Top-Rated Cleansers at Sephora to Help Clear Your Acne-Prone Skin — Once and For All
You may worry that not cleaning your face every night before bed will cause breakouts (among other problems), but what if the face wash you're using is actually doing more harm than good? Well, if you experience acne, excess oil, or other skin irritations, now's the time to look into a new cleanser that can fight these issues, or a mild sudser (without soaps or sulfates) that's less likely to aggravate your complexion.
We took a look through the face washes at Sephora and picked the best ones to help acne-prone skin. Some have ingredients like salicylic acid and tea tree oil to tackle pimples head-on, while others are gentle, hydrating formulations that remove bacteria from pores on the most sensitive of faces.
Whether you're looking for something that lightly foams or gently exfoliates, there's an acne-fighting face wash at Sephora for you. All the face washes included here have four stars or more from other shoppers — and we won't consider it cheating if you peek at their homework before your own final answer.
Olehenriksen Find Your Balance Oil Control Cleanser
The Olehenriksen Find Your Balance Oil Control Cleanser ($26) has earned more than 1,000 reviews and 46,000 loves which makes sense considering Mr. Ole Henriksen himself decided to create a oil-controlling cleanser that wouldn't strip skin after his own struggle with cystic acne. This face wash uses glycolic and lactic acids to exfoliate the dead skin cells that can clog pores and dull reflections, and it reduces excess oil, too.
Murad Clarifying Cleanser
Because dermatologist Howard Murad also suffered from acne in his youth, he made sure the Murad Clarifying Cleanser ($12-$30) uses two powerful types of salicylic acid — a free-form version that can treat breakouts in the short-term and an encapsulated one that releases over time, even after it's washed away. There are also calming ingredients like green tea extract so skin doesn't get overly dry or irritated — and more than 40,000 loves and 2,000 reviews at Sephora.
Perricone MD Hypoallergenic Gentle Cleanser
Sensitive skin can love this Perricone MD Hypoallergenic Gentle Cleanser ($38) because it's a mild cleanser that removes dirt, oil, and makeup, but does so in a way that won't further aggravate acne-prone skin. Its star ingredients both come from olives — one from the fruit (that serves as a powerful antioxidant to fight free radicals) and the other from the leaves (to hydrate and reduce redness). The face wash has also earned a 4.5-star rating from other Sephora shoppers.
Alpyn Beauty PlantGenius Creamy Bubbling Cleanser with Fruit Enzymes and AHAs
Alpyn Beauty PlantGenius Creamy Bubbling Cleanser with Fruit Enzymes and AHAs ($36) helps clear blackheads and refine pores with a combination of (papaya and pomegranate) fruit enzymes, (glycolic and lactic acid) AHAs, and vitamin C. This new cleanser is hydrating — thanks to hyaluronic acid — and currently has a 4.8 rating with 100 percent of those reviewers also saying they'd recommend the product to others.
Peter Thomas Roth Acne Clearing Wash
The top-rated Peter Thomas Roth Acne Clearing Wash ($39) features a potent two-percent salicylic acid that helps to prevent future breakouts while cleaning pores of the sebum that may have already caused one. It also makes sure skin stays nourished, thanks to moisturizing allantoin.
Boscia Purifying Cleansing Gel
This Boscia Purifying Cleansing Gel ($28) has earned nearly 1,300 5-star reviews from other Sephora shoppers. It's gentle enough for sensitive complexions, and removes impurities while keeping your skin's natural moisture barrier safe. The gel is also packed with botanicals like hydrangea and rosemary leaf that minimize the look of pores, and help firm and refine skin.
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting Cleansing Gel
The Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting Cleansing Gel ($38) cleanses skin, unclogs pores, and removes makeup with no soaps or sulfates — and has a 4.4 rating with more than 15,000 hearts at Sephora. This gel includes salicylic acid that clears out debris and oil from pores, plus reduces bacterial growth and sebum there in the future.
The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Acne + Pore Cleanser
The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Acne + Pore Cleanser ($10) is a top-rated face cleanser that helps reduce the formation of blackheads and acne as zinc and salicylic acid exfoliate dead cells from the skin's surface and pores. This makes sure your face is not only clean, but that it's more even in tone with oil control, too.
Dermalogica Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash
Dermalogica's Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash ($20) also features salicylic acid but adds in mint, eucalyptus, and tea tree extracts to offer an extra boost in pore-clearing and bacteria-reducing. Of the Sephora shoppers who reviewed it, 94 percent of them would recommend it to others, with several reviews noting the foamy gel works well even on sensitive skin types.
Kate Somerville EradiKate Daily Cleanser Acne Treatment
This Kate Somerville EradiKate Daily Cleanser Acne Treatment ($38) features a three-percent sulfur formula that unclogs pores to heal blemishes and limit future ones. The foaming wash — with nearly 28,000 hearts from Sephora shoppers — also uses natural oat extract to balance oily, acne-prone skin, so texture is improved as well.
Clinique Acne Solutions Cleansing Foam
The Clinique Acne Solutions Cleansing Foam ($22) has nearly 30,000 loves and more than 900 reviews from other Sephora shoppers. It has pore-unclogging salicylic acid to help with the actual breakouts, but has other ingredients — like caffeine, brown algae, and kola nut extracts — to calm the redness that often accompanies them.
Ren Clean Skincare ClearCalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser
Ren Clean Skincare ClearCalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser ($32) features detoxifying kaolin clay and shine-reducing zinc gluconate. This face wash helps clear and calm breakouts with exfoliating willow bark extract (that minimizes pimple formation, too). The cleanser also has a top rating from other Sephora shoppers, and more than 10,000 loves.
Erno Laszlo The Famous Black Bar
Erno Laszlo's The Famous Black Bar ($38) gets its color from the mineral-rich dead sea mud and charcoal that pull out pores' impurities (and reduce their appearance), all while leaving you with smoother, more radiant skin. This bar soap does have glycerin to lock in hydration so skin's not stripped too dry while sebum, dirt, and bacteria are removed — and it's earned a 4.6-star rating from other Sephora shoppers, too.
Lancer Skincare The Method: Polish Oily-Congested Skin
Now, both Lancer Skincare's The Method: Polish Oily-Congested Skin ($75) and The Method: Cleanse Blemish Control ($55) work well on acne-prone skin, and it's possible to use them back-to-back or separately. If using together, pick up the Polish for its exfoliating pumpkin and pomegranate enzymes that get rid of dull, dry skin surface cells and then follow up with the Cleanse for its acne-fighting tea tree oil and salicylic acid. They're both popular with other Sephora shoppers.
Belif Problem Solution Cleansing Foam
The top-rated Belif Problem Solution Cleansing Foam ($24) exfoliates with white willow bark and also helps prevent future breakouts with tea tree oil. The foam gets skin clean (with oil and dead cells stripped away), and several Sephora reviews note the huge improvement they saw in their skin's texture and clarity over time.
Fresh Umbrian Clay Pore Purifying Face Exfoliator
This Fresh Umbrian Clay Pore Purifying Face Exfoliator ($33) uses an anti-inflammatory, absorbent clay from Italy to soak up toxins and soothe breakouts or other irritations. The popular polish face cleanser also has 4.7 stars and more than 22,000 loves from other Sephora shoppers, too.
If you want to try something that's not in a tube but offers similar skin-clearing results, there's the top-rated Umbrian Clay Purifying Treatment Bar ($42) which can serve as a deep cleanser, a detoxifying mask, or a blemish spot treatment.
First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser
With more than 3,000 reviews and nearly 86,000 loves from Sephora shoppers, the First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser ($11-$34) is a popular choice. Its pH-balanced formula helps you maintain a stable skin pH, and the face wash features aloe and allantoin that both calm irritated skin and protect against (current and future) environmental stressors.
Estée Lauder Perfectly Clean Multi-Action Foam Cleanser/Purifying Mask
Not only can you wash your face with this top-rated Estée Lauder Perfectly Clean Multi-Action Foam Cleanser/Purifying Mask ($26) as you would with any cleanser, you can also spread it on your skin for about three minutes and it doubles as a mask. It foams up to remove impurities and makeup from your skin, and has kaolin clay inside to fight acne when left on longer, too.
Proactiv Renewing Cleanser
There are tiny exfoliating beads in this Proactiv Renewing Cleanser ($25) which are packed with benzoyl peroxide to get deep into your pores and destroy acne-causing bacteria there. The cleanser also washes away dirt and dead cells on top of the skin — with chamomile to soothe afterwards. The face wash has earned a 4.8-star rating from Sephora shoppers (and 95 percent of those people would recommend it to others, too).