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10 Best Acne Face Washes for Men in 2023

A guide to the best face washes currently available on the market
Best Acne Face Washes for Men

Best Acne Face Washes for Men

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Every man should have a great face wash in his routine, but this is especially important for men with acne-prone skin. A targeted acne face wash thoroughly cleanses skin and tackles blemishes, helping you achieve the clearest skin of your life. If you’re on the hunt for a new cleanser, we’ve created a guide to the 10 best acne face washes for men currently available on the market.

What Makes a Good Acne Face Wash?

Before we dive into our recommendations, let’s talk about what exactly you’ll want to look for in an acne face wash. Obviously, a face wash that actually cleanses away debris and excess sebum is key. This will help get rid of anything on your face that can clog pores and thus cause further breakouts. Plus, it will also allow your treatments to penetrate the skin so that they work better.

However, you’ll also want a cleanser that contains ingredients known to fight blemishes. There are many acne-fighting skincare ingredients out there; some of the most effective include salicylic acid, charcoal powder, volcanic ash, clays and benzoyl peroxide. You’ll commonly find at least one of these ingredients in cleansers specifically formulated for acne-prone skin.

In addition to acne-fighting ingredients, a good cleanser will also contain ingredients that nourish, soothe and hydrate the skin. This is important not just for calming acne-related inflammation and redness but also for mitigating some of the more aggressive effects of potent anti-acne ingredients. We recommend formulas that contain a higher concentration of natural ingredients, as these tend to be gentle on the skin yet highly effective. Some excellent ingredients that are great for supporting acne-prone skin include aloe leaf juice, hyaluronic acid, squalane, pomegranate seed oil, sunflower seed oil and green tea extract.

The Best Acne Face Washes for Men

1. Blu Atlas Volcanic Ash Face Cleanser

Best Acne Face Washes - BluAtlas

Best Acne Face Washes – BluAtlas

The Volcanic Ash Face Cleanser from premium men’s skincare brand Blu Atlas is one of the best acne face washes for men, as it deeply detoxifies while nourishing and strengthening the skin for a healthy, clear complexion. This all-natural cleanser is suitable for all skin types and is gentle enough for daily use. It has also been dermatologically tested for safety and efficacy, and it’s free of phthalates, parabens, sulfates and synthetic fragrances.

An essential ingredient in this daily Blu Atlas cleanser is super fine volcanic ash. These particles gently exfoliate the skin to remove dead skin cells and debris that may clog pores and contribute to the uneven texture. This mild exfoliating action also allows the next products in your routine to better penetrate the skin so you’ll see better results faster.

Volcanic ash is also highly absorbent and draws out impurities and excess oil in the skin that may contribute to breakouts. Additionally, it refines the appearance of pores for a more flawless complexion.

In addition to the clarifying and acne-busting powers of volcanic ash, this cleanser contains other ingredients that calm, moisturize and protect the skin for a healthier overall complexion. This includes the probiotic lactobacillus ferment filtrate. Lactobacillus ferment filtrate soothes the skin, which is especially important for a complexion currently plagued with irritated breakouts. It also strengthens the skin, helping it to better defend against damaging environmental aggressors.

Another ingredient worth highlighting is pomegranate seed oil. While those with acne-prone skin may be wary of using oils in their routine, this natural ingredient is noncomedogenic, which means it doesn’t clog pores. Pomegranate seed oil is rich in moisturizing fatty acids and vitamin C, which is a skin-protecting antioxidant.

2. Skinfix Acne+ 2% BHA + Azelaic Acid + Niacinamide + AHA Cleanser

Best Acne Face Washes - Skinfix

Best Acne Face Washes – Skinfix

The Acne+ 2% BHA + Azelaic Acid + Niacinamide + AHA Cleanser contains a potent concentration of active ingredients that banish breakouts by tackling multiple causes of acne, while also minimizing sebum production and promoting an overall clearer and more even complexion. It has even been clinically proven to reduce breakouts by 50% after just two days, as well as dramatically improve blemish size, redness, inflammation and oiliness after two weeks of consistent use. It’s a particularly great choice for those with normal, combination or oily skin.

This Skinfix cleanser contains a 2% concentration of salicylic acid, which is a beta hydroxy acid. This chemical exfoliant is oil soluble and works deep in the pores to decongest while whisking away excess oil and debris on the surface of the skin. Another key chemical exfoliant is glycolic acid, which is an alpha hydroxy acid. The 3% concentration of this AHA thoroughly exfoliates the surface of the skin, removing dead skin cells that may clog the pores. It also promotes a smoother skin texture and helps get rid of pesky post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation for a more even skin tone.

This potent formula also contains a 1% concentration of azelaic acid. Azelaic acid kills bacteria on the skin that is known to cause acne and also calms inflammation and fades post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. A 2% concentration of niacinamide also helps refine large pores while controlling sebum production.

There are tons of actives in this cleanser, but it also contains a blend of ingredients that soothe and moisturize the skin. This includes tea leaf extract, which calms inflammation, as well as glycerin, which ensures the skin stays adequately hydrated. Skinfix’s powerful acne-fighting cleanser is vegan and cruelty free, and it is made without fragrances, sulfates, parabens or phthalates.

3. Every Man Jack Skin Clearing Face Wash with Activated Charcoal 

Best Acne Face Washes - Every Man Jack

Best Acne Face Washes – Every Man Jack

Every Man Jack is a popular men’s personal care brand that has a wide variety of affordable products that target different skin types and needs. For men with oily and acne-prone skin, this face wash does not disappoint. It contains a blend of naturally-derived ingredients that tackle breakouts and support skin health, and it’s free of parabens, dyes, fragrances and phthalates.

The Every Man Jack Skin Clearing Face Wash features activated charcoal, which deeply detoxifies the skin. This ingredient gently exfoliates while drawing out impurities, excess oil and debris from the pores to treat and prevent acne. It also features a 2% concentration of the beta hydroxy acid salicylic acid, which works alongside the activated charcoal to target breakouts by unclogging excess sebum and debris from the pores.

Activated charcoal and salicylic acid are the two key breakout fighting ingredients in this Every Man Jack cleanser, but the formula also contains a variety of other noteworthy ingredients. This includes vitamin E, which has potent antioxidant properties. Vitamin E deeply nourishes and heals the skin for a healthy and more comfortable complexion. Fatty acid and vitamin-rich sweet almond oil also works alongside the vitamin E to nourish while moisturizing the skin. Finally, the formula features aloe leaf and witch hazel extracts, which both calm and refresh the complexion.

4. Peace Out Skincare Blemish Balm Cleanser

Best Acne Face Washes - Peace Out

Best Acne Face Washes – Peace Out

While balm cleansers are typically more geared toward those with drier skin, this product from Peace Out Skincare is made for those with combination and oily skin that is prone to breakouts. It contains both physical and chemical exfoliants that help smooth texture and unclog pores, as well as other nourishing and acne-fighting ingredients that will help you achieve a healthy and acne-free complexion. The Peace Out Skincare Blemish Balm Cleanser is vegan and cruelty free, and it doesn’t contain any parabens, sulfates, phthalates or synthetic fragrances.

This daily exfoliating balm cleanser is another option that features salicylic acid, a BHA. While this chemical exfoliant unclogs the pores and refines their appearance, biodegradable cellulose gently buffs to create a softer and smoother complexion. At the same time, niacinamide promotes a more even skin tone while balancing sebum production and further minimizing the appearance of pores.

In addition to these powerful ingredients, this Peace Out Skincare cleanser features hyaluronic acid, a humectant that locks moisture into the skin, helping it look and feel smoother and more comfortable. You’ll also find a complex of eight amino acids, which enrich and strengthen the skin. Ceramides support the skin’s barrier, helping it better retain moisture. They also make it better equipped to defend itself against environmental aggressors that can damage or irritate the skin. To top off this powerful formula, additional ingredients soothe and moisturize, including licorice root extract, lactobacillus ferment, glycerin and jojoba oil.

The ingredients list in the Blemish Balm Cleanser is obviously impressive on its own, but the company also has consumer study results to back the formula up. After a week, 95% of participants said that the cleanser helped them achieve clear and balanced skin and that it did not make their skin feel irritated or sensitive. 89% of the participants also agreed that the cleanser improved their skin texture.

Best Acne Face Washes - CeraVe

Best Acne Face Washes – CeraVe

5. CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser

If you’re looking for a drugstore cleanser that will help you on your journey to clearer skin, you’ll want to check out this product from CeraVe. This affordable Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser contains a 4% concentration of benzoyl peroxide, a scientifically proven acne-fighting ingredient, as well as a blend of other effective ingredients that support the skin’s barrier, soothing and hydrating it. It was formulated alongside dermatologists and works to tackle current breakouts and prevent future acne from forming while promoting a healthy and comfortable complexion.

Benzoyl peroxide is one of the best ingredients for treating and preventing acne. It kills acne-causing bacteria on the skin and also unclogs pores. The 4% concentration of benzoyl peroxide you’ll find in this cleanser is powerful but not overly harsh on the skin, so it is less likely to cause irritation or dryness.

Benzoyl peroxide is the key ingredient in this cleanser for fighting acne, but there are also a variety of other ingredients that should be noted. Glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid, exfoliates the surface of the skin, promoting a smoother texture and more even skin tone. Niacinamide soothes the skin and minimizes redness, while also refining pores and controlling sebum production. Hyaluronic acid works to support the skin’s ability to retain moisture for a more hydrated complexion, while three essential ceramides support the skin’s barrier, leaving it feeling comfortable and soft.

6. Perricone MD Acne Relief Gentle and Soothing Cleanser

Best Acne Face Washes - Perricone

Best Acne Face Washes – Perricone

While this cleanser from Perricone MD does contain acne-fighting ingredients, it equally calms the skin for a comfortable and healthy complexion. It is formulated to effectively cleanse away impurities and excess oil without stripping the skin of its natural moisture or causing irritation. The Acne Relief Gentle and Soothing Cleanser also gently exfoliates the skin using the power of both physical and chemical exfoliants.

This lightweight gel cleanser contains ultra-fine sugar, a.k.a. sucrose. Sucrose works as a super gentle physical exfoliant, removing dead skin cells and debris on the surface of the skin while unclogging pores, helping to minimize breakouts and smooth skin texture. This ingredient also supports the skin’s microbiome by promoting the growth of good bacteria.

By strengthening the microbiome, sucrose helps the skin better defend itself against environmental stressors that may damage the skin. The fragrance-free cleanser also provides chemical exfoliation benefits, thanks to the 2% concentration of salicylic acid. Salicylic acid works alongside the sucrose to unclog pores, getting rid of excess oil and pore-clogging debris.

In addition to these effective yet gentle exfoliants, the Acne Relief Gentle and Soothing Cleanser contains squalane derived from olive oil. This ingredient is noncomedogenic and super lightweight but deeply hydrates the skin without triggering breakouts or leaving behind a greasy film on the skin. Since squalane is already naturally found in the human body, it’s also well-suited for all skin types. This relatively simple yet impactful formula also contains glycerin, which provides additional moisturization benefits for a balanced complexion.

7. The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser

Best Acne Face Washes - Inkey list

Best Acne Face Washes – Inkey list

The Inkey List is a super affordable skincare company that is dedicated to producing high-performance formulas backed by science. The company’s Salicylic Acid Cleanser is an excellent product for any man looking to achieve and maintain a clear and calm complexion on a budget. It’s a particularly great choice for men with normal, combination and oily skin types.

This lightly foaming cleanser is formulated to not only control breakouts and refine enlarged pores but also to balance oil production for a less shiny complexion. As the name suggests, this cleanser features the beta hydroxy acid salicylic acid. The 2% concentration removes excess oil, dead skin cells and impurities from the pores to tackle breakouts and blackheads while also preventing the formation of future blemishes. This cleanser also contains zinc PCA, which reduces excess sebum for a more matte complexion. Zinc PCA also has anti-inflammatory properties and can help soothe irritated skin.

In addition to these ingredients, The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser contains allantoin, which effectively calms irritation, as well as glycerin, which moisturizes without contributing to breakouts. This cleanser is free of fragrances, phthalates, sulfates and parabens, and it’s also cruelty free.

8. Origins Clear Improvement Zero Oil Cleanser with Charcoal

Best Acne Face Washes - Origins

Best Acne Face Washes – Origins

The Origins Clear Improvement line of products has long been a staple in many people’s acne-fighting skincare routine. The company’s Zero Oil Cleanser with Charcoal is formulated for normal, combination and oily skin types, and it works to deeply cleanse and detoxify the skin while refining pores and getting rid of excess oil. It has even been clinically proven to clear the pores after one wash and reduce the visibility of pores after one week of consistent use.

This nondrying gel-to-foam cleanser contains microfine bamboo charcoal powder, which is made by burning bamboo stalks. Bamboo charcoal is super porous and able to absorb 100 times its weight in impurities, so it provides potent detoxifying benefits. This Origins cleanser also features a 1% concentration of salicylic acid, which clears acne by unclogging pores and exfoliating dead skin cells on the surface of the skin.

In addition to these acne-fighting ingredients, this formula features a variety of essential oils that refresh and purify the skin. This includes lavender oil, which has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Lavender oil calms the skin while also fighting against acne. Other key oils include spearmint and wintergreen oils, which also have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. These oils also create the cleanser’s natural minty scent. 

The Origins Clear Improvement Zero Oil Cleanser with Charcoal also contains soothing aloe barbadensis leaf juice, as well as moisturizing glycerin. The formula is free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates and animal ingredients. 

9. PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash 10% Maximum Strength

Best Acne Face Washes - PanOxyl

Best Acne Face Washes – PanOxyl

This heavy-hitter from skincare company PanOxyl works to stop acne in its tracks and prevent new breakouts from occurring. It contains a 10% concentration of benzoyl peroxide, which is the highest potency you’re able to get over-the-counter. 

As mentioned, benzoyl peroxide is an incredibly effective acne-fighting ingredient that destroys acne-causing bacteria (P. acnes) to treat and prevent acne. It also boosts the skin’s ability to shed more effectively, which helps keep the pores from getting clogged again. The 10% concentration found in this face wash is excellent for any man who needs to take a more aggressive approach to fighting acne. This affordable and dermatologist-recommended cleanser can also be used on the back and chest, so it’s a great option for any man battling body acne. 

One thing to note about the PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash 10% Maximum Strength is that, since it has such a high concentration of benzoyl peroxide, it may cause irritation or dryness. It’s not a bad idea to use this face wash once a day or once every other day, and alternate with another cleanser that is thorough yet gentler on the skin.

10. Paula’s Choice Clear Pore Normalizing Cleanser

Best Acne Face Washes - Paula's Choice

Best Acne Face Washes – Paula’s Choice

The Paula’s Choice Clear collection has an excellent selection of products that are specifically formulated to banish breakouts and maintain a clear complexion. In an independent clinical trial of the products found in the line, 96% of users reported that the products minimized the appearance of pores, while 88% reported that their acne was decreased. 

One of the best products for men with acne in this line is the Pore Normalizing Cleanser. It dissolves pore-clogging impurities and whisks away excess sebum and debris present on the skin but does so without drying out the skin or causing any irritation or redness. The fragrance-free foaming gel cleanser is incredibly effective but still gentle enough for daily use.

The Paula’s Choice Clear Pore Normalizing Cleanser features a 0.5% concentration of salicylic acid, which is lower than the other BHA products you’ll find on this list. The salicylic acid still works to gently exfoliate the skin, unclog impurities and debris and also refine the appearance of pores. However, since the concentration is so mild, it is less likely to cause irritation, and it is suitable for daily use. 

While salicylic acid exfoliates and decongests, a variety of other ingredients support the overall health of the skin. Glycerin works to moisturize and soften the skin, while arginine (an amino acid) restores moisture and smooths. Anti-inflammatory panthenol also soothes the skin while boosting hydration levels. 

Keeping Breakouts at Bay: Additional Tips

Using a highly-effective face wash is definitely a key part in fighting and preventing acne, but there are other pieces of the puzzle to consider. In addition to using a targeted face wash one to two times per day, there are additional products you can use and lifestyle changes you can implement to help you achieve and maintain a clear complexion. Below, you’ll find a few of our best tips for keeping your skin completely free of acne.

Use a Targeted Treatment

By using an acne treatment in tandem with your targeted face wash, you’ll be practically guaranteed to achieve an acne-free complexion. There are a ton of different treatments out there, so spend some time doing some research to figure out what may work best for you. 

A spot treatment, which you apply only to an active pimple, may be helpful to have on hand when a blemish appears, while regularly using an all-over serum or chemical exfoliant can help keep breakouts at bay. Salicylic acid, retinoids, benzoyl peroxide and niacinamide are some of the best ingredients for fighting acne and preventing breakouts. 

Keep in mind, however, that many active ingredients shouldn’t be layered at the same time, as this will increase the likelihood of irritation. Some ingredients may even cancel each other out when used at the same time. A quick internet search will help you determine the do’s and don’ts of layering skincare ingredients. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that you will need to give your treatment of choice some time to actually work. Some products will take weeks or months before you start seeing results, and there may be a purging period at first. Unless you experience extreme side effects, stick with your treatment and give it the time it needs to deliver; you’ll be happy that you did in the long run!

On the same note, you’ll also only want to add one new product to your routine at a time. Doing so will allow you to better determine whether a specific product is working for you, so that you can best decide how to move forward with your routine. 

Shower Immediately After Getting Sweaty

As you work out, sweat, oil, dirt and debris accumulate on your skin. The longer these impurities are left on your complexion, the greater your risk is of clogging your pores. In order to maintain a breakout-free complexion, jump in the shower as soon as possible to cleanse away the post-workout sweat and grime left behind on your skin. If you aren’t able to immediately wash your entire body, consider having a travel size of your cleanser on hand so that you can at least give your face a quick rinse. 

Change Out Your Pillowcases

Dirt, oil, hair products, dead skin cells, sweat and other debris collect on your pillowcase as you sleep. Eventually, all of this grime can find its way to your skin, and it may contribute to breakouts. In order to prevent this from happening, switch out your pillowcases every few days. While it might feel like a hassle, it can make a major difference in your complexion. 

Clean Your Phone

On the same note, it’s a good idea to use an alcohol wipe to regularly clean your phone – especially if you talk on the phone a lot. Phones are breeding grounds for bacteria, dead skin cells, sunscreen, and other impurities, and they easily transfer to your face the moment you bring your phone to your ear. In order to prevent these elements from clogging your pores, try to clean your phone screen at least once a week (or more often if you use it regularly). 

Talk to a Dermatologist

Sometimes, you need to stop trying to deal with acne on your own and talk to a medical professional who knows their stuff. If you find that you aren’t able to get the results you desire with your routine, set up an appointment with a dermatologist. Not only can they prescribe you some more heavy-hitting prescriptions, but they’ll also be able to take a complete look at your current skincare routine, diet and habits, determining what needs to be changed for you to finally achieve—and maintain—clear skin.

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