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How to Choose a Face Wash for Acne-prone Skin

Using a cleanser every morning and night should be a staple in everyone’s skincare routine. Cleansers wash away dirt, oil, makeup, and pollutants that settle on your face throughout the day. A gentle face wash should always be step 1 of any skincare routine since other skincare products like acne treatments, serums, and moisturizers work best when applied to clean skin. Not all face washes are equal, though. Read on to check out our favorite cleansers for acne-prone skin.

What makes a cleanser a cleanser?

Cleansers contain detergents called surfactants that are amphiphilic in nature. These surfactants have both a hydrophilic (water-soluble) side and a hydrophobic (water-insoluble) side. This allows the cleanser to dissolve and lift the non-water loving oils and debris off your face, which can then be washed away with water.

Facial cleansers come in many different forms. You can find gel, cream, foam, oil, and clay cleanser options in most beauty stores. Gel and foam cleansers are great for all skin types, while cream and oil cleansers can be used for drier skin or as the first cleanser for double cleansing.

Can I just use my bar soap in the shower?

No! Like facial cleansers, bar soaps contain detergents that wash away debris from the skin, but they have a much harsher formulation. Most bar soaps have a high pH that disrupts your skin barrier since your facial skin maintains a slightly acidic pH around 5.5. Bar soaps also have added thickeners and additives that clog pores and remove natural oils that are needed to lock in hydration and protect the skin barrier. Stripping your skin with a harsh cleanser can actually signal your body to produce even more oil leading to clogged pores. 

Don’t double up on active ingredients

When you have acne or acne-prone skin, it’s essential to consistently use an FDA-approved acne treatment to treat your current breakouts and prevent new ones from forming. However, there is such as too much of a good thing when it comes to treating acne. Doubling up on acne treatments can dry out and irritate your skin and disrupt your skin barrier. A weakened skin barrier makes it harder for your skin to tolerate acne treatments.

If you use an acne treatment or other acids like glycolic acid or lactic acid, then look for cleansers that do not contain any additional acne treatments or acids.  

Some of our favorite cleansers

1. CLEANSE with Benefits AM/PM Cleanser - $17.99 (3 fl. Oz.)

Of course, our favorite cleanser for acne-prone skin is the Dermala Cleanse with Benefits AM/PM Cleanser! It’s a pH-balanced, gel-based cleanser that removes dirt and oil without stripping the skin. It also contains the Dermala SE Microbiome Complex to support the beneficial bacteria on our skin.

2. KIEHL’S Ultra Facial Cleanser - $21 (5 fl.oz.)

This is another great cleanser that gentle and appropriate for all skin types. It’s also pH-balanced to support your skin barrier.

3. Philosophy Purity Made Simple - $44 (24 fl. oz.)

This is a gentle cleanser that contains mild surfactants and essential oils to cleanse the skin without stripping it dry.

4. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser - $10 (16 fl. Oz.)

This cleanser is a favorite among dermatologists due to its gentle and hydrating formula that works well for those with dry, sensitive skin.

5. CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser - $15 (16 fl. Oz.)

This cleanser is another great option for sensitive skin. It gently cleanses without stripping the skin dry.





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