Some acne experts will tell you that there really isn’t any point in using an acne face wash. After all, you rinse the product right down the drain almost as quickly as you put it on your skin.
And in terms of exfoliating your skin, stripping away the layers of dead skin that lock sebum in whiteheads and blackheads, they are probably mostly right. Acne face washes are not especially useful for zapping zits. What acne face washes do, however, is equally important. They make your skin just a little more permeable to the next ingredients you will put on your face.
Your moisturizer will keep your skin moister. Your foundation will adhere to your skin longer with less flaking and clumping. Any antibiotic cream or skin rejuvenating product like tretinoin topical will penetrate just a little deeper. And that makes acne face washes a good idea.
One of the most useful face washes contains a combination of two great skin care products, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid is the one and only beta-hydroxy acid used in skin care. It is just acidic enough to loosen dead skin that locks oil inside pores (at least when it is used at the right concentration and the right pH). It’s also anti-inflammatory. That is important for people who have Mediterranean, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Asian, and African skin types, because stopping inflammation stop pigmentation, which can be a bigger problem than acne!
Benzoyl peroxide is probably the oldest and best-known disinfectants for acne-prone skin. Benzoyl peroxide kills the germs that cause acne fast. That doesn’t cause immediate healing, because the redness and inflammation of acne are actually caused by the immune system’s reaction to acne bacteria rather than the bacteria themselves. But benzoyl peroxide “turns acne around” and starts the healing process.
Together, these products are even better. The side effect of benzoyl peroxide is that it makes dead skin peel. Salicylic acid lifts and separates dead skin cells so they don’t flap over new pores and cause new blemishes. Salicylic acid typically doesn’t have any side effects if it is used in the right concentration. Combining it with benzoic acid, however, lowers the pH of the product so the salicylic acid works better.
What you don’t want to do with a face wash is just to splash it on your face to get cleansing done as fast as possible. It’s better to dab the face wash on your face and let it stay on your skin at least 5 minutes. Then rinse the product off. It takes about 5 minutes for any benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid product to begin to do its work. The combo does not kill all bacteria but breaks down white heads and blackheads. Continual use is needed as once use of salicylic acid has stopped, the pore clogging will begin again. Dryness of the skin is common but use of a gentle moisturizer will alleviate this.
The prestigious Mayo Clinic advocates a twice daily cleansing of the acne area with products that contain these ingredients. Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid acne washes are available over the counter at drugstores and grocery stores, and can help reduce oil on the skin and encourage the exfoliation of dead skin cells. The creamier and foamier the product, the longer it will stay on your skin and the more good it will do.
Moisturizer, Makeup, and Breakouts
After you use your cleanser, then it’s time for moisturizer and makeup. The most important thing to remember about moisturizer is that it shouldn’t make your skin tingle. Alcohol feels like it is doing something but can dry out your skin. The best moisturizers are “oil in water,” sealing moisture in your skin without sealing oil in your pores.
The helpful people at the cosmetics counter will help you choose the most expensive foundation makeup that works for you. But if you are choosing products on your own, keep in mind that:
- Oil-free, matte finish foundation will keep oil in control but only for a few hours. They are best if you want a light feel on your skin.
- Long-wearing, matte finish foundation will look “just put on” all day long, but if you have oily skin it may tend to streak.
- Long-wearing, matte finish liquid foundation is best for oily skin, but you have to get any additional products “right” the first time you put them on. They are hard to mix with other cosmetics.
- Moisturizing liquid foundations are good for dry to normal skin.
- Pressed powder is OK for slightly dry to slightly oily skin.
- Cream-to-powder foundations can make oily skin shinier.
- Stick foundations can clog pores and accentuate wrinkles, making them more obvious.
- Tinted moisturizers are fine when you don’t need a lot of coverage or for casual wear.
- Mineral makeup is actually powder makeup. Use with caution on dry skin.
Of course, when you have a really bad breakout, it is advisable not to put any make up on at all. Make sure you are using a appropriate acne skin wash that is suitable for your skin type this will help to reduce the oil on the skin.
So, Where Do You Start?
Choosing the best acne wash is going to be the biggest step in helping to remedy your acne problem. The tough challenge is that there are several acne face washes, declaring to be the “best.”
If your primary concern is pimples, then look for a wash that contains 5 to 10% benzoyl peroxide. This is probably stronger than you would want to leave on your skin, but it’s OK in a skin wash. Just be sure to moisturize after you rinse off your face wash.
You probably aren’t going to be able to find a product that has any strength of salicylic acid other than 1%. (And you really should not use the 10% to 30% salicylic acid products you sometimes find online. If you don’t know how to neutralize them, or you don’t neutralize them in time, they can cause real damage to your skin.) The salicylic acid in face washes really doesn’t “peel” your skin. It just leaves it more responsive to the other products you wil use.
These two ingredients are potent so it’s not impossible to have some negative occurrences. Some people may experience some mild burning, peeling, or itching. You don’t want to use any product that makes your skin peel—but you can stop this by rinsing carefully and using a touch of moisturizer.
- Nothing beats cleansing for stopping acne. A lot of people ask, what is the best face wash for acne? Here’s what is important in an acne wash.
- A good acne wash does not contain any perfumes, fragrances, or preservatives that make your face break out with allergies.
- Except for Neutrogena, it is unusual for a bar soap to make a good acne wash. The ingredients that keep the soap in bar form can cause skin to break out.
- Microbeads in an acne wash help break up blackheads and whiteheads, but they really don’t work unless you rub them across blemished skin. Don’t try to scrub your acne away. A gentle rubbing, not a scrubbing, is enough.
- Triclosan is OK in a product you wash off your skin in a minute or two. It’s too strong to leave on your skin, but it is good for starting the process of disinfection.
- Tea tree oil both kills acne bacteria and relieves inflammation. It’s for teens and older, not children, however.
- It takes 5% to 10% benzoyl peroxide to make a difference in a skin wash for acne. You don’t want to leave any product that contains this strength of benzoyl peroxide on your skin. Wash it off in 5 minutes or less.
- There’s a really long list of acne washes that don’t work, so let’s focus on the few that do.
- Ahava Skin Care products are usually pH balanced and contain all the right ingredients for acne on almost any skin type. They also tend to be expensive.
- Black Opal Skin Perfecting Acne & Blemish Wash contains the tea tree oil that relieves inflammation and just a little salicylic acid for opening up pores. It’s very reasonably priced.
And while it may look like we stopped at the top of an alphabetical list, actually these are the two best acne skin washes you can find at cosmetics counters and department stores. But you can get the best results overall from Exposed Skin Care.