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Top 5 Best Acne Face Washes in 2018

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that’s especially true when washing your face. If you maintain a daily face washing routine, you’re much less likely to experience sudden breakouts.

Of course, not all acne face wash products are equal. The types of ingredients and products you choose depends on your individual skin type and acne situation.

Let’s take a look at the finer details of what causes acne, and how to choose the perfect acne face wash.

What is acne?

Most of us recognize acne as pesky raised bumps and red spots that appear on our skin. (Bonus points if they show up at the most inconvenient possible time – pimples have a knack for that.)

In scientific terms, acne has a more complex definition. Experts describe acne as a chronic inflammatory skin issue that causes pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, cysts, and other blemishes. Many acne sufferers experience blemishes on their face, but acne also strikes on the back, shoulders, neck, and arms.

What causes acne?

The exact cause of your breakout will vary based on age, skin type, and other factors. That said, in general, most acne is caused by oil and bacteria in the skin.

When your skin releases too much oil, acne forms thanks to dead skin cells and bacteria caught in your pores. Luckily, acne face wash is our first line of defense against that process.

How acne face wash works

When you use an acne face wash, your face will look clean and your skin will feel tingly fresh. Below the surface, however, much more powerful things are happening. For starters, that acne face wash is working in overdrive to remove bacteria from pores. It’s also removing dead skin cells and gently exfoliating so your skin is more receptive to any acne treatment products you apply after washing.

What makes acne face wash different from other treatments?

While acne face wash helps treat and prevent acne, it also – of course – cleanses your face. Because of its dual purpose, acne face wash is best viewed as a complementary product to more direct acne treatments.

Spot treatments and acne exfoliators wouldn’t be nearly as powerful without a quality acne face wash to prep the skin before they’re applied.

Other acne products work better when paired with face wash

Below are a few popular types of acne treatments you might want to consider applying after using your acne face wash, so you can set the stage for maximum effectiveness.

  • Topical Spot Treatments

These creams are applied directly onto pimples. They’re usually intended to be applied only onto the blemish itself, not the rest of your face, and most of them work overnight.

Spot treatments are only used when you feel a pimple immediately coming on or when the pimple has already formed.

  • Scrubs And Exfoliators

Acne scrubs pack a one-two punch by applying powerful acne-crushing ingredients to your skin while exfoliating.

Exfoliation fights acne by sloughing off dead skin cells and paving the way for treatment products to seep in more effectively.

  • Oral Medications

Your doctor can prescribe pills that help your body fight off acne.

Popular Acne Face Wash Ingredients

There are several top ingredients that make an acne face wash effective. One thing most experts agree on is that when choosing a face wash, you should avoid harsh soaps that strip your skin of natural oils. Beyond that, there’s a wide variety of different face washes on the market that most dermatologists would approve of.

Below are a few ingredients you’ll want to keep in mind. You don’t need all of these ingredients in your face wash at once, but they’re worth being aware of.

  • Salicylic Acid

This acid cleanses deep within your pores to remove dead skin cells, dirt, and oil – all of which cause acne.

  • Benzoyl Peroxide

This ingredient is excellent for removing painful blemishes under the surface of your skin, as well as prominent pimples.

  • Tea Tree Oil

This natural ingredient reduces inflammation while banishing bacteria. As far as natural ingredients go, it’s a strong one, so it should be used sparingly at first.

The Top 5 Best Acne Face Wash Products

Best Overall Acne Face Wash: Exposed Skincare Facial Cleanser

This face wash is everything you need in one bottle. It has the double impact of zapping existing pimples while simultaneously preventing future ones. Exposed Skincare’s science-backed, all natural formula is the driving force behind their signature face wash.

Why we like it:

  • Effective enough to get the job done well, but gentle enough for sensitive skin.
  • Uses salicylic acid, an unstoppable acne-fighting ingredient.
  • Incorporates sage extract and vitamin B5 for maximum natural soothing.
  • Formula uses ethically sourced ingredients.

You might want to choose Exposed Skincare Facial Cleanser if:

You want a one-stop shop that ranks as the best.

Exposed Skincare Facial Cleanser combines top-notch acne-fighting and soothing ingredients. The cleanser implements the power of salicylic acid, one of the top dermatologist-recommended acne treatment ingredients, to deeply cleanse pores and banish acne-causing bacteria. Then, it replenishes your skin with gentle ingredients like vitamin B5 and sage extract. It’s free of harsh soap, so your skin is able to maintain its natural moisture. With regular use of this dynamite cleanser, your skin will radically transform. You’ll see smaller and clearer pores, less oily skin, and less dryness.

Best Acne Face Wash For Oily Skin: Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash

This iconic face wash has been around for decades, and it’s still as effective as ever.

Why we like it:

  • It has a lengthy track record of success.
  • Uses salicylic acid, a powerful acne-fighting ingredient.

You might want to choose Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash if:

You have an oily skin type and are looking for a powerful and affordable option.

This famous cleanser is beloved by teens and adults alike. The face wash is strong enough to pack a powerful punch, but gentle enough to stave off irritation. It combines salicylic acid, a coveted acne-fighting ingredient, with moisturizers that keep your skin from drying out. It’s a classic, and for good reason. It’s one of the most frequently recommended face washes by dermatologists.

Best Acne Face Wash For Dry Skin: Era Organics Tea Tree Oil Face Cleanser

This gentle cleanser uses a series of natural ingredients to soothe dry skin while it treats acne.

Why we like it:

  • Uses organic ingredients.
  • Uses tea tree oil, a popular natural ingredient for fighting acne.
  • Great for sensitive skin.

You might want to choose Era Organics Tea Tree Oil Face Cleanser if:

You want to soothe your chronic dry skin or rosacea (a condition that causes redness on the face) while also treating acne.

This cleanser uses ingredients like tea tree oil, aloe vera, burdock root, and dandelion root to heal your acne with the help of mother nature. The cleanser also aids in reducing redness and reducing buildup of dead skin cells. It works on both the face and body.

Best Acne Face Wash For Fans Of Korean Beauty: Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Foam EX

As many skincare addicts know, the South Korean beauty scene is a top producer of face washes and acne products. This face wash was formulated in South Korea and works wonders on gentle skin.

Why we like it:

  • Gentle and hydrating for all skin types.
  • Uses natural ingredients.

You might want to choose Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Foam EX if:

You’re looking for a unique product that feels luxurious without breaking the bank.

This cleansing foam removes dead skin cells while moisturizing. After using the product, you’ll be left with soft and hydrated skin. The product is formulated with natural ingredients like inner chestnut shells and duckweed. It’s certainly effective, but what makes the product extra fun is the satisfying fresh-faced feeling you’ll get after using it.

Best Acne Face Wash For Sensitive Skin: Differin Daily Deep Cleanser

This cleanser packs tough acne-fighting ingredients into a gentle product.

Why we like it:

  • Contains benzoyl peroxide, a powerful acne-fighting ingredient.
  • Uses smaller, gentle doses of harsh ingredients.

You might want to choose Differin Daily Deep Cleanser if:

You have sensitive skin but still want to use the most powerful acne-fighting ingredients you can find.

While most acne face wash products that use Benzoyl Peroxide use a 10% concentration of the product, this Differin cleanser only uses 5%. That means less irritation and dryness while still serving a powerful dosage. The face wash is infused with moisturizer, so it’s a good option for sensitive skin.

Face wash is your secret weapon in the fight against acne.

At first, acne face wash seems like an afterthought compared to powerful spot treatment. However, at the end of the day, face wash is one of the most important tools in your arsenal.

Acne face wash does the daily heavy lifting of keeping your skin acne-free and primed for treatment. Washing your face is one of the first things you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night, so why not take it more seriously?

You have nothing to lose by pumping up your routine with the most effective acne face washes on the market.

I'm a travel writer, blogger, and copywriter based in New York City. My writing is all about creating cultural connections and celebrating the everyday nuances that make a destination special. I'm also an expert on short-term travel for busy people, because I believe everyone should feel qualified to use the word "weekend" as a verb. I’m passionate about providing readers with clever, actionable, and entertaining ways to make the most of their travels. I was raised by two lifelong adventurers, so the roar of jet engines has always been the soundtrack of my life. I quickly realized that no matter where one wanders, from Rome to Chiang Mai to Omaha, there are countless fascinating stories just beneath the surface that can't be found anywhere else on the planet. Every destination has its own brand of awesome, and I source great content by seeking it out.

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