Prevent pimples with these super-effective cleansers.
Whether you've been dealing with acne for years or are a recent sufferer due to maskne, getting rid of pimples for good can be a challenge. With so many acne products on the market — both over the counter and prescription — it's not always a simple task to figure out the skincare routine that will help you beat your breakouts. While everyone's acne story is different, one product that can (almost) always help: an effective acne face wash.
When it comes to choosing the best cleanser for your acne, "look for specific ingredients, including salicylic acid, glycolic acid, benzoyl peroxide or sulfur," recommends Jeanine B. Downie, M.D., founder of Image Dermatology PC in Montclair, New Jersey. These top acne-fighting skincare ingredients, found in both cleansers and treatment products, can absorb excess oil, degunk pores and slough away dead skin and bacteria for a clearer complexion. In terms of formulas, "foaming cleansers tend to be gentler, while gel cleansers can be harsher," Dr. Downie explains. She recommends foaming cleansers for people with dry and sensitive skin and gel cleansers for those with oily skin.
In addition to choosing the right cleanser, you also need to know how to use it properly. Dr. Downie recommends using an acne face wash twice a day, if your skin can tolerate it (or even up to three times a day if you sweat a lot or are extremely active). But just as not all acne is created equal, your cleanser usage should depend on your skin type. If your skin is dry or sensitive, you may want to use a regular gentle cleanser in the morning and an acne cleanser just in the evenings, to remove the impurities of the day.
The Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab has decades of experiences testing face washes from drugstore brands and high-end lines for cleansing efficacy and their effects on skin. While our Beauty Lab scientists have not run a formal test specifically for acne face washes, we've tested hundreds of cleansers over the years, keeping factors like texture, scent and how effectively they wash away makeup, impurities and excess oil in mind. Ahead, we've rounded up the best acne face washes you can buy to help treat and prevent pimples according to our own beauty scientists, dermatologists and verified online reviewers.