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Top Skin Cleansers for Acne-Prone Skin

author image Lisa Finn
Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.
Top Skin Cleansers for Acne-Prone Skin
A young woman is cleansing her skin. Photo Credit michaelpuche/iStock/Getty Images

When acne pounces onto the scene, it's likely to be a bumpy ride. Whiteheads, blackheads and puss-filled pimples can be unsightly to the eye and uncomfortable to the touch. Your first defense against pesky pimples is sticking to a strict pore-cleansing routine twice daily. Acne-prone skin needs constant attention -- whether pimples are present or not -- with products that kill bacteria, slough off dead skin cells and reduce inflammation.

Bet on Benzoyl Peroxide

The first and most important ingredient you should look for in an acne-fighting cleanser is benzoyl peroxide. When used twice daily, benzoyl peroxide works to kill the bacteria that causes acne. It does an excellent job washing away dirt, oil and sebum, and can greatly reduce acne flare-ups if used daily. This over-the-counter cleanser is found in concentrations from 2 to 10 percent and can actually make prescription acne medications work better, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Try Clean and Clear Continuous Control Acne Cleanser, PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash or Derma Topix Benzoyl Peroxide 10 Percent Wash.

Stay With Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid, also known as beta-hydroxy acid, works to slough away the dead skin cells that clog pores and cause acne. When used in conjunction with benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid can be quite powerful in wiping out acne. The only downside is that the combo may irritate sensitive skin and lead to excessive dryness, so an oil-free moisturizer is a must after every cleansing. Try washing your face with oil-free Biore Pore Unclogging Scrub, which diminishes pores, gets rid of dry flakes and removes even the strongest sunscreen. Other salicylic cleansers include Mario Badescu Acne Facial Cleanser and Philosophy Clear Days Ahead.

Rely on Retinol

Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, gives mature acne sufferers a two-in-one remedy: Not only does a retinol wash unclog pores and make skin appear brighter, but it's also proven to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and smooth out the skin's surface. This powerful ingredient evens out skin tone from acne scars and does an excellent job at getting rid of dead cell build-up in pores. For best results, try Neutrogena's Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Anti-Blemish Cleanser or Dr. Jeannette Graf's Rejuvenation Retinol Facial Cleanser.

Never Negate Natural

While natural ingredients in acne-fighting cleansers may not be as effective for all users, they are a good option for those who want to try to wipe out acne without harsh chemicals. Tea-tree oil is known for its antibacterial properties, which can be beneficial in targeting sebum in pimples. Try The Body Shop's Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash to sop up excess oil and remove impurities. Another good option is Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser. The lemon helps kill acne bacteria and fight inflammation, while natural sugars act as an exfoliant to dead skin cells. Other beneficial natural ingredients include brewer's yeast and basil to help fight acne-causing bacteria.

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