Caren Campbell, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in San Francisco, says there are two main ingredients to look out for in a face wash for blackheads. Both benzoyl peroxide (BPO) and salicylic acid are used in many of the best face wash formulations for fighting acne and preventing breakouts. “Salicylic acid gets a lot of air play,” says Dr. Campbell. “I prefer benzoyl peroxide at lower percentages—5 percent or less—and creamy formulations.”
As for what to watch out for? Anything heavy or oily that can build-up over time and get stuck in your face. “Anything you put on your face that is not ‘non-comedogenic’ has the potential to clog pores,” says Dr. Campbell. “The term ‘comedogenic’ means pore clogging, so you want to look for products that have been studied and shown not to clog pores.”
Below, Dr. Campbell names 11 of the best face washes to keep your skin clear of blackheads.
The best face wash for blackheads, according to a dermatologist
Cerave, Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser — $12.00
Dr. Campbell prefers face washes with 5 percent or less BPO, like the Cerave Acne Foaming Cream Cleaner, which contains 4 percent BPO. Other standout ingredients include niacinamide, which soothes the skin, hyaluronic acid, for added hydration, and ceramides, which help keep impurities out. All in all, it’s a gentle cleanser that’ll keep breakouts at bay on a budget.
CCMD, Benzoyl Peroxide Wash — $24.00
Dr. Campbell’s own line of skin care solutions includes this cleanser formulated with 5 percent BPO to help unclog pores, cleanse skin, and keep grime from working its way in. Dr. Campbell recommends using it daily in the shower on affected areas and then to dry skin with white towels to keep the BPO from bleaching your favorite linens.
Skinceuticals, LHA Cleasing Gel — $41.00
Another one of Dr. Campbell’s choices, this cleanser is a powerhouse at cleaning pores. It’s stacked with skin-saving ingredients including salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and glycerin, which work together to remove build-up without drying out the skin. It’s also a Climate Pledge Friendly approve product, meaning it meets sustainability requirements that helps support the planet.
Neutrogena, Acne Proof Daily Scrub — $8.00
Some acne treatments are too tough to use everyday—this is not that scrub. Instead, this cleanser gently treats breakouts and blackheads while arming the skin against new breakouts. Stand-out ingredients include 2 percent salicylic acid and sorbitol, for hydration in drying conditions. The best part? It’s only $8.
The Inkey List, Salicylic Acid Acne + Pore Cleanser — $10.00
Popular brand The Inkey List makes a blackhead-battling cleanser made with salicylic acid. It froths into a gentle foam that washes away blemishes, de-gunking pores while preventing new spots from popping up. For $10, it’s an affordable option that will get skin squeaky clean.
Bioré, Pore Unclogging Face Scrub — $6.00
In addition to its fan-favorite blackhead pore strips, Bioré also makes an super face scrub that penetrates pores to stave off blackheads and whiteheads. It also features a gentle exfoliator that sloughs away dead skin and dirt, leaving skin softer after one wash.
La Roche-Posay, Effaclar Medicated Gel Acne Face Wash — $15.00
Made by La Roche-Posay, the gel cleanser fights acne, blackheads, and blemishes using salicylic acid. There’s no pore-clogging oils, no harsh exfoliants, no drying ingredients—it’s powerful enough to wash away a day’s worth of impurities while leaving the skin protected again future breakouts.
Murad, Acne Control Clarifying Cleanser — $32.00
There’s not one, but two types of salicylic acid in this bad boy to stop acne in its tracks. It’s safe for oily to normal skin, lightly washing away grime and build-up while leaving the skin smooth, hydrated, and fresh. It’s clinically-tested and killer at banishing blackheads from deep within pores.
Tata Harper, Clarifying Cleanser — $76.00
Splurge on this dreamy cleanser, crafted with natural botanicals (including salicylic acid from white willow bark) to ban blackheads while nourishing skin. As for the other ingredients, there’s botanicals to fight blemishes (like prickly pear enzymes and citric acids), ingredients to balance oil (tapioca and yucca root), and ingredients to fight redness (like chlorella and honey).
Paula’s Choice, Clear Pore Normalizing Cleanser — $13.00
Get your pores back to normal with this clarifying cleanser from Paula’s Choice. The salicylic acid, or BHAs, dissolve dirt and gunk to refresh your pores and stave off future impurities from cropping up. There’s no fragrances, no parabens, or any other “bad” stuff—just the ingredients that’ll leave skin happy and clean.
For more tips from a dermatologist, watch this video:
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