Cleansing is the first step in any good skin care routine with the goal of eliminating acne. But are you doing it right? It seems pretty straightforward, and yet not everyone is cleansing their skin in the proper way. If you suffer from acne and have oily skin, there’s a pretty good chance you’re overdoing it with the cleansing. It seems to feel right that you should scrub your skin within an inch of its life to get rid of excess oil and other gunk that clogs your pores, but this will only aggravate your skin and not accomplish what you want.
Other mistakes you may be making when it comes to cleansing are only cleansing once or not cleansing for long enough. You can’t just put on some of the cleanser all over your face then splash some water on it. Experts recommend gently rubbing the cleanser using circular motions for at least one minute before rinsing off thoroughly. And double cleansing is further recommended to completely rid your skin of all the makeup, SPF, dirt, grime and oil that has accumulated over the course of a day.
With double cleansing, first you use an oil-based cleanser or micellar water to remove makeup without overdrying skin. Next, you use an acne cleanser to get deeper inside pores and thoroughly clear them out of debris, oil, dirt, etc. If you wear makeup often, washing it off once with your go-to cleanser will not be enough. For oily, acne-prone skin it’s crucial to follow up with a specific acne cleanser to further offer a deep clean that will leave skin smooth and prevent future breakouts while helping to treat any existing ones. However, in the mornings, you can stick to just the acne cleanser, since you probably won’t have any makeup to remove.
In short, cleansing once in the morning and double cleansing at night (if you’ve been wearing makeup) are the way to go. Cleansing more than that, especially if your acne cleanser has potentially irritating ingredients, will only make your acne worse by triggering extra oil production from your skin glands.
Our list of the best acne cleansers will steer you in the right direction and hopefully make the chore of finding the right product easier on you. Read on for info on the best acne cleanser ingredients and a list of tried-and-true anti-acne products.
Best Ingredients for Acne Cleansers
Acne cleansers are obviously going to differ greatly from your regular, run-of-the-mill cleanser. They will contain special ingredients specifically added to the formula to help treat and prevent all types of acne, including blackheads, whiteheads and pimples. Here are some common ingredients to look for in the best acne cleansers:
Salicylic acid is one of the most popular anti-acne ingredients. It is a beta-hydroxy acid that works by sloughing away dead skin cells and unclogging pores. It usually works best for blackheads and whiteheads, which occur when pores get plugged with oil, dead skin cells and bacteria.
Benzoyl peroxide is another very well-known anti-acne ingredient. It works by targeting the P. acnes bacteria that is responsible for infecting pores and causing breakouts. Benzoyl peroxide kills this bacteria. However, it may not be suitable for sensitive skin, and it can cause skin to dry out.
Sulfur works pretty similarly to salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. It reduces excess oil and helps unclog pores. It can be a lot more gentle on skin than salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, making it a better choice for those with sensitive skin.
Best Acne Cleansers
There are so many acne-specific cleansers out there that you may find yourself overwhelmed by the choices. Luckily, there are plenty of great ones that work and have been not only vetted by dermatologists but also highly reviewed by everyday users and acne sufferers.
Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash
This is great for overall acne. Its main ingredient is salicylic acid to help break down clogged pores. Vitamin C is added to balance out oiliness.
Containing 5% benzoyl peroxide, this cleanser from Differin is effective against pimples but won’t dry out your skin like a product with a higher percentage of benzoyl peroxide.
Peter Thomas Roth Acne Clearing Wash
This acne wash also contains salicylic acid as a key ingredient to help fight blackheads and whiteheads. But it’s gentle on skin thanks to allantoin and vitamin B5.
Tata Harper Clarifying Cleanser
If you want a natural option, Tata Harper’s cleanser is the way to go. It features lactic and citric acids to exfoliate and unplug clogged pores, while also balancing oil production and calming redness.
Kate Somerville EradiKate Daily Cleanser Acne Treatment
Kate Somerville’s EradiKate cleanser contains 3% sulfur to target clogged pores and blemishes. Natural oat extract absorbs excess oil, while a botanical blend of honey and rice bran soothes and calms.
Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser
Glycolic acid is another great exfoliating ingredient that can help with acne problems. It is an alpha-hydroxy acid that penetrates deep into pores to unclog them and help prevent future breakouts.
SkinCeuticals LHA Cleanser Gel
This acne-fighting cleanser includes the double-whammy of salicylic and glycolic acids, which work together to reduce clogged pores and help dry out existing pimples for a clear complexion.
PCA Skin BPO 5% Cleanser
Another cleanser containing 5% benzoyl peroxide, which is a decent amount that won’t irritate sensitive skin, this product also contains soothing botanicals like aloe and chamomile to calm redness and irritation.
Dermalogica MediBac Clearing Skin Wash
Featuring salicylic acid and botanicals like tea tree (itself good at fighting acne) and eucalyptus, this Dermalogica face wash is great for calming irritation, reducing redness while obviously also fighting acne symptoms.
Biore Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser for Oily Skin
This cleanser from Biore features salicylic acid and charcoal to really dig deep into pores to clear them. It also leaves behind a very pleasant cooling sensation to relax skin that has just been treated with two powerful ingredients.
Nobody appreciates having acne. Sure, some people may be less bothered by it than others, but the truth is that it can affect your self-esteem no matter what. And if it’s something that you just can’t seem to get a handle on, it can affect your life for years. Remember to follow our cleansing guidelines and also to find the right cleanser for your particular skin type. It may take some trial and error before you find one that really works.