My Favorite Acne Cleansers: Mild, Moderate and Severe Acne

Thursday, May 8, 2014

I'm so excited to bring you this post that I'm just going to blow past my usual apologies for the blog silence and explanations about how I'm drowning in final exams and papers. I'm a long term acne-sufferer (team hormonal cystic over here!), so I'm thrilled anytime I can provide some information as to how to help fight those pesky devils. It may seem unusual that I'm recommending acne cleansers and not treatments, but I think anti-acne face washes can be fantastic ways to clear up your skin. It feels like a better long-term solution than just slathering your face in acne treatment like I used to do, which also means you can't fit a serum into your routine. (Don't get me wrong, the treatments work, and you can definitely use them in tandem with two of these cleansers). Today's post is special because not only are the next three acne cleansers effective, but they're all under $30 and vary in terms of acne-fighting strength. Starting from the cheapest and going towards the most expensive (which still isn't expensive), these cleansers range for mild to moderate to extreme acne--I'm fairly confident there's a face wash here for any acne-sufferer. 

*Let's all just agree to ignore the hilariously trashy paper towel backdrop, hm?


1. Alba Botanica Good n' Clean Gentle Acne Wash ($9): I first reviewed this in my Budget Skincare Review of the Good n' Clean range, and it's still my favorite product from the line and the only one I've repurchased. Like the name suggests, it's gentle enough for everyday (or even twice a day if you like), but the satisfying tingly sensation lets you know that it's working. Unlike a ton of acne cleansers on the market, my face never feels stripped or tight afterwards, though it's not as comfortable and balanced as a non-acne cleanser might make it feel. This is great as a preventative-to-mild acne cleanser to rotate in when you feel zits coming on, are approaching that time of the month, or just if you've got a few spots going on. It doesn't have the power to tackle anything major, but if you've got some whiteheads, small bumps from clogged pores, and/or mild acne, you need this by your sink. If you're prone to bumpy skin texture, this is an especially good cleanser to use with a Clarisonic, as it gets sudsy but not too lathery. 


2. Murad Daily Clarifying Cleanser ($26): The classic of the group, this cleanser's got its own fan following, and I've been a happy member of that group for a few years now. Similar to the Alba in terms of how normal my face feels afterwards, and how happily tingly my skin gets, this is solidly top five on my list of all-time favorite cleansers. It's a few notches up from the Alba, and works really well on moderate acne (or what I would call a good skin day!), though it obviously controls the more mild stuff as well. It's hard to explain, but there's just something about this cleanser that keeps me coming back to it. Yes, it treats my acne, but my face always feels sparklingly, extra clean (but not squeaky!) after a wash with this stuff, which might be one of my favorite things about it. There's something bright and refreshing about this cleanser, which might be why I end up repurchasing it almost every summer. Between the pleasant cooling tingle and how much more frequently I break out with sunscreen, this is my old reliable I know I can always reach for to help get my skin under control.


3. DERMAdoctor Ain't Misbehavin' AHA/BHA Cleanser ($27): If you have anything less than severe, horrendous, need-foundation-and-concealer-just-to-feel-comfortable-going-outside acne, click off right now since you have no need for this cleanser in your life. But if I just described your skin situation, you may want to pay attention. Don't be fooled by the sassy name, this bad boy is tough on acne and you're going to feel it. I've never been bitted by a red ant, but if I imagine what that feels like, it's probably the same sensation as rubbing this creamy stuff onto dry skin and feeling it burn, bite and sting. This is not for the faint of heart or mild of acne, but if you're something of a sadist like I am, you might enjoy gritting your teeth and seeing how long you can wash your face for. It's by far the most intense cleanser I've ever tried, but it's also the most effective. I've gone through some seriously rough patches with my skin, but with bad, normal (comes to a head) acne, this seriously saved me. Some days I would follow with whatever anti-acne treatment I was using, but I think this product is enough of a powerhouse on its own--save the treatment to use with a more mild cleanser. If you're plagued with hormonal cystic acne like I am, I honestly think you need a dermatologist to help you out, but this cleanser did the most for those damned spots than anything else over-the-counter I've ever tried. Again, because this is so harsh, it's definitely a cleanser to do a patch test with, and be sure to wear a good sunscreen when you're using it. I have used this everyday and was fine, but I have very hardy skin, so work up to using it regularly, and please sensitive skin types, stay away. It may seem weird to be rubbing this onto dry skin, but I think it has something to do with water diluting the formula, and no, this isn't one to be used with a Clarisonic. I hope I haven't made this sound too intimidating, but if your skin fits the bill, this is definitely worth a try.

Acne (especially severe or cystic hormonal acne) really is such a bitch to deal with--believe me, I would know--so I hope this has helped some of you!

Either a Products I've Used Up or It Just Didn't Work Out Between Us post will be up next!

Hope you're well!

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