From celebrity brands to cult favorites, we’ve got a cleanser to help manage your acne woes.
|Product Name||Ranking||Key Ingredient||SebumControl/ Active Acne Fighting||Wound Healing||Fragrance & Essential Oils/ Alcohol-free||Price|
|Dr.Jart+ | Ctrl-A Teatreement Cleansing Foam||
|41% Tea Tree Extract; Salicylic Acid; Licorice Root; Ceramides; Centella Asiatica||Y||Y||N/Y||Check Here|
|CeraVe | Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser||
|4% Benzoyl Peroxide; Hyaluronic Acid; Niacinamide; Ceramides||Y||Y||Y/Y||Check Here|
|Every Man Jack | Skin Clearing Activated Charcoal Face Scrub||
|2% Salicylic Acid; Activated Charcoal;Aloe Vera Juice||Y||Y||N/Y||Check Here|
|Murad | Acne Control Clarifying Cream Cleanser||
|1.5% SAlicylic Acid; Retinol; Vitamin E; Willow Bark Extract; Tea Tree Leaf Oil||Y||Y||N/Y||Check Here|
|Jack Black | Deep Dive Glycolic Facial Cleanser||
Best Pore Clearing
|Glycolic Acid; Kaolin Clay; Volcanic Ash; Vitamin E||Y||Y||Y/Y||Check Here|
|The INKEY List | Salicylic Acid Cleanser||
Best Cult Favourite
|2% Salicylic Acid; Vitamin E; Citric Acid||Y||N||Y/Y|
How to Pick the Best Face Wash for Men With Acne?
It’s a well-known fact that men’s skin is generally different from women’s. Studies show that men’s skin is around 20% thicker, have larger pores and produce significantly more sebum. Interestingly, despite being oilier than women, men’s skin also tends to be less hydrated.
But how do these differences translate when it comes to skincare for men?
For one, men’s skin is likely better at handling sensitizing ingredients. Thicker skin also means that stronger active ingredients are needed to better penetrate the skin. Oil-controlling and pore-clearing ingredients are also crucial for managing sebum and large pores.
With this in mind, it makes sense for men to take a different approach to skincare, especially for those with acne-prone skin.
But let’s face it, even for the best of us, skincare products can be tricky. So many facial foams boast similar benefits and decoding ingredient lists can be overwhelming. One way to simplify the choosing process is to narrow it down to a select number of ingredients. And to help you get started, we’ve compiled some of our favorite ingredients for men with acne-prone skin. So, let’s dive in!
Ingredients that fight acne-causing bacteria are crucial for men with acne-prone skin. Especially since excessive sweat and sebum can trigger or exacerbate it. Here are some effective acne-fighting ingredients to help manage breakouts:
Tea tree leaf oil
Tea Tree Leaf Oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, making it an excellent anti-acne ingredient. It also contains Terpinen-4-ol, which has potent antifungal benefits. When applied to the skin, it prevents the growth of acne-causing bacteria and reduces mild to moderate acne breakouts.
As you’ve seen, Tea Tree Leaf Oil that’s properly diluted in skincare products offers many amazing benefits. However, one should be wary of applying concentrated Tea Tree Leaf Oil directly on the skin. This may be too sensitizing and cause an allergic reaction, such as itching or redness.
Benzoyl Peroxide is an over-the-counter antiseptic treatment for acne. It’s usually formulated into facial cleansers and spot treatment gels, and is great for clearing away dead skin cells and excess sebum.
It’s effective in killing Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), which causes inflammatory acne. Unfortunately, it’s not recommended for severe cystic acne as these infections occur much deeper in the skin. Benzoyl Peroxide may irritate the skin in high concentrations but is generally well-tolerated.
Licorice Root Extract has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. These keep acne-causing bacteria from multiplying while minimizing breakouts. It also has skin-soothing properties that calm irritation and redness.
Aside from addressing hyperpigmentation, Licorice Root also helps improve the skin’s turnover rate. This keeps pores clear and lessens the likelihood of future flare-ups from occurring.
Testosterone is the main reason why men produce almost two times the amount of sebum than women. Excess sebum can create a breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria. And it can be especially worse for men with facial hair because the hairs can trap dirt and oil. So, it’s essential to look for oil-controlling ingredients to keep skin spick and span. Here are a few to look out for:
Also referred to as “china clay”, Kaolin Clay is a gentle ingredient that’s ideal for ridding the skin of excess oil. According to a study, Kaolin Clay may also have some antibacterial properties that help lessen the occurrence of acne lesions.
Centella Asiaticacontains many compounds with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. It also offers amazing hydrating benefits for dehydrated skin.
Dehydrated skin tends to produce more sebum to compensate for the lack of moisture. Centella Asiatica helps by healing the skin and flooding with much-needed moisture. It also minimizes water loss, which keeps sebum levels under control.
Polyphenol-rich Green Tea’s main active component, Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate (EGCG), kills acne-causing bacteria. In addition to calming inflammation, it also reduces sebum production in the skin by as much as 55%.
Clogged pores can potentially lead to an acne breakout if we’re not careful. And since men have larger pores, extra care is needed to make sure they stay clear. Here are some of our favorite pore-clearing ingredients:
Salicylic Acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that’s popular in many anti-acne cleansers. It’s particularly great for oily, acne-prone skin because it lessens sebum production. And since it’s oil-soluble, it mixes easily with sebum on the skin, allowing it to reach the deeper layers where it can work its magic.
Salicylic Acid is also a gentle but effective skin exfoliator. It works by melting the “glue” that keeps skin cells together in the outermost layer of the epidermis. This, in turn, gets rid of dead skin cells that could clog pores and cause acne flare-ups.
Glycolic Acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) that’s also great for acne-prone skin. Unlike Salicylic Acid, Glycolic Acid is water-soluble. So, even though it has smaller molecules, it doesn’t penetrate the skin as deeply. Despite that, it’s a great exfoliator for skin surface issues. It sloughs off dead skin cells and boosts the skin’s turnover rate, keeping pores clear.
Retinol is an ingredient often mentioned in anti-aging skincare routines. But more than that, it’s also an acne-fighting ingredient and a cornerstone in acne therapy. It improves the appearance of acne lesions by reducing inflammation. It also prevents the growth of acne-causing bacteria, stopping new breakouts from occurring.
More importantly, Retinol decreases sebum production and boosts the skin’s turnover rate. And as you know by now, these two particular functions are essential for preventing the build-up of dead skin cells that can block pores.
Acne lesions can turn into nasty wounds, especially when they’re picked or popped. For men who shave, this can be problematic as razors may nick existing acne bumps. Aside from being painful, it also allows bacteria to spread, leading to more breakouts. As such, it’s important to choose ingredients that promote wound healing. Here are some of our favorites:
Colloidal oatmeal is rich in proteins, vitamins, lipids, and polysaccharides which all work to improve skin health. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help with psoriasis, eczema, and acne. In addition, it also balances pH levels, restores moisture, and soothes irritation, which all help promote wound healing.
Aloe leaf juice
Aloe Vera is a natural ingredient that contains about 75 active components beneficial to acne-prone skin. It has excellent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that soothe skin. It also contains glucomannan, a polysaccharide that helps skin regenerate by stimulating collagen production.
Ceramides make up 50% of the skin’s structure and are essential for a healthy skin barrier. They act like the “glue” that keeps skin cells together so that moisture stays in, and bacteria stays out. When using ceramide-enriched products, skin not only gets a boost of hydration but also becomes less prone to irritation.
Avoid comedogenic ingredients
Comedogenic ingredients can irritate or block pores, which is bad news for acne-prone skin. Many of these kinds of ingredients are usually found in moisturizers or serums. But in reality, even facial cleansers can have them too. Here are the main ones to watch out for:
Myristic acid is naturally found in coconut oil. It’s an emulsifying agent that gives facial cleansers that nice foamy lather. Unfortunately, it can also be drying on the skin, which may trigger more sebum production. This, in turn, could lead to blocked pores and more breakouts.
Like Myristic Acid, Stearic Acid acts as a foaming agent in facial cleansers. It has a lower comedogenic rating but can irritate very sensitive skin, so it’s best used with caution.
Denatured Alcohol is often used in skincare products, particularly in cheaper ones marketed for men. It’s a great solvent that helps dissolve ingredients for lightweight formulas. It also makes products easier to absorb by the skin.
While denatured alcohol clears away excess oils and kills bacteria, it also strips away the skin’s natural oils and has a harsh drying effect. This triggers the production of more sebum, leaving the skin even oilier than before.
Some “alcohol-free” products can still contain denatured alcohol. According to the FDA, “alcohol” refers to ethanol. When ethanol is denatured, it’s no longer “alcohol” but “denatured alcohol”. This little technicality allows brands to get away with the “alcohol-free” label. So, to make sure you’re buying a truly “alcohol-free” product, it’s best to check the ingredients list.
6 Best Face Wash for Men With Acne (2021)
Dr.Jart+ Ctrl-A Teatreement Cleansing Foam
- 41% Tea Tree Leaf Extract, Tea Tree Oil, & Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract to fight acne.
- Salicylic Acid for exfoliation and sebum control.
- Centella Asiatica Extract to soothe irritation and improve wound healing.
- Aloe Vera Extract and Ceramides to moisturize the skin barrier.
- Niacinamide and Licorice Root Extract to address hyperpigmentation.
- pH-balanced formula.
- Good for all skin types, but best for oily, acne-prone skin.
The main feature of the Dr. Jart+ Ctrl-A Teatreement Cleansing Foam is its high concentration of tea tree extract. It’s also formulated with many other scientifically proven acne-fighting ingredients, making it a potent treatment for mild to moderate acne. It’s suitable for all skin types, making it our best overall pick for men with acne-prone skin.
This cleansing foam doesn’t mess around when it comes to oily, acne-prone skin. It contains a blend of three different types of Tea Tree Extract that targets blemishes and eliminates acne-causing bacteria, which can be especially helpful for men with facial hair and stubborn acne.
However, because of this potent Tea Tree mixture, the cleanser has quite a strong medicated herby smell. So, those who are sensitive to fragrances should keep this in mind before purchasing.
Salicylic Acid boosts the effectiveness of the Tea Tree blend by clearing away dead skin cells, allowing the other ingredients to work more effectively. It also lessens sebum levels, which is great news for those overactive oil glands.
One might think the combination of Tea Tree Extract and Salicylic Acid would be drying for certain skin types. But the Teatreement solution’s slightly acidic formula allows it to zero in and treat alkaline acne spots without drying out other parts of the face.
Nevertheless, this cleanser also comes with excellent skin-soothing and moisturizing ingredients. Centella Asiatica hydrates the skin, enhances wound healing, and calms irritations. While Aloe Vera Extract and Ceramides strengthen the skin barrier to prevent water loss, which is essential for dehydrated skin.
Lastly, Niacinamide and Licorice Root Extract work to brighten the skin and even out hyperpigmentation from old acne scars. Both ingredients also have anti-inflammatory properties, which is always a plus for sensitive skin.
K-Beauty brand Dr.Jart+ has been producing innovative derma skincare products since 2005. The brand claims that it doesn’t test on animals. However, it still has yet to secure cruelty-free certifications from organizations such as PETA and Leaping Bunny.
CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser
- 4% Benzoyl Peroxide to fight acne-causing bacteria.
- 3 essential Ceramides to heal and moisturize the skin barrier.
- Niacinamide to calm and brighten the skin.
- Glycolic Acid for gentle exfoliation.
- Hyaluronic Acid for hydration.
- Good for all skin types, except for those with sensitive skin.
The CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser contains a good combination of acne-fighting and skin-clearing ingredients, such as Benzoyl Peroxide and Glycolic Acid. It also focuses on skin barrier health and hydration with Ceramides, Hyaluronic Acid, and Niacinamide. All in all, this cleanser is a strong runner-up option for men with acne-prone skin.
This cleanser contains 4% Benzoyl Peroxide, a potent acne-fighting ingredient. It kills acne bacteria in the skin and hair follicles, making it great for men who deal with breakouts made worse by thick facial hair or shaving. Glycolic Acid enhances this effect by exfoliating the skin, dissolving dead skin cells, and clearing pores to prevent more flare-ups.
Skin barrier healing is another benefit of this cleanser. Ceramides play a huge part in keeping the skin barrier intact and healthy, and this particular cleanser is formulated with three essential Ceramides (ceramides 1, 3, and 6-II), giving it excellent skin healing properties. Together, they work to counteract the drying effect of Benzoyl Peroxide, moisturize the skin, reduce water loss, and keep bacteria out.
Hyaluronic Acid helps gives the skin an added boost of hydration that also helps with skin healing. And lastly, Niacinamide improves dark spots while soothing skin irritation and redness.
The CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser has a creamy yet watery consistency that lathers easily. Again, this makes it easy for men with thick facial hair to work the product in to reach acne breakouts.
While the cleanser is gentle enough to be used twice a day, it may have a drying or peeling effect on those with extra sensitive skin sue to the combination of benzoyl peroxide and glycolic acid. As such, it’s best used once a day at first, alongside a moisturizer and sunscreen.
American skincare brand Cerave has been developing dermatologist-approved products since 2005. It’s currently the only skincare brand that combines a unique blend of ceramides and MultiVesicular Emulsion Technology (MVE), a time-release technology that keeps skin hydrated for 24 hours.
Every Man Jack Skin Clearing Activated Charcoal Face Scrub
- 2% Salicylic Acid for exfoliation and oil control.
- Activated Charcoal to absorb excess sebum.
- Glycerin and Aloe Vera Leaf Extract to moisturize and heal the skin.
- Witch Hazel to tighten pores.
- Made with naturally derived ingredients.
- Good for all skin types, except for those sensitive to Salicylic Acid and Citric Acid.
The Every Man Jack Skin Clearing Activated Charcoal Face Scrub contains Salicylic Acid and Activated Charcoal, an effective acne-fighting combination. This super affordable cleanser also has natural wound-healing and skin-soothing ingredients that help improve skin health making it our best budget pick.
This face scrub tackles the production of excess oil, which is often the bane of male acne-prone skin. Salicylic Acid works deep in the skin to control overactive oil glands that lead to breakouts. It also exfoliates dead skin cells and keeps pores clear.
Activated Charcoal is another main feature in this face wash with proven toxin-removing properties. When applied to the face, it helps by absorbing the remaining oils and impurities. The addition of Witch Hazel also helps by cleansing the skin and tightening pores.
Lastly, Glycerin and Aloe Vera Leaf Extract help offset the drying effect of Salicylic Acid. Glycerin hydrates, minimizes water loss, and softens the skin. And the anti-inflammatory properties of Aloe Vera Leaf Extract soothes irritation and speed up wound healing.
The Every Man Jack Skin Clearing Activated Charcoal Face Scrub contains some Jojoba beads for a very gentle exfoliating effect.
While it doesn’t contain synthetics or additives, it does contain some potentially irritating ingredients for those with very sensitive skin. These include:
- Citric Acid
- Coconut Oil
- Almond Oil
- Rosemary Leaf Extract
- Sage Leaf Extract
Citric Acid, for instance, can have a stinging effect on the skin. Those with allergies to essential oils may also experience itchiness or rashes. With this in mind, those with very sensitive and dry skin should use this face wash with caution. It’s also best to use it alongside a moisturizer, for added hydration.
The Every Man Jack brand was founded in San Francisco in 2007. Its goal is to “reinvent the men’s grooming category” with products consisting of natural ingredients. All Every Man Jack products are ethically manufactured in the US and are PETA-certified.
Murad Acne Control Clarifying Cream Cleanser
- 0.5% Salicylic Acid and Willow Bark Extract for exfoliation and oil control.
- Tea Tree Leaf Oil to fight acne-causing bacteria.
- Retinol for improved skin cell renewal.
- Vitamin C to brighten and even out the skin tone.
- Hyaluronic Acid and Betaine for hydration.
- Good for all skin types, except very sensitive skin.
The Murad Acne Control Clarifying Cream Cleanser contains a special time-release formula that gives skin hours-long protection from acne-causing bacteria. It’s chockfull of other skin-renewing and brightening ingredients that address hyperpigmentation and acne scars. It’s also the only cleanser that contains Retinol, making this our favorite premium face wash for men with acne.
This cleanser truly doubles down with exfoliation with0.5% encapsulated Salicylic Acid that’s immediately released as you work it into your skin. It’s also designed to keep working long after you’ve rinsed it off. This gives long-lasting protection from acne bacteria, especially for men who tend to get extra greasy or sweaty during the day.
Tea Tree Leaf Oil further enhances the acne-fighting benefit of this cleanser. And Willow Bark Extract also helps control sebum and rids skin of dead skin cells, vital to preventing more breakouts. You also have Hyaluronic Acid and Betaine, which are excellent skin-hydrating ingredients. Both work to keep the skin’s moisture barrier healthy and functioning.
This cleanser also contains Retinol, an premium skin care ingredient rarely seen in facial cleansers. It boosts skin cell renewal, which helps improve skin texture and mild acne scars. Vitamin C compliments this effect by boosting collagen production, brightening the skin, and addressing hyperpigmentation.
One thing to remember is that the combination of Retinol and Vitamin C can increase the skin’s sensitivity to sun exposure. So, the cleanser is best paired with sunscreen after use. The cleanser also contains fragrance and Citric Acid, which may irritate very sensitive skin. As such, it’s also a good idea to use it with a skin-calming moisturizer.
Murad is a dermatologist-developed brand founded by Dr. Howard Murad in 1989. They specialize in high-performance clinical skincare products rooted in “science-backed wellness”. All products are PETA-approved and are formulated without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and gluten.
Jack Black Deep Dive Glycolic Facial Cleanser
- Glycolic Acid and Volcanic Ash for skin exfoliation.
- Kaolin Clay to absorb excess sebum and impurities.
- Green Tea Leaf Extract and Vitamin E to fight acne-causing bacteria.
- Oatmeal and Aloe Vera Leaf Extract to soothe inflammation & irritation.
- Arnica Flower Extract and Glycerin to hydrate and condition skin.
- Good for all skin types, except very sensitive skin.
The Jack Black Deep Dive Glycolic Facial Cleanser has Green Tea Leaf Extract as its main acne-fighting component. It also delivers a great blend of natural ingredients that help lessen acne breakouts and improve skin healing. Its effective formulation and reasonable price make this cleanser our best pore clearing cleanser.
This cleanser offers the benefits of both chemical and physical skin exfoliation. Glycolic Acid works on the skin’s surface, clearing out pores and dead skin cells to reveal new skin. It also prevents ingrown hairs, which is perfect for those who shave regularly. Volcanic Ash gives the skin a gentle scrub that loosens any other debris, to ensure a clearer complexion.
The Deep Dive Cleanser is enriched with many other anti-acne ingredients. It has Green Tea Leaf Extract, which has components that kill acne-causing bacteria. It has Vitamin E, which also prevents the growth of acne bacteria. Kaolin Clay also delivers more pore-clearing benefits by absorbing dirt and controlling oil, making sure stubborn acne stays gone.
The cleanser is also formulated with great skin conditioners. Arnica Flower Extract and Glycerin work together to hydrate dry, flaky skin. And Oatmeal and Aloe Vera Leaf Extract combine their strengths to soothe irritated and inflamed skin, especially after a vigorous exfoliation session.
The cool thing about this cleanser is that it’s multifunctional, too. You can simply use it as a typical facial cleanser and just wash your face with it. You can also use it as a facial mask. So, on bad skin days, you can apply it to a dry face for about 5 minutes or spot-treat specific areas for a more concentrated treatment.
The Deep Dive Glycolic Facial Cleanser is gentle enough for daily use for most skin types. But, it’s important to remember that this cleanser contains twice the exfoliating power. As such, those with extra sensitive skin should use this sparingly.
The Jack Black brand has provided skincare products for men for over 20 years. Their formulations consist mostly of all-natural, organic ingredients. They’re also vegan, dermatologist-tested, and PETA-certified.
The INKEY List Salicylic Acid Cleanser
- 2% Salicylic Acid and Zinc to fight acne and control sebum.
- Vitamin E for improved wound healing.
- 0.5% Allantoin, Betaine, and Glycerin to soothe and hydrate the skin.
- Fragrance-free and Vegan.
- Good for all skin types, except very sensitive skin.
The INKEY List Salicylic Acid Cleanser is an up-and-coming brand that’s well-loved by beauty and skincare influencers. It contains a no-frills Salicylic Acid formula that’s super effective on clogged pores. It’s also gentle enough for daily use, making it our number one cult favorite cleanser for men with acne.
For those looking for a simple cleanser that gets the job done, this may be the one for you. The INKEY List Salicylic Acid Cleanser contains 2% Salicylic Acid that goes to work deep in the skin to address blemished skin and large pores. A Zinc compound enhances this effect by minimizing sebum and reducing acne-causing bacteria.
This cleanser hydrates and conditions well, making it ideal for dehydrated, oily skin. Betaine and Glycerin boost moisture in the skin, improving skin barrier integrity. And 0.5% Allantoin has good skin-calming properties, which encourages skin healing. The addition of Vitamin E also helps speed up wound healing, making it great for remedying accidental shaving nicks.
Another thing we love about this cleanser is that it’s very user-friendly. Printed on each box is a handy step-by-step guide to customizing a skincare routine. This makes it especially easy for skincare newbies to understand how the product works and how to use it.
The INKEY List Salicylic Acid Cleanser is recommended for use in the morning and at night. However, those who are sensitive to Salicylic Acid or Citric Acid should dial it back to once a day if new to the product.
The INKEY List is an all-American brand that aims to be Leaping Bunny and Vegan Society approved by the end of 2021.