Best Acne Face Washes in 2019 + Buying Guide

Since you’re reading this, you probably deal with the acne problem. Do not worry, I’ve created a list of the best acne face washes (with instructions on how to choose the product that suits you) as well as helpful tips on how to deal with this “curse”.

Acne can cause emotional stress, be extremely tedious, and can lead to postinflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) and / or permanent scars. But, you already knew that, so, let’s go on.

Top acne face washes – my picks

Humane Benzoyl Peroxide 10% Acne Treatment Body & Face Wash

Great acne wash that clears your skin and helps prevent future breakouts. Use for moderate to severe acne. Best is to test on small area (avoid areas near eyes!) for couple of days.

It may take up to 6 weeks before seeing results, so – be patient.


  • You can use it as a body/face wash.
  • Kills acne-causing bacteria directly in the pores where pimples start (this is the main characteristic of benzoyl peroxide-based skin care products.)


  • products with benzoyl peroxide can bleach your clothes if you’re not careful; I recommend using old washcloths, towels and sheets during the treatment.

My rating: 9/10

Neutralyze Moderate To Severe Acne Treatment Kit (30 Day)

Neutralyze Moderate To Severe Acne Treatment Kit on Amazon

This is a 30-day kit for treatment Moderate To Severe Acne.  Unlike ” Humane Benzoyl Peroxide 10% Acne Treatment “, this one is based on Salicylic acid.

Unlike skin care products based on benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid treats acne by exfoliating the skin and helping to remove dead skin cells that can clog pores. If you can’t decide, don’t worry – you can safely use both kind of products alternatively (one day you can use salicylic acid, the other day you can use benzoyl peroxide)

Kit contains:

Face Wash (kills acne causing bacteria & helps prevent future breakouts, exfoliates & removes dead skin cells)

Clearing Serum (Clears acne, fades dark spots & corrects uneven skin tone, Controls oil, unclogs & reduces the size of pores)


Synergyzer which reduces redness & irritation.

Contains Salicylic acid and Mandelic acid which are not bleaching agents and should not affect fabrics (unlike Benzoyl Peroxide)

My rating: 8.5/10

Christina Moss Naturals Organic Facial Wash

Organic facial wash with the coconut oil (but don’t worry, the coconut oil is ‘saponified’ and has no comedogenic qualities). This cleanser has clear liquid “soap” consistency. Just wet your face, wash with the facial wash, and rinse off completely.

Great for people with very sensitive skin. Some use it even as a make-up remover (although it’s not intended to be, so it might not work with water-proof makeup).
Very concentrated – you can use much smaller amount for the treatment comparing to many other washes.

Few people complain that this product smells like a household cleaner, but it’s really a matter of taste.
Beware when using the tube – it needs almost no squeezing to ooze out.

My rating: 8/10

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Redness Soothing Facial Cleanser

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Redness Soothing Facial Cleanser

This affordable product is also based on Salicylic acid acne medicine. Helps fight breakouts and visibly reduces redness. Can be used on relatively sensitive skin. It’s oil-free so, it’s ok for oily skin.

This cleanser is good to use in conjunction with benzoyl peroxide products.


  •  Cheap, and, for many people with mild acne, it can make the job done. It helps to keep your skin clean and oil minimized.
  • Smells and feels nice.


Few users complained skin dryness increased after using this cleaner. 

My rating: 7.5/10

The main causes and triggers of acne

Acne vulgaris is the most prevalent skin disease in highly developed industrialized countries. Usually begins during puberty, following hormonal changes, but can also take place in adulthood. About 80-90% of youngsters are affected, to some extent, by this problem, and 20-30% of them will seek medical help. An increasing number of adults, especially women, also have acne later in life. So, what causes them?

1. Hormones. It is believed that hormones play a role in creating acne, which is why acne most commonly occurs in teenagers (although people of all ages can get acne). The rise of androgen, both in boys and in girls in puberty, stimulates sebaceous glands to excrete more sebum than the skin needs.
Sebum is an oily, waxy substance that waterproofs and lubricates our skin and hair. So, in normal circumstances, it has positive effect on our health. But, in addition to the amount of hormones that circulate around the body, increased sensitivity of the sebaceous glands is also significant for the development of acne.

2. Bacteria. In people with acne, excessive sebum production creates an ideal environment in which, otherwise harmless, acne bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes) can be multiplied. This leads to inflammation and the creation of red or purulent pimples.
This does not happen, as some myths say, because people suffering from acne do not care about hygiene. On the contrary, excessive cleaning with aggressive preparations will irritate the skin.

3. Genetics. It is thought that genes also affect the risk of acne. Therefore, if both parents had acne, there is a greater likelihood that their child will have this problem.

In addition to the main causes, there are factors that have been shown to aggravate the symptoms of acne:
• Foods too rich in certain carbohydrates (too much sugars and white flour)
• Excessive consumption of cow’s milk and dairy products (with the exception of cheese)
• Smoking
• Makeup that clogs the pores
• Comedogenic preparations for skin care. When we say that something is “comedogenic”, we refer that it contains ingredients that clog the pores, which can create “comedones” in the form of blackheads and acne.

Buying Guide

This section of the article explains what you should look for when selecting skin care products and recommend a daily routine that would fit your skin, with will vary depending on whether you are currently on the medical treatment of acne. We will also take a look at some other steps you can take to nourish your skin-prone acne.

Why do I need a special daily routine of skin care?

If your skin is prone to acne, you’ll need to use face washes that are specifically made to meet the specific needs of your skin and to do it on daily basis. Results won’t be immediately visible. As for the selection of appropriate skin care products, it will be useful to understand how the symptoms of oily and problematic skin develop.

There are many complex and interrelated factors that affect their occurrence – inflammation, seborrhea, hyperkeratosis, and bacterial growth … The best anti-acne preparations will affect these factors in order to support your skin, reduce the appearance of acne and prevent them from re-forming.

So, when shopping, look for the following features and ingredients on the packaging:

1. No soap
Healthy skin naturally has a pH that is slightly acidic. Acne-prone skin is usually more alkaline, and as soap has alkaline pH, it further disturbs skin’s natural balance and makes it more prone to infections. Face washes for acne-prone skin should be mildly acidic, as this helps to bring the optimum pH value to the skin. So look for preparations with slightly acidic pH.

2. Non-comedogenic preparation
A non-comedogenic face wash is one that does not contain ingredients that can lead to blockage of the pores (the clogged pores are also called comedones). Clogged pores lead to the formation of open comedones, closed comedones and pimples.

3. It does not contain oily substances
Acne-prone skin already produces too much sebum, so avoid products that contain oily substances.

4. Comedolytic
The comedolytic preparation breaks the comedones (open and closed comedones) and opens the blocked pores.

5. Keratolytic
Keratolytic preparations break down hard plugs in the skin and trigger natural process by which the skin removes the layer of dead cells.

6. Salicylic acid
Salicylic acid is particularly effective in the fight against obstructed pore and bacterial growth. It is a Beta hydroxylic acid that acts keratolytically (which means it removes dead skin cells and softens the skin in order to prevent the occlusion of the pores) and comedolytically (which means that it opens the blocked pores). Salicylic acid reduces the symptoms of oily and problematic skin and prevents the formation of new ones.

Look for products that can regulate the amount of sebum your skin produces. Ingredients such as L-Carnitine help cells to absorb free fatty acids, where mitochondria convert them into energy. This reduces the amount of fatty acids that remain to form sebum, thereby controlling the formation of sebum. The matting particles when added to the formulations can also help to absorb excess sebum on the skin.

7. Licochalcone A
Licochalcone A is a mighty anti-inflammatory antioxidant derived from the root of liquor. It reduces redness and helps to relieve inflammation

8. Mild surfactants
Cleaning is an important step in skin acne-prone acne, but aggressive cleaning agents can disrupt the skin’s natural balance and exacerbate symptoms. Look for mild soap-free cleaners, such as amphoteric surfactants and APG complex.

9. Ceramides
These important lipids strengthen the barrier function of the skin by preventing the loss of moisture and protecting skin from irritants that can cause inflammation and itching.

10. Lactic acid
Lactic acid (also known as lactate) is part of the Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF) and is a key ingredient in the protective acidic enzyme that regulates its pH value. It absorbs and retains moisture within the surface layer and thus plays an important role in the general condition of the skin. It also works comedolytic.

The ideal skin care for the skin prone to acne

1. The first step: skin cleansing

Effective skin cleansing – using preparations specially formulated for acne-prone skin – a key step in reducing and preventing the onset of symptoms of oily and problematic skin. We recommend cleaning your skin twice a day. In the morning, in order to remove excess sebum and a layer of dead skin cells that were packed during the night, and in the evening to make sure that the dirt is accumulated during the day, as well as the marks of makeup and corrector, completely removed before bedding. This will allow your skin to regenerate during the night. I recommend that you use lukewarm water (water that is too hot can pose skin stress).

You can also benefit from the use of peeling once a week to break the pores and improve the texture of the skin.
I do not recommend using exfoliation along with acne remedies because isotretinoin, benzoyl peroxide and antibiotics can make the skin more sensitive.

2. The second step: toning

A tonic that is specially formulated for acne-prone skin helps to cleanse, refresh and prepare the skin for maximum absorption of useful ingredients from your care products. Apply the tonic as the final phase of your daily skin cleansing routine. I do not recommend using alcohol-based tonic if you are currently on acne treatment with medication.

3. The third step: care

Skin-prone skin requires hydration to strengthen the natural protective barrier of the skin, but you will want to use a non-oily substance. If you have mild or moderate symptoms of oily and problematic skin and you are not currently on acne treatment, choose a soothing and maturing moisturizing preparation. Over time, for a cleaner skin of smooth looks, consider also introducing skin scrub into your evening routine.

If your acne is currently on medical therapy, don’t use skin scrubs. Your skin can show side effects like intensely dry skin and use it with special care.

4. The next step: sun protection

Sun protection is an important step in your morning routine. Symptoms of oily and problematic skin can lead to pigmentation problems if the skin is too exposed to the sun, and acne remedies can make the skin prone to acne more sensitive to UV radiation. SPF30 or SPF50 + offers the degree of protection that your skin needs and the preparation should be applied before the corrector and lipstick. If you apply sunscreen after a local acne treatment, wait five minutes to allow the drug to fully absorb. Learn more about acne and sunscreen.

5. The final step: Concealer and makeup

Use only products that are specifically formulated for skin that is prone to acne and for which it has been proven that they are not comedogenic. Corresponding corrector treats and solves the symptoms of oily and problematic skin. Do not forget to remove all lipstick marks before going to bed.

What else can I do to help my skin that is prone to acne?

Here are some additional steps you can take in caring for skin-prone acne:

1. Leave pimples alone
Try to keep your hands away from the face, as you dilute it to the spread of bacteria that makes things worse, not better. If you can’t refrain, consider using acne sticker.

2. Shave carefully
Be careful when wet or dry shaving so as not to be too rough on the skin prone to acne.

3. Benefits of steam
Steaming your face is not only relaxing, but also can help to open the pores and remove the plugs from them.

4. Get the bacteria to a minimum
Clean your cell phone and wash your pillows and towels regularly to help reduce the number of bacteria.

5. Take care of yourself
Physical activity, high-quality sleep and healthy, balanced diet will help you stay healthy and positive, reduce stress (which can trigger hormones and aggravate acne) and improve the natural resistance of your skin. If you’re a smoker, do your best to quit.

The 9 most common misconceptions about acne

There are many misconceptions and beliefs about how to prevent and treat them, and most of them are wrong and often lead to worsening of the condition.

Myth number 1: Frequent washing and facial cleansing will prevent the appearance of acne.
Wrong. Aggressive washing and over-drying of the face, drains and irritates the skin even more, leading to a worsening of acne. In the onset of acne, genetic predisposition and hormonal status are involved, which cause increased sebum secretion, excessive formation of dead cells that pierce the pores, which leads to the formation of the mites and pimples. Pimples are not the result of dirt and impurities present on the surface of the skin. Sometimes excessive cleansing and facial cleansing can, actually, be the cause of mechanical acne. The best way to avoid this problem is to gently wash your face twice a day with warm water and gentle cleansing.

Myth number 2: Acne is exclusively a disease of adolescents.
Acne is a disease that is characteristic of adolescence. However, sometimes in middle-aged women, there are acne, which are due to hormonal imbalance, polycystic ovaries, or tumors of the inflamed glands. Also, in younger children an elevated level of androgenic hormones of different origins can lead to acne early in the adolescent period.

Myth number 3: Makeup can cause acne.
Partially correct. Make-up is not a basic causative factor that causes acne. It is only certain that some ingredients in cosmetic products, labeled as “comedogens” can cause congestion on the skin. It is best to use products that contain non-compound ingredients.
The addition of salicylic acid in makeup products may even have a beneficial effect on acne. The most important thing is that the makeup is removed in detail before the exercise or before going to bed.

Myth number 4: Pumping of the pimples helps them disappear faster.
Wrong. Incorrectly cleansing the pimples allows the incineration of the sebum content into the deeper layers of the skin and makes the acne last longer. Deep scars and permanent craters can occur as a result of facial bleeding. The best way to solve the problem is to contact a dermatologist who will overwrite the benzoyl peroxide cream, which allows faster drying of the pimples.

Myth number 5: Exposure to sunlight will improve the condition of acne.
Exposure to the sun can hide the appearance of acne for some time, but also lead to damage and drying, which signal the skin to produce more fat. Exposure to the sun for a long period, leads to a worsening of acne, and increases the tendency to develop skin cancer as well as premature aging.

Myth number 6: Chocolate and fatty foods aggravate the condition of acne.
Well, as I said, this is partially true, but… The causes of acne are hormonal imbalances and genetics, so food is not the main causative agent of acne. However, in people who already have pimples on the face, too much intake of sweet foods raises insulin levels in the blood, thereby disrupting the hormonal status and worsening acne on the skin.

Myth number 7: Drying of oily and problematic skin will heal acne.
When the skin gets too dry, it compensates with making more sebum. Dry skin is also irritable, so the problem with acne can only worsen. The best use of drying products is the moderate aim of achieving a balanced fat on the surface of the skin.

Myth number 8: Toothpaste helps with the disappearance of acne.
Wrong. The toothpaste has no effect on the inflammation and the formation of fungus on the face, caused by bacteria and other causative factors in the formation of acne, and is treated with appropriate acne therapy.

Myth number 9: Mineral oils are comedogenic and aggravate the condition of the acne.
Cosmetic mineral oils are not comedogenic. In order to effectively remove greasy sebum plugs in the skin, substances in cosmetic products based on mineral oils are needed. Products on an aqueous base can’t remove and melt the sebum plugs.

In spite of this, a conservative daily skin care routine – using cleansing and care products specially formulated to suit your skin’s needs – will help to damp pimples and keep your skin prone to acne under control.