In previous posts, we have discussed what acne is, how to treat it, and how not to treat it. Today, we’ll be listing our top 10 recommended anti-acne facial washes for 2019 that will be your first line of defense against breakouts and pimples. Remember, these are our personal recommendations, but if you struggle with severe acne, it might be worth seeing a dermatologist first.

Finding a facial wash that is suited to your skin needs will greatly improve the appearance and severity of acne, so it’s important that you find one that really works. So, which ones should you be taking into consideration? Let’s dive straight into the magical world of facial washes for acne.

What to Look For

If you haven’t read my post on the basics of acne yet, I highly recommend you do so before you continue reading this post. I go into the technicalities of acne a bit more and also explain why things do or do not work. Whether you choose to read it or not, I will summarize the main points you should be taking into account when choosing a facial wash.

Skin Type

There’s no such thing as an acne skin type. You could be acne-prone, but that is usually caused by a variety of things. Your skin most likely is dehydrated, and as a result of that your sebum production is increased, giving the appearance of oiliness and breakouts.

Sensitive skin is also prone to acne due to irritation leading to inflammation and, ultimately, acne. You could of course just be producing tons of sebum because of hormonal imbalances or other factors, but It’s important to choose a product that targets all of your skin issues, not just the acne.


I’ve touched on this lightly in my previous posts, but the main ingredients you should be looking for in a face wash are salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Both of these components are great at deep-cleansing your pores and getting rid of excess oil, and typically work more thoroughly at unclogging pores than the average cleansing ingredients.

A nice bonus to any product is added vitamins, especially vitamin C since this works as a great brightening agent to improve any scarring you might have. AHA is also a great thing to have in a facial wash to improve cell turnover and for the removal of dead skin cells.

Definitely consider products that use charcoal. This ingredient has been becoming more popular lately, and here’s why: Charcoal is advertised as being a dirt magnet. Well, it’s a magnet for lots of things (like poison!), but the main reason charcoal is so effective is that it seems to be able to penetrate deeper into the pores to really suck out the gunk you don’t want in there.

Lastly, any product that is oil-free is great to have too, since you might be reluctant to add even more oil to an already oily face. Choose non-comedogenic products that are proven to not clog pores.


As I’ve stated multiple times before, you don’t want to make acne angry. It’s very tempting to go in with tons of harsh products to properly strip away any pore-clogging factors on your face, but this is very likely to simply irritate your skin and make the acne worse.

The way to go is to use gentle but effective products, and this is especially true for anyone using skincare in combination with prescription products like medication or lotions. If you’re using these prescribed acne solutions, it might change the sensitivity of your skin and could make your face less tolerant to certain products.

Also, keep in mind that while abrasive products might work now, they could be causing microscopic tears in your skin, which leads to scarring and permanent damage later on in life. You want to take care of your skin for the rest of your life, not just for now.

I’m not saying you absolutely cannot use harsh products, since a deep clean once or twice a week can really help keep your skin acne-free (think of how you also should be exfoliating only twice a week). However, limit your use of these harsher products as much as possible and remember to use a good moisturizer to avoid dryness and flakiness


When starting any kind of acne-centered routine, it’s important to start with the lowest strength products, and slowly increase the strength until you find a routine that really works for you. If you react to a certain products, you need to find something gentler.

If general drugstore products don’t work, consider seeing a doctor or pharmacist to get something prescribed that might help clear up your acne. If this is the case and you’re combining skincare and prescriptions, I would definitely recommend seeing a dermatologist to make sure the products you are using are suitable for your skin type.

Again, skincare is not an exact science, so everyone’s needs will be different. However, here are our personal top 10 recommendations. Remember that some products will be suitable for you whilst others will not be, it’s all about trial and error until you find your perfect match.

Bioré Charcoal Cleanser

You’ve probably heard of Bioré before, since their nose strips are
very famous for getting rid of blackheads on your nose. Bioré is a brand that really focuses on pores and how to keep them clean. Because of this, they are a great brand to include in an anti-acne routine.

Being a daughter company of the Japanese Kao Corporation, Bioré uses Japanese technology in their products, backed up by years of scientific research. The Charcoal Cleanser they offer is a great basic to include in any skincare routine. This product is gentle yet effective, and will thoroughly clean your face without upsetting it.

The thing that we love about this cleanser is the charcoal, which causes this gentle cleansing. It will suck up all the excess sebum and dirt on your face, but leave your moisture levels intact and will not cause redness or irritation.

There’s no salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide in this product, so it’s not extremely heavy-duty, but this cleanser does have soothing and stimulating menthol and is suitable for all skin types. It’s a great basic product for mild acne, and I highly recommend it!

You can get this cleanser on Amazon or at your local drugstore.

Carbon Theory Soap

Okay, tell me I’m not the only one seeing this product pop up everywhere at the moment? Carbon Theory has been taking the internet by storm with their acne-clearing soap bar. They are a UK-based brand and offer only a couple of products that are specifically designed to combat acne and breakouts.

Carbon Theory is vegan, cruelty-free and sustainable. This soap bar in particular offers charcoal, tea tree and shea butter, and not much else in terms of ingredients. There’s no icky substances in there and it’s packed with natural components. Seriously, this bar is so good, it’s no wonder people have been raving about it.

The active ingredients of this product, being charcoal and tea tree, are both very effective at keeping sebum production under control and reducing inflammation, as well as cleansing deeply and thoroughly. The shea butter will moisturize and soothe, and prevent dryness or flakiness.

Now, I would not recommend this product for the sensitive skin types among us, since tea tree is quite strong and could irritate your skin, but for any other skin type, I would give this one a try! It has minimal yet effective ingredients, and will offer a natural solution to your acne issues.

You can get the Carbon Theory Soap at Beauty Bay or at your local UK drugstore. If you live in the US or elsewhere, the internet will be the only place you can find these bars.

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser

Cerave is another brand that comes highly recommended by dermatologists because of the gentle nature of their products. Their philosophy is focused around ceramides, which are a type of lipids that work to protect your skin from outside irritants and retain moisture to prevent dehydration. Every single product they sell contains these ingredients.

Because of these ceramides, Cerave products are suitable for every skin type and will not upset or irritate your skin. This face wash in particular is specifically designed for sebum control. It’s gel-based, and will cleanse gently but efficiently. It’s a free-from product, which means no parabens, silicone or alcohol.

What it does contain is three types of ceramides, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide. The ceramides will aid in anti-ageing by retaining you skin’s natural barrier and preventing dryness, the niacinamide will brighten and lessen the appearance of any scars you might have, and hyaluronic acid intensely hydrates your skin.

If you have sensitive or dry skin and want to get your breakouts under control, I highly recommend you try this product. It will be gentle enough not to upset your skin, but will still keep that acne and excess oil away, as well as reducing redness and brightening your overall complexion.

You can get the Cerave Foaming Facial Cleanser on Amazon or at your local drugstore.

Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash

Dermalogica is a brand that was created by a dermatologist, and still works closely with skin therapists in order to create products that will actually do what they promise. They pride themselves on selling effective products, without any irritants or upsetting ingredients like alcohol or fragrances.

They are vegan and cruelty-free, and have received 324 awards for their products since they were founded in 1986. Dermalogica might not be the cheapest brand on the market, but it certainly is worth the investment!

Their Clearing Skin Wash is packed with natural ingredients and also contains some of that salicylic acid we talked about earlier. It also contains menthol and camphor, which soothes and stimulates the skin, so your face might get a bit tingly when using this!

I also found tea tree, witch hazel, eucalyptus and garlic in the ingredient list. All of these ingredients are known as great natural anti-acne treatments, with tea tree probably being the most famous. It’s because of this tea tree though, that I would caution dry or sensitive skin types. It’s a very strong essential oil, and it might dry out your skin a bit too much.

Dermalogica themselves recommend using this product only 2 to 3 times a week if this happens, but for oily types that are not sensitive, this will make a great daily cleanser to keep that acne away!

You can get the Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash on Amazon or at your local drugstore.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Cleansing Gel

La Roche-Posay is a favourite of many a beauty blogger, including us! They pride themselves on using minimal ingredients with maximum effect, and strive to be gentle enough in their products to be suitable for even the most sensitive skin types among us.

Their Effaclar range in particular has been famous for years and comes highly recommended by dermatologists. This face wash is gentle but will effectively keep those pesky breakouts away! It’s also hypo-allergenic and suitable for every skin type.

This cleanser has a gel like texture, and is infused with thermal spring water and zinc. This means that this product will have a strong anti-inflammatory effect on your skin and will reduce redness and irritation, whilst still cleansing thoroughly.

No salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, but this might be a good thing in this case, making this cleanser another great option for gentle cleansing for any skin type. I highly recommend you give this product a try, there is a reason this range is a holy grail for so many people!

You can get the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clansing Gel on their website or on Amazon, as well as at your local drugstore.

Mario Badescu Acne Cleanser

It’s no secret that Mario Badescu is one of our all time favourite brands. We’ve spoken about it a couple of times before, and we simply had to include this brand in our list. Mario Badescu is beloved by beauty bloggers and celebrities alike, with even Jennifer Aniston reportedly loving this brand.

This cleanser is simple but effective, and is one of their bestsellers. Mario Badescu claims it’s suitable for sensitive skin and will keep you pores clear, without being too harsh. Key ingredients? Salicylic acid, chamomile, aloe vera and hyaluronic acid.

Whilst the salicylic acid will work towards deep cleaning your pores and keeping them clear, the chamomile and aloe vera will soothe and calm your skin to prevent irritation. The hyaluronic acid intensely hydrates and prevents your skin from drying out.

This product does contain parabens and alcohol, but we tried it on our sensitive skin and did not react to it! The key is to use a good moisturizer to avoid irritation, and using this product in moderation if you do have sensitive or dry skin.

You can buy the Mario Badescu Acne Cleanser on Beauty Bay, Amazon, or at selected drugstores.

Neutrogena Visibly Clear Pink Grapefruit

Another cult favourite, this face wash is another one highly recommended by dermatologists. We’ve discussed Neutrogena before, and their Visibly Clear range is specifically designed for acne-prone skin. We personally use this face wash and absolutely love it!

Neutrogena prides themselves on using something called Microclear Technology in this range, which means that it thoroughly cleanses without over drying your skin. This is also the product range that offers that weird, alien-like light therapy mask!

The active ingredients of this face wash are salicylic acid and grapefruit extract. Grapefruit is a source of vitamins and works as an antioxidant, and on top of that will smell and feel refreshing on your skin. This product also has a minimal ingredient list, so big plus there!

This face wash does contain some ingredients that could upset sensitive skin, but we did not have any reaction to it upon using it, so it’s definitely worth a try! This is a great product that is budget-proof and will really help keep those breakouts in check!

You can get the Neutrogena Visibly Clear Pink Grapefruit on Amazon, or at your local drugstore.

Ole Henriksen Find Your Balance Oil Control

Okay, we know this isn’t the cheapest product out there, but hear us out! The story behind this product is so good, we have to tell you! Ole Henriksen struggled with cystic acne himself, and it was hindering his career as an actor. So, he did tons of research, and developed this formula to help him clear his skin.

However, it worked so well that it developed into a full-blown skincare brand. The secret to this face wash is what Ole Henriksen calls the Green Fusion Complex, which consists of eucalyptus, kelp, green tea and Irish moss. All of these natural ingredients work as an antiseptic.

On top of that, this product contains A.H.A. and neem seed oil, which will deeply clean and strip away dead skin cells, whilst leaving your natural moisture barrier intact. I mean, if it even works on cystic acne, it’s got to be good, right?

As you see, there are tons of natural ingredients and no irritants in this product, thus making it suitable for every skin type. This product is gentle, and will not upset skin. Seriously, check it out!

You can find the Ole Henriksen Find Your Balance face wash on their website, on Amazon, or at your local drugstore.

Paula’s Choice Pore Normalizing Cleanser

We’ve already discussed this product in our previous post on acne, but we’re still including it in this list because we love it so much! Paula’s Choice is a fantastic brand that bases their products on scientific research, and it highly recommended by dermatologists.

This cleanser is a part of their acne control set, but they also sell it on its own. It comes in two strengths, so if you have more severe acne, you might want to opt for the stronger version of this product. However, both will work miracles on acne-prone skin and will clear up any breakouts you have.

The reason this product works is the salicylic acid, which will cleanse thoroughly and deeply into your pores. The added bonus is that this cleanser also contains panthenol, which is an ingredient that’s known to be effective in wound healing. This means that any breakouts or scars will see significant improvement when you use this product.

This cleanser is also gentle enough for all skin types, with no ingredients that will upset or irritate even the most sensitive skin. Hats off to Paula’s Choice!

You can get the Paula’s Choice Pore Normalizing Cleanser on their website or on Amazon.

Peter Thomas Roth Acne Clearing Wash

This brand is another one that is not necessarily cheap, but will be very effective. Peter Thomas Roth is a Hungarian brand that focuses on using ingredients that really work, whilst still being kind to your skin. We’ve already talked about their anti-aging moisturizer, and today, we’ll be discussing another one of their fantastic products.

The Acne Clearing wash from Peter Thomas Roth has a ton of salicylic acid in it. And when we say this, we mean 2%. Normally, you’ll find this acid in concentrations of around 0.5%, so this really is a very strong product. The more salicylic acid, the more thoroughly a face wash will work, but it also increases the chances of drying out your skin.

Luckily, this product also contains allantion and panthenol, which are both wound healing ingredients and will soothe your face. Vitamin B5 and E will work as anti-oxidants and soothe even more. This greatly decreases the risk of drying out your skin and will keep your face happy and healthy.

This product truly is a powerhouse and will certainly clear up that pesky acne, whilst soothing and improving the appearance of any scars and wounds you might have. It might be pricey, but it’s worth it!

You can get the Peter Thomas Roth Acne Clearing Wash on their website or on Amazon.

Bringing It All Together

There you have it, our top 10 recommendations for anti-acne face washes. Remember what I said earlier, skincare is no exact science, so it will take some trial and error before you find your holy grail. We hope we’ve put you on your way to your perfect routine with this list.

Also remember that if you have severe acne, or if drugstore products do not seem to work, it might be worth having a look at prescription products to aid in your fight against breakouts. If you decide to use these, remember to use lesser strength topical products to avoid drying out your skin.

If you find that the 10 face washes we listed is not your cup of tea, you could always go see a dermatologist for the best personal advice, and take the advice we gave you into account when looking for something that works for you.

Will you be trying any of these products or have you tried them before? What did you think of them?

Keep glowing!