There is an abundance of face washes on the market, and it sure can be tough to decide which one is right for you. However, we have put together a list of the best face washes for acne and pimples that can help you get clear skin.
To come up with this list, we thoroughly reviewed all the face washes on the market and selected those which were highly-rated and contained clinically-proven active ingredients like Salicylic acid, Glycolic acid, Tea-tree oil, Niacinamide, etc. Also, we made sure that these products covered different skin types, price ranges, and skin care requirements.
Benefits of face wash for acne & pimples
Acne and pimples can be frustrating and difficult to treat, but with the help of a good face wash, they can be managed and even eliminated. There are a variety of benefits to using a face wash for acne and pimples, including:
- Reduced inflammation: Face washes are known to reduce inflammation, which is why they are often recommended for acne and other skin conditions.
- Elimination of oils and bacteria: Face washes are effective in eliminating oils and bacteria that can contribute to acne.
- Prevention of scarring: Face washes are also effective in preventing scarring, which is especially important if you have acne that is prone to scarring.
- Flawless skin: Face washes are known to cleanse the skin deeply and remove all the dirt, oils, and makeup that can cause clogged pores and acne.
Note: As most face washes contain strong exfoliating ingredients and fewer moisturizers, it’s natural for your skin to feel dry after their usage. That’s why we recommend you to invest in a great moisturizer or pick up the right creams for your acne-prone skin. Also, if you live in hot regions, or go out often during summers, we suggest that you buy the right sunscreen too.
Pricing Guide: Here’s how we are indicating the price range:
₹: Price Below Rs.250
₹₹: Between Rs.250 to Rs.500
₹₹₹: Above Rs.500
14 Best Face Wash For Acne & Pimples
Neutrogena Salicylic Acid Acne Face Wash
Oil-free non-comedogenic face wash that helps prevent pimples, dries out skin minimally, goes well for sensitive-skin types, and lasts for months.
Skin Type: Oily, Acne-Prone
Active Ingredients: Salicylic Acid, Aloe Vera Leaf, Roman Chamomile Flower Extract, German Chamomile Flower Extract
USP: Amazon’s choice for “oil-free face wash”
Pros: great exfoliation, comparatively little drying effect, dermatologist-tested, oil-free, non-comedogenic, long-lasting, sensitive-skin friendly
Cons: no anti-acne ingredient, dries out skin (but less than Derma Co), expensive (value for money though), not for sensitive-skin types
2% Salicylic Acid Neutrogena Acne Face Wash might not have AHA & BHA, but Neutrogena’s special technology (called MicroClear® technology) allows it to help prevent pimple by penetrating deep within the follicle to clean pores. However, as it’s just 2% Salicylic Acid, it doesn’t dry out your skin as intensely as Derma Co Face Wash.
It also contains Chamomile Flower Extract & Aloe Vera, which allows it to offer some soothing, moisturizing and anti-inflammatory (redness, swelling, and pain) action. This dermatologist-tested, oil-free, and non-comedogenic face wash even enjoys Amazon’s Choice label for “oil-free face wash”, due to its excellent rating.
However, this face wash is expensive, though it makes up for that as its single bottle can last for 3-4 months. Also, it doesn’t contain any reliable anti-acne ingredient, which we do expect in face washes for acne. Plus, it won’t go great for sensitive, normal, or dry skin types.
Cetaphil Daily Face Wash
The mildest and gentlest face for oily or combination acne-prone skin that cleans clogged pores, moisturizes the skin, and is suitable for everyday use by both teens and adults alike.
Skin Type: Oily, Combination
Active Ingredients: Panthenol
USP: mild and gentle, teenage-skin friendly, pH balanced formula
Pros: Highly-rated, effectively cleans clogged pores, moisturizes the skin, daily-use suitable, non-comedogenic
Cons: no anti-acne ingredient, chemical-like smell, contains SLS, bit expensive
Highly-rated highly-reviewed Cetaphil Face Wash may not pack many super ingredients, but this mild and gentle face wash is super-friendly on acne-prone skin, effectively cleans clogged pores, and even moisturizes the skin with its moisturizing ingredient D-Panthenol.
Its pH balanced formulation allows it to work effectively with skin. It produces gentle foaming (as it packs many surfactants/ cleansers), can be even used by teenagers, finds frequent endorsements by dermatologists, and is suitable for daily use (unlike salicylic acid-based face washes).
On the not so bright side, it doesn’t contain any acne-reducing ingredient, packs a chemical-like smell, contains SLS and alcohol, and is expensive compared to many other face washes in the list.
Simple Refreshing Facial Wash
A dream face wash that contains no irritant chemicals, goes well for all skin types including sensitive and dry-skin, cleans thoroughly, and treats breakout.
Skin Type: All
Active Ingredients: Panthenol, Tocopheryl Acetate
USP: contains no possible irritants, odorless, sensitive and dry-skin friendly, eye-friendly, transparent, hypoallergenic
Pros: PETA certified cruelty free, non-comedogenic, dermatologically-tested, best-rated face wash
Cons: no anti-acne ingredient, mild foaming effect
Packing none of the unnecessary irritants including fragrance,color, dye, alcohol and parabens, and designed for all skin types including sensitive and dry, Simple Facial Wash thoroughly cleans make-up, dirt and other impurities, treats breakout, removes extra oil without drying out skin, and doesn’t even irritate eyes.
It’s a mild face wash that has a slimy feeling, transparent texture, and doesn’t lather much. It’s hypoallergenic (very less likely to cause allergic reactions), 100% soap free (made entirely of synthetic cleansers), PETA certified cruelty free, non-comedogenic, and dermatologically-tested. It enjoys a brilliant rating of 4.4 (highest in the list) on Amazon India, and is priced so right.
However, it may not be best for acne as it doesn’t contain any anti-acne ingredients. Also, as some people associate lathering with the cleaning effect, they may not like its mild foaming feature.
SebaMed Clear Face Cleansing Face Wash
Mild & gentle face wash that reduces pimples acne, lightens acne marks, reduces blackheads and whiteheads, improves complexion, and works for cystic acne.
Skin Type: Sensitive, Acne-Prone
USP: clinically-tested, dermatologists-recommended, lighten acne marks, reduce blackheads and whiteheads, minimal composition (with just 8 ingredients), works for cystic acne,
Pros: improve complexion, brilliant rating, popular, mild and gentle cleaning, mild nice fragrance, a sweet pH of 5.5, many irritants free, non-allergenic
Cons: chance of receiving a damaged/ defective/ fake product from Amazon India
Clinically-tested and dermatologists-recommended SebaMed Cleansing Foam contains a brilliant exfoliator Lactic Acid and an amazing moisturizer Panthenol, which allows it to effectively reduce pimples acne, deep cleanse pores, lighten acne marks, reduce blackheads and whiteheads, and even improve complexion. It works great for cystic acne too.
What sets it in its own league is a brilliant rating of 4.4 from 2000+ reviews, minimal ingredients (contains just 8 ingredients), mild and gentle effect, minimal post-cleaning drying effect, mild nice fragrance, and a sweet pH of 5.5. Especially designed for sensitive-skin types, it’s free from common not-so-nice ingredients like harsh soaps, oil, colorant, parabens, paraffin, propylene glycol and phthalates. Also, it’s non-comedogenic & non-allergenic.
But its mild gentle cleansing effect may not feel thorough to some users. Also, if you order from Amazon India, you might receive a damaged/ defective/ fake product as we could read from reviews (buying from the official website can be a safer bet). We also recommend applying the right sunscreen after using it as it contains lactic acid.
Garnier Men Acno Fight Anti-Pimple Face Wash
Beloved men-specific face wash for pimples that’s great at controlling oil, contains exfoliating microbeads, and is cruelty free (involves no testing on animals).
Skin Type: All
Active Ingredients: Kaolin, Salicylic acid
USP: oil controlling, cruelty-free
Pros: popular, high-rated, contains microbeads, cooling effect
Cons: contains numerous irritants, contains many borderline non-comedogenic ingredients
This face wash has so many things similar to Himalaya Face Wash. But it’s better at controlling oil (as it contains sebum absorbing clay called Kaolin), enjoys more popularity and higher Amazon rating, contains microbeads to exfoliate the skin, and is cruelty-free (involved no animal testing). It also offers a better post-cleaning cooling effect.
On the other front, it contains many potential irritants, and many borderline non-comedogenic ingredients, so for men with sensitive skin-type, we recommend Himalaya Face Wash. Also, like Himalaya Face Wash, we did find many reviews mentioning about receiving damaged and half-filled products.
Nivea Women Anti-Acne Face Wash
The best women-specific face-wash designed for oily acne-prone skin with a lot of pimples. Packs natural exfoliators, offers great moisturization, comes in unique travel-friendly design, and imparts great smell.
Skin Type: Oily, Acne-Prone
Active Ingredients: Mannitol, Squalane, Honey, Turmeric, Milk
USP: natural exfoliators, unique travel-friendly design, women-specific face wash
Pros: good moisturization, great fragrance, least expensive in the list, soap-free, appropriate pH, Amazon’s choice
Cons: formula contains many potential harmful ingredients
For those with oily acne-prone skin with lot of pimples, Nivea Women Face Wash is a great choice as it deep cleans and purifies the skin (with natural exfoliating agents milk and turmeric), moisturizes and hydrates the skin (with many moisturizing & hydrating ingredients like Mannitol, Squalane, Honey, and Milk), and even makes it soft and smooth. It has a nice creamy, flowy consistency like thick milk, packs beautiful fragrance, and doesn’t lather much.
It’s 100% soap free (made entirely of synthetic cleansers), has right pH, packs beautiful fragrance, and comes in a travel-friendly unique-styled bottle. What’s also great is that it enjoys Amazon’s choice label for “facewash for acne women”, and is the cheapest of all the face washes in the list.
However, we seriously aren’t a fan of its formulation as it contains SLS, paraben, alcohol, and even algin (a high potential comedogenic and irritant). That’s why we won’t advise this for those with sensitive skin type (Simple Refreshing Facial Wash would be best for them).
WOW Skin Science Anti Acne Face Wash
Great face-wash for dry acne-prone skin. Lightens skin complexion and highly-effective against both blackheads and whiteheads
Skin Type: All , Dry
Active Ingredients: Aloe Vera Extract, D-Panthenol, Liquorice Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Allantoin, Tea Tree Essential Oil
USP: works against blackheads and whiteheads, detans, ideal for dry skin
Pros: oil-free, non-comedogenic, sulfate free, super-affordable
Cons: no proper exfoliator, numerous breakout reviews
Very similar to Mamaearth Face Wash, WOW Face Wash contains Neem and Tea Tree Oil that allows it to limit acne breakouts. What makes it better is its oil-free formulation, its high-effectiveness against blackheads and whiteheads, its detanning capability (due to Liquorice Extract), and its ability to keep skin greatly moisturized (with Sodium Hyaluronate).
Free from Parabens, Sulfate, Silicones & Color & Mineral Oil, it’s non-comedogenic, making it a great choice for those with acne-prone skin.
But on the other side, it doesn’t contain Salicylic acid (or any other exfoliation component) as the company claims, which doesn’t look ethical. Also, there are many breakout reviews by its users, so we recommend doing a patch test before starting its full-fledged usage.
Plum Green Tea Acne Face Wash
One of the best face wash for oily acne-prone skin. 100% vegan, contains microbeads, comes with a cute note in its packaging, and has so many other things to love.
Skin Type: Oily, Acne-Prone
Active Ingredients: Green Tea Leaf Extract, Glycolic Acid
USP: reduces stubborn scars, non-irritant, has microbeads, vegan
Pros: mild, keeps skin nourished, brightens skin, highly-reviewed, free from many irritants
Cons: contains Cocamide DEA
Packing the power of both nature and science with Green Tea Leaf Extract and Glycolic Acid (AHAs), Plum Face Wash’s mildly exfoliating formula removes excess oil while keeping skin nourished, treats acne, reduces stubborn scars, and provides brightening effect to skin. It’s non-irritant (doesn’t burn even a shaved skin), packs dissolving microbeads that can be used as a mild scrub, and features a nice green tea fragrance.
It’s 100% vegan and cruelty-free (so involves no animal suffering), FDA-approved, and is free from Mineral Oil, SLS, Paraben. Also, this budget-friendly face wash enjoys a brilliant rating of 4.3 from 9000+ reviews, and comes with a cute note (about your skin speaking to you).
What we don’t like about it is that it contains Cocamide DEA (a potential source of harmful nitrosamines).
Mamaearth Tea Tree Acne & Pimples Face Wash
A highly-popular gentle face wash for both acne and pimples that packs moisturizing ingredients (so produces less drying effect), contains many great natural ingredients, and smells wonderful.
Skin Type: All
Active Ingredients: Sodium PCA, Allantoin, Aloe Vera Extract, D-Panthenol, Tea Tree Oil
USP: less drying effect, gentler, contains many natural ingredients
Pros: highly-popular, super-cheap, contains anti-acne element, great fragrance, many irritants-free
Cons: not 100% natural, not oil-free, less lathering effect, potentially irritant fragrance
Containing pimples fighting ayurveda-ingredient Neem, and a well-established anti-acne ingredient Tea Tree Oil, highly-popular Mamaearth Face Wash would go well on anyone suffering from acne and pimples. Unlike the previous two face washes, it’s much gentler on skin and can be used by sensitive-skin people too.
It also won’t leave your skin excessively dry (some dryness is always expected with face washes though), as it adds some moisturization to the skin with its moisturizing ingredients D-Panthenol, and Sodium PCA. Free from many irritants including Sulfates, Silicones, Parabens, Phthalates & Artificial Colors, it packs awesome natural fragrance.
However, it can’t be said to be natural, though it sure contains more natural ingredients than other face washes in our list. Also, its natural fragrant ingredient Lavender Oil is a potential irritant. Plus, it doesn’t lather as well as other moisturizers in the list (however, it does deeply clean).
Derma Co 3% AHA-BHA Anti Acne Face Wash
Oil-free face wash that offers excellent exfoliation, treats hyperpigmentation, and prevents acne.
Skin Type: Oily, Combination, Normal
Active Ingredients: Mandelic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Glycolic Acid, DMDM Hydantoin
USP: treats hyperpigmentation, sulfate-free
Pros: excellent exfoliation, oil-free, non-comedogenic, dermatologically-tested, many irritants free
Cons: dries out skin, not for sensitive-skin
With 3 exfoliating ingredients, The Derma Co 3% AHA-BHA Foaming Face Wash penetrates deep within to unclog pores from oil and surface build-up. Mandelic Acid allows it to treat hyperpigmentation, making it an amazing choice for those with dark patches of skin.
It’s oil-free, non-comedogenic, dermatologically-tested, and is free from many irritants including dye, paraben and sulfate. For oily, combination, and normal skin type, it’s a brilliant buy.
However, its 3% salicylic acid won’t go well on sensitive-skin types and dry skin types. These skin-types can still go for it though, but must have the right moisturizer to apply following its usage. Also, it takes 3-8 weeks to show visible results. If you want quick results, go for Pond’s Pimple Clear Face Wash.
Pond’s Pimple Clear Face Wash
A great but super-cheap face wash which provides quick results against acne and pimples, lasts for months, and works for all skin-type.
Skin Type: All, Acne-Prone
Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, Salicylic Acid, Lauric Acid
USP: offers quick results, lasts for long
Pros: multiple anti-acne ingredients, reliable brand, right pricing
Cons: contains a highly comedogenic ingredient
Thanks to Salicylic Acid, Pond’s Pimple Clear Face Wash is able to target pimples at root, effectively wiping out all the dirt and oil. Perfect for those with moderate to severe acne as it contains two reliable anti-acne ingredients (Lauric Acid & Niacinamide).
This unisex gentle face wash promises visible results in just 3 days. What we love about it is that it lasts for months, as its tiny drop is able to produce an amazing foamy texture.
However, the Lauric acid in its formulation scores a high of 4 on the comedogenicity scale, which is a bit concerning. However, it’s important to note that the presence of just a single non-comedogenic ingredient doesn’t make the whole face wash non-comedogenic.
Himalaya Men Pimple Clear Neem Face Wash
Another popular super-affordable men-specific face wash that provides amazing results against pimples, and produces excellent foaming. Better for sensitive skin compared to Garnier Men Face Wash.
Skin Type: All
Active Ingredients: Neem, Salicylic Acid
USP: highly effective against pimples, excellent foaming
Pros: men-specific formulation, quick results, great fragrance, excellent foaming, super-cheap, popular
Cons: dries out skin, not herbal as the company claims
Especially formulated to work on men’s tough skin, Himalaya Face Wash is an effective solution for pimple-covered faces. Salicylic acid and neem allow it to unclog pores while menthol allows it to penetrate deep inside men’s skin. It offers quick results, packs great fragrance, and offers excellent foaming or lather.
And while this super-affordable hugely popular face wash does great on so many fronts, the menthol it contains can evaporate the water from the skin’s outer layer, leaving it dry. And is it herbal as the company claims? No! Also, if you are ordering from Amazon, we read that many users are receiving defective pieces (so make sure to check it after delivery asap, and report in case of abnormalities).
Minimalist 2% Salicylic Acid Anti-Acne Face Wash
Most affordable fragrance-free face wash that’s free from many irritants, offers great cleansing, reduces acne, and prevents breakouts. Perfect for sensitive-skin types.
Skin Type: Oily, Combination, Acne-Prone
Active Ingredients: Salicylic Acid, Lactic Acid, Capryloyl Salicylic Acid, Zinc Pca, Betaine, Panthenol, Allantoin, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract
USP: numerous amazing ingredients, odorless, sensitive-skin friendly,
Pros: hypoallergenic, skin-appropriate pH, many irritants free, odorless, Amazon’s Choice” label for keyword “salicylic acid face wash”
Cons: contains alcohol, less foaming, acid-like smell, doesn’t deep clean
Featuring 3 exfoliating agents (Salicylic Acid, Capryloyl Salicylic Acid, and Lactic Acid), packing 2 great anti-acne ingredient (Zinc Pca & Salicylic Acid), and containing as many as 6 moisturizing ingredients, Minimalist Face Wash offers great cleansing, reduces acne, prevents breakouts – all while giving some hydrating after-feel.
This budget-friendly face wash is non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic, has a sweet pH of 4.5 to 5.5, and is free from irritants found in many face washes including Fragrance, Silicones, Sulfates, Parabens, Essential Oils, and Dyes. Its odorless profile makes it a safe bet for even those with sensitive-skin type. For all its goodness, it enjoys the “Amazon’s Choice” label for keyword “salicylic acid face wash”.
What we don’t like about it is that it contains alcohol, still dries out skin after having numerous moisturizers, doesn’t lather much, and doesn’t provide intense deep cleaning as many users may desire. Also, while it’s odorless, it gives off an acid-like smell which most users may not like.
Face Washes For Pimples & Acne-Related FAQs
What are our thoughts about Acnelak Pimple Care Face Wash?
Containing reliable anti-acne ingredient Niacinamide and a great exfoliator Mandelic Acid, ACNELAK FACE WASH is able to clean acne pores, lighten acne spots, reduce acne eruption, and calm and soothe irritated skin. We totally recommend it to you if you have moderate to severe acne. One close alternative to it is Pond’s Pimple Clear Face Wash.
Is Dermadew Acne Face Wash suitable for pimples & acne-prone skin?
Yes, Dermadew Acne Face Wash helps prevent pimples, acne and blemishes, removes excess oil (so great for those with oily skin type), helps the skin look more radiant and youthful, plus contains no sulfate. For those with oily pimples & acne-prone skin, it’s a good try. But as it’s not very popular online, and don’t have many reviews to give an accurate sense of reality, we didn’t include it in our top 13 list.
What are some specialized medicated face washes for acne?
Medicated face washes are the ones that not only clean, but help in reducing your acne or pimples or scars. Two specialized medicated face washes for acne are:
- ACNESTAR FACE WASH: A great medicated face wash for acne, as it not only packs two great exfoliators Glycolic acid and Salicylic acid, but also contains great natural anti-acne ingredients like Calendula Chamomile & Extracts of Tulsi. It’s sold as a pack of 3, and each pack costs less than Rs.70. We totally recommend it for acne and pimples. You can pick it from here.
- Glenmark D’Acne Soft Face Wash: Containing Salicylic Acid, Glycolic acid, and Aloe Vera as moisturizing ingredients, Glenmark D’Acne Face Wash is another great medicated face wash that reduces acne and provides a clear look to the face.
How is Nivea Men Face Wash?
It’s a great face wash as it cleans both face & beard, packs a chemical sunscreen compound (so offers some sun protection), and enjoys Amazon’s choice label (for men face wash). However, we still won’t recommend it as it contains parabens, and alcohol, and doesn’t pack any great exfoliators or anti-acne ingredients. We recommend Garnier Face Wash as it contains salicylic acid (a great exfoliator), and enjoys a better overall Amazon rating than it.
Is Patanjali’s Saundarya Face Wash a good try for pimples?
Yes, while it’s worth trying for pimples, we don’t recommend it as it contains no proven exfoliators, doesn’t provide a complete ingredients list, and contains Diazolidinyl Urea (a chemical with high-potential to cause allergies and immunotoxicity). If you have stubborn pimples, we would rather recommend highly rated salicylic acid-based Neutrogena Face Wash.
DR. B LAKSHMI DIVYA
Registration Number: 74576
MBBS, MD – Dermatology, MBBS, MD – Dermatology , Venereology & Leprosy