The Best Face Wash for Acne for Every Stage in Life

Daily cleansing is the cornerstone of your skin-care routine, especially for those who have acne. Here are the dermatologist-recommended cleansers for every decade of your adult life.

In your teens

Replenix Acne Solutions Acne Wash 10% Benzoyl Peroxide, 8 Ozvia

Fluctuating hormones can lead to an overproduction of sebum, which can trap dead skin cells in the pores and make them clogged. Then, along with bacteria, particularly P. acnes, it can lead to acne with its swelling, redness, and inflammation. Look for cleansers with benzoyl peroxide; it’s antibacterial, meaning it reduces the number of bacteria on your skin. It’s also a powerful ingredient that treats all sorts of acne lesions, from blackheads to whiteheads to pimples. As an added bonus, benzoyl peroxide works quickly, improving acne as soon as five days after you start using it. Replenix’s Acne Solutions Acne Wash and PanOxyl’s Acne Cream Wash are two of the best face washes for acne to target spots that have already broken out. Check out everything you need to know about hormonal acne.

In your 20s

GLYTONE Acne Self- Foaming Cleanser 6.1 fl. oz.via

“It’s a myth that acne is something that only teenagers deal with,” says Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, MD, board-certified dermatologist. “In fact, the number one skin complaint of my 20-something year patients is acne.” She often sees patients with one of two problems that inadvertently worsen their acne: They use overly harsh products that strip the skin of natural oils, or they use prescription acne medications inconsistently. Another commons issue? Even for those whose hormonal acne has died down, many are left with hyperpigmentation spots. Fortunately, salicylic acid serves as a double whammy for both acne and acne scars, by gently exfoliating dead skin cells. At higher concentrations, it works as a chemical peel for instantly brighter and clearer skin. GLYTONE’s Acne Self- Foaming Cleanser is one of the best face washes for acne that won’t strip your skin of moisture.

In your 30s

NeoStrata Foaming Glycolic Wash, 3.4 Fluid Ounce via

Even if you have taken great care of your skin, you may begin to notice subtle signs of aging including fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and melasma, as you enter your 30s, along with breakouts. The good news is that some anti-acne products are also potent anti-agers. Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ip recommends incorporating retinoic acid cleansers into your daily skin-care routine. “Derived from Vitamin A, retinoic acid is an anti-aging powerhouse. It improves skin cell turnover and provides benefits of increased collagen production, clean pores, and more even skin tone,” she notes. If your skin is overly sensitive to retinoids, glycolic acid is an equally effective alternative that helps to loosen the bonds that hold the dead skin cells together. If you are new to acids, start with products with lower glycolic acid percentages, such as NeoStrata’s Foaming Glycolic Wash (5 percent) and Beauty Rx Balancing Glycolic Cleanser (3 percent). This is the retinoid rule dermatologists are urging everyone to follow.

In your 40s

Vi Derm Cleanser, 8.0 Fluid Ounce via

As women enter perimenopause, usually in their 40s, the level of estrogen—the main female hormone—fluctuates, which can lead to more sebum production and acne flare-ups. At the same time, sun damage in the forms of wrinkles, brown spots, and dull skin tone can also begin to crop up on the face. Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ip recommends products containing ascorbic acid (the synthetic version of vitamin C), which has major antioxidant benefits, brightens skin, and stimulates collagen production. It also soothes redness, (especially inflammation related to acne). Two of her favorite cleansers with ascorbic acid are Vi Derm Cleanser and InstaNatural Vitamin C Facial Cleanser.

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