Dealing with acne-prone skin and finding the right cleanser are two challenges that often go hand in hand.
This is because it all comes down to balancing between cleansers that nourish your skin without clogging pores and those that target acne without damaging your skin barrier.
Therefore, if you have been struggling to find the right cleanser for your acne-prone skin, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, I will review the ten best cleansers for acne-prone skin based on their formula, consistency, and the ingredients they contain to help address this pesky inflammatory condition.
Additionally, by the end of the article, I will also give you some additional information on what causes acne and how to choose the right cleanser for your skin type with the hopes of showing you how to perfectly execute the first – and most important – step in your skincare routine (without irritating existing acne or triggering new pimples.)
La Roche-Posay – Toleriane Purifying Foaming Cleanser
Best daily cleanser for acne-prone skin.
La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane Purifying Foaming Cleanser is a gentle yet effective daily cleanser for acne-prone skin.
Formulated with barrier-repairing ceramides and niacinamide, this cleanser maintains the skin’s natural moisture barrier while thoroughly removing impurities stuck on its surface during the day.
Additionally, the foaming gel cleanser is also enriched with hydrating and plumping glycerin as well as La Roche-Posay’s proprietary prebiotic thermal water, a component that hydrates the skin and soothes redness caused by acne and inflammation.
Suitable for daily use due to not containing exfoliating actives, this cleanser is a fantastic product to incorporate into your morning routine or on days when you’re not using an exfoliating cleanser to keep your acne-prone skin clean, hydrated, and comfortable.
COSRX – Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
Best morning cleanser for acne prone skin.
The COSRX Low pH Good Morning Cleanser is the best morning cleanser for acne-prone skin as it gently lifts sweat, sebum, and overnight impurities without over-stripping or irritating the skin.
The cleanser has a low pH that almost mimics our skin’s natural state and contains a healthy dose of antibacterial tea tree extract along with other hydrating ingredients.
Additionally, the gentle gel formula refines the appearance of enlarged pores and controls excess sebum production while leaving your skin with an even, hydrated, and thoroughly cleansed surface.
iUNIK – Centella Bubble Cleansing Foam
Best Korean cleanser for acne-prone skin.
The iUNIK Centella Bubble Cleansing Foam is a gentle foaming cleanser that contains micro-bubbles inside the bottle that burst and foam when you pump the product out, hence giving this cleanser a double cleansing effect while also preventing the possible irritation that sometimes occurs in some foam cleanser formulations.
The cleanser is also formulated with a low pH, and it contains 69% Centella Asiatica Leaf Water, an ingredient that calms the skin and reduces redness caused by acne due to its soothing and antioxidant properties.
The cleanser also contains ingredients such as glycerin, butylene glycol, and pentylene glycol that help keep the skin moisturized and prevent dryness and tightness after cleansing.
Paula’s Choice – Perfectly Balanced Foaming Cleanser
Best cleanser for oily acne prone skin.
Paula’s Choice Perfectly Balanced Foaming Cleanser is a mild foaming gel cleanser formulated to remove excess oil and impurities accumulated on the skin effectively without disturbing its delicate barrier in the process.
The cleanser contains vital skin-repairing ingredients such as ceramides and hydrating hyaluronic acid that will leave oily and acne-prone skin polished, smooth, soft, and refreshed instead of stripped and dehydrated or greasy and insufficiently cleansed.
Additionally, the foaming cleanser also contains skin-soothing aloe extract that helps calm sensitivity and reduce the appearance of redness caused by acne.
Vivant Skin Care – Green Tea Cleanser
Best gentle cleanser for acne prone skin.
The Vivant Skin Care Green Tea Cleanser is the best gentle cleanser for acne-prone skin due to its non-stripping formula that effectively removes excess oil and facial impurities without drying out the skin and causing it to become stretched and feel uncomfortable.
The cleanser has a refreshing gel consistency and a formula enriched with antioxidants, such as green tea and kiwi extract, which help purify, hydrate, and calm the skin.
Additionally, the mildly foaming formula also contains hydrating glycerin and antibacterial honey to keep acne-causing bacteria in check and prevent the overgrowth that leads to acne.
Finally, the cleanser is free of drying alcohol and irritating fragrance, which makes it suitable for acne-prone and sensitive skin.
Vivant Skin Care – BP 3% Acne Wash
Best antibacterial cleanser for acne-prone skin.
The Vivant Skin Care BP 3% Acne Wash is a potent antibacterial cleanser for acne-prone skin.
It contains 3% benzoyl peroxide, an antibacterial agent that penetrates the pores and infuses them with oxygen, which destroys the airless environment the acne-causing bacteria need to survive.
This action helps reduce the appearance of active acne while also preventing new breakouts from forming down the line.
However, although fantastic for mild to moderate breakouts, benzoyl peroxide can be quite drying for the skin, which is why it’s best to be used in moderation.
That said, the Vivant BP 3% Acne Wash does contain hydrating glycerin; however, it’s still best to use it 2-3 times a week rather than daily to prevent dehydration and a compromised skin barrier.
Vivant Skin Care – 3% Mandelic Acid 3-in-1 Wash
Best exfoliating cleanser for acne-prone skin.
The Vivant Skin Care 3% Mandelic Acid 3-in-1 Wash is a mild exfoliating cleanser that contains mandelic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that breaks down dead skin cells and unclogs pores to reveal smoother, brighter, and clearer skin.
Mandelic acid is also known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, making this cleanser highly beneficial for acne-prone skin.
The cleanser also contains antioxidant-rich Japanese green tea leaf extract and grapefruit extract, which help improve cellular function while also soothing any irritation or redness.
Finally, the gel formula that foams up when in contact with water is also enriched with hydrating glycerin to prevent dryness and irritation and maintain a healthy skin barrier.
However, although mild and gentle, the 3% Mandelic Acid 3-in-1 Wash is still an exfoliating cleanser and should only be used 2-3 times a week to prevent over-exfoliation and symptoms such as dryness, irritation, and flaking.
EltaMD – Foaming Facial Cleanser
Best enzyme cleanser for acne-prone skin.
The EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser is a unique enzyme cleanser that uses ultra-fine self-foaming technology to deeply cleanse the skin.
The formula contains bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple that helps reduce inflammation while gently buffing dead skin cells away due to its structure that resembles tiny spheres that are less abrasive than traditional physical exfoliants.
This leaves the skin smoother, brighter, and less congested, making it an excellent choice for acne-prone skin, especially for those who are sensitive or easily irritated by physical exfoliation or stronger exfoliating acids.
The cleanser is also free of harsh irritants and drying alcohol and has a thicker gel consistency, which makes it suitable for all skin types, including dry, sensitive, and reactive skin experiencing acne breakouts.
SkinCeuticals – LHA Cleanser Gel
Best exfoliating cleanser for acne-prone skin.
The SkinCeuticals LHA Cleanser Gel is a potent exfoliating cleanser that contains three types of acids – glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and liphydroxy acid (LHA), also known as capryloyl salicylic acid, a component of salicylic acid with smaller molecules, which makes it even more effective at penetrating the pores and dissolving the accumulation of cellular debris inside them.
The cleanser has a thick gel consistency that lathers well under water and creates a foamy finish that instantly dissolves oil, dead skin cells, makeup residue, and any external impurities accumulated on the skin’s surface.
The formula also contains glycerin, a skin-identical ingredient that helps keep the skin hydrated and supple while preventing irritation or dryness caused by exfoliation.
However, as with every exfoliating cleanser on this list, it’s essential to use the SkinCeuticals LHA Cleanser Gel in moderation and not more than 2-3 times a week to avoid over-exfoliation and maintain a healthy skin barrier.
iS Clinical – Cleansing Complex
Best cleanser for oily acne-prone skin.
The iS Clinical Cleansing Complex is the go-to choice for oily, acne-prone skin as the dynamic formula is enriched with a blend of bio-nutrients, antioxidants, and mild resurfacing ingredients that thoroughly cleanse the skin, encourage it to regenerate, and purge acne-causing impurities.
The cleanser is packed with potent ingredients like white willow bark extract, a source of salicylic acid, as well as sugarcane extract, both components of the hydroxy acid family that effectively treat acne by dissolving impurities inside the pores and preventing clogging.
Additionally, the formula is further enriched with soothing components, such as chamomile and mushroom extracts that reduce inflammation and acne-induced redness.
With a dense gel consistency that foams up well when in contact with water, this cleanser exfoliates, reduces oil production, and keeps breakouts at bay.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Causes Acne?
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, sebum, and overgrowth of the bad bacteria block the pores and trigger the immune system to react by sending white blood cells towards the area to fight the infection.
This creates inflammation, which appears on the skin as a swollen, red, pus-filled pimple.
Therefore, regularly cleansing your skin is essential for helping it stay clear and healthy, as cleansers dissolve the excess cellular debris and prevent it from accumulating inside the pores.
How To Choose The Right Cleanser for Acne-Prone Skin?
Your acne-prone skin needs a cleanser that will remove surface dirt, bacteria, pollution, and various impurities and prevent them from getting stuck inside the pores and clogging them.
However, your cleanser also needs to be gentle enough not to strip your skin of its natural moisture and leave it feeling dehydrated and uncomfortable.
So here’s what you should do when choosing the right cleanser for acne-prone skin:
Watch the pH Level
Our skin’s pH balance is between 4.6 and 6, making it slightly acidic due to sebum production.
This means healthy skin is supposed to be oily because the acidic environment supports the skin’s natural bacteria growth and prevents the overgrowth of harmful bacteria.
Moreover, it is the ideal environment for the enzymes that seal in hydration and shed the dead skin cells to function properly.
In simple words, our skin needs to remain acidic to fight environmental factors and external aggressors and protect itself, which is why washing our face with a cleanser that has a pH of around 5.5 to maintain its natural state is the best way to ensure this.
Look For Key Ingredients
Ingredients that gently buff away the accumulated dead skin cells, such as glycolic, mandelic, and salicylic acids, are another key ingredient to look for in a cleanser.
These components will 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 fight acne.
Avoid Irritating Components
Your skin is likely irritated when dealing with an inflammatory condition such as acne.
Therefore, you must avoid cleansers with irritating components such as alcohol and fragrance, as this further contributes to irritation and delays your skin’s healing.
When choosing a cleanser, whether a product with or without actives, try to avoid irritating components to help your skin heal faster by reducing inflammation as much as possible.
How To Cleanse Acne-Prone Skin?
When cleansing acne-prone skin, it’s essential to use gentle circular motions with your fingertips rather than harsh scrubbing.
This prevents aggravating existing breakouts or creating new ones by exacerbating inflammation.
It’s also crucial to avoid over-cleansing and use a cleanser once or twice a day – in the morning and evening.
Lastly, make sure to follow up with a serum or a moisturizer suitable for your skin needs to keep it hydrated and balanced.
Following these tips, you can effectively cleanse acne-prone skin without causing further irritation or breakouts.
What’s The Best Cleanser for Acne?
The best cleanser for acne will depend on individual skin needs and concerns.
However, some key ingredients to look out for include salicylic acid, mandelic acid, and benzoyl peroxide, which can target acne-causing bacteria and help reduce inflammation.
My name is Simone and I am a certified skin specialist. I created this website to teach my readers how to take great care of their skin and I also like to occasionally share my honest opinions on skincare products I’ve tried. You can learn more about me here.
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