The Best Face Washes for Acne

When acne strikes, it can be a bumpy ride. Dealing with pimples, whiteheads and embedded blackheads is stressful until you find the right products to wipe out oil and sebum, kill bacteria and soothe the skin. But before you can use acne-fighting medications to bust out those blackheads and banish your blemishes, you need to start with a face-washing routine. The best washes for acne feature benzoyl peroxide, alpha hydroxy acids and retinoids.

Benefiting from Benzoyl Peroxide

An oil-free face wash with benzoyl peroxide helps keep skin clean from dirt and oil 6. It also works to zap out bacteria in pores that sebum and oil meet. New Orleans board-certified dermatologist Dr. Mary Lupo recommends using a foaming benzoyl peroxide wash because she thinks it does a better job at helping prevent bacteria buildup 6. The strength varies between 2 and 10 percent -- start small and see what your skin can handle without becoming red or excessively dry. Pick up a bottle of Neutrogena Rapid Clear Foaming Scrub at your drugstore, or try Derma Topix 5 Percent Wash.

Sidle Up to Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid unclogs pores so that benzoyl peroxide, which treats the breakouts, can penetrate better. Try Biore brand Pore Unclogging Scrub, which helps wash away dirt and oil, and gently exfoliates your complexion to get rid of the dead skin cells that contribute to acne flare-ups. Or try paraben-free Yes to Tomatoes Daily Pore Scrub. This salicylic acid wash attacks pesky blackheads, but also soothes your skin with bamboo and other ingredients chosen especially for sensitive skin.

Get With Glycolic

Find an acne face wash featuring alpha hydroxy acids such as glycolic and lactid. Glycolic acid is a natural exfoliant from sugar cane that removes dead skin cells that clog pores, reduces inflammation from infected pores and diminishes acne scarring. It does this by stimulating new skin cell growth to reveal a smoother complexion underneath. According to California board-certified dermatologist Dr. Cynthia Bailey, it's crucial you use a face wash that is very acidic and has more than 10 percent free glycolic acid 7. Try Glytone Mild Gel Wash Cleanser twice a day.

Remember Retinol

Adults who suffer from acne have a great two-in-one product with vitamin A-induced retinol. A face wash with retinoids helps wipe out acne by unclogging pores and reducing oil production, but it also improves fine lines and wrinkles. One of the biggest benefits to washing with a retinol-based acne wash is that it allows for your topical acne medications to seep deeper into your skin. Because retinol is an exfoliant, it's crucial you wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily to protect your fresh skin from burning. Try Dr. Jeannette Graf's Rejuvenation Retinol Facial Cleanser.