What Is the Best Face Wash for Acne?

Your face wash is the foundation of your skin care routine, particularly if you have oily or acne prone skin. With the huge range of product offerings out there, it can be difficult to pick the best acne face wash for your skin.

It took a LONG time before I found the best face wash for acne to suit my particular skin type. What type of face wash is better, creamy or gel? Which ingredients should you be looking for and which should you avoid? Do natural, holistic products work better or do commercial acne treatment face washes work best? There’s a lot to consider.

As it turns out, a lot of the answer to these questions can be found through experimentation, personal preferences and by listening to your own skin.

Just because 1,000 people loved a product, it doesn’t mean it will work the same way for you. Bearing those things in mind, we’re going to check out what to look for in the perfect face wash for your skin and take a look at some great products for all types of skin.

What is Acne?

Acne is a condition that affects the pores and oil glands (sebaceous glands) in the skin. The highest volume of oil glands can be found on the face, neck, chest, and back. So it follows that these are the most common locations for acne breakouts.

Beneath each hair on your skin is a tiny oil gland. Essentially, pimples form when the pores (hair follicles) become blocked with dirt, oil, or dead skin cells. When these pores become inflamed, the immune response that causes the inflammation may also cause zits (source).

There are several different types of pimples. Blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules, cysts, and nodules are the main varieties. The extent of the infection in the oil gland and how deep into the skin the infection lies often determines which kind of zit forms.

Related- The Best Foods to Clear Acne

Why does Acne Form?

There are many potential causes of acne, most of them far beyond our control. Genetics can determine your likelihood for developing acne. Hormonal fluctuations also contribute.

When the pores get clogged, bacteria stuck inside of them begins to grow. At this point, your immune system causes an inflammatory response to try to kill off the infection. The inflammatory response causes redness, pain, swelling, and potentially actual zits.

Who gets Acne?

Whatever the cause of acne, it has got to be one of the most common skin conditions out there. Though acne breakouts are more common in teenagers and younger adults, people of all ages, races, and skin types suffer from acne. Up to 80% of people have suffered at some point in their lives (source)

It follows that there are very few people on the face of the planet who haven’t had to deal with acne. A good skin care routine is important for darn near everyone. Whether you suffer from chronic acne or the occasional localized breakout, you can likely benefit from a great skin care regimen.

Since both genders can experience acne breakouts, a good face wash is no less important for men. Women seem to be more apt at starting and sticking to a skin care system. However, guys can definitely benefit from the confidence that comes with a fresh face the same as all the ladies out there.

How Do You Stop Acne?

There is no foolproof, one size fits all, instantaneous plan to get rid of acne for good. The best way to take control of your acne is to put together a skin care routine that works for your particular needs.

Most commonly, skin care routines consist of, at the very least, a face wash, toner, and moisturizer. Face wash, being the first step and the one acne sufferers should never go without, is a great place to start planning your skin care regimen.

What Makes a Face Wash Good for Acne?

The best face wash for acne is one that is gentle, non-drying, and tough on dirt and oil. You’ll want to check to make sure that your potential new face wash contains no comedogenic (acne-causing) ingredients, or very little of them. You can check the ingredients list against this scale.

If you have dry, acne-prone skin, you might consider a creamy face wash. They contain more moisturizing ingredients to help prevent drying of the skin. It may seem counter-intuitive when oil is linked with acne, but when your skin is too dry, inflammation increases and dead skin flakes can block the pores. A cleanser that gently exfoliates may be of assistance to dry skin as well.

If you have super-oily skin, a gel cleanser may be right up your alley. Clear gel face washes tend to be better at breaking down oil. Those with combination (a mix of dry, normal, or oily skin) should seek out a cleanser that is balanced between moisturizing and oil-fighting.

How to Find the Right Product for You

First, you should determine your skin type if you don’t already know it. This will help you pick a face wash that gives the results you expect. You can take a quiz or ask your dermatologist if you’re not sure which category your skin falls into.

Next, seek out mild cleansers that are suitable for your skin type. Check out what the net has to say about a product and see if it’s in your price range. When you find a product that sounds great and has some bonafide endorsements, go ahead and make a purchase.

This part is so important. You’ll have to use the face wash consistently, typically twice a day or as instructed on the bottle, for a couple weeks before you can really tell how it’s going to work for you. It takes time for your skin to adjust to new products. Don’t toss a potentially great product too soon!

Never Give Up Hope, But Be Aware

There is a great skin care routine out there for you, waiting to be discovered. If you assess each product from a logical standpoint by checking the ingredients, checking out others’ opinions, and keeping your budget in mind, you’re sure to find the best acne face wash for you.

Speaking of budgets, don’t ever think that an effective product has to cost a fortune. That’s just not the case. There are plenty of great products out there that can be found at reasonable price points.

Also, don’t fall into the trap of assuming that an expensive product must be a high quality product. Marketing being what it is, brands know exactly how to reel in unsuspecting buyers. They know how to play on their potential customer’s emotions and weaknesses. Always try your best to keep a level head when shopping for new products to avoid letting your heart make purchasing decisions.

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser



Our rating

This product is thought by many to be the best face wash for acne on the market today. It contains oil fighting cleansers and moisturizing ingredients that work together to create well-balanced, acne free skin.


  • Contains moisturizing hyaluronic acid
  • Lathers to a nice, foamy texture
  • Gentle enough for twice daily use
  • Many dermatologists recommend it
  • Uses ceramides to form protective barrier


  • Not an all-natural product
  • Contains parabens
  • May cause issues with sensitive skin
  • Texture before lathering may be off-putting
  • May not remove some makeup well

Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Cleanser by Body Merry



Our rating

Along with its acne-fighting powers, this face wash uses glycolic acid to reduce the signs of aging. While still gentle, the glycolic acid and salicylic acid in this formula are proven successful ingredients for clear, beautiful skin.


  • Jojoba beads gently exfoliate skin
  • Salicylic acid fights acne
  • A little bit goes a long ways
  • Glycolic acid tones and helps improve overall look of skin
  • Anti-aging properties
  • Cuts oil on skin gently
  • Natural ingredients


  • May cause sensitivity in some users
  • May cause skin drying
  • Potentially not good for those with dry skin
  • A bit harsh for twice daily use
  • Shoddy packaging

Art Naturals Clarifying Acne Face Wash



Our rating

This face wash uses soothing botanical ingredients like cucumber and aloe along with deep-cleaning, exfoliating ingredients to give users a fresh feeling. This spa-like product is environmentally friendly. If all-natural products are your thing, Art Naturals is a good company to check out.


  • Aloe and cucumber to reduce inflammation
  • Thick, creamy texture lathers into rich foam
  • Balances skin
  • Deep cleans without drying
  • No beads or scrub, exfoliates without irritating
  • Convenient pump
  • Reminiscent of spa products, very luxurious


  • Doesn’t get rid of enough oil for some users
  • Texture can make bottle hard to pump
  • Texture can make it difficult to use
  • May cause dryness or excessive oiliness in some users
  • Green color is off-putting to some users
  • May be too much for twice a day use

Facial Wash by Christine Moss Organics



Our rating

This face wash is created from entirely organic ingredients. It uses essential oils and saponified oils to create an oil-cutting product that is still gentle on skin. It may work better for those with dry skin than people who deal with extremely oily skin.


  • Organic formula
  • Rich texture
  • Gentle enough to use morning and night
  • A tiny, dime-sized amount is enough for one wash
  • Doesn’t dry skin too much
  • Restores skin’s moisture
  • Rosemary essential oil regulates oil production


  • Essential oils may cause sensitivity
  • Coconut oil is a potentially comedogenic ingredient
  • May cause acne in some users
  • Drying and flaking skin may occur in some users
  • Unpleasant smell
  • Doesn’t always rinse clean

African Black Soap from Incredible by Nature



Our rating

Many people swear by African black soap, and I’ve actually had great luck with it myself in the past. This product is different from the rest on my list as it comes in bar form instead of in a cream or gel. If you’re looking to switch to bar soap for your face, African black soap is probably the best for acne.


  • Ships well, no spillage issues
  • Raw, organic ingredientsIdeal for all skin types
  • Nourishing formula full of vitamins and minerals
  • Vegan formula
  • Fair trade certified
  • Moisturizes to leave skin soft and smooth
  • Gentle formula


  • Contains palm oil, an environmentally objectionable ingredient
  • Physical exfoliants can damage skin if you don’t wash carefully
  • Odd scent
  • May dry skin if washing with hot water
  • Bar is gigantic, tough to hold
  • Contains some comedogenic oils
  • Color is unappealing for some users
  • Can make sink or shower yucky

The Last Word on the Best Face Wash for Acne

Our pick for the best acne face wash is definitely the Art Naturals Clarifying Face Wash. The combination of soothing, moisturizing, and tough cleansing ingredients makes it ideal for most acne prone skin. I’d suggest only using it once a day to prevent skin from becoming too oily.

If you’re into trying a bar soap, the African Black soap is absolutely fantastic. You may even consider using the two in conjunction, the Black soap in the morning to keep your face shine free throughout the day, and the Clarifying Face Wash to leave skin moist and refreshed before you go to bed.

Keep in mind that almost any information on skin care products is subjective. No product will react the same way on everyone’s skin. By checking over the ingredients lists carefully and tracking potentially irritating product components, you can help narrow down which products are right for you and eliminate face washes that you are likely to have adverse reactions to.

Just remember, consistency in your skincare routine is the key to finding out if a product is really working for you. Give them time to get to work and you can find the product for your particular skin.

Helen Sanders

Chief editor here at Health Ambition, I'm a proud mother of two passionate about nutrition and ways to live healthier with more energy!