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Top Ten Best Acne Face Wash Choices

by Christine GlasgowMay 11, 2017

Any good acne treatment regimen has to begin with thoroughly cleansing your skin. The problem with that, for many of us, is choosing the right cleanser, especially as when you walk into almost any drug store you’ll find shelf after shelf of products that all claim to be the best possible choice.

The fact is that many of these acne cleansers are actually very similar. They differ in manufacturer, name and packaging. And, of course price. Some cost just a few dollars while others can cost as much as a really good designer lipstick or more.

So are there really acne cleansers that are better than others or is it all a big game of skincare Russian roulette? The answer may lie in your skin type. Certain cleansers are better for certain skin types than others. The same is true of acne types. What works well on cystic acne may be very ineffective on blackheads. And a cleanser that is great for oily skin may be a little too harsh for those hose skin tends to be on the dry side.

All of this being said there are, we believe, some cleansers that do stand out from others and are worth the money and the time invested in using them. Here’s our run down of the Top Ten we particularly like:

1. Oxy Maximum Action Advanced Face Wash

Oxy is one of the best known names in acne treatment, especially among cash strapped teens looking for a solution to their acne problem that their not-so-deep pockets can actually run to. Formulated using a 10% benzoyl peroxide solution this is powerful stuff.

Best for: Those with normal to oily skin that isn’t too sensitive. This may be a little too harsh though for those with very dry or sensitive skin as the concentration of BP is the highest allowed by law for an over the counter treatment.


  • Its major purpose is to get rid of acne. Nothing fancier than that
  • It is suitable for use by all ages
  • Its very affordable
  • Given a few weeks of use most people see good results


  • It can be rather drying, especially during the first few days of use
  • You really should only use it once a day, so as twice a day cleansing is ideal you’ll need to find another, gentler cleanser to complement it.
  • It will make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so you’ll need to be religious about applying an SPF moisturizer before you go out.

2. Olay Foaming Face Wash Sensitive Skin

Having acne and sensitive skin often, well, just sucks. It often prevents you from using not just many of the more effective acne treatments but even also certain cosmetics as well. There are, however, some good products that are formulated for sensitive skin that don’t sacrifice efficacy in order to create a gentler formula. And in terms of cleansers designed to help fight acne this is one of the best.

Best For: Those with sensitive skin. It’s also a good choice for those with rather oily skin that really does not need to have any extra oil added to it at any time or too much extra moisture.


  • It’s almost a must have for those with both acne and very sensitive skin
  • It is 100% oil free, so won’t make an oily skin problem worse
  • Its foaming action is both effective and refreshing
  • It’s actually great at removing makeup, even mascara and eyeliner.
  • It’s relatively affordable and easy to find at most drug stores


  • It does have a bit of a pungent odor that some people find a bit off putting
  • It does call for a little extra care and effort to ensure that it is all rinsed off after use
  • The tube won’t always last you as long as you think. This is because while most cleansers only really require you use a pea sized amount every use this calls for quite a bit more if you really want to get that foaming action going.

3. Clearasil Daily Face Wash, Sensitive

Another long time big player in the acne treatment game, Clearasil has been consistently producing effective products for decades now . This is their latest offering that is designed for use by almost anyone, including those with sensitive skin. It makes use of the strongest allowed concentration of salicylic acid but other ingredients work very well to lessen the potentially harsh on the skin side effects.

Best For: Sensitive and Oily Skin


  • It contains powerful levels of acne fighting medication without being very harsh and drying.
  • It is one of the stronger, but not overly harsh, daily salcylic acid acne treatments on the market.
  • It does an excellent job of clearing up pesky blackheads and whiteheads
  • It really does a fantastic job of getting skin ‘squeaky’ clean.


  • If you’ve had problems with sensitivity to salcylic acid in the past this is not the cleanser for you.
  • It may be 3-4 weeks before you see any real results.

4. Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash

This does tend to be the cleanser that many dermatologists will recommend for those with oily skin. It’s a little pricier and a little harder to find than some of the products on this list but for those struggling with both oily skin and acne the effort is worth it.

Best for: Those with problem oily skin or very sensitive skin.


  • Very gentle so rarely causes allergic reactions
  • Does a good job or removing dirt and dissolving oil without drying out the skin
  • Can be used several times a day as needed
  • Leaves skin feeling smooth and soft, not tight and dry as some harsher cleansers tend to do.


  • Is helpful, but not to be considered a standalone acne treatment
  • Will often help prevent future breakouts but may not really clear up existing pimples.

Neutrogena Oil-Free Salicylic Acid Acne Wash

This is another tried and tested, ‘classic’ acne face wash that has been a fixture in the bathrooms of teenagers the world over for decades. However, it may be an oldie, but it’s still a goodie when it comes to basic, no frills acne washes that get the job done.

Best for: Everyone, except those with very sensitive skin


  • Just the right amount of salcylic acid for most people with mild to moderate acne to see a difference relatively quickly.
  • Tough on blackheads especially
  • Is tough on dead skin cells too, so skin looks brighter and clearer


  • Can be a bit drying, following up with a good oil free moisturizer is a non-negotiable must
  • Does not mix well with other chemically based acne treatments

6. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

This is another favorite of dermatologists, especially for those with sensitive or dry skin. It’s basic but it get the job done and has a proven track record of effectiveness.

Best for: Those with dry and/or sensitive skin but it’s OK for use by anyone


  • Very, very gentle.
  • Moisturizes as it cleanses, leaving skin feeling nice and supple
  • Suitable for use multiple times a day
  • Relatively inexpensive


  • With no ‘active ingredient’ it may not clear up tough pimples
  • If used several times a day may get a bit drying.

7. Dr. Bronner’s Castile Liquid Soap

Another true classic, this is one of the most versatile soaps around in general and it is great for acne sufferers to use on a standalone daily basis or as an ingredient in some excellent acne home remedies. It’s also very pleasant to use and even rather soothing, thanks to its truly delicious peppermint scent.

Best for: Anyone


  • Can be effectively used on the face and the body
  • Is a great bacne (back acne) fighter
  • Can fight severe acne which many other acne cleansers really can’t
  • Can be safely and regularly used by even those with very sensitive skin


  • Not always easy to find. Health food stores and Internet outlets are your best bets
  • Noticeable results may be slow in coming, sometimes taking up to a few months.

8. Bella Yasa Daily Purifying Cleanser For Acne

If you like the idea of adding a natural twist to your acne treatment, as well as a rather nice smell, then you might like this cleanser. It boasts ingredients like papaya, lemon juice and Vitamin C in addition to a dose of salicylic acid and so is a nice combination of both nature and science

Best for: Almost anyone except those with very sensitive skin


  • Removes make up effectively
  • Has enough salicylic acid to cleanse pores but not so much that it dries out the skin
  • Vitamin C provides anti-oxidant protection
  • Lemon juice can lessen the appearance of acne scars and dark spots


  • Not for those who have had problems with salicylic acid in the past
  • Not that effective for treating severe acne on its own
  • Somewhat pricier than many other options.

Neutrogena Deep Clean Cream Cleanser, Oil Free

This is another great choice for those with oily skin. It may seem strange to use a heavier cream cleanser on oily skin but it actually does a great job of dissolving and removing oil without making the skin too dry.

Best for:Those with oily skin


  • Great for oily skin
  • Does a good job of clearing up existing acne
  • Has a rich feeling that leaves skin feeling surprisingly supple considering salicylic acid is an ingredient here.


  • Not for those sensitive to salicylic acid
  • Not always the greatest choice for very dry skin as it may strip away a few too many essential oils.

Christina Moss Naturals Facial Wash For Acne

We get it. Some people prefer to live as naturally and organically as possible and minimize the number of chemicals they add to, and onto, their bodies. But can an all natural cleanser really fight acne? Some feel the answer is yes and this is a much loved nature based cleanser that has earned itself a good reputation.

Best For: Most skin types, except very dry or very sensitive skin


  • It really is all natural. No dyes, no preservatives, no perfumes
  • Is suitable for use several times a day
  • Has a nice, pleasant odor


  • Not great for severe acne
  • Can be irritating for those with a sensitivity to essential oils
  • A more expensive option than many others on this list

So, there you have it, our top ten picks for best acne washes. Now these are our choices, we know you might have a different opinion. If you do, or have a product in mind you think we should have included here do let us know, we’d love to hear about it.

Christine Glasgow
Canadian girl addicted to beauty and fashion. I'm a Blogger, Entrepreneur and web influencer 👑 I mostly talk about anything related to skin care and beauty. I created this site to share science-based information on skin conditions, treatments and skin care.

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