is made with ingredients that improve skin texture and tone. That includes gentle exfoliants like LHA, salicylic acid and glycolic acid. “[They] give [the skin] a nice glow,” says Moore.
Best Acne Face Wash For Dry Skin
A Soothing Solution
This ph-balanced cleanser “will [help] maintain the skin’s natural acidity,” says Dr. Hu. This helps prevent irritation and breakouts. The formula also contains a high content of essential fatty acids, which is great for improving the skin’s barrier and reducing water loss.
Best Face Wash For Hormonal Acne
A Foaming Cleanser That Reduces Oil
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Face Cleanser
“La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser is an excellent face wash for helping to treat hormonal acne,” says board-certified dermatologist and 4.5.6 Skin co-founder Dr. Carlos Charles. “It’s formulated with zinc, [an ingredient] that helps to eliminate acne-causing bacteria often seen in oily skin.” The best part? This cleanser gently removes excess sebum without disrupting the skin’s barrier.
Best Facial Cleansing Wipe For Acne Prone Skin
“Thayers Blemish Clearing Pads are an excellent addition to skincare [routines] for acne-prone skin,” says Charles. These pads are formulated with witch hazel, tea tree oil, aloe vera and 2% salicylic acid—all which work in concert to gently wipe away impurities and excess sebum. They also exfoliate dead skin cells and are effective in soothing irritation.
Best Acne Face Wash For Blackheads
A Non-Drying Gel Cleanser
“The Green Bae Cleansing Gel from 4.5.6 Skin is great for the treatment of blackheads,” says Charles. Its ingredients brighten the skin, as well as reducing excess sebum production and related blackheads. And despite being a cleansing gel, it has a creamy texture that will leave the skin feeling refreshed and renewed, never dry.
Best Acne Face Wash For Sensitive Skin
An Amazon Favorite
This CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser is excellent option for those with sensitive skin. “Loaded with ceramides and hyaluronic acid, this cleanser can do the job of removing excess oil and debris while also providing [hydration],” says Moore. With over 50,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, it’s safe to say that this face wash is pretty effective.