Best Face Washes for Oily, Acne-Prone Skin

You wouldn’t use sandpaper on your face, would you? Sure, it’s normal to be frustrated with shiny, oily skin and ugly acne breakouts. But don’t try to strip away all that oil in hopes of curing the problem. Irritating your skin will only make even more oil and more acne.

The real causes of acne can’t be solved with harsh cleaners. You can’t fix your hormones, stress level, genetics, or diet with any kind of face wash. But you can reduce inflammation, kill off bacteria, and moisturize your skin. You’re attacking the problem just the same. It’s like the old proverb, “A soft answer turns away wrath.” Kill your pimples with gentle cleaners and your skin will look and feel healthier.

Beauty experts often recommend foaming cleansers for sensitive skin. Why? Because they rinse off easily with water. Even though cleaning with oil is a hot topic, we’re not looking at that here.

We hunted down the six best face washes for oily, acne-prone skin. They’re gentle but effective. We listed one cleanser that isn’t foaming, and two cleaners that don’t even need to be rinsed off when you’re done. (Think how nice that would be on a lazy day or on a camping trip.)

Check out our suggestions and let us know what you’ve tried.

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash for a fresh, clean feeling

Neutrogena is a trusted brand name for skin care and their products are often endorsed and praised by dermatologists and beauty specialists. gave their 2014 and 2015 awards for “Best Cleanser for Acne Prone Skin” to Neutrogena’s Oil-Free Acne Wash with pink grapefruit. Cosmopolitan in the UK also recommended it.

The Oil-Free Acne Wash contains salicylic acid to kill off acne bacteria. It works against blackheads, too. The pleasant scent comes from grapefruit extract, which reduces the amount of oil on your skin. The Acne Wash exfoliates gently as it cleans, which helps if you suffer from hyperpigmentation. Even with all this cleansing power, it doesn’t dry out your face. You can use it morning and night. Neutrogena included aloe and chamomile help soothe skin.

All-around useful Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

Like Neutrogena, Cetaphil is another big name in acne-fighting skin care products. This Gentle Skin Cleanser is made for all skin types, not just oily skin. You can use it to wash both your face and body, which is especially nice for those who have acne on their chests and backs. (We know those pimples have a habit of popping up in random places.) It’s also recommended for just about all ages: children, teens, and adults. It’s hypo-allergenic, non-comedogenic, and has no scent.

Besides acne, people suffering with psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema have benefitted from using the Gentle Skin Cleanser. It moisturizes and doesn’t strip off all the skin’s natural oil, but it does remove makeup and dirt. And one last thing—you can use it without water. Yes, it makes for a great camping “soap.”

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser to enhance skin’s protective barrier

CeraVe Foaming Face Cleanser is another gentle wash recommended by dermatologists. It’s also accepted by the National Eczema Association. It contains hyaluronic acid to moisturize, niacinamide to reduce redness, and ceramides to help your skin protect itself.

Since it moisturizes as it cleans, your skin won’t feel the need to overproduce oil. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can skip using face moisturizer afterward. Many users have commented that their skin feels very clean but a little stiff after they use it.

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water is a no-rinse makeup remover and skin cleanser

The Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water is similar to Lancôme’s Eau Micellaire Douceur Express Cleansing product, but it costs a lot less. It’s based on the same Micelle technology invented in France.

We liked this cleanser because it’s an all-in-one. It removes makeup and cleans your face so you don’t need to buy two products. You don’t even have to rinse it off when you’re done. It’s safe to use on your eyes and lips, too.

The Micellar Cleansing Water has no fragrance, no oil, and no alcohol. Garnier says the method for using it is, “Pour, Press, Proof.” That translates into putting it on a cotton pad, pressing it against your skin, then wiping gently. They say the Micelle technology attracts dirt and makeup like a magnet, lifting it from your skin. You’ll see the proof on the cotton pad. Since it’s water-based, your skin will feel refreshed and light after using it.

Clinique Liquid Facial Soap Oily Skin Formula 6F39 for both men and women

Clinique calls this “soap” and it does work up a lather. There are mixed reviews on this product. Most are very happy with it, while a few are very unhappy; there’s not a lot of in-between. We put it here because Clinique has a lot of excellent products that are non-allergenic and helpful for acne sufferers.

The Liquid Facial Soap includes menthol for a fresh feeling after use. It also has aloe to soothe skin. We say if you’ve enjoyed other Clinique products, give this one a whirl.

By the way, it says “tested on animals” because the Chinese government requires that this kind of testing be done on imported cosmetics. Clinique does not test on animals otherwise.

Olay Foaming Face Wash, the traditional solution

Oil of Olay’s been getting it right for years. This is not a new product on the market. Some customers, both male and female, have been using it successfully for over a decade. It’s one of the least expensive and most effective face washes on the market.

Ignore the “oil” in the brand name, this foaming face wash doesn’t have any grease in it. This version for combination and oily skin contains witch hazel. That’s a natural astringent that will shrink your pores and reduce inflammation. The Olay face wash is gentle enough to use both morning and night.

After you’re done washing

Once your face feels refreshed and clean, remember to moisturize. Check out our article on the The 5 Best Face Moisturizers for Acne-Prone Skin.

One Comment

  1. Best I have ever used is Monsia

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