Banish breakouts with the 12 best face washes for acne-prone skin

best acne face wash
Need these? 12 face washes for acne-prone skin .

Facing another breakout? You may not feel like it, but you won't be the only one. After all, it's perfectly normal and we're all human, right? While there are a handful of factors that could be at play – work stress or where you're at in your menstrual cycle – one key to sorting spots could be switching up your cleanser. It may not seem like the most exciting step of your routine, but choosing the right one can be the cornerstone of healthy, happy skin barrier.

So, what's the best face wash for acne-prone skin? Well, we hit up the pros to ask that all-important question. According to Dr. Firas Al-Niaimi, a dermatologist for the UK’s leading skin clinics, sk:n, there's one holy grail ingredient worth keeping your peepers peeled for. 'Use a cleanser twice daily that contains the beta-hydroxy acid salicylic acid, as this will help to ensure the removal of grease on your skin's surface and clear your blocked pores,' he suggests.

What's more, 'when looking for a cleanser for acne-prone skin, you want something that’s got an anti-inflammatory agent [like niacinamide] and one that will keep that skin barrier as supported as possible [like ceramides] so it doesn’t get inflamed,' explains Dr. Emma Craythorne, Consultant Dermatologist.

Often acne prone and sensitised skin can come hand in hand, so how you wash your face can also make all the difference. Be sure to use gentle, circular motions to remove excess oil and use tepid water (not hot) to wash the product off. Too warm a temperature can irritate an aggravated barrier further... which is not what we're after. Remember, your skin is an organ so it deserves to be treated with care – as tempting as it may be, don't scrub or rub your face clean.

So, to help you achieve a clear and glowing complexion, WH have rounded up the best acne face washes that your breakouts and money can rely on (also, there's one for every skin type, too. You're welcome).

12 best face washes for acne-prone skin

1. La Roche Posay Effaclar Purifying Cleansing Gel

Best for: sensitive skin

The skincare experts at La Roche-Posay really know their stuff when it comes to creating products for sensitive skin. This gel cleanser is soap and alcohol-free, meaning it won’t strip your skin and leave it feeling drier than a desert. Pleasingly, there is no scent either, so it shouldn't irritate those who are sensitive to fragrance.

2. CeraVe Blemish Control Face Cleanser

Best for: saving pennies

There’s a reason why you’ll find a giant bottle of CeraVe under every beauty editor’s bathroom sink: it’s because it genuinely delivers results, like genuinely. With an MO to take things back to basics, trust in this Blemish Control cleanser for defeating those pesky acne breakouts. It calls upon salicylic acid to unclog your pores, alongside niacinamide and ceramides to keep your barrier calm and content.

3. Murad Clarifying Cleanser

Best for: unclogging pores

All hail Murad for delivering blemish-busting skincare we trust in. While there are many members of the Blemish Control range we back, this cleanser is your first step to clear, healthier-looking skin. Packed with everyone’s favourite acne-fighting hero – salicylic acid – alongside green tea extract, it does a masterful job at clearing out clogged pores and soothing the skin.

4. Drunk Elephant Beste No.9 Jelly Cleanser

Best for: every skin type, truly

Cleansing with acne-prone skin can feel slightly unnerving: it’s a crucial step, but one wrong move can result in a blemish backlash. So, what’s the sweet spot? Find yourself a hard-working formula that effectively soothes, but doesn’t strip. Take this cleanser: its gentle formula – packed with antioxidants and surfactants – makes it a great option if you battle with sensitised or irritated skin. It's delicate, comforting, but still performs the best benefits of a great face wash.

5. Bioderma Sebium Actif Intense Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser

Best for: oily skin


If your over-excited pores are causing you turmoil, this is a great place to start. Based around two chemical exfoliants – glycolic and salicylic acid – Bioderma’s hard-working gel cleanser does a masterful job at deeply clearing your skin of impurities, while simultaneously exfoliating and decongesting pores. It’s also dermatologist tested so it’s a great choice for sensitive and blemish-prone complexions alike.

6. Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting Cleansing Gel

Best for: brightening

There’s a reason why Dr Dennis Gross has become such a staple amongst the celeb-skincare realm – each product has a clean, simple formula that delivers 10/10 results. This stellar cleanser, for example, is an absolute powerhouse for removing excess makeup and harnesses ingredients like glycolic and mandelic acid to gently exfoliate the skin and clear out clogged pores. It’s a bit of a miracle worker, especially if you're looking for a brighter complexion.

7. Kate Somerville Eradikate Foaming Cleanser

Best for: redness

This wonderfully whipped foaming cleanser contains 3% sulphur to reduce the appearance of existing blemishes while helping to prevent future breakouts. It's a winner if you have redness because it contains honey extracts as well as sebum-balancing oat extract and rice bran extract.

8. Tata Harper Clarifying Cleanser

Best for: mature skin

Women hitting perimenopause will know all too well that acne can rear its head. Thankfully, this brilliant cleanser helps to tackle pimples that appear along the jawline. A natural formulation, it's brimming with cassava tapioca and mojave yucca instead of sulfates or synthetics that can dry mature skin out.

9. 111SKIN Vitamin C Brightening Cleanser

Best for: dark spots

As well as keeping your complexion clean and clear, this tackles dark spots thanks to a potent dose of Vitamin C which helps to brighten your visage over time. It's an investment into your skin truly worth making.

10. Avene Gentle Milk Cleanser

Best for: dry skin

This super gentle formula is packed with humectants that help the skin hold as much water as possible so that it doesn't flake or feel tight. At a very reasonable price tag, it's a great shout if your skin is both dry and prone to breakouts.

11. Medik8 Clarifying Foam Oil-Free AHA/BHA Blemish Cleanser

Best for: combination skin

This clarifying cleanser does it all. It's packed with alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids which decongest pores, while hero ingredient niacinamide helps soothe and reinforce the skin barrier. Plus, added tea tree oil helps prevent further breakouts. A win-win.

12. Dr Jackson's 07 Face Wash

Best for: comforting your skin barrier

This ultra-comforting face wash has hit the sweet spot between cleansing and clarifying your skin from dirt and impurities, while ensuring everything stays hydrated and nourished. Like a soothing hug to your face, Dr Jackson's 07 Face Wash is gentle on sensitivity and doesn't leave your skin feeling stripped. Plus, it keeps everything in check on the oil front too.

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