The 13 Best Acne-Fighting Face Washes for Men

Our best overall pick is La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Acne Face Wash

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Best Acne Face Washes for Men

Byrdie / Sabrina Jiang

I'll just say it: Acne is the worst. It doesn’t matter who you are—if there's one thing that unites us, it’s dealing with zits. The first step to fighting acne is to find an effective face wash. "Acne-prone skin requires cleansing to prevent excess oil and bacteria from clogging pores, as well as some gentle exfoliation to slough off and prevent dead skin cells from accumulating on top,” explains dermatologist Milton D. Moore, MD.

Byrdie Researched & Approved

Our best overall pick is La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Acne Face Wash, a glycerin-based formula that's hydrating enough for sensitive, irritated skin and contains acne-fighting salicylic acid. For a more affordable pick, consider CeraVe's Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser with benzoyl peroxide to wipe out pimples.

With all kinds of acne cleansers on the market, some lightweight and some thick and foamy, you should know what attributes to look for as well what active ingredients are said to be the most effective.

The sheer volume of acne-fighting products available can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.

Ahead, find the best acne-fighting face washes for men.

Best Overall

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Acne Cleanser

4.8
La Roche Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser

Courtesy of Amazon 

What We Like
  • Strong, effective formula

  • Moisturizes skin

  • Reasonably priced

What We Don't Like
  • Contains sulfates

Who else recommends it? Allure, NBC News, and Greatist all picked the La Roche-Posay Medicated Acne Face Wash.

What do buyers say? 89% of 11,000+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars and above.

So what makes this face wash the best of the best? The French pharmacy's favorite sensitive-skin friendly formula still packs a wallop using maximum strength salicylic acid—the true star of any acne regimen—as well as its gentle yet deeper penetrating cousin, lipo-hydroxy acid (LHA). Both of these mild exfoliators treat tough blackheads and whiteheads while being all wrapped up in hydrating glycerin. Which means that when acne goes, moisture doesn’t.

Active Ingredients: 2% salicylic acid, lipo-hydroxy acid | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Benefits: Helps treat and prevent acne, reduces excess oil | Size: 6.8 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Budget

CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser

CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser

Amazon

What We Like
  • Creamy, rich texture

  • Effective without over-drying skin

  • Fragrance-free

What We Don't Like
  • Can irritate sensitive skin

Another potent acne-fighting ingredient is benzoyl peroxide. By attacking the bacteria that causes acne, this is a perfect product for someone who suffers from a more inflamed type of skin issue, including pustules and cystic acne. Although anyone suffering from acne this severe should see a dermatologist for the right treatment, a benzoyl peroxide product is a good place to start. This budget-friendly formula includes niacinamide to help soothe, ceramides to help repair, and hyaluronic acid to help hydrate. Together, these ingredients promise to help offset the drying that's often associated with benzoyl peroxide.

Active Ingredients: 4% benzoyl peroxide, ceramides | Skin Type: Acne-prone | Benefits: Helps treat and prevent acne, hydrates | Size: 5 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Drugstore

Every Man Jack Skin Clearing Activated Charcoal Face Wash

Every Man Jack Skin Clearing Activated Charcoal Face Wash
What We Like
  • Balanced formula

  • Moisturizes skin

  • A little goes a long way

What We Don't Like
  • Scent may not be for some

The exfoliating power of maximum-strength salicylic acid joins forces with activated charcoal in this clean, green, vegan, and cruelty-free option that just so happens to be ultra-affordable. If you thought it was impossible to check *all* the boxes with an acne face wash, you can think again—Every Man Jack even promises to balance out the potential acne-fighting and oil-absorbing ingredients with vegetable glycerin and vitamin E.

Active Ingredients: 2% salicylic acid, activated charcoal | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Benefits: Helps treat and prevent acne, reduces excess oil, hydrates | Size: 5 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Blackheads

Murad Acne Control Clarifying Cleanser

Murad Acns Control Clarifying Cleanser

Amazon

What We Like
  • Helps even out skin tone

  • Won't irritate sensitive skin

  • Feels cooling on skin

What We Don't Like
  • Contains fragrance

Here’s the deal: fighting blackheads is a marathon, not a sprint. Getting them out of your pores for good means you have to play the long game. Thankfully, this Murad cleanser is great at demolishing those little dark spots thanks to its 1.5 percent salicylic acid. This dose is rounded out by skin-friendly citrus oils and mattifying corn starch. All this means that skin will be left balanced, clear of dirt and dead skin cells, and hydrated.

Active Ingredients: 1.5% salicylic acid, green tea extract | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Benefits: Helps treat and prevent acne, balances and smooths skin | Size: 6.8 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Whiteheads

NeoGen Dermalogy A-Clear Aid Soothing Foam Cleanser

NeoGen Dermalogy A-Clear Aid Soothing Foam Cleanser
What We Like
  • Won't irritate sensitive skin

  • Feels refreshing on skin

  • Calms redness

What We Don't Like
  • Scent may not be for some

Salicylic acid is the gold standard for your run of the mill whitehead situation, as long as you don’t overdo it. This cleanser from NeoGen thoroughly cleans skin using hypoallergenic ingredients while salicylic acid gets that trapped oil and skin cells up and out of pores. Just like treating blackheads, whiteheads won’t just go away with a single use. It’s a process, and it takes time. So be patient, and use a product that does the job well. (And this product does the job really well.)

Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid, witch hazel, tea tree oil | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Benefits: Helps treat and prevent acne, reduces excess oil, exfoliates | Size: 3.4 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Normal Skin

Bevel Face Wash

Bevel Face Wash
What We Like
  • Balances dry and oily patches

  • Gentle on skin

  • Helps prevent ingrown hairs

What We Don't Like
  • Contains fragrance

If the occasional blemish, pimple, or zit is all you’re dealing with, then lucky you. If you’re looking to keep that track record of an impeccable complexion, then wash every day with a cleanser that balances out overactive T-zones and dehydrated dry patches. This gentle face wash from Bevel includes ingredients such as tea tree oil, witch hazel, and vitamin B3 meant to help keep shine and oil under control, plus aloe vera and coconut water meant to help hydrate the dry spots.

Active Ingredients: Aloe vera, witch hazel, tea tree oil | Skin Type: Balanced | Benefits: Hydrates, reduces excess oil and shine | Size: 4 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Oily Skin

Jack Black Deep Dive Glycolic Facial Cleanser

Jack Black Deep Dive Glycolic Facial Cleanser
What We Like
  • Fragrance-free

  • Mattifies skin without over-drying

  • Exfoliates

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

When oily skin becomes an all-out issue, you have to break out the big breakout guns. Consider those guns this Jack Black face wash. Glycolic acid is a powerhouse when it comes to helping slough off expired skin cells. Add to that the excellent oil absorption properties of volcanic ash and kaolin clay—yep, the same clay as in all those top-notch purifying masks—and you get a face wash that not only fights oil today but keeps oil at bay over time with regular use.

Active Ingredients: Kaolin, volcanic ash | Skin Type: Oily | Benefits: Reduces excess oil, exfoliates | Size: 5 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Combination Skin

Marie Veronique Shave Prep + Daily Wash

Marie Veronique Shave Prep + Daily Wash
What We Like
  • Exfoliates

  • Smooths skin

  • Can be used on face and body

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Whether it’s dry patches, oil slicks, or somehow a hybrid of the two, combination skin is easier to keep balanced than a lot of people think. Using lactic acid, the most gentle of our face-approved acids, this tingly delight from Marie Veronique is perfect for daily use, whether you shave or not. Lactic acid has larger molecules than its buddy glycolic acid and it doesn’t penetrate quite as deep into the skin. That means it keeps dryness and irritation to a minimum while still providing excellent exfoliation of old, oil-ridden skin cells.

Active Ingredients: Green tea leaf infusion, willow bark extract | Skin Type: Combination | Benefits: Preps skin for shaving, reduces excess oil | Size: 4 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Sensitive Skin

Perricone MD Gentle and Soothing Cleanser

Perricone MD Gentle and Soothing Cleanser
What We Like
  • Fragrance-free

  • Simple formula

  • Feels light on the skin

What We Don't Like
  • Can be drying

All too often, those who suffer from sensitive skin don’t realize that throwing everything but the kitchen sink while standing at the bathroom sink isn’t the best plan of attack. In fact, it is likely making it worse. Perricone MD removes all the skin irritation that accompanies many daily acne face washes while keeping the hero ingredient—salicylic acid—at full strength. The fragrance-free, non-foaming formula is packed with ultra-fine sucrose, and squalane products help to maintain a hydrated and healthy surface skin microbiome.

Active Ingredients: 2% salicylic acid, glycerin | Skin Type: Sensitive | Benefits: Helps treat and prevent acne, reduces excess oil | Size: 6 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

“A majority of the time, I recommend gentle facial cleansers that avoid over stripping the skin of oils to avoid excessive dryness and inflammation, particularly because most acne-fighting [products] will also be quite drying,” explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Nikhil Dhingra of Spring Street Dermatology in New York. “I tend to lean towards gentle cleansers to give stronger acne-fighting, leave-on products a fighting chance of being more tolerable for my patients to use regularly.”

Best for Redness

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne and Redness Facial Cleanser

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne and Redness Facial Cleanser

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Inexpensive

  • Soothes skin and calms redness

  • Light gel texture

What We Don't Like
  • Contains dyes

Unless your redness is a result of a more serious issue such as rosacea, chances are a nice OTC product will help tame the fiery beast. Neutrogena is a dermatologist favorite for its gentle formulations and this oil-free cleanser is no exception. Loaded with two percent salicylic acid, this face wash counters any oncoming redness with soothing aloe and calming chamomile.

Active Ingredients: 2% salicylic acid, aloe leaf extract | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Benefits: Helps treat and prevent acne, calms redness | Size: 6 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Hyperpigmentation

NeoStrata Foaming Glycolic Wash

NeoStrata Foaming Glycolic Wash
What We Like
  • Strong, effective formula

  • Helps even out skin tone

  • Helps control oil

What We Don't Like
  • Contains alcohol and parabens

As we mentioned, as far as acids go, glycolic is going to give you the most bang for your buck. That’s because it does an excellent job with cell turnover, while also doing an excellent job of not drying the bejesus out of your skin. It also targets hyperpigmentation, or dark spots exceptionally well. Packed with 18% glycolic acid, this is going to help fight dark spots, while amino acids and antioxidants give your skin more life than ever.

Active Ingredients: 18% glycolic acid, 2% lactobionic acid | Skin Type: Balanced | Benefits: Helps fade dark spots, exfoliates | Size: 4.2 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Inflammation

Dr. Jart+ Teatreement Cleansing Foam

Dr. Jart+ Teatreement Cleansing Foam
What We Like
  • Tingling feel

  • Lightweight, foaming texture

  • Contains soothing ingredients

What We Don't Like
  • May be too strong for sensitive skin

Tea tree oil is one of those ingredients that we can’t figure out how we lived without before. Found at a powerful concentration of 41% in this Dr. Jart+ wash, it promises to work wonders on day-to-day inflammation while a gentle dose of salicylic acid works to keep pores clean and clear. You don’t need the tingle to know it’s working—the results are all the proof you need—but it sure is a nice, refreshing treat.

Active Ingredients: 41% tea tree oil, salicylic acid | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Benefits: Helps treat and prevent acne, calms redness | Size: 4 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Dry Skin

Urban Hydration Bright & Balanced Aloe Vera Leaf Face Wash

Urban Hydration Bright & Balanced Aloe Vera Leaf Face Wash
What We Like
  • Softens skin

  • Inexpensive

  • Gentle, soothing formula

What We Don't Like
  • Contains fragrance

Yes, even dry skin can fall victim to the occasional blemish or breakout, and when dry skin is attacked with ingredients that further drive out hydration, that can cause a problem. This aloe vera face wash from Urban Hydration gently cleanses skin and clears pores to fend off acne, while aloe, the key ingredient behind the magic, keeps skin naturally smooth, soft, and yes, hydrated.

Active Ingredients: Aloe leaf extract, vitamins E and A | Skin Type: Dry | Benefits: Helps treat and prevent acne, hydrates | Size: 6 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

What to Look For in Acne Face Washes for Men

Thick, Rich Texture

Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Corey L. Hartman says that, when it comes to acne washes, it’s best to find a formula that’s strong enough to fight through hair-bearing skin—especially if your facial hair is on the longer or coarser side. “The lather should be thick and rich and able to get through beards in order to thoroughly cleanse the skin,” he says.

Active Ingredients

As with any acne wash, Dr. Hartman stresses the importance of a formula that’s packed with key active ingredients. “Ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are both known to be vital components of an acne-fighting regimen,” he says.

Non-Drying Formula

Dr. Hartman also recommends avoiding any formulas that may be too drying. “It’s not necessary to strip all of the oil from the skin,” he says. “Some oil is essential, and causing the skin to be too dry can actually cause an overproduction of oil and an exacerbation of acne.”

Meet the Expert

Dr. Milton D. Moore is a Houston-based dermatologist and the founder of Moore Unique Skin Care, a shaving-focused line of face and body products.

 

Dr. Corey L. Hartman is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, AL.

FAQ
  • What is the most effective acne wash?

    Our top picks for an effective acne face wash combine maximum-strength acne fighters like salicylic acid and other exfoliating acids to keep pores clear and soothing ingredients to minimize irritation. In general, look for salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide as the active ingredient, typically in concentrations from 0.5 to 2 percent for salicylic acid, and 2 to 5 percent for benzoyl peroxide.

  • How do guys get rid of acne?

    According to the derms we spoke with, washing with a thick, rich cleanser that contains actives like salicylic acid is a good place to start to treat acne. It's best not to be too aggressive with products, though. Dr. Hartman notes some oil is essential for the health of your skin, and it shouldn't all be stripped away. Typically, people who seek to control their acne will follow cleansing with an acne treatment and then a light moisturizer.

  • Is soap good for acne?

    Cleansing with a mild, gentle soap that is free of harsh sulfates can help moisturize skin and calm irritation, but it typically doesn't have the acne-fighting ingredients that a cleanser does. Using a face wash specifically made for treating acne breakouts ensures you wash with potent actives that can help unclog pores and exfoliate skin, helping to keep it clear.

How We Researched

To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, shade range, or design—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. 19 best face washes for acne-prone skin that dermatologists actually recommend. Allure. https://www.allure.com/gallery/best-face-washes-for-acne

  2. 7 face washes for acne-prone skin in 2022. NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/select/shopping/best-face-washes-acne-ncna1269588

  3. The 10 best face washes for acne: the zitty, gritty deets. Greatist. https://greatist.com/health/best-face-wash-for-acne

  4. Zeichner JA. The use of lipohydroxy acid in skin care and acne treatmentJ Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2016;9(11):40-43.

  5. Kircik LH. The role of benzoyl peroxide in the new treatment paradigm for acneJ Drugs Dermatol. 2013;12(6):s73-s76.

  6. Williams LB, Haydel SE. Evaluation of the medicinal use of clay minerals as antibacterial agentsInt Geol Rev. 2010;52(7/8):745-770. doi:10.1080/00206811003679737

  7. Soleymani T, Lanoue J, Rahman Z. A practical approach to chemical peels: a review of fundamentals and step-by-step algorithmic protocol for treatmentJ Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2018;11(8):21-28.

  8. Sethi A, Kaur T, Malhotra SK, Gambhir ML. Moisturizers: the slippery roadIndian J Dermatol. 2016;61(3):279-287. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.182427

  9. Srivastava JK, Shankar E, Gupta S. Chamomile: a herbal medicine of the past with bright futureMol Med Rep. 2010;3(6):895-901. doi:10.3892/mmr.2010.377

  10. Desai SR. Hyperpigmentation therapy: a reviewJ Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014;7(8):13-17.

  11. Fox LT, du Plessis J, Gerber M, van Zyl S, Boneschans B, Hamman JH. In vivo skin hydration and anti-erythema effects of Aloe vera, Aloe ferox and Aloe marlothii gel materials after single and multiple applicationsPharmacogn Mag. 2014;10(Suppl 2):S392-S403. doi:10.4103/0973-1296.133291

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