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

aimee simeon
·4 min read

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.

<h2>Alpha-H Triple Action Cleanser</h2><br>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. <a href="https://www.taylorworden.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Taylor Worden" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Taylor Worden</a>, 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."<br><br><strong>Alpha-H</strong> Alpha-H Triple Action Cleanser, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.sephora.com%2Fproduct%2Ftriple-action-cleanser-P442545%3Fcountry_switch%3Dus%26lang%3Den%26skuId%3D2206167%26om_mmc%3Dppc-GG_1165716884_80504829087_pla-799139035435_2206167_375250169447_9073479_c%26ds_rl%3D1261471%26gclid%3DCj0KCQiA0fr_BRDaARIsAABw4Etw1N_TsjOa-fNxk4ZXzD9gUtOLYCtHUyzny7KXBpxCKIl8VFPP4FwaAjTxEALw_wcB%26gclsrc%3Daw.ds" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Sephora" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Sephora</a>

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."

Alpha-H Alpha-H Triple Action Cleanser, $, available at Sephora
<h2>AcneFree Oil-Free Acne Face Cleanser</h2><br><a href="http://www.drhadleyking.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Dr. Hadley King" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Dr. Hadley King</a>, 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."<br><br><strong>AcneFree</strong> AcneFree Oil-Free Acne Face Cleanser, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cvs.com%2Fshop%2Facnefree-oil-free-acne-face-cleanser-with-benzoyl-peroxide-8-oz-prodid-1910049" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:CVS" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">CVS</a>

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."

AcneFree AcneFree Oil-Free Acne Face Cleanser, $, available at CVS
<h2>Good Janes Deep Tox</h2><br>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.<br><br><strong>Good Janes</strong> Good Janes Deep Tox, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fgoodjanes.com%2Fproducts%2Fdeep-tox" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Good Janes" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Good Janes</a>

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.

Good Janes Good Janes Deep Tox, $, available at Good Janes
<h2>Naked Poppy Refresh Foaming Cleanser<br></h2><br>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.<br><br><strong>Naked Poppy</strong> Naked Poppy Refresh Foaming Cleanser, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fnakedpoppy.com%2Fproducts%2Fnakedpoppy-refresh-foaming-gel-cleanser" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Naked Poppy" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Naked Poppy</a>

Naked Poppy 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.

Naked Poppy Naked Poppy Refresh Foaming Cleanser, $, available at Naked Poppy
<h2>Differin Daily Deep Cleanser with Benzoyl Peroxide</h2><br>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 <em>deep </em>into stubborn breakouts and glycerin to keep your skin balanced (and to prevent dryness).<br><br><strong>Differin</strong> Differin Daily Deep Cleanser with Benzoyl Peroxide, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.target.com%2Fp%2Fdifferin-daily-deep-cleanser-with-benzoyl-peroxide-4oz%2F-%2FA-52584273%3Fref%3Dtgt_adv_XS000000%26AFID%3Dgoogle_pla_df%26fndsrc%3Dtgtao%26DFA%3D71700000012735304%26CPNG%3DPLA_Beauty%252BPersonal%2BCare%252BShopping_Local%26adgroup%3DSC_Health%252BBeauty%26LID%3D700000001170770pgs%26LNM%3DPRODUCT_GROUP%26network%3Dg%26device%3Dc%26location%3D9073479%26targetid%3Dpla-1039778922675%26ds_rl%3D1246978%26ds_rl%3D1248099%26gclid%3DCj0KCQiA0fr_BRDaARIsAABw4EuOLK1FWHnFci1vmI_sR4sw-k5Nguq23tiqsvEV2RgXGWTVceAeM8AaAtdEEALw_wcB%26gclsrc%3Daw.ds" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Target" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Target</a>

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).

Differin Differin Daily Deep Cleanser with Benzoyl Peroxide, $, available at Target
<h2>Reneé Rouleau Rapid Response Detox Cleanser</h2><br>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.<br><br><strong>Renée Rouleau</strong> Reneé Rouleau Rapid Response Detox Cleanser, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.reneerouleau.com%2Fproducts%2Frapid-response-detox-cleanser" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Renée Rouleau" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Renée Rouleau</a>

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.

Renée Rouleau Reneé Rouleau Rapid Response Detox Cleanser, $, available at Renée Rouleau
<h2>Paula's Choice Pore Normalizing Cleanser</h2><br>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. <br><br><strong>Paula's Choice</strong> Paula's Choice Pore Normalizing Cleanser, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.paulaschoice.com%2Fclear-pore-normalizing-cleanser%2F600-6002.html%3Futm_medium%3Dcpc_shopping_nonbrand%26utm_source%3Dgoogle%26utm_campaign%3Dusnonbrandpla%26utm_adgroup%3D6002%26utm_term%3D6002%26p%3DREVITALIZE%26gclid%3DCj0KCQiA0fr_BRDaARIsAABw4Etf-U-ZLu6b4kjlP0CwJfbkqp0s2nxU_MTapVKw-v8SAjumnFtbS2saAlaaEALw_wcB%26gclsrc%3Daw.ds" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Paula's Choice" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Paula's Choice</a>

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.

Paula's Choice Paula's Choice Pore Normalizing Cleanser, $, available at Paula's Choice

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