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From the moment we hit puberty, acne becomes a big part of most of our lives. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting about 50 million Americans every year. But acne doesn't disappear after your teenage years. Instead, it can carry on into adulthood, or develop then for the very first time.
That’s why the skincare products we use every day are so important—starting with our face wash. Lucky for you, we searched high and low to find the best cleansers on the market to heal breakouts and keep them from forming in the first place.
Read on for the best acne face washes you can buy now.
This acne face wash is not only budget-friendly, but it also works hard to get rid of blemishes and keep skin calm and clear. The formula is non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog up pores, and it's non-drying and non-irritating—perfect for anyone with sensitive skin. It’s also developed with dermatologists and uses good-for-skin ingredients like salicylic acid, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and antioxidant vitamin D.
This classic, dermatologist-recommended cleanser is a best-seller for a reason. It’s formulated with salicylic acid, which is often the best ingredient to try if you find yourself dealing with acne. It’s a beta hydroxy acid, which means it works to exfoliate and clear dead skin cells that are clogging up your pores. That translates to less frequent breakouts and overall clearer-looking skin.
Activated charcoal is created from carbon-rich materials burned at high temperatures, like coal, coconut shells, and wood. In skincare, there are claims that it binds to and removes impurities from the skin, but more research is needed.
By now you probably know the whole schpeel about how charcoal benefits the skin, so we won't get into it here, but just know that this charcoal-infused cleanser is the stuff, particularly if you're dealing with blackheads. The hard-hitting combo of charcoal and salicylic acid removes impurities from the skin so pores are purified (no more of those black dots pebbling your nose) and breakouts are left at bay.
Benzoyl peroxide is an organic acid in the peroxide family that has been used to treat acne because of its keratolytic, moderate comedolytic, and antibacterial properties, which include the reduction of P. acnes and Staph. aureus on the skin.
If you tend to go for oil-free formulas to counteract skin that already produces too much oil, this formula is a great option. It’s formulated with benzoyl peroxide to kill acne-causing bacteria and glycolic acid to exfoliate the skin and get rid of clogged pores without drying them out.
When it comes to clearing up acne, benzoyl peroxide is a total powerhouse ingredient. It kills the bacteria on your face that causes acne to form, so not only will it banish your pimples, but it’ll stop them from forming in the first place. It’s important to use benzoyl peroxide carefully though since it can be drying to sensitive and dry skin types. But for oily skin, it’s a great option and can even slow the overproduction of oil.
This formula uses crushed walnut shells to slough away dead skin cells—an important step in clearing away clogged pores and stopping them from forming. But that's not all. It also uses a chemical exfoliator, so it does double duty in the exfoliation department. While the walnut particles work on the outer layer of skin, salicylic acid works its way down into the pores to clear them out. That means fewer pimples and fewer blackheads.
From the brand that created the ultimate acne spot treatment (if you know, you know) comes this equally-great acne face wash. It's a clarifying formula with salicylic acid, aloe vera, and thyme extract to help remove pore-clogging dead skin cells while preventing the skin from drying out.
Acne can, of course, cause unattractive zits to pop up, and with that can come redness as well. This cleanser is formulated to get rid of blemishes and the redness that makes skin look even more irritated. The salicylic acid clears up acne while naturally derived aloe and chamomile extracts work to calm the skin and soothe it.
Dealing with combination skin can be tricky since parts of the face are oily—usually around the T-zone (the forehead, nose, and chin)—and the other areas tend to be dry. So, picking the right cleanser is important in keeping your skin balanced and happy. This formula has acne-fighting salicylic acid, but it’s also gentle enough to use daily.
When it comes to acne, you hear a lot about the wonders of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Nothing against them (they're acne-fighting great ingredients for certain) but let's also give some due praise to sulfur, which makes a big 3% cameo in this cleanser. When used over time, you can expect to see visibly clearer skin and minimized pores.
According to dermatologist Dr. Nava Greenfield of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York, this formula is a great pick packed with potent glycolic acid to exfoliate. Use this cleanser to help remove surface dead skin cells which can pile up on the surface, clog pores, and lead to acne. Your skin will look glowy as a result, too, which is never a bad thing.
This cleanser is formulated with both AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) and BHA (salicylic acid) so you know it's not messing around—or should we say, misbehaving. It's got sal acid, but also glycolic acid, witch hazel, and allantoin. Dr. Greenfeld recommends reaching for this one when you're dealing with comedones, those small, flesh-colored bumps that usually appear on the forehead and chin.
We searched high and low to find the best cleansers on the market to banish zits and keep them from forming in the first place. We found that the best acne face wash is CeraVe's Renewing SA Face Cleaner (see at Amazon). Not only is it budget-friendly, but it also includes blemish-busting salicylic acid to address existing acne and keep pores clear. If you're steering clear of sal acid and prefer a benzoyl peroxide-based cleanse, we recommend Differin's Daily Deep Cleaner (see at Amazon). The BP (benzoyl peroxide) helps kill acne-causing bacteria before it has a chance to wreak havoc.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any face washes available at Walmart from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.