The Active Edit

The 10 Best Cleansers For Acne

written by: Kristen - Beauty Editorpublished on 20 Mar, 2024

There is almost nothing more frustrating than stubborn acne. Blemishes can be embarrassing and difficult to cover, especially on the face, and it can get discouraging to deal with them day after day. You need every tool in your skincare kit to fight the little spots that can ruin your day, and a cleanser is the best place to start. So we've curated a list of the 10 best acne cleansers that will help gently clean your skin while battling away the blemishes.

Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash

This skin cleaning product is a favourite of many, and it's not hard to see why. Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash is a naturally foaming cleanser that purifies the pores while soothing inflammation. It uses Salicylic Acid & BHA to get rid of the dead skin cells that clog pores, helping to keep new breakouts from happening. But it also has a host of naturally purifying extracts like balm mint, eucalyptus, tea tree, burdock, and camphor to soothe and calm your skin. This cleanser is great for controlling breakouts, comedones, and excess surface oil, plus it leaves your skin clean and ready for your day.

How To: Use just a pea-sized amount in wet hands to work into a lather before applying to your damp face and throat (avoid the eye area). Use a circular, massaging motion, focussing on irritated and oily areas. Take it over the chest and back should breakouts affect those areas.


2. Medik8 Clarifying Foam

We all wash our face in the morning, but for those of us with problem skin, we want something that will work all night for us, too. Medik8 Clarifying Foam is just that. Gentle enough to use twice a day, this anti-bacterial acne cleanser was developed to help with the appearance of troubled skin while helping to prevent future breakouts. It harnesses AHAs in addition to Salicylic acid & BHA, plus skin strengthening Niacinamide to renew and resurface whilst tea tree oil naturally purifies. All if this combines to treat your skin while avoiding any harsh fragrances, paraben, SLES, and soaps.

How To: Use a small amount in the palm of your hand and apply to your moistened face and neck. Massage gently, and remove by splashing tepid water on the skin. Pat dry. Do this twice daily for full protection. For a complete treatment, you can follow up with a Medik8 antioxidant and a Medik8 Hydrator.


3. Skinstitut Glycolic Cleanser 12%

Some acne treatment can leave the skin feeling tight and dry, but the best cleansers won't. For instance, the Skinstitut Glycolic Cleanser 12% is a non-dehydrating formula that is effective in removing oils and lipids but is mild enough that sensitive skin doesn't feel dried out. Glycolic acid & AHA in this formula stimulates cell turnover so it leaves you with soft, fresh skin, while botanical Tea Tree reduces irritation and helps control breakout infection to minimise future blemishes.

How To: You only need a small amount of this product. Use moist hands to lather over your face for between thirty and ninety seconds. Use longer for more exfoliation. Rinse completely with lukewarm water and follow up with a cold water rinse before patting skin dry. You only need to use this active cleanser once a day, preferably in the morning.


4. Environ Focus Care Clarity+ Sebu-Wash Gel Cleanser

Let's face it, sometimes acne happens on more than just the face. One of the best cleansers for acne that can also be used on the body is Environ Focus Care Clarity+ Sebu-Wash Gel Cleanser. Harnessing the botanical power of antibacterial Tea Tree in combination with pore decongesting Salicylic Acid, skin is purified from pollution and excess oil without worrying about stripping the naturally protective acid mantle. This cleanser is the BFF for blemish, breakout and congested skins as the gentle yet effective formula leaves a fresh, clear and clean finish.

How To: With skin damp, lather a small amount in your hands before applying to your face and neck. Rinse well with water and be sure to wear a lightweight SPF during the day.


5. ASAP Daily Facial Cleanser

It's not just very oily skin that can suffer from acne, but it can be hard to find a cleanser that's really good for all skin types. The asap Daily Facial Cleanser is paraben-free and is suitable for all skin types. This product works to gently but deeply clean the skin of oil in the morning and makeup in the evening, so you can fight follicle-clogging dirt all day long. This product uses a Glycolic Acid complex buffered to pH5.5 to slough off dead skin cells, leaving you with visibly refreshed and renewed skin that is clean and smooth.

How To: Use a small amount on wet skin and massage it for 30 seconds. Avoid contact with eyes. Rinse completely and gently dry the skin. Ideal results with both morning and night use.


6. Alpha-H Triple Action Cleanser

Instead of one product for acne control and another one for face makeup and a third for eye makeup removal, check out the three-in-one Alpha-H Triple Action Cleanser. This unique product has been designed to whisk away face and eye makeup while cleansing your skin to control acne. Non-foaming, this gel minimises excess oil and limits the spread of bacteria on the skin. Quick and easy, this is one cleanser for acne that is a great choice for travelling.

How To: As a non-foaming gel, you can use more of this than most acne cleansers. Apply liberally to damp face and neck, but use sparingly around the eyes. Remove cleanser with a warm face cloth to help lift away makeup.


7. Ultraceuticals Ultra Clear Foaming Cleanser  

A foaming cleanser feels lightweight and fresh on acne-prone skin, and it’s important to choose one that will cleanse without stripping the skin of protective oils. Introducing this purifying Ultraceuticals Ultra Clear Foaming Cleanser which expertly removes impurities and decongests pores with the combined use of AHAs & BHAs perfectly buffered by soothing botanicals. This antibacterial formula helps control breakouts and prevents future blemishes from forming. Furthermore, the included antioxidants and plant extracts help to shield the skin and balance oily shine to leave the skin refreshed, clear and comfortable. Paraben and synthetic fragrance free.

How To: Gently massage a pump of cleanser over damp skin morning and night before rinsing with tepid water. Pat to dry and follow with your preferred treatment serum, lightweight moisturiser and SPF protection during the day.


8. Eminence Acne Advanced Cleansing Foam

Keeping it nice and natural, this organic face cleanser means business when it comes to purifying pores and keeping breakouts under control. The super soothing liquid-to-foam formulation boasts skin strengthening antioxidants in addition to soothing green tea and panthenol. Furthermore the botanical herbs included take the heat and redness out of the situation to leave your skin feeling refreshed and calm. But it’s the Salicylic acid & BHAs that really rolls up the sleeves to decongest pores, shift dead skin cell build up and prevent future spots from making an appearance.

How To: Dispense this aerated foaming cleanser into your hands and massage all over the face and neck area before rinsing with warm water. Pat dry before applying your treatment products and hydration. 


9. Murad Clarifying Cleanser

This cleanser is ideal for the shower lovers that keep the face cleansing routine for the cubicle. This Murad foaming gel works wonders to melt away pore-clogging debris, excess oil and pollution from the skin and is specifically developed with blemish-prone skins in mind. The high-potency formulation packs a punch on breakouts and congestion whilst respecting your skin’s integrity. It’s the serious yet no fuss cleanser you’ve been dreaming of!

How To: Work a 5c piece sized amount into a lather between damp hands then massage over the face, neck and decolletage. Can also be used on the chest and back if prone to breakouts. Rinse clean and repeat each morning and night.


10. SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Cleanser Gel

Here’s the best cleanser for blemishes and skin congestion when you also carry concerns of ageing, because let’s face it, spots and breakouts can happen post the teen years! Trust SkinCeuticals to deliver a high-performance cleanser that ticks more than one box. Boasting a 12% concentration of AHAs & BHAs to decongest the pores and resurface the skin, this brightening cleanser also acts as an effective makeup remover. Best of all it respects your skin condition and delivers results without stripping for a more clarified and blemish free complexion.

How To: Dampen the skin and massage a small amount over the face and neck each morning and night as the first step of your skincare routine. Can be used to double cleanse away sunscreen or makeup. Rinse well with warm water.


Whether you have sensitive skin, or oily and problematic skin, there's a best cleanser for acne control for everyone. Pick your favourite and enjoy fresh, healthy skin again!