Best Acne Face Wash for Clear Skin

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Of all the beauty aisles in a store, the face wash one may just be the most confusing: How do you know which ingredients will work for your skin? What percentage should they be? Should it be foam? Gel? Both?

But that’s where a good dermatologist comes in. We tapped a couple doctors from Wexler Dermatology in New York to give us the ultimate list of acne-banishing face cleansers on the market. From drugstore to K-Beauty, there’s one for every concern and price point.

1

Skin Laundry Acne Face Wash with Salicylic Acid

“This citrus scented cleanser, made with tea tree extract, targets excess oil by dissolving sebum in clogged pores,” says dermatologist Patricia Wexler. “The salicylic acid gently exfoliates dead cells, and niacinamide improves the post breakout texture and tone. This formula targets every stage of acne.”

Skin Laundry Acne Face Wash with Salicylic Acid, $25; sephora.com

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2

Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Foam EX

According to Dr. Kenneth Howe at Wexler Dermatology those who use prescription topicals for acne don’t need a cleanser to do any extra work. “Cleansers formulated specifically to treat acne are often counter-productive in those cases, because the acne-fighting ingredients they contain leave the skin dried out or irritated,” he warns.

That being said, Dr. Howe suggests a cleanser that does a good job at gently clearing dead skin cells and excess oil. “I like Sulwhasoo’s Gentle Cleansing Foam EX. It’s formulated with botanical ingredients like duckweed and an extract taken from the inner shells of chestnuts, and leaves a delicate moisturizing layer on the skin after it’s rinsed off.”

Sulwashoo Gentle Cleansing Foam EX, $36; sulwashoo.com

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3

Eminence Organics Clear Skin Probiotics Cleanser

If you’re looking for a natural option, Dr. Wexler suggests this one for its powerful cocktail of ingredients like tea tree oil, willow bark, and yoghurt. “It targets irritation-causing bacteria, while shrinking pores and controlling excess oil production,” she says. It also contains a biocomplex of vitamins A, E, C, and coenzyme Q10, which are all “potent antioxidants that fight free radicals and diminish visible signs of aging.”

Eminence Organics Clear Skin Probiotics Cleanser , $38; dermstore.com

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4

Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser

Using a gentle acne-cleanser in tandem with prescriptions allows the medicine to work more effectively says Dr. Howe. That’s why he’s a fan of this Clarins product: “[It is] just a good solid cleanser that doesn’t dry the skin and stays out of the way of prescription topicals.”

Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser with Cottonseed, $26; sephora.com

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5

Biore Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser

This popular drugstore face wash is a favorite of Wexler for those with blackheads and closed comedones. “The charcoal acts as a detoxifier, and draws out debris from the pores, and the salicylic acid exfoliates the dead surface cells and treats active acne lesions to speed resolution,” she says.

Biore Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser, $7; amazon.com

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6

Kate Somerville Eradikate Daily Foaming Cleanser

A superstar ingredient Dr. Howe suggested looking for in a cleanser is sulfacetamide/sulfur. “It works well without drying the skin as much as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide,” he explains. “The sulfur treats acne both by killing P.Acnes, the bacteria that causes acne, and by breaking up the follicular plugs that are the first step in the development of a pimple.”

Straight-up sulfur washes are only available by prescription, but Howe said this Kate Somerville one is a solid alternative. “It contains three percent sulfur to treat acne, and an oat extract to absorb and balance excess sebum. It’s a good, versatile product, perfect for acne rosacea but really good for common acne as well,” he said.

Kate Somerville Eradikate Daily Foaming Cleanser, $38; sephora.com

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7

PanOxyl 4 Creamy Wash

For mild acne cases, Dr. Howe is a fan of this over the counter wash from PanOxyl 4—especially for teens who are just starting to get acne. Its main ingredient, Benzoyl Peroxide, “is quite effective since kids that age are usually pretty oily. It’s also inexpensive and readily available.”

PanOxyl 4 Creamy Wash, $12; amazon.com

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