If you have acne-prone skin, chances are that you have probably been led to believe that washing your face multiple times a day to keep it clean is the golden rule for having clear skin.
Well, I am not going to lie, I’ve been led to believe the same thing too.
But when my face started hosting acne as if it was a damn free hotel, I started doubting my decision to listen to the rubbish online skin experts had to say.
Naturally, googling the issue didn’t help at all, so I quickly realized this wasn’t going anywhere and I had to do something about it myself.
Today I am going to share everything I know on how to perfectly execute the first and most important step in your skincare routine without irritating existing acne or triggering new ones.
Here are the best cleansers for acne-prone skin that will undoubtedly help you improve your condition. However, to better understand the issue, let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room.
What Causes Acne?
Your skin has small passages known as pores. Every single pore is an opening to a follicle and the follicle is made up of a single hair and a sebaceous gland.
The sebaceous gland releases an oily substance known as sebum which travels up and out of the pore and it then remains onto your skin to keep it moisturized and lubricated.
Now, this oily film is what keeps that skin soft and protected from external bacteria and pollution. It has mild bactericidal properties and it is on the acidic side of the pH scale, which is the oilier side in simple terms.
Well, if sebum is supposed to protect me from bacteria. why do I have acne on my face?
Acne develops when the pores on your skin become clogged with excess sebum and a mixture of accumulated dead skin cells and bacteria buildup.
The mixture of dead skin cells and overgrowth of the bad bacteria block the pores and prevent sebum from escaping, meaning it will remain trapped inside the follicle.
Well, this sebum doesn’t like staying inside the pore as it is meant to stay on the surface of the skin and not under it, so it’s basically trying to tell us that we should grab a cleanser and get rid of the blockage.
How To Choose The Right Cleanser?
We are blessed (or spoiled) enough to choose from the endless cleansing products on the market, yet we somehow manage to f*ck it all up.
Why is this happening?
Well, choosing the right cleanser for your skin type can be a huge challenge on its own due to the rather bold claims written on most of the packagings you see out there.
Your skin needs a cleanser that will do a good job in removing the surface dirt, bacteria, pollution, makeup, and whatnot, however, it also needs to be gentle enough not to strip your skin of its natural moisture and leave it feeling dehydrated and looking rough.
So here’s what you should do.
✔️ Watch the pH level.
The pH balance of our skin is between 4.6 – 6, which makes it slightly acidic due to the production of sebum.
This means that healthy skin is supposed to be on the oily side because the acidic environment supports the growth of the skin’s natural bacteria. The good kind.
Moreover, it is the ideal environment for the enzymes which seal in hydration and shed the dead skin cells to function properly.
In simple words, our skin needs to remain acidic in order to be able to fight the environmental factors and protect itself.
In order to remain clean and healthy, we need to wash our face with a cleanser that has a pH of 5.5. You can recognize that a cleanser may be a bit too harsh for your skin if it leaves the skin “squeaky-clean” after washing.
This removes the build-up of dirt, but it also strips the protective barrier of your skin and leaves it exposed to harmful microorganisms and harsh environmental factors that can cause acne, dryness, irritation, and all hell.
A pH balanced cleanser is your friend regardless of the formulation or texture of the product.
✔️ Look for key ingredients.
Okay, so I’m just going to go ahead and put this out there without a care in the world of who is going to come after me for saying it:
I love acids in skincare products, but cleansers are NOT one of those products.
Acids like glycolic, mandelic, salicylic acids are notorious for their exfoliating action which helps gently dissolve the bonds between the dead skin cells, smooth out rough texture, improve the look of dull and uneven skin tone, decrease the appearance of enlarged pores and fine lines, and of course – fight acne.
However, acids are something called actives and in order for actives to work, you need to leave them on your skin and give them its sweet time to do their wonders.
That’s why it is always a better idea to look for serums and toners with such actives, as these types of products have a liquid consistency which allows them to absorb into the skin easier and stay longer.
I don’t see the point of having glycolic or salicylic acid in an acne cleanser if you are going to keep it on your skin for a total of what, three seconds?
This is hardly enough for the actives to work on improving your skin and this type of formulation has the potential of further triggering your acne.
How To Cleanse Acne-Prone Skin?
Overwashing your face, especially with harsh products can lead to significant moisture loss and dehydration which will inevitably result in irritations.
Now, I don’t mean to scare you, however, constantly irritating your skin will lead to more acne and this very often results in post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which is a total pain to get rid of.
So, how often should you wash your face is you have acne?
The general rule is to use your common sense. But using my common sense combined with a lack of knowledge let me into washing my face three times a day.
Whenever I get a little bit of superficial oiliness throughout the day, you would find me in the bathroom scrubbing my face with a damn soap because of the fear that the little bit of oil will somehow aggravate my acne.
As soon as I switched to washing my face ONCE a day, my condition started improving significantly.
Because I wasn’t overdrying my skin with harsh cleansers and frequent washing, so after some time my skin didn’t feel the need to produce excess sebum in order to make up for the lack of hydration.
Washing my face once a day gave my skin a chance to be in its natural state, and boy it didn’t disappoint at all.
Best Cleansers For Acne-Prone Skin.
Here are the best cleansers for acne-prone skin that will undoubtedly improve the condition of your skin after as little as several uses:
#1 Krave Beauty Matcha Hydrating Hemp Cleanser; $16
KraveBeauty’s Matcha Hydrating Hemp Cleanser is an antioxidant cleanser that doesn’t mess up your skin barrier while lifting everything your skin doesn’t want and leaving everything it needs – hydration, antioxidants, and zero irritations.
It contains 40% of Matcha and is formulated with a pH of 5.0-6.0 which is ideal for retaining a healthy skin barrier that is going to be able to protect you from external bacteria and work in your favor.
The main ingredients of this cleanser are:
- Matcha – One of the most antioxidant-dense sources you could wish for
- Hemp seed oil – High in essential amino acids and extremely hydrating and
- Vitamin B5 – which is going to strengthen your skin barrier and replenish the lost hydration.
#2 COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser; $13
This light gel cleanser is a product of crowdsourcing feedback from the customers, which is probably the only thing that made me want to give it a try.
After going through their ingredients, I realized why many customers expressed that this is the number one thing they look for in a cleanser.
The product is formulated with a low pH that almost mimics the skin’s natural state and it contains a healthy dose of antibacterial tea tree along with many other hydrating ingredients.
It’s extremely effective in reducing the appearance of enlarged pores and controlling excess sebum production while leaving your skin unharmed in the process of doing so.
The result is a refined complexion and thoroughly cleansed skin that feels hydrated and ultra-comfortable.
#3 iUNIK Centella Bubble Cleansing Foam; $16,99
This gentle cleanser contains micro-bubbles inside before you dispense for use as this prevents the possible irritation that sometimes occurs in some foam cleanser formulations.
It has a low pH of 6.2 and it contains 69% Centella Asiatica Leaf Water, an ingredient that soothes the skin, reduces redness, and has healing properties and antioxidants.
It lathers easily and cleanses the skin from sweat, dirt, pollution, and all the other bad stuff that have the tendency of making themselves at home on the surface of your skin.
Additionally, it contains ingredients such as glycerin, butylene glycol, and pentylene glycol that help keep the skin moisturized and prevent dryness after cleansing.
#4 Paula’s Choice Perfectly Balanced Foaming Cleanser; $19
The Perfectly Balanced Foaming Cleanser by Paula’s Choice is an advanced anti-aging cleanser that is formulated to effectively remove excess oil and impurities from your face without disturbing or harming your skin’s healthy barrier in the process.
It contains vital skin-repairing ingredients such as ceramides and the intensely hydrating hyaluronic acid that will leave your acne-prone skin feeling polished, smooth, soft, and relieved from irritations.
#5 Youth To The People Superfood Cleanser; $36
This gentle daily face wash has a gel texture and is formulated with superfoods such as kale, spinach, and green tea to provide you with the ultimate comfort and above all – clear skin.
It is 100% vegan and cruelty-free as well as free of sulfates and drying alcohols that will definitely insult your irritated skin even further.
The Superfood Cleanser was the winner of the Allure Reader’s Choice Award, 2019. Many customers expressed that it addressed skin concerns such as oiliness, wrinkles, dullness, and the appearance of sallow and dehydrated skin.
It also comes in a recyclable, glass packaging.
The only con is that it’s a bit out there with the price, but for the benefits it offers, who can really blame the price?
Dealing with acne-prone skin surely feels like dealing with a ticking bomb that is about to explode at any moment.
In this day and age where we are spoiled to choose from the infinite number of cleansing products out there, we still manage to somehow f*ck it all up.
Therefore, this article teaches you about the importance of choosing the right cleanser for your skin type and how to do it, as well as how often should you cleanse your face if you have acne.
I hope my list of the best cleansers for acne-prone skin will help you in tackling your skin concerns.
I also hope you enjoyed reading this article and don’t forget to let me know if you have ever tried some of the products I recommend and what was your experience with them.
Trying to cope with my obnoxious acne breakouts forced me into finding a solution to my problem by pursuing a career in the beauty industry. Today, I’m a certified esthetician & I’m passionate about sharing what I know to help you achieve healthy, glowing skin. You can learn more about me here.