There are probably many reasons why you wanted to leave your teen years behind, including saying goodbye to your acne. Don’t freak out if those pesky pimples stay around for a while. Acne face wash can help improve the appearance of pimples, soothe redness, and prevent future breakouts.
It is common for women to experience adult acne, says Nazanin Saedi, M.D., director of Jefferson Laser Surgery and Cosmetic Dermatology Center in Philadelphia. In order to control hormones like estrogen and testosterone, dermatologists often recommend birth control, which can help.
It is also important to know what you put on your face. The first step in your anti-acne regimen is to use a facial wash every morning and every night. In the morning, Dr. Saedi says, “You can clear any dirt and oil that has accumulated overnight” by cleansing at night.
How to Choose The Best Face Wash for Acne-Prone Skin
Find active ingredients in your face wash. Benzoyl peroxide (to remove bacteria that cause acne), salicylic acid (to exfoliate and remove pore-clogging debris), sulfur (to reduce inflammation), or glycolic acid (an alpha hydroxy acid that helps to remove dead skin cells) are some ingredients to look for in your face wash.
It is important to go milder if necessary. Anti-acne face washes can be drying. If you wash too much, your skin may become irritated. The best way to treat dry or flaky skin is to scale back to every other day and apply a non-comedogenic moisturizer designed for oily or acne-prone skin.
For maximum irritation, use a mild cleanser that does nothing if you’re taking a drying medication. Designed for sensitive skin, these face washes just prepare your base (cleaning out makeup, oil, and dirt) so your acne medication (e.g., prescription retinoid) or spot treatment can handle the rest.
You’ll need to try both cleansers formulated with active ingredients and those for sensitive skin in order to find out which cleanser suits your skin better. If your skin gets red, itchy, flaky, or irritated in general, talk to your doctor about switching to a milder formula instead.
According to Dr. Saedi, you don’t need to spend a fortune on cleansers—you can buy them at the local drugstore. There are options in every price range: Here are dermatologists’ recommendations for acne-fighting face washes, from the mildest to the strongest.
10 Best Face Wash for Acne and Wrinkles
1. Skin Cleanser
It’s a dermatologist favorite for a reason. It removes impurities without irritating skin, making it perfect for acne-prone skin (and all skin types).
2. Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser
This formula packs 4% benzoyl peroxide, so you’re getting enough to buff away bacteria. CeraVe’s formula contains ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide to help hydrate and soothe irritated skin.
3. Pure Skin Face Cleanser
The formula deep cleans dirt, oil, and makeup while maintaining balance in the skin, which makes it perfect for acne-prone, irritated skin. Glycerin, aloe, licorice, root, and white tea extracts work together to soothe and hydrate the face without stinging or burning. The whipped texture lathers up nicely, but never leaves the skin feeling dry.
4. Oil-Free Salicylic Acid Pink Grapefruit Acne Wash
With a unique micro-clear technology, this face wash fights breakouts, blackheads, and post-acne marks. The scent is also refreshing!
5. Medicated Gel Acne Face Wash
As part of this pick, salicylic acid and lipo-hydroxy acid are used to remove impurities without irritating the skin with harsh scrub particles. As a result of its glycerin ingredient, customers say it leaves their skin super moisturized (rather than dry and stiff like other acne washes.)
6. Daily Deep Cleanser
Many reviewers report that they noticed a difference in their skin within a week of consistently cleansing with this face wash because it contains 5% benzoyl peroxide.
7. Foaming Facial Cleanser
With its oil-free, pH-balanced formula, this face wash gently cleans the skin without irritating or drying it out. Its 4.7-star rating on Amazon makes sense. A powerful self-foaming technology is included in this product, removing pollutants and impurities from the skin deep down. Bromelain, a pineapple-derived enzyme that leaves your skin smoother and softer, is also an ingredient.
8. Hydrating Facial Cleanser
You do not have to be afraid of “hydrating” if you are acne-prone. This fragrance-free, non-comedogenic option will help combat any irritation, says Tara Rao, M.D., of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. Hyaluronic acid and ceramides work to lock in moisture, so the skin never feels dry or stripped.
9. Toleriane Purifying Foaming Face Wash
Infused with hydrating ceramides and soothing niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3), this oil-free, soap-free cleanser soothes an angry complexion while removing dirt, oil, and makeup.
10. Clear Complexion Foaming Oil-Free Facial Cleanser
Unlike foaming face washes, this gentle formula is packed with 0.5% salicylic acid to help unclog pores and exfoliate the skin for a more even and balanced appearance.