Looking for a cleanser tough enough to fight acne, but gentle enough to not irritate your skin? Check out this list of 9 of the best cleansers for acne prone skin. Whether your skin is sensitive, dry, oily, or if you have large pores, there’s a cleanser for you.  Most of these cleansers weigh in under $25.  The few exceptions hit right at $30.


Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser for normal to oily skin  (6.33)

Over the years, Cetaphil has gained the reputation of being one of the gentlest cleansers for acne prone skin.  It can be used morning and night to take away the grime of the day and makeup.  One thing it won’t do is strip or dry your skin.  This is good news for anyone with sensitive skin.  After all, we’re only looking to ditch the acne, not our skin’s natural oils.

La Roche -Posay Toleriane Dermo Cleanser  ($23.99)

The first ingredient in this cleanser is antioxidant thermal spring water which soothes skin.  This product uses a surfactant-free formula containing Glycerin and Ethylhexyl Palmitate.  These two ingredients keep the skin from over-drying.  Glycerin is a substance found naturally in skin. 

It helps skin look and feel healthy in part because it prevents dryness.  Ethylhexyl Palmitate is good for improving the texture of skin.  What acne sufferer couldn’t use that benefit?  Not to be overlooked is the fact that this cleanser also has no parabens or preservatives.  You can feel extra good knowing you’re not only taking care of your skin, but that you’re also helping the environment.

Deep Dive Glycolic Facial Cleanser with Kaolin Clay & Volcanic Ash  ($20.00)

Deep Dive combines the power of kaolin clay, volcanic ash and glycolic acid to gently unclog pores, remove dead skin cell build up and control oil.  It also contains aloe vera and Vitamin E to soothe skin.  It’s gentle so your skin will not feel tight and dry after using it.  You can use this as a cleanser or leave it on as a mask for a deeper clean when needed.


PanOxyl Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Creamy Wash  ($12.49)

As the name implies, benzoyl peroxide is the active ingredient in this creamy, white cleanser. Benzoyl peroxide is used in a lot of acne fighting products because it is good at killing bacteria on contact in the pores, where acne starts.  It works best for mild to moderate acne.  This product comes in two different percentage levels.  

Four percent is the lowest concentration and ten percent is the highest. (As an interesting side note, Proactive only uses 2.5% benzoyl peroxide in its products.)  You may want to start with four percent before working your way up to ten percent.  This cleanser is definitely on the drying side. 

Start out using it once a day, then increase to twice a day depending on how your skin reacts.  Use a light weight sunscreen after using this cleanser.

Kiehl’s Blue Herbal Gel Cleanser  ($22.00)

Kiehl’s created this salicylic acid based cleanser to penetrate clogged pores and remove dirt and oil.  Salicylic acid is known for its ability to refine skin texture and fight acne causing bacteria.  Ginger Root Extract has gingerols that refresh skin due to its soothing properties which also help to absorb excess oil.  Speaking of soaking up oil, Frankincense is also used to help reduce sebum or oil production.

First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Deep Cleanser With Red Clay   ($24)

This foaming gel cleanser combines rosemary leaf oil and red clay to balance oil production while getting rid of dirt.  Added to that dynamic duo is licorice root extract which contains licochalcone, a compound that helps balance oil.   Licorice root’s oil balancing power makes it a good ingredient for those with oily skin.

Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract (green tea) is great for protecting your skin from environmental stressors.  Premature aging caused by exposure to the outside elements is no joke.  Green tea is packed with antioxidants that can counter the harmful effects of UV rays that speed up the aging process.  I think any woman could appreciate that – acne or no acne.


DERMAdoctor Ain’t Misbehavin’ Medicated AHA/BHA Acne Cleanser  ($30)

This acne fighting cleanser features witch hazel as one of its key ingredients.  Witch hazel tightens skin which helps reduce the appearance of pores.  Glycolic acid and salicylic acid are also added to gently exfoliate skin for a clearer complexion.    Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and may cause your skin to become more sensitive to the sun.  Make sure you use a light weight moisturizer with SPF that won’t clog your pores so you can protect your skin.

Murad Clarifying Cleanser   ($30)

Citrus oils in this product work to lessen the appearance of pores while controlling oil production.  For those struggling with large pores, this cleanser could be a good way to the start the day.  The soothing, anti-inflammatory properties of green tea will help calm existing irritation.  Plus, it will assist in the fight against premature aging.  Another key ingredient is silver citrate which helps keep acne at bay due to its antibacterial protection.


Elements Keep It Fresh Face Cleanser  ($20)

The Keep it Fresh Face Cleanser gently washes away dirt, oil, and makeup without stripping skin.  Water Lily extract smooths and hydrates dull or dry skin.  It also soothes irritation as it nourishes and moisturizes the skin. 

Glycerin works to restore skin’s healthy glow. Rounding out the list is sunflower seed oil.  It too is known for its moisturizing effects on skin. Sunflower seed oil is full of antioxidants such as Vitamin E.  It is packed with essential fatty acids that help give the skin a tighter, softer, firmer, and smoother appearance.


Finding the right cleanser is only half the battle.  It’s also important to only use it as needed.  Gentle cleansers can be used more than once a day.  However, products that contain benzoyl peroxide may not be suited for more than one daily application. 

Also, keep in mind your skin type and the type of acne you have.  People with oily skin for instance may be able to handle washing their faces with cleansers that could easily irritate those with dry/sensitive skin.  Always listen to your skin and adjust your routine to keep your skin happy.

Join the Conversation

My favorite part of doing these posts is engaging in the conversation they start. Each week, I ask one question. This week, it is this:

Is your cleanser getting you the results you want?


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