Best Facial Cleansers for Acne and Breakout-Prone Skin

More than 85% of Australians have acne-prone skin - that’s a lot of us! Breakouts can be such a downer and lead to skin issues such as permanently stretched pores and post-acne marks - both of which linger on the skin much longer than breakouts. 

Some of us do all it takes to clear our acne-prone skin! Everything from investing in medicated facial cleansers to buying salicylic acid-infused products is something many of us have tried in our quest for clearer, radiant skin. 

However, there’s one often overlooked yet critical step that sets the foundation of your entire skincare routine - cleansing. Acne-prone skin has specific needs for a cleanser and using the right (or wrong) one could make a huge difference to your skincare routine.

Find out how to choose the best skin care products for acne, including how to pick the right cleanser for your skin type!

Woman on a pink background with a towel on her head washing her face with a foamy cleanser

How To Choose Facial Cleansers For Acne Prone Skin

When it comes to choosing the best facial cleanser for acne prone skin, two things need to be considered: your skin type and the type of acne that you’re dealing with. Here’s a breakdown of some common situations of different kinds of acne with different skin types.

Dry Acne-Prone Skin

It’s true - people with dry skin can have acne, too! That’s because being dry is a skin type while having acne is a skin condition. There are several different ways that skin types and skin conditions can overlap - and this is just one of them.

Folks with dry, acne-prone skin can often feel easily dried out by facial cleansers for acne, especially if they have ingredients such as Salicylic Acid or Kaolin Clay. Those with dry skin should alternate an acne treatment cleanser with a gentle, moisturising cleanser.

This helps to reduce dryness while still targeting breakouts for clear skin. 

When looking for the best facial cleanser for dry acne-prone skin, our Beauty team suggests a non-foaming, cream cleanser or cleansing milk fortified with Niacinamide, Hyaluronic Acid, or Glycerin to help keep your skin hydrated. One of our favourites is the Dermalogica UltraCalming Cleanser.

This soothing cleanser helps to support an effective anti-acne routine by reducing irritation and ensuring that dry skin stays hydrated. 

Click to Buy Dermalogica UltraCalming Cleanser

Oily Acne Prone Skin 

Gel cleansers are the most common choice for oily, acne-prone skin. They can be fortified with anti-acne ingredients, such as BHAs and other chemical exfoliants. Shopping for the best facial cleanser for oily acne-prone skin is rather straightforward; this skin type can tolerate more richly foaming skincare products than dry skin to leave it feeling clean and fresh - and ready for any acne treatments. 

Sensitive Acne Prone Skin

You may have sensitive, acne-prone skin if any acne treatment irritates your skin rather than clearing breakouts. In this case, your best tip for choosing the best facial cleanser for sensitive acne prone skin is to focus on anti-inflammatory ingredients such as Centella Asiatica and Oat Extract.

These redness-reducing, skin-calming ingredients not only soothe irritated skin, but they also help minimise redness that’s being caused by breakouts in the first place. One cleanser ideal for this is the FOREO Micro-Foam Cleanser. Formulated with soothing Cica, aka Centella Asiatica, it sweeps away impurities without irritating skin.

This sulphate-free formula makes use of skin-soothing Centella Asiatica Extract - a botanical extract that reduces redness and boosts hydration for skin that’s left fresh and clean, but never irritated and dry.

Click to Buy Foreo Micro Foam Cleanser

Hormonal Acne

Hormonal acne can be tricky to address since the leading cause is hormones rather than external issues like bacteria. However, skincare products for acne can still help to minimise the appearance of breakouts and reduce the likelihood of scarring.

The best facial cleanser for hormonal acne is pretty much the same as any cleanser for breakouts. Look for ingredients such as Witch Hazel or Salicylic Acid to unclog pores, minimise inflammation, and support healthy, breakout-free skin.

One of our top picks for the best facial cleanser for acne is the Murad Clarifying Cream Cleanser. It doesn’t strip skin of hydration thanks to a cream cleanser formula, yet is fortified with two skin-clearing ingredients: Tea Tree Oil & Salicylic Acid.

This gentle, yet clarifying cleanser from Murad is ideal for helping to reduce the look of breakouts with an effective complex of skin-clearing ingredients.

Click to Buy Murad Clarifying Cream Cleanser

Fungal Acne

Fungal acne is an infection in the hair follicles of the skin and comes in the form of small red and white bumps that are extremely itchy but painless. 

The tricky thing is, it’s difficult to truly tell the difference. Fungal acne looks a lot like regular acne - but instead of bacteria, it’s caused by a yeast overgrowth in the microbiome of your skin. Lovely, we know. 

Luckily, the best facial cleanser for fungal acne would still have many of the same ingredients as products that address true breakouts. Tea tree oil has anti-microbial properties and opting for a cleanser such as the Medik8 Clarifying Foam will go a long way to helping keep these pesky breakouts under control.

This refreshing and bubbly facial cleanser has been formulated with potent ingredients that work together to banish excess oil, dirt and impurities, without stripping your skin of its natural moisture.

Click to Buy Medik8 Clarifying Foam

Teenage Acne

Teenage acne is the most common type of acne and often rears its head during puberty. It may seem tough to heal, but when a good routine is in place including the right products and skin picking is minimised, skin can bounce back from breakouts.

Benzoyl peroxide is a great spot treatment to manage teenage breakouts. However, if you’re using it for acne, it’s important to avoid cleansers that include too many other active ingredients.

The best facial cleanser for teenage acne will be formulated to support healthy, young skin without stripping or causing dryness. Our pick for the job is the Juvena Clarifying Cleansing Foam.

It’s formulated with Niacinamide to reduce redness from breakouts, while clarifying skin with Water Mint Extract for a clear, acne-free complexion. 

Juvena Clarifying Cleansing Foam creates a lush lather perfect for whisking away impurities at the end of the day and refreshing your skin every morning.

Click to Buy Juvena Clarifying Foam

Can I Double-Cleanse If I Have Acne?

It sounds counter-intuitive to apply more oil to breakout-prone skin, but using an oil cleanser on your skin could make a huge difference to your breakouts and your pores. If you’re still relying on makeup wipes to remove makeup but have stubborn breakouts, this is a cleansing method you should try.

Double cleansing is simply the method of massaging an oil-based cleanser on dry skin, rinsing it off, and then using a regular cleanser afterwards.

The first step helps to thoroughly remove makeup (even better than makeup wipes) and deep clean any lingering oils and impurities in pores. Balm cleansers are another form of oil-based cleanser and people often prefer them for travel due to the convenient form factor!

This technique is best done at the end of the day to remove the day’s build-up and effectively remove makeup - even the stubborn waterproof kind. 

Best Facial Cleansers for Acne

So, hopefully your skin type should fall under one of the categories we’ve mentioned above, making choosing facial cleanser for different skin types a bit easier for you.

However, we’re not leaving you on your own - alongside the other products we’ve suggested above, here are 8 more amazing choices for the best face wash for clearer skin.

1. Dermalogica Clear Start Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash

Dermalogica Clear Start Foaming Wash

Texture: Gel Cleanser
Best Skin Types: Oily & Combination Skin
Ideal For: Oily Acne-Prone Skin, Fungal Acne, Teenage Acne, Hormonal Acne

Dermalogica Clear Start Breakout Foaming Wash is a foaming gel cleanser formulated with Tea Tree Oil and Salicylic Acid to help clear breakouts. Salicylic Acid also works to reduce inflammation, minimising redness and promoting skin healing.

This cleanser also contains Liquorice Root Extract, an amazing skincare ingredient that helps the skin go through the acne healing process and helps in removing acne scars.

Click to Buy Dermalogica Clear Start Foaming Wash

2. Murad Clarifying Cleanser 

Texture: Gel Cleanser
Best Skin Types: Oily & Combination Skin
Ideal For: Oily Acne-Prone Skin, Fungal Acne, Teenage Acne, Hormonal Acne

Murad Clarifying Cleanser is a gel cleanser that is great for oily and combination skin thanks to a higher percentage of Salicylic Acid - 1.5%, to be exact. It leaves pores looking minimised and decongests skin to ward off breakouts.

Click to Buy Murad Clarifying Cleanser

3. Dermalogica Active Clay Cleanser 

Dermalogica Active Clay Cleanser

Texture: Clay Cleanser
Best Skin Types: Normal Skin, Combination Skin, Oily Skin
Ideal For: Oily Acne-Prone Skin, Fungal Acne, Teenage Acne, Hormonal Acne, Sensitive Acne Prone Skin

Dermalogica Active Clay Cleansers is a detoxifying clay cleanser ideal that is formulated with an exclusive moisture-barrier supporting complex. The gentle, detoxifying formula helps to remove impurities from skin and absorb excess oils, leaving your skin feeling refined and fresh.

Click to Buy Dermalogica Active Clay Cleanser

4. Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Cleansing Gel 

Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Cleansing Gel

Texture: Gel Cleanser
Best Skin Types: All Skin types
Ideal For: Oily Acne-Prone Skin, Fungal Acne, Teenage Acne, Dry Acne-Prone Skin, Hormonal Acne

Clinique Anti Blemish Gel is a gel-based cleanser that is best for dry, oily and combination skin types. This cleanser sweeps away impurities, leaving skin feeling fresh and refined. This unscented cleanser is formulated with Salicylic Acid to unclog pores and reduce congestion for clear skin.

Click to Buy Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Cleansing Gel

5. Dermalogica Daily Glycolic Cleanser

Texture: Gel Cleanser
Best Skin Types: All Skin Types
Ideal For: Oily Acne-Prone Skin, Dry Acne-Prone Skin, Hormonal Acne

Dermalogica Daily Glycolic Cleanser is a gel facewash that is great for all skin types, especially those on the drier side. In addition to skin-smoothing exfoliating benefits, Glycolic Acid can hydrate the skin, ensuring it never feels too stripped or dry after cleansing. 

Click to Buy Dermalogica Daily Glycolic Cleanser

6. iKOU Ultra Cleansing Face Gel 

iKOU Ultra Cleansing Gel

Texture: Gel Cleanser
Best Skin Types: All Skin Types
Ideal For: Sensitive Acne-Prone Skin, Oily Acne-Prone Skin, Dry Acne-Prone Skin, Hormonal Acne, Teenage Acne

Formulated with natural ingredients to gently manage breakouts, iKOU Ultra Cleansing Face Gel is ideal for all skin types - even sensitive. Antioxidant-rich Australian Lemon Myrtle wards off inflammation, while Canadian Willowherb naturally reduces numbers of C acnes, the bacteria principally responsible for breakouts.

Click to Buy iKOU Ultra Cleansing Face Gel

7. Kiehl's Centella Sensitive Facial Cleanser 

Kiehl's Centella Sensitive Cleanser

Texture: Gel Cleanser
Best Skin Types: All Skin Types
Ideal For: Sensitive Acne-Prone Skin

Kiehl's Centella Facial Cleanser is a gel-based cleanser that is mild on the skin and is great for sensitive skin. It contains Centella Asiatica Extract as the active ingredient, which soothes the skin and maintains a healthy moisture barrier - something essential for warding off acne!

Click to Buy Kiehl's Centella Sensitive Facial Cleanser

8. Dermalogica Active Clearing Skin Wash 

Dermalogica Active Clearing Skin Wash

Texture: Gel Cleanser
Best Skin Types: All Skin Types
Ideal For: Oily Acne-Prone Skin, Dry Acne-Prone Skin, Hormonal Acne, Teenage Acne

Dermalogica Active Clearing Skin wash is a foaming face wash that is great for oily, combination and dry skin thanks to anti-bacterial and anti-acne ingredients like Salicylic Acid. This Beta-Hydroxy Acid deeply cleans the pores, and reduces swelling and irritation. Witch Hazel is added to this mix to mattify skin and tighten pores for a refined skin texture, making this cleanser ideal for acne-prone skin. 

Click to Buy Dermalogica Active Clearing Skin Wash

9. Theseeke Pink Clay Cleanse Bar

 Theseeke Pink Clay Cleanse bar

Texture: Cleansing Bar
Best Skin Types: All Skin Types
Ideal For: Oily Acne-Prone Skin, Dry Acne-Prone Skin, Hormonal Acne, Teenage Acne

This cleansing bar from Theseeke purifies skin and reduces acne thanks to a blend of pink French clay and effective essential oils. Specifically, Rose Geranium. This natural ingredient helps to reduce acne-causing bacteria and manage oil production, leaving skin looking and feeling amazing. 

Click to Buy Theseeke Pink Clay Cleanse Bar

Cleansers for Clearer Skin: Key Points

When it comes to picking the best facial cleansers for breakouts, there are some amazing options to go for. You can choose cleansers formulated with skin-clearing ingredients, or opt for gentle facewashes that help to support an overall anti-acne skincare routine.

There are facial cleansers for every skin type to help you on your journey to clear skin. So what are you waiting for? Get your beauty affairs in order (and clearer skin) today!

Alexis Adrienne

Alexis Adrienne

Alexis Adrienne is a passionate beauty writer with over 10 years of experience. She’s incredibly keen on all things skincare, makeup and cosmetics, with a fingertip on the pulse of the latest global beauty trends at all times.

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