Swap in This Derm-Approved Cleanser, and You'll Be One Step Closer to Clear Skin


(Image credit: @kimseidensticker)

Take it from someone who knows: Struggling with acne can be a chore, a journey, a battle, and everything in between. If you have (or have had) it, you know. Sure, serums, toners, light therapy, and other treatments can be effective in clearing your skin, but it can also be a rough road trying to figure out what kind of ingredients work best for your kind of acne. This is especially true when selecting a face wash. Don't worry, though. Derms have some tips.

Snehal Amin, MD, co-founder and surgical director of MDCS Dermatology, says there's a key difference you should look for in the formulation of your cleanser. "The main ingredient in [some cleansers] is sodium lauryl sulfate. This is a detergent that breaks apart oily substances. Many other cleansers do not contain sodium lauryl sulfate but instead contain glycerin. This can be less drying. The mechanical action of rubbing the face with a cleanser can remove excess sebum and dead skin cells. Since there's no detergent [in a glycerin-based formula] and usually some extra added moisturizing agents, this kind of cleanser is more gentle to the skin," he says.

Now, that's not to say that some can't tolerate a cleanser with higher-strength actives, especially if you have severe acne and would like something a little stronger. Either way, this is a great thing to keep in mind if you have sensitive skin. At the end of the day though, the only way to nail down a routine that's just right for your skin is to see a dermatologist. But as a jumping-off point, I asked several other derms to weigh in and give their recommendations for the best face washes for acne. Keep reading for all their picks.

Azadeh Shirazi, MD

1. CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser

2. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash

3. Murad Acne Control Clarifying Cream Cleanser

4. Alpha-H Balancing Cleanser With Aloe Vera


(Image credit: @aysha.sow)

Brendan Camp, MD

5. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Gel Facial Wash for Oily Skin

6. Kiehl's Centella Sensitive Facial Cleanser

7. Caudalie Vinopure Purifying Gel Cleanser

8. Cetaphil Acne Relief Body Wash

Marisa K. Garshick, MD

9. Vichy Laboratoires Normaderm PhytoAction Daily Deep Cleansing Gel

10. Replenix Gly-Sal 5-2 Deep Pore Cleanser

11. St. Ives Tea Tree Acne Control Daily Cleanser

12. Cetaphil Gentle Clear Cleanser


(Image credit: @cassandra.cadwell)

Shari Sperling, DO

13. PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash

14. CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

Snehal Amin, MD

15. La Roch-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Facial Cleanser

16. Every Man Jack Activated Charcoal Skin Clearing Face Wash

17. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Acne Treatment

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Shawna Hudson
Associate Beauty Editor

Shawna Hudson has worked in editorial for over six years, with experience covering entertainment, fashion, culture, celebrities, and her favorite topic of all, beauty. She graduated from California State University, Fullerton, with a degree in journalism and has written for other publications such as Bustle, The Zoe Report, Byrdie, Elite Daily, Mane Addicts, and more. She is currently an associate beauty editor at Who What Wear and hopes to continue feeding her (completely out-of-control) beauty obsession as long as she can. Stay up to date on her latest finds on Instagram @shawnasimonee.