What ingredients should you look for in an acne facial cleanser? This is a difficult question that so many people face. The key is to look for acne facial cleansers that contain salicylic acid, glycolic acid or benzoyl peroxide. For people who also have the yeast type of ‘fungal’ acne called Pityrosporum folliculitis, I recommend they alternate one of the first three ingredients with a pyrithione zinc cleanser.
Best Ingredients to Look for in Acne Facial Cleansers
Key ingredients in acne facial cleansers:
- Salicylic acid
- Benzoyl peroxide
- Glycolic acid
- Pyrithione zinc
How do the active ingredients in acne facial cleansers fight acne?
The first three ingredients penetrate pores, helping to treat blackheads. They unblock and unclog pores filled with dead cells, makeup, oil, germs, dirt and debris. To help shrink and refine the appearance of your pores, you want to get rid of clogged pores!
Benzoyl peroxide is also the best ingredient for treating the acne-causing bacteria called P. acnes (now renamed C. acnes) – in fact, study after study continues to show that benzoyl peroxide is more effective in treating P. acnes than prescription, topical antibiotics!
Pyrithione zinc helps to treat other Pityrosporum yeast-based skin conditions (Pityrosporum yeast is also called Malassezia) such as dandruff and tinea versicolor and is a great addition to Pityrosporum folliculitis acne care as well.
Salicylic acid has an affinity to penetrate oil and helps to clean oily pores so that other ingredients can penetrate better.
Glycolic acid is an AHA that helps lighten skin hyperpigmentation from old acne lesions and acne scars. It’s also a great ingredient to brighten the complexion for a more youthful appearance on the skin.
What are the benefits/results you can expect from acne treatment cleansers?
Acne cleansers with these ingredients will gradually unclog pores, reduce the size of existing blackheads and slow or stop the formation of new ones. Benzoyl peroxide and pyrithione zinc also fight germs that cause red acne pimples and pustules.
Why is it important to wash your face if you have acne-prone skin?
As a dermatologist, I want everyone with acne to know that there are 3 really important reasons to wash your face when you have acne prone skin:
- It’s a simple and convenient way to deliver the treating ingredients in your cleanser to your facial skin.
- It allows the ingredients to be placed onto clean skin and penetrate into pores where they are needed.
- It’s important to remove products, pore clogging dead cells, oil and bacteria accumulated during the day. These all can worsen acne.
Acne treatment starts with the use of an acne cleanser twice a day, morning and night.
How to wash acne prone skin with acne cleansers to get results?
Wet your face with warm water first, then lather your cleanser over all of your facial skin. Depending on your skin type, you can use:
- your fingers (recommended for extremely sensitive skin),
- an exfoliating sponge, or
- a sonic skin cleansing brush system such as the Clarisonic or Foreo.
Then rinse well with warm water to completely remove the lather. Know that acne cleansers are designed so that the important acne cleanser ingredients will stay behind, but the cleanser’s foaming agents as well as built-up oil, dead cells, old product and bacteria will be rinsed off of your skin.
What should you put on your acne prone skin after using an acne cleanser?
Using a skin toner or astringent is an excellent additional step in acne skin cleansing. The toner or astringent will remove more oils and deliver additional treating ingredients. For sensitive skin, my toner ingredient choice is witch hazel. I crafted mine Naturally Hydrating Pore Minimizing Toner with organic witch hazel. This natural astringent helps to tighten pore openings to refine the pore appearance.
A toner with treating ingredients can be applied by using my Acne Treatment Pads.
These pads are made with ingredients that augment your cleanser ingredients. The pads contain a full 2% medicated salicylic acid combined with glycolic acid to help clear pimples, treat blackheads and soften brown acne spots or scars.
I typically have my acne patients apply their other topical products on top of their toner such as their prescription medicines, an oil free moisturizer and sunscreen. Don’t be tempted to forget these last two products because they will help keep your acne prone complexion healthy.
Why do dermatologists recommend that people with acne use a facial moisturizer and sunscreen every day?
- Moisturizer keeps acne prone skin hydration balanced to prevent it from becoming dry and irritated.
- Sunscreen helps prevent brown marks and hyperpigmented acne scars.
Be sure to pick a moisturizer and sunscreen that is oil free and made without pore-clogging ingredients. Acne patients have used mine Daily Moisturizing Face Cream for years and put it to the test. It is the perfect moisturizer for acne prone complexions.
My Sheer Strength Pure Physical Matte Tinted SPF 30+ Sunscreen is the ideal sunscreen to hide complexion flaws while providing powerful broad spectrum UV protection. The subtle tinting blends into all skin tones and the matte base helps absorb oil throughout the day.
Get my Daily Moisturizing Face Cream and Sheer Strength Sunscreen in my Fort Knox Skin Care Kit.
What are the best facial acne cleansers with physician strength ingredients?
For my acne patients, I prescribe these cleansers:
Foaming Acne Treatment Cleanser with 2% salicylic acid and 10% glycolic acid. This medicated acne cleanser also contains green tea to soothe skin irritation and is SLS and paraben free.
My 14 year old daughter has tried EVERYTHING for her acne and nothing would clear her face! We decided to try this face cleanser along with some other acne medication and her face cleared up amazingly! She recently ran out of her cleanser and started using another to finish the bottle. I noticed her face was going back to the “old ways” and asked her what she was using. Turns out the key to her clean face was this cleanser!! I’m ordering more right now! Mary
Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment Cleanser with the maximum allowed amount of 10% benzoyl peroxide in an advanced ultra-micronized form. This helps the medicated benzoyl peroxide penetrate deeply into pores where acne starts. It’s also gentle on sensitive skin.
A medicated benzoyl peroxide cleanser is the easiest way to treat acne because it’s one step and you’re done! – Dr. Bailey
Calming Zinc Bar with maximum strength 2% pyrithione zinc to fight for Pityrosporum folliculitis type of ‘fungal’ acne.
This bar of soap saved my skin. I had chin and forehead acne that literally would not go away. Began using this and within a week I saw a noticeable difference, especially in the basic health of my skin. It solved the dryness that contributed so much to my acne. – Happy
Glycolic Acid Face and Body Wash for mild blackhead acne and anti-aging skin concerns.
What are the best acne products to use with acne treatment cleansers to get clear skin fast?
I recommend using mine Acne Treatment Pads as an additional cleansing step. This is especially important for oily skin complexions. These pads remove any residual oil and deliver additional salicylic acid and glycolic acid to help unclog pores. They are also handy to use during the day when you want to wash your face but can’t such as after sports.
Get a doctor’s acne treatment routine in my Ultimate Acne Solutions Kit.
As a dermatologist, I know that using a Complete Skin Care Routine that covers everything your skin needs to be acne free will give the best results.
I do this with kits. In my Ultimate Acne Solutions Kit I combine salicylic acid and glycolic acid in the Foaming Acne Treatment Cleanser with just the right strength of Benzoyl Peroxide Lotion. This 2.5% benzoyl peroxide lotion is equally effective as higher strengths in killing P. acnes but is much less irritating. The lotion is also alcohol free so that it does not irritate or dry out skin. The kit includes the right moisturizer for acne prone skin to help prevent skin dryness and flaking.
I purchased this kit for my 16 yr old nephew who has had acne issues for the past 2 years. He has tried different products that can be purchased at your local pharmacy but nothing has seemed to work for him. After only about a month of using Dr. Bailey’s Acne face wash, pads and spot treating with the Benzoyl Peroxide we have noticed an amazing improvement. He has been extremely happy with the results. No doctor visits or prescriptions needed. Cyrus
If you also have ‘fungal acne’ along with your regular acne, add the Calming Zinc Soap and cleanse your face with it at night instead of the Foaming Acne Cleanser.
Complete your skin care routine with the right sunscreen. People with acne usually like me Sheer Strength Pure Physical Matte Tinted Sunscreen because it absorbs oil throughout the day. The tinting technology blends into all skin tones to soften complexion flaws without looking tinted.
I take the guess work out of your acne skin care by giving you the right products to clear acne fast – the way a dermatologist would.
What are the best acne cleansers for back acne?
I created my Back Acne Kit for back and chest acne problems. This type of acne is usually caused by both P. acnes and Pityrosporum yeast. Skin cleansers are the best way to treat back acne and mine Bacne Kit combines the best for this tough type of acne: 10% benzoyl peroxide and 2% pyrithione zinc. Banish back acne with the right acne cleansers.
I have dealt with back and chest breakouts for almost 20 years, and been to numerous dermatologists – not one ever mentioned pyrithione zinc as a solution. I thought I had tried everything – sprays, washes, and all they did was dry out my skin and make it itchy – and I would still get breakouts the minute I broke a sweat.
After a couple of weeks of using the zinc soap at night and benzoyl peroxide wash in the morning, my back and chest were completely clear – which has never happened in my entire life. And a few months later, they are STILL completely clear. I can finally wear tank tops again. My skin is soft and smooth, and my husband comments on it all the time. He can’t believe the difference. So glad I found your website. Thank you so much. Jennifer B
Knowing the best ingredients to look for in acne cleansers will give you success in clearing your acne. Look for salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid and pyrithione zinc. Combine them in a skin care routine that supports healthy skin and your acne will improve.