According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne is the most common skin care problem in the United States — as many as 50 million Americans suffer from breakouts. A relatively low maintenance way to help prevent acne is to cleanse your face twice a day with an acne cleanser to remove dirt, oil, and skin residue that can lead to breakouts.

We consulted with board-certified dermatologists to help you best understand what makes an effective acne cleanser. In addition to identifying key acne ingredients, these skincare experts share some of our favorite acne cleansers and worth considering.

How to buy acne cleanser

Before ordering a new acne cleanser, medical professionals recommend looking at its active ingredients. Two popular anti-acne skin care ingredients are salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid helps minimize sebum (oil) production that causes breakouts while benzoyl peroxide fights acne-causing bacteria, says dermatologist Shari Sperling, MD. Salicylic acid is particularly effective for blackheads because it helps exfoliate dead skin cells and regulate oil, adds dermatologist Arisa Ortiz, MD.

Skincare products containing salicylic acid, whether for face or body, typically contain a 2% concentration while the percentage of benzoyl peroxide will vary if the product is intended for face (5%) or all over, she notes. body (10%). “If you’re trying to use 10% on the face, I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily more effective, it’s just more irritating and may cause some dryness, redness or irritation,” says Ortiz, who is also the director of laser and cosmetics said. dermatology and an associate professor at UC San Diego. Overall, a higher percentage of both ingredients can be “often just irritating and not always more effective,” Ortiz notes.

You can also identify acne cleansers that are labeled as oil-free or non-comedogenic, which means that these cleansers won’t clog pores and won’t lead to breakouts.

Best face wash for acne

With guidance from the skincare experts above, we’ve rounded up picks recommended by their dermatologists and others. Most of these products are available at your local pharmacy, including CVS and Walgreens, but you can also find them at Walmart, Target, and Amazon. Other acne cleansers on this list are available at Nordstrom, Sephora, Ulta, and Dermstore.

Neutrogena Oil-Free Facial Cleanser

Neutrogena’s acne cleanser is favored by the skincare experts we consulted with, including Lindsey Bordone, MD, an associate professor of dermatology at Columbia University, who calls it a cleanser.” mild and not too irritating. Dermatologist Erum Ilyas, Sperling dermatologist and board-certified, is also a fan of this relatively affordable acne cleanser. Ilyas calls Neutrogena’s Oil-Free Acne Wash a “great starter acne product” because it’s a popular choice for high school students just starting out in their skincare routine. “I find that getting them started by using this product in the shower helps them clean their face, shoulders, and back,” says Ilyas, who notes that teens’ ultimate goal Age is to help prevent or treat existing acne. Neutrogena’s Acne Cleanser is oil-free and made with 2% salicylic acid to help treat pimples.

CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser

Dermatologist Marisa Garshick, MD, board-certified, says she “loves” this CeraVe acne-fighting foam cleanser because it’s made with 4% benzoyl peroxide. It’s also formulated with hyaluronic acid to help draw moisture while ceramides support the natural skin barrier, according to Garshick. There’s also niacinamide to help soothe the skin, which in addition can prevent irritation and dryness. “It’s gentle enough to use on the face and body, making it a great choice for people who also have to deal with breakouts on their chest or back,” she adds. Garshick recommends that people with sensitive skin cleanse with this acne-fighting cleanser once a day.

La Roche Posay Effaclar Gel Cleanser for oily skin

The leading acne cleanser for dermatologists Rina Allawh, MD, is board-certified by LaRoche Posay because it uses a blend of “safe, effective, and mild” ingredients. In addition to the hydrating thermal water, it’s made with zinc pidolate, an ingredient that “effectively clears impurities from the face while maintaining the skin’s natural pH,” according to Allawh. She notes that this fragrance-free and non-comedogenic cleanser “successfully removes excess oils that give skin a shiny appearance.”

Cetaphil DermaControl Oil-Removing Foam

Both Sperling and Garshick are fans of this foaming acne cleanser. This “gentle” cleanser uses zinc to remove excess oil and shine without drying out skin, says Garshick. She stresses that it’s safe enough to use up to twice daily, and adds that it’s a “great choice” for those looking for an acne-fighting cleanser to use in tandem. prescription acne products. It’s also formulated with glycerin, a popular moisturizing ingredient that can also be found in a variety of other products such as hand sanitizers and body soaps.

Mario Badescu Acne Cleanser

Dermatologist Michele Green, MD, board-certified, says it’s a “great choice for acne-prone skin” because it’s made with “gentle” acne-fighting ingredients. but powerful,” including salicylic acid. Green notes that Mario Badescu face wash has aloe vera providing anti-inflammatory properties and chamomile extract to help soothe skin. She also says using this cleanser up to twice a day can “help transform congested, congested skin” into “healthy and clear” skin.

Panoxyl Acne Foaming Cleanser

Dermatologist Dendy Engelman, board-certified, calls this one of her “favorite” acne cleansers because it contains 10% benzoyl peroxide that can help remove dirt, oil, and buildup capacitor. Ilyas also recommends using this cleanser when breakouts are “flare-up or a bit more widespread” on the face and body. Ilyas notes that her active patients – athletes and fitness enthusiasts – love clearing up shoulder and back acne with this cleanser.

Innbeauty Project Foam Around Cleanser

This Clean at Sephora acne cleanser received a recommendation from dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, a board-certified dermatologist, who notes that it’s “effective enough for people with oily skin.” and acne-prone, but mild enough for everyday use.” Zeichner, also an associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, notes that this acne cleanser boasts a blend of alpha-hydroxy, beta-hydroxy, and poly-hydroxy acids “for cleansing” skin without affecting the integrity of the outer skin layer. It’s also made with antioxidant-rich coffee bean extract, which the brand claims will bring a luminous glow to the face.

Alpha-H Triple Action Cleanser

Zeichner’s second recommendation is this “gentle” gel cleanser from Alpha-H, a skincare brand that also makes some of the best serums with retinols and vitamin C. It boasts a combination of soothing cucumber and aloe, providing both hydration and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s a great option for everyone, but especially adult women with acne who aren’t looking for a cleanser that can dry out their skin, he says. The Clean at Sephora option also uses thyme extract for antioxidant properties.

Is acne face wash worth it?

According to Garshick, if you’re dealing with breakouts, a cleanser for acne-prone skin is worth the investment because non-comedogenic cleansers can contain ingredients that clog pores or cause breakouts. Acne is like oil, according to Garshick. She adds that your favorite hand soap is not a worthwhile substitute for an acne cleanser because hand soaps are often formulated to get rid of acne-causing bacteria that can cause dryness or irritation. if used on your face.

Overall, medical experts say acne cleansers are an effective at-home skin care product, but visible results don’t happen overnight. No matter what acne treatment you use, Ortiz says, it will take about 4 to 6 weeks to notice a noticeable difference in your skin. If you’re not patient, you can experience peeling skin, which is when the pimple comes to the surface “and clear.”

While the acne removal process is normal, Ortiz notes that some patients will feel depressed when acne breaks out, which is actually a sign that the acne products are working. “Most patients will start using a product for their acne, then notice they get worse, and then they stop as soon as they get better,” she says. And because those patients stopped their routine due to exfoliation, they had to restart their skincare regimen again, Ortiz noted. So, if you’re incorporating an acne face wash into your skin care routine, be diligent and patient before giving up on your skincare journey.

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