Are you looking to add a face wash that can help with acne scars to your skincare routine? Below, we’ve put together a list of the best face washes for acne scars. 

Do Face Washes Help with Acne Scars?

Some face washes contain ingredients that are known to minimize the appearance of acne scars. However, since cleansers aren’t leave-on products, they aren’t going to have a major impact on these scars. That said, a good face wash is essential for skin health, and can help prevent breakouts. This in turn will ultimately minimize the risk of developing acne scars. If you are dealing with acne scars and want to treat them, consider using other topical products (serums, chemical exfoliants, etc.) that are formulated to tackle acne scars. Check out our acne scars page for recommendations. 

Our Recommendations

1. Effaclar Medicated Acne Face Wash

La Roche Posay 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: Yes
How to use: Wet your face with lukewarm water, and then gently massage the cleanser into your skin. Rinse with lukewarm water.
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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.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Oil-free
  • Dermatologist tested
  • Non-comedogenic

Cons

  • 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.

2% Salicylic Acid, water, sodium laureth sulfate, decyl glucoside, glycerin, sodium chloride, coco-betaine, PEG-150 pentaerythrityl tetrastearate, hexylene glycol, sodium hydroxide, PEG-6 caprylic/capric glycerides, zinc gluconate, tetrasodium EDTA, polyquaternium-47, menthol, capryloyl salicylic acid, citric acid.

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Over-the-counter Acne Treatments"

    Accessed Aug. 16, 2021.

2. Daily Face Cleanser

Cetaphil Daily Face Cleanser

Cetaphil Face Wash for Daily Cleansing

Cetaphil Daily Face Cleanser

For those with normal to oily skin, this is one of the best cleansers from Cetaphil. The gel to foam formula is clinically proven to deeply cleanse the skin, but is still gentle enough to not strip it of its natural oils.

Skin types: Normal, Oily, Combination and Sensitive
Best for: Daily Cleansing
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: Wet your face with lukewarm water, and then gently massage the cleanser into your skin. Rinse with lukewarm water.
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This is an excellent cleanser for daily use, particularly for those with normal to oily skin. It cleanses without irritating or drying out the skin and contains vitamins B3 and B5, as well as glycerin, which hydrate and nourish the skin.

Pros

  • Non-comedogenic
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Gentle

Cons

  • Contains fragrance

The mild and low lather formula is dermatologist tested, and shown to be gentle on sensitive skin. Since it is also non-comedogenic, it won’t clog pores, making it a suitable choice for those with acne-prone skin.

Water, Glycerin, Peg-200 Hydrogenated Glyceryl Palmate, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Acrylates/Steareth-20 Methacrylate Copolymer, Peg-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Phenoxyethanol, Masking Fragrance, Panthenol, Peg-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Disodium Edta, Methylparaben

  1. Sage Journals. "Safety Assessment of Glycerin as Used in Cosmetics"

    Accessed Aug. 24, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Skin moisturizing effects of panthenol-based formulations"

    Accessed Aug. 24, 2021.

3. Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser

COSRX Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser

COSRX Face Wash for Acne and Daily Cleansing

COSRX Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser

This gentle foaming cleanser removes excess oils and helps unclog pores without drying out the skin.

Skin types: Normal, Oily and Combination
Best for: Acne and Daily Cleansing
Tested on animals: No
How to use: Dispense the cleanser into your palms, and then gently massage it into wet skin. Rinse with lukewarm water.
See on Amazon

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.

Pros

  • Gentle
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • Contains fragrance

In addition to the salicylic acid, this cleanser contains willow bark water, tea tree oil, evening primrose extract, and other soothing skincare ingredients.

Water, Glycerin, Myristic Acid, Stearic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Lauric Acid, Butylene Glycol, Glycol Distearate, Polysorbate 80, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Salicylic Acid, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Fragrance, Sodium Chloride, Melaleuca Alternigolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Water, Saccharomyces Ferment, Cryptomeria Japonica Leaf Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera Leaf Extract, Pinus Palustris Leaf Extract, Ulmus Davidiana Root Extract, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Flower Extract, Pueraria Lobata Root Extract, 1,2-Hexanediol, Ethyl Hexanediol, Citric Acid, Disodium EDTA

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Over-the-counter Acne Treatments"

    Accessed Aug. 24, 2021.

4. Clear Face Cleansing Foam

Sebamed Clear Face Cleansing Foam

Sebamed Face Wash for Daily Cleansing

Sebamed Clear Face Cleansing Foam

This Sebamed cleansing foam is excellent for those with acne-prone skin that tends to be a bit oilier, as it deeply cleans pores while also hydrating for balanced skin.

Skin types: Normal, Oily and Combination
Best for: Daily Cleansing
Tested on animals: No
How to use: Wet your face with lukewarm water, and then gently massage the cleanser into your skin. Rinse with lukewarm water.
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This cleanser contains Montaline C40, an antibacterial ingredient that helps clean away impurities that clog pores. The mild soap also helps cleanse the skin without stripping it of its natural oils.

Pros

  • Gentle
  • Fights acne
  • Soothing

Cons

  • Contains fragrance

In addition to the Montaline C40, this cleanser contains vitamin B5 (panthenol), which soothes the skin.

Water (Aqua), Cocamidopropyl Betainamide MEA Chloride, Hydroxypropyl Oxidized Starch PG-Trimonium Chloride, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Sodium Hydroxide, Fragrance (Parfum), Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Skin moisturizing effects of panthenol-based formulations"

    Accessed Aug. 24, 2021.

5. Foaming Facial Cleanser

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser

CeraVe Face Wash for Daily Cleansing

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser

This foaming cleanser is gentle and non-irritating on the skin, but still effectively removes dirt, debris, and excess oil without stripping it.

Skin types: Normal, Oily and Combination
Best for: Daily Cleansing
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: Wet the skin with lukewarm water, and then gently massage the cleanser into the skin. Rinse with lukewarm water.
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This cleanser is one of the best CeraVe products for oilier skin types, because it cleanses the skin without stripping it of its natural moisture. Maintaining the skin’s moisture is vital, as products that dry out the skin can actually trigger the skin to produce more oil. This cleanser allows you to protect your skin while still cleansing away excess oil, dirt, and debris.

Pros

  • Gentle
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Non-irritating
  • Fragrance-free

Cons

  • None

This daily foaming gel cleanser contains hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and three essential ceramides. These ingredients help ensure the cleanser doesn’t strip the skin of its natural moisture. They also help calm and soothe the skin.

Aqua / Water / Eau, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Glycerin, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Peg-150 Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate, Niacinamide, Peg-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl, Taurate, Propylene Glycol, Ceramide Np, Ceramide Ap, Ceramide Eop, Carbomer, Methylparaben, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Cholesterol, Disodium Edta, Propylparaben, Citric Acid, Tetrasodium Edta, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Phytosphingosine, Xanthan Gum

  1. American Academy of Dermatology. "How to control oily skin"

    Accessed Aug. 24, 2021.

6. Clear Pore Normalizing Cleanser

Paula’s Choice Clear Pore Normalizing Cleanser

Paula's Choice Face Wash for Daily Cleansing

Paula’s Choice Clear Pore Normalizing Cleanser

This salicylic acid cleanser is one of the best Paula’s Choice cleansers for acne. It removes excess oil and pore-clogging debris without drying out the skin or causing any redness.

Skin types: Normal, Oily and Combination
Best for: Daily Cleansing
Tested on animals: No
How to use: First, wet the skin with lukewarm water. Dispense the cleanser into your palms, and then gently massage into the skin. Rinse with lukewarm water.
See on Amazon

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.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Non-drying

Cons

  • 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.

Salicylic Acid 0.5% (anti-acne), Water (Aqua), Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate (cleansing agent), Acrylates/Steareth-20 Methacrylate Copolymer (texture enhancer), Glycerin (skin-replenishing), PEG-200 Hydrogenated Glyceryl Palmate (cleansing agent/solubilizer), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (cleansing agent), Arginine (amino acid/skin-softening), Butylene Glycol (hydration/slip agent), PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate (emollient/emulsifier), Panthenol (vitamin B5/hydration), Disodium EDTA (chelating agent), Citric Acid (pH adjuster), PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil (cleansing agent/solubilizer), Sodium Citrate (chelating agent), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Caprylyl Glycol (preservative), Chlorphenesin (preservative).

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Over-the-counter Acne Treatments"

    Accessed Aug. 5, 2021.

7. Acne Foaming Wash 10% Maximum Strength

PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash 10% Maximum Strength

PanOxyl Face Wash for Acne

PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash 10% Maximum Strength

This foaming benzoyl peroxide cleanser is excellent for fighting acne on both the face and body.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Acne
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: Gently massage the cleanser into the face, as well as any other areas of the body that are prone to acne (like the back or chest). Rinse with lukewarm water.
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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.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Non-comedogenic

Cons

  • 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.

Active Ingredient: Benzoyl Peroxide (10%) Inactive Ingredients: Carbomer Homopolymer Type C, Carbomer Interpolymer Type A, Decyl Glucoside, Dimethicone, Dioctyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate, Glycerin, Palmitic Acid, Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6, Polyoxyl 40 Stearate, Propanediol, Purified Water, Silica, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Laurylglucosides Hydroxypropylsulfonate, Sorbitan Stearate, Stearic Acid, t-Butyl Alcohol, Xanthan Gum

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Benzoyl Peroxide"

    Accessed Sep. 1, 2021.

8. Pigmentclar Brightening Deep Cleanser

La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Brightening Deep Cleanser

La Roche-Posay Face Wash for Daily Cleansing

La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Brightening Deep Cleanser

This foaming cream cleanser contains exfoliating lipo-hydroxy acid, which works to remove impurities from the skin and brighten overall skin tone.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Daily Cleansing
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: Wet your face with lukewarm water, and then gently massage the cleanser into your skin. Rinse with lukewarm water.
See on Amazon

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.

Pros

  • Oil-free
  • Dermatologist tested

Cons

  • Contains fragrance

In addition to the lipo-hydroxy acid, this cleanser contains glycerin, which helps keep the skin moisturized.

Aqua / Water, Glycerin, Myristic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Glyceryl Stearate Se, Stearic Acid, Lauric Acid, Palmitic Acid, Coco-Glucoside, Parfum / Fragrance, Tetrasodium Edta, Capryloyl Salicylic Acid

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "The Use of Lipohydroxy Acid in Skin Care and Acne Treatment"

    Accessed Jul. 30, 2021.

FAQs

How do I get rid of acne scars fast?

While there is nothing you can do to get rid of acne scars overnight, there are targeted products you can use to help minimize the appearance of these scars. Look for serums and treatments containing ingredients like vitamin C, alpha hydroxy acids (like glycolic acid, lactic acid, and mandelic acid), and retinol. You’ll get the best results if you stick to regularly using these types of products over an extended period of time. If you’re not seeing the results you’d like by using topical products, consider talking to a dermatologist about prescription products or professional treatment options (like a chemical peel or laser treatment). 

Are acne scars permanent?

If left untreated, some acne scars may be permanent, or may not fully disappear on their own. Typically, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (the dark and untextured mark left behind by a pimple) will fade on its own in anywhere from three to 24 months. Targeted products (and wearing sunscreen on a daily basis) can speed up that healing process. Raised and pitted scars, on the other hand, are more likely to be permanent. These types of scars often require some sort of treatment (either by using topical products or getting a professional treatment) in order to fully get rid of them.

Can Vaseline get rid of acne scars?

Vaseline itself won’t get rid of acne scars, but it may help support the skin’s health so that it is better able to heal scars. Vaseline is an occlusive, which means it forms a layer on the skin to prevent moisture loss. In order to heal blemishes and stay healthy, the skin needs to be adequately hydrated, so Vaseline may indirectly help minimize the appearance of acne scars by supporting the skin’s hydration. However, it’s very important to note that Vaseline may trap pore-clogging debris on the skin, which in turn can actually contribute to breakouts, so it may not be the best product to use on acne-prone skin. 

The Bottom Line

A face wash isn’t going to play a major role in getting rid of acne scars, but it will support your overall skin health while helping to prevent breakouts. For those with acne-prone skin that are dealing with acne scars, these are some great face washes to try.