Skin Care

7 Cleansers That’ll Kick Your Acne-Fighting Routine Off Right

Many factors outside of the average human's control can play a role in having acne, but adding the right products to your skin-care routine can help lay a solid foundation for treating your skin. Sure, plenty of serums and treatments effectively stop acne in its tracks, but most experts would agree that an effective routine for acne-prone skin starts with a good cleanser.

Not just any old cleanser will do, but one with the right ingredients to treat breakouts without further irritating your skin. When picking out the right cleanser for acne-prone skin, the most important thing to consider is ingredients. Luckily, there are a ton of carefully-formulated cleansers on the market with ingredients that actually work. Ahead, we rounded up our favorites that are also approved by the experts who know skin best.


At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

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Alpha-H Triple Action Cleanser

When shopping around for an acne-fighting cleanser, it's important to seek out those with antibacterial ingredients to cut down on the bad bacteria that breed breakouts on your face. Taylor Worden, celebrity facialist and founder of Taylor Worden Skin, says that this Alpha-H formula nukes bacteria while calming irritation. "It has soothing ingredients like cucumber and aloe to calm and moisturize," she explains. "It also contains thyme, which is a natural herbal antibacterial agent that helps control oil production without drying out the skin."
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AcneFree Oil-Free Acne Face Cleanser

Dr. Hadley King, a NYC-based dermatologist, says that you can't go wrong by adding this AcneFree cleanser, which contains benzoyl peroxide, to your regimen. "Benzoyl peroxide is an organic acid in the peroxide family that has been used to treat acne for more decades," Dr. King explains. "Benzoyl peroxide helps treat acne because it kills bacteria that contribute to acne, and helps to prevent and clear out clogged pores."
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Good Janes Deep Tox

Dr. King also recommends this charcoal-infused formula, which is like a detox shot for your face. "It contains glycolic acid for gentle exfoliation and humectants to hydrate the skin," she explains. The good doesn't stop there, though: It's also packed with vitamin C to brighten your skin while it works to clear your pores.
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NakedPoppy Refresh Foaming Cleanser

Lactic acid, a powerful natural exfoliator, is the star of this NakedPoppy cleanser that works wonders on acne-prone skin. According to Dr. King, this allows for gentle exfoliation while hydrating the skin and supporting the skin barrier to reduce damage and further breakouts.
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Differin Daily Deep Cleanser with Benzoyl Peroxide

This cleanser checks all of the boxes when it comes to keeping acne-prone skin free of breakouts: It's formulated with five percent benzoyl peroxide to get deep into stubborn breakouts and glycerin to keep your skin balanced (and to prevent dryness).
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Reneé Rouleau Rapid Response Detox Cleanser

We don't call this the fire extinguisher of cleansers for nothing. It's packed with gentle yet powerful ingredients like kaolin clay, tea tree oil, and lactic acid to sop up excess sebum that causes breakouts before they even happen. So, when you feel a deep-rooted pimple popping up — this will be like an early eviction notice.
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Paula's Choice Pore Normalizing Cleanser

The word "gentle" typically doesn't come to mind when you think about fighting acne, but this one manages to do the job while still being kind to your skin, thanks to a small dose of salicylic acid. Dr. King says that the acid penetrates pores and effectively removes sebum and oil, resulting in fewer breakouts.
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