11 best face washes for acne this year

Jennifer E. Engen

Acne is no fun. It’s frustrating, embarrassing, and annoying. Maybe you have chronic acne or maybe you just get a breakout here and there. Whatever your circumstances are, we’re pretty sure you’d do anything to get rid of acne. But because there are so many products available on the market for acne, it can be hard to find a product that will suit your specific skin care needs.

What is Salicylic Acid? How does charcoal help? Will Aloe Vera irritate my skin? If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably had questions like these while you’re aimlessly searching for face washes in the skincare aisle at your local grocery store. We decided to take the stress work out of shopping and rounded up 11 of the best face washes for acne this year.

1. Blu Atlas Volcanic Ash Face Cleanser

(Blu Atlas) | Volcanic Ash Face Cleanser.

We’d hate for you to miss out on one of the best—if not the best—best face wash of the year, which is why you need to get your hands on Blu Atlas Volcanic Ash Face Cleanser. This face will completely change your skin for the better. It’s enriching, exfoliating, pH-balancing, detoxifying, cleansing, soothing, and revitalizing.

Featuring natural ingredients that will get the job done, this face wash is also suitable for any skin type. Volcanic Ash, also known as Bentonite, distributes highly absorbent fine particles across the face which remove excess oil, dirt, grime, pollution, sunscreen, and other impurities clogging the pores. The Volcanic Ash also helps to visibly tighten and soften the appearance of the pores, leaving your skin looking radiant.

This face wash also features Lactobacillus Ferment Filtrate that protects the skin from outside aggressors and irritants, builds up the skin’s natural barrier, and helps the skin’s microbiome. Dispense a small dime-sized amount of product into your hands and gently massage the wash onto your face, avoiding the eyes, nose, and mouth.

After rinsing your face, follow the rest of your skincare routine for supple, healthy, and glowing skin that you’ll be proud of. Bye, bye acne and hello freshness.

2. CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser

(CeraVe) | Renewing SA Cleanser.

Hormones, genetics, diet, and environment can all factor into your skin and blemishes. It can be outright exhausting and frustrating trying to clear up a breakout or find a product that will not make your skin worse. If this sounds anything like you, we have the perfect product. Say hello to CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser.

CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser is formulated with intense, yet gentle, Salicylic Acid (SA). If you didn’t already know, Salicylic Acid is a Beta Hydroxy Acid, also known as a BHA, helps remove dead skin cells by exfoliating away impurities that clog the pores, leaving a fresh and healthy layer of skin. This cleanser is great at targeting oils, uneven skin tones, redness, irritation, dullness, and dryness.

Despite it exfoliating your skin, this cleanser is extremely gentle and won’t cause you further stress by harming your skin more. Besides the stellar Salicylic Acid, this face wash also features hyaluronic acid that infuses hydrating moisture in the skin, Niacinamide that brightens dark spots, and Vitamin D that nourishes the skin with soothing antioxidant properties. Apply a small amount of product onto your face up to two times a day for the best results. Because this product does contain BHA, it’s best to start using a small amount of this product and then build up to it for daily use. Your skin will be glowing, radiant, and acne-free in no time!

3. Clean & Clear Essentials Foaming Facial Cleanser

(Clean & Clear) | Essentials Foaming Facial Cleanser.

One day, your face is spotless, shining, and radiant. The next? Oily, red, and riddled with blemishes left and right. So, what are you supposed to do? It’s time to bust out one of the best faces for acne this year: Clean & Clear Essentials Foaming Facial Cleanser.

This bright, bubbly, orange face wash is one of our favorite cleansers because it’s affordable, effective, and non-irritating. Clean & Clear Essentials Foaming Facial Cleanser works by unclogging dirt, oil, grime, makeup, pollution, sunscreen, and other impurities from the skin—allowing your skin time to heal, breathe, and repair itself.

This face cleanser also does an incredible job at absorbing excess oil, preventing future breakouts, and hydrating the skin. Infused with coconut oil and other enriching ingredients, this face wash will gently lather and foam away acne-causing impurities from your skin without over-drying. Now, go forth and embrace your new, healthy, and acne-free skin.

4. Liquid Neutrogena The Transparent Facial Cleanser

(Liquid Neutrogena) | The Transparent Facial Cleanser.

You deserve the finer things in life—the things that are luxurious, elegant, classy, and posh—the things that you won’t regret buying because they are just that good. Have you ever tried liquid gold? We think Liquid Neutrogena The Transparent Facial Cleanser comes pretty close.

Liquid Neutrogena The Transparent Facial Cleanser gently targets oil, dirt, grime, bacteria, makeup, and other impurities that clog the pores and cause acne. After one wash, your face will look and feel cleaner, more hydrated, and more radiant.

Since this product is fragrance-free, oil-free, hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, and dermatologist-tested, it’s perfect for sensitive skin types. Squirt a pump of this face wash onto your skin and gently massage, rinse, and apply your favorite moisturizer to finish off your routine. 2022 is your year, so live it up in style—acne-free and fresh-faced.

5. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser

(La Roche-Posay) | Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser.

If your goal this year is to detoxify your skin and get rid of acne, La Roche-Posay is here to help. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser contains 2% salicylic acid that targets acne and stops it in its tracks. This cleanser works by cleansing the skin and unclogging the pores to not only diminish current acne and blemishes but also prevent future breakouts from occurring in the first place.

After a few washes, your skin will look brighter, hydrated, healthier, and youthful. This cleanser also does a great job at targeting blackheads, redness, and acne-related scarring because we know how frustrating it can be to get rid of acne only to be left with unsightly scars. Even though this cleanser is tough on acne, it’s still gentle on your skin.

This product is oil-free, allergy-tested, non-comedogenic, dermatologist-tested, paraben-free, and fragrance-free. Use twice a day for the best results, and your skin will be blemish-free in no time.

6. Paula’s Choice Clear Pore Normalizing Cleanser

(Paula’s Choice) | Clear Pore Normalizing Cleanser.

Clogged pores are such a drag. We understand the struggle of constantly trying to find a product that can actually unclog your pores and prevent future breakouts. Clogged pores can cause blackheads, whiteheads, oil build-up, and a plethora of other skin-related concerns—none of which sound appealing. Want to know our secret for healthy pores? Paula’s Choice Clear Pore Normalizing Cleanser.

This product is one of the best face washes for acne this year, and you seriously won’t be disappointed. This cleanser contains Salicylic Acid which unclogs pores by dissolving impurities that can cause blackheads, whiteheads, redness, dullness, oiliness, and unevenness. This product won’t cause irritation and doesn’t over-dry the skin because it’s free of parabens and fragrances, meaning even sensitive skin types can use this cleanser.

Wash your face with this cleanser twice a day and watch as your skin turns into a healthy, acne-free complexion. After cleansing, make sure to apply the proper sunscreen since BHAs make your skin more prone to sun damage and irritation.

7. Cetaphil Gentle Clear Clarifying Acne Cream Cleanser

(Cetaphil) | Gentle Clear Clarifying Acne Cream Cleanser.

Most acne face washes breakout, dehydrate, and irritate the skin, causing your face to look even worse than when you started. It can feel hopeless, frustrating, and like a lost cause trying to find a product that works for your skin’s needs. Plus, searching for the right face wash can be time-consuming and expensive. If you’re struggling and don’t know what to do, let us introduce one of our favorite acne face washes: Cetaphil Gentle Clear Clarifying Acne Cream Cleanser.

This face wash is intense, cleansing, and hydrating—all in one. One of the main reasons we love this cleanser is because it targets the five most common signs of skin sensitivity while it washes your face: dryness, tightness, roughness, irritation, and a damaged skin barrier. How many other face washes can say that?

Not only does this cleanser help soothe and heal sensitive skin, but it also gets rid of and prevents acne by infusing the skin with 2% Salicylic Acid. The Salicylic Acid unclogs pores by dissolving dirt, oil, makeup, bacteria, blackheads, and other blemishes that are present, leaving your skin fresh and clean.

After a few washes, your skin will be stronger, healthier, and acne-free. This face wash is suitable for any skin type and is free of fragrances.

8. Bioré Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser

(Bioré) | Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser.

Bioré is one of the best drugstore skincare brands out there—no questions asked. You’ve probably used a product or two from them before, but if you haven’t, you’re missing out! Bioré takes advantage of nature’s natural ingredients and infuses them in their products, which is another reason we love the brand.

Bioré Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser brings the best of both worlds together: treatment and prevention. Infused with powerful 1% Salicylic Acid, Bioré Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser dissolves acne-causing impurities—such as oil, dirt, grime, and makeup—and clears the pores, preventing future blemishes and breakouts.

This cleanser also contains one of nature’s best-kept secrets: charcoal. Did you know that charcoal is naturally absorbent? Now you know! Charcoal is a great ingredient for acne-prone skin because it removes excess oil that can eventually lead to blemishes. This product is oil-free, cruelty-free, non-comedogenic, and dermatologist-tested. Now, hit up your local drugstore and pick up your new favorite face wash.

9. Differin Cleanser Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment Daily Deep Cleanser

(Differin Cleanser) | Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment Daily Deep Cleanser.

2022 should be a year full of happiness, growth, and joy—not a year full of stressing about your acne. If your acne is bringing you down and crushing your year, allow us to introduce you to one of the best face washes for acne this year: Differin Cleanser Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment Daily Deep Cleanser.

Differin Cleanser Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment Daily Deep Cleanser contains 5% Benzoyl Peroxide that penetrates deep beneath the skin’s surface to unclog pores and remove excess impurities such as oil, dirt, grime, makeup, bacteria, sunscreen, and environmental pollution.

The thing we love about this product is that it only uses 5% Benzoyl Peroxide which is just as effective as 10% but doesn’t irritate or dry out your skin, making this a win for sensitive skin. This cleanser also contains a micronized formula that helps clean the skin, hydrate, reduce redness, and promote a healthy complexion. Stop wasting the best years of your life over acne and start living your best life today.

10. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleanser

(Neutrogena) | Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleanser.

We could not compile a list of the best face washes for acne this year without shouting out one of the most coveted, beloved, and impressive face washes of all time. You’ve probably seen this product flipping through magazines while you wait at the doctor’s office or you’ve seen it on social media where people rave about it. What else could we possibly be talking about other than Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleanser?

There’s a reason why this pink, citrusy face wash is so celebrated among dermatologists and skincare enthusiasts alike—it works. Yes, you read that correctly. It actually works. In just a few washes, you’ll witness your skin dramatically transform into a healthy, clean, acne-free landscape. This face wash contains Salicylic Acid, which is one of the best ingredients to fight acne. Salicylic Acid works by dissolving impurities like oil, dirt, and grime. These impurities often get trapped in the pores, causing blackheads and other blemishes.

As a bonus, this product also contains revitalizing and awakening pink grapefruit that infuses the skin with natural Vitamin C and antioxidants that help heal and restore the skin back. Apply a small amount of product onto your face and bask in the fruity smells. Plus, it’s safe to use on sensitive skin and is free of parabens, aluminum, and oil.

11. Mario Badescu Skin Care Acne Facial Cleanser

(Mario Badescu) | Skin Care Acne Facial Cleanser.

Mario Badescu Skin Care Acne Facial Cleanser is one of the more luxurious face washes on this list. It’s soothing, softening, and clarifying.

Mario Badescu Skin Care Acne Facial Cleanser features Salicylic Acid, breaking down and dissolving all the gunk you don’t want lurking in your pores. Plus, Salicylic Acid works to actively prevent future breakouts, which means you don’t have to stress about the state of your skin.

This face wash is also formulated with calming Aloe Vera that reduces redness and irritation, Chamomile that reduces inflammation, and Thyme that helps break down additional impurities. Your skin will thank you after just one wash because it will feel cleaner, lighter, and brighter.


Skinfix Acne+ 2% BHA + Azelaic Acid + Niacinamide + AHA Cleanser

(Skinfix) | Acne+ 2% BHA + Azelaic Acid + Niacinamide + AHA Cleanser.

We know we said we rounded up 11 of the best face washes for acne this year, but we couldn’t miss an opportunity to give some honorable mentions. If you’re still not sold on a face wash for you, we’re so glad to introduce Skinfix Acne+ 2% BHA + Azelaic Acid + Niacinamide + AHA Cleanser.

This groundbreaking cleanser works to diminish current breakouts and halt future ones from occurring in the first place. Skinfix contains 2% Salicylic Acid that removes excess oil, dirt, grime, and build-up lodged deep in the pores. 2% Niacinamide visibly minimizes the appearance of pores and reduces sebum buildup, which can cause acne. 1% Azelaic Acid reduces bacteria present in the skin and visibly softens and reduces acne-related scarring.

We love this face wash because it targets Malasseziafolliculitis or, in simple terms, fungal acne. This product really cleanses out the pores and dissolves acne-causing bacteria which is more than most face washes can say. This cleanser is vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, and is free of harmful irritants like parabens, sulfates, and phthalates.

Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash

(Dermalogica) | Clearing Skin Wash.

Dermalogica is that brand you wish you had growing up. Their skincare lines are some of the best products out there for sensitive, oily, and acne-prone skin. In particular, we love Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash.

This face wash is formulated 0.5% Encapsulated Salicylic Acid and Phytic Acid unclog pores by gently exfoliating and dissolving oil, dirt, and grime that causes acne. These two powerhouse ingredients also help brighten and even out the skin tone, visibly softening the appearance of dull spots. Plant-Derived Glycerin, a prebiotic, helps restore the skin back to a healthy state, balancing out impurities. As if those nourishing ingredients were not enough, Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash also contains Chamomile Flower, Tea Tree, Camphor, and Menthol that soothe irritations and prevent breakouts.

You can’t go wrong with this gentle, lightweight cleanser that will completely transform your skin into a healthy, radiant masterpiece. Plus, it’s free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates and is vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free. What is there not to love?

Kiehl’s Since 1851 Blue Herbal Acne Cleanser Treatment

(Kiehl’s) | Since 1851 Blue Herbal Acne Cleanser Treatment.

If this is your first introduction to Kiehl’s Since 1851, consider yourself in for a real treat. Kiehl’s has been in the skincare game for quite some time (since 1851 to be exact) and has perfected the ultimate face wash formula.

This intensive, foaming cleanser dissolves oil, dirt, makeup, grime, pollution, sunscreen, and other irritants from the pores so the skin can begin to heal and restore itself. Salicylic Acid penetrates deep in the pores, unclogging the skin and preventing future breakouts. This is one of our favorite cleansers that clears blackheads, whiteheads, blemishes, pimples, and other acne and oil-related imperfections.

Tatcha The Deep Cleanse

(Tatcha) | The Deep Cleanse.

Tatcha is the skincare brand that’s all the rage on social media. Chances are if you scroll through any skincare-related hashtag on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll see someone raving about them. And we can’t blame them. Tatcha products are luxurious, affordable, and highly effective. Take Tatcha The Deep Cleanse, for example.

This face wash targets acne at the source, without causing further irritation to the skin. Plus, it smells heavenly and is crafted with some of the best ingredients available. Japanese Luff Fruit—a natural ingredient that has been beloved by Japanese women for hundreds of years—gently cleanses the skin and lifts away dirt, oil, makeup, and other impurities that can cause breakouts.

Fruit exfoliate ground fibers naturally exfoliate the skin, removing dead skin cells that clog the pores. Japanese Wild Rose visibly softens and reduces the appearance of pores and uneven skin tones. Japanese Leopard Lily reduces oil production, leaving your skin healthy and balanced.

As if Tatcha The Deep Cleanse can’t get any better, it’s also formulated without harmful ingredients like parabens, synthetic fragrances, and sulfate detergents. Plus, it’s oil-free, dermatologist-tested, non-irritating, and cruelty-free.

The INKEY List Salicylic Acid Cleanser

(The INKEY List) | Salicylic Acid Cleanser.

2022 is the year of fresh, acne-free faces. We love The INKEY List Salicylic Acid Cleanser because it gently foams and cleans away acne-causing impurities while 2% Salicylic Acid exfoliates away dead skin cells, diminishes blackheads, and visibly minimizes the appearance of pores.

Zinc Compound reduces excess sebum, which can cause irritation and acne. Plus, it infuses the skin with soothing anti-inflammatory properties that help protect and nourish the skin. 0.5% Allantoin promotes healthy skin tissue growth, which helps clear up the skin faster. You can’t go wrong with this gentle, cruelty-free face wash that will have your skin acne-free in no time.

CeraVe Acne Control Cleanser

(CeraVe) | Acne Control Cleanser.

Struggling with acne? CeraVe Acne Control Cleanser is the perfect product for you. 2% Salicylic Acid dissolves and unclogs pores by exfoliating dead skin cells and removing excess impurities. Plus, this face wash is formulated with essential ceramides that help restore the skin, Niacinamide that helps brighten the skin, and Hectorite Clay that helps prevent future breakouts and absorb excess oil.

This face wash won’t cause your skin irritation, so you don’t have to worry about additional redness or dryness as a result of using it. We promise you’ll love it!


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