How do I Choose the Best Acne Wash?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

For people who suffer from acne, dealing with the condition may seem like a confusing blur of concealers, treatments, and even medication. Key to most acne treatment systems is a comprehensive skin care regime that helps keep pores clear, reduces oil, and keeps skin properly moisturized. An acne wash is usually the first step in any acne treatment program, but may prove a confusing choice. With so many available products on the market, choosing the best acne wash may be a lengthy practice of trial and error.

Many acne cleansers target acne with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.
Many acne cleansers target acne with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.

Acne washes, as the first step of treating and preventing blemishes, attempt to cleanse the skin and prepare it for further treatment. A good acne wash will remove traces of makeup, dirt, and surface oil, to allow treatment products clearer access to troubled skin. Cleansers must be carefully balanced to prevent skin irritation, which is common in people with sensitive, acne-prone skin. Any cleansing or wash product that causes itchiness, drying, or lasting redness, is probably not the best choice.

Those with sensitive skin should test an acne product before making it part of a skin care regimen.
Those with sensitive skin should test an acne product before making it part of a skin care regimen.

Many acne washes contain active ingredients that help reduce the bacteria which causes zits and breakouts, as well as healing blemishes already on the skin. Common ingredients that may be used include salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. It is important to look at ingredients carefully and note the strength of solution used in the acne wash. Higher strength solutions may be more likely to cause drying and irritation, and some studies suggest they are not much more effective, if at all.

Products that stress natural ingredients may substitute active ingredients with sulfur, tea tree oil, or other cleansing herbs and compounds. Skincare lines with these products may be an excellent choice for people who have developed sensitivity or seen few results with more commonly used acne washes. People with sensitive skin should still be wary, however, and try to test the product on skin before working it into a skincare regime; even some natural compounds can contain allergens and irritations.

If an acne wash is working, a person should see fewer breakouts and experience no excess drying, itching or redness. There is unfortunately no surefire way to determine if a product will work until it is used for a few days. Some cosmetic stores and brands allow customers to return products for full refunds if they experience an adverse reaction or simply don't like the product. Taking advantage of return offers can speed up the experimentation process without wasting money on products that do not work.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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Discussion Comments


@grumpyguppy: Most people think that chocolate cause acne. However, studies have been done and it has been determined that chocolate does not cause acne. However, certain foods you eat can trigger your blemishes but are not the direct cause. Eating a healthy diet is definitely good for your acne and could even help to calm it down.

Oil is also a culprit for causing acne. If you keep your face clean with the proper wash for your particular skin type, it should get better.


I use face wash and ointment for my acne but it still isn't going away. One of my friends told me that it could be some of the foods that I eat. Is that true?


Finding the best acne wash depends greatly on your skin type. For example, if you have oily skin you may want to choose a facial wash that is made for oily skin. Using face wash alone won't get rid of acne unless it's a really mild case.

In order to rid acne and blemishes on your face, you not only need to invest in face wash but also ointment for your acne. If your acne is bad and/or is on your shoulders, arms, neck, etc. then you may need to get a prescription ointment from your doctor. The best acne treatment for one person may not be the right one for someone else.

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