Finding the Best Acne Face Wash

March 12, 2012By

Acne is difficult to deal with, and finding the best acne face wash for a given person’s situation is no easier. People have different skin types and face different forms and severity of acne, making a high level of personalization necessary for any skin care regimen. Identifying your skin type and experimenting with the possibilities are the first steps toward finding the solution.

Finding the Right Acne Face Wash

Dry, Normal, Oily, or Mixed?

Photo of a woman using the best acne face washDry skin tends to be worse in cold, windy, or dry conditions, and is often red and uncomfortable. It sometimes includes patches of dead, peeling skin. Oily skin often feels greasy to the touch and looks shiny. Normal skin will look and feel healthy, other than the parts affected by acne or other problems.

Of course, few people have just one type. It’s fairly common to have an oily T-zone (chin, nose, and forehead) and normal to dry skin on the rest of the face. For people with a mixed skin type, it’s possible that a certain product may be the absolute acne face wash for one part of the face and completely inappropriate for another.

Selecting a Face Wash

A product with a salicylic acid base generally makes a great acne face wash. Salicylic acid frees up clogged pores and encourages exfoliation of old skin, removing the two main causes of acne. Do not use regular hand soap on the face—it will leave a scum behind that clogs pores and actually causes the situation to get worse.

Next, look at the strength. For beginning a regimen, consider your skin type, then go at least one step down in strength. If you have normal skin, start with a cleanser labeled “mild” or “gentle.” This low level of strength isn’t a bad idea for people with oily skin, either, but in any case, never start with a product advertised as “extra-strength” or “for oily skin.” In people with dry skin and sometimes those with normal skin, these cleansers will usually cause the skin to become drier, more irritable, and worse-looking. In other cases, it can cause the skin to produce more and more oil.

The reason for this is a result of the body’s natural defenses: oil is used to protect the skin, preventing damage from harmful weather, temperatures, and windblown particles, as well as keeping it moist so it can best defend against disease. Too-powerful products and overly frequent washing of the face causes the skin to believe it’s in harsher conditions and needs to make more oil to keep protecting itself.

Since too much or too little oil can lead to worsening acne, only use more powerful cleansers if the skin is left greasy to the touch despite the use of your current cleanser. If you do upgrade to a stronger one, keep the lighter type on reserve for cold, dry weather or less-oily parts of the face.

For people with dry skin, try going for a cleansing skin cream instead. These tend to be the mildest options, and won’t leave the skin dry, tight, or uncomfortable afterwards.


Once you’ve selected a facial wash, try it and see if it lives up to expectations. If the skin becomes to dry or you notice it becoming greasy on a more frequent basis, go for a milder product; if the skin is still greasy afterwards, and choose a stronger one.

Do not be tempted to go with a stronger product just because you still have acne—while you should notice a significant improvement after cleansing regularly, even the most effective acne face wash may not make acne go away on its own. Check the other steps in your skin care regimen and make sure they’re up to par. If the acne does go away, however (congratulations!), and you have unsightly scarring, the next step is to find a good acne scar removal cream.

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