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Along with other acne-fighting skincare products, the right face wash can help people with acne-prone skin keep breakouts at bay. Here’s our guide to the best drugstore face washes for acne.
1. Effaclar Medicated Acne Face Wash
La Roche-Posay Face Wash for Acne and Daily Cleansing
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Acne Face Wash
The 2% concentration of salicylic acid in this medicated cleanser helps remove excess oil and clear current breakouts.
Skin types: Normal, Oily and Combination
Best for: Acne and Daily Cleansing
Tested on animals:
How to use: Wet your face with lukewarm water, and then gently massage the cleanser into your skin. Rinse with lukewarm water.
This cleanser contains a 2% concentration of the chemical exfoliator salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid (BHA). Salicylic acid is able to shed excess skin cells and decongest pores to fight current breakouts, as well as prevent future breakouts from happening.
May be drying
This award-winning cleanser has been dermatologist tested, and is suitable for sensitive skin. It is also non-comedogenic, meaning it doesn’t contain ingredients known to clog pores.
If you’re acne-prone, you need a daily cleanser that will remove excess oils and impurities without further irritating breakouts or drying out the skin. This cleanser contains a 0.5% concentration of salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that helps gently unclog pores to minimize breakouts.
Vegan and cruelty-free
In addition to the salicylic acid, this cleanser contains willow bark water, tea tree oil, evening primrose extract, and other soothing skincare ingredients.
This gel cleanser contains the chemical exfoliator salicylic acid, which is a beta-hydroxy acid (or BHA). Salicylic acid sheds excess skin cells and decongests pores to fight acne and blackheads, leading to a clearer complexion.
May irritate sensitive skin
This cleanser has a 0.5% concentration of salicylic acid. The low concentration helps clear the skin of excess oil and debris without irritating it.
This foaming cleanser contains a 10% concentration of benzoyl peroxide. This high concentration helps kill acne-causing bacteria on the skin while also unclogging pores to treat current breakouts and prevent new blemishes from forming.
May irritate the skin
For the best results, this cleanser should be used on a regular basis as part of an effective skincare routine to keep breakouts at bay.
Lipo-hydroxy acid (which is a derivative of salicylic acid) is a gentle chemical exfoliator that is well-tolerated by most, and great for acne-prone skin and acne scars. It is exfoliating and known to stimulate collagen and elastin production (which is great for anti-aging and evening out skin tone and texture), and also has anti-acne properties. While this acid will be most effective when applied as a leave-on treatment, this cleanser can still contribute towards lightening post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
In addition to the lipo-hydroxy acid, this cleanser contains glycerin, which helps keep the skin moisturized.
Salicylic acid (a beta hydroxy acid, or BHA) is great for unclogging pores and fighting breakouts, but it’s not the best chemical exfoliant for minimizing the appearance of acne scars. Products with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) – such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, and mandelic acid – are the best for acne scars, because they work on the surface of the skin to create a more even skin tone and texture. If you’re looking to minimize acne scars, consider adding a chemical exfoliant product with AHAs to your skincare routine.
How do you wash your face if you have acne?
If you have acne, it’s important to be gentle with your skin when washing your face to avoid causing further irritation. If you aggravate your skin when washing it, you increase the likelihood that you’ll get acne scars from your current breakouts. Once you’ve chosen a cleanser that works for you, gently massage it into your skin for about a minute using your fingers. Don’t use a face brush, wet towel, or other scrubbing tool, as this can cause irritation. You should also use lukewarm water when washing your face, as water that is too hot or too cold can irritate and dry out the skin.
How often should you wash your face?
You should wash your face one to two times each day. At the end of the day, it’s essential to cleanse away any dirt, sweat, sebum, and additional debris that has accumulated throughout the day, as neglecting to do so can contribute to breakouts. Many people also choose to wash their face in the morning. This is particularly important if you workout in the morning, as you’ll want to cleanse away any sweat before applying your skincare products. However, you may find that only washing your face at night is suitable. It’s important to note that you should not wash more than two times per day, because over-cleansing can cause irritation and dryness, and may even exacerbate breakouts.
The Bottom Line
There are plenty of super effective face washes for acne that you can find at the drugstore. Consider using one of our recommended face washes in your skincare routine to treat and prevent breakouts.
About the author
Kyra is a content writer based in Los Angeles, CA. She works in the health and wellness sphere, and covers everything from beauty to skincare to fitness. She has been passionate about skincare since she was a teenager, and loves uncovering the absolute best routines and products available to help people reach their skin goals.