Skin-Care Tips

The Best Face Washes for Blackheads, According to a Dermatologist

Photo: Stocksy / Ohlamour Studio
With the Well+Good SHOP, our editors put their years of know-how to work in order to pick products (from skin care to self care and beyond) they’re betting you’ll love. While our editors independently select these products, making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission. Happy shopping! Explore the SHOP

If you're sick of squeezing, you need a face wash for blackheads. Depending on the ingredients and formulations, the right cleansers can do wonders for your skin. You just have to be picky about what you put on your face.

Best face washes for blackheads at a glance

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

Best for sensitive skin: Cerave Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser — $13.00

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.

Pros

  • Can be used daily
  • Gentle on sensitive skin
  • Also treats and heals
  • Moisturizing

Cons

  • Some reviewers say it doesn’t foam
  • Will bleach fabrics
Best benzoyl peroxide face wash: 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.

Pros

  • Can be used daily
  • Kills bacteria
  • 5% benzoyl peroxide

Cons

  • Will bleach fabrics
Best exfoliating face wash: Peter Thomas Roth Pro Strength Microdermabrasion Blackhead Eliminator — $68.00

This luxury face wash from Peter Thomas Roth exfoliates the skin while cleansing and unclogging even the darkest, dirtiest blackheads. Instead of BPO, it’s formulated with salicylic acid to dissolve the gunk that forms blemishes. It’s safe for all skin types, and doesn’t just de-clog pores, but refines them and smooths skin texture as well.

Pros

  • Exfoliating
  • Gentle on sensitive skin
  • Also treats and heals
  • Moisturizing
  • Contains salicylic acid

Cons

  • Expensive
Best anti-inflammatory face wash: Skinceuticals LHA Cleasing Gel — $42.00

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.

Pros

  • Exfoliating
  • Anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory
  • Eliminates dead skin cells
  • Sustainable
  • Contains salicylic acid

Cons

  • Some reviewers say it dries skin
Best oil-free face wash: Neutrogena Acne Proof Daily Scrub — $9.00

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 $9.

Pros

  • Oil-free
  • Affordable
  • Exfoliating
  • Contains salicylic acid

Cons

  • Has a scent
  • Some reviewers say it dries out skin
Best face wash for combination skin: The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Acne + Pore Cleanser — $11.00

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 $11, it’s an affordable option that will get skin squeaky clean.

Pros

  • Clean ingredients
  • Soothes irritation
  • Contains salicylic acid

Cons

  • Reviewers say it has a thick consistency
Best budget face wash: 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.

Pros

  • Gentle scrub
  • Has salicylic acid
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Scented
  • Some reviewers say the microbeads are sparse
Best unscented face 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.

Pros

  • Hydrating
  • Exfoliating
  • Oil- and fragrance-free
  • Has salicylic acid

Cons

  • Some reviewers say it’s not gentle enough for sensitive skin
Best for oily skin: Murad Acne Control Clarifying Cleanser — $34.00

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.

Pros

  • Dissolves excess oil
  • Gentle on sensitive skin
  • Also treats and heals
  • Has two types of salicylic acid

Cons

  • Has a scent
Best face wash with natural ingredients: Tata Harper Clarifying Cleanser — $88.00

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).

Pros

  • Botanical ingredients
  • Soothes redness
  • Balances oil
  • Has salicylic acid from white willow bark

Cons

  • Expensive
Best face wash for normal skin: 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.

Pros

  • Reduces redness
  • Soothing and calming
  • Has salicylic acid
  • Fragrance-free

Cons

  • Some reviewers say it may be too strong for sensitive skin

For more tips from a dermatologist, watch this video:

Want to be the first to hear about the latest (and greatest) SHOP product drops, custom collections, discounts, and more? Sign up to have the intel delivered straight to your inbox.

Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

Loading More Posts...