February 11, 2021

8 Best Face Washes for Whiteheads and Acne

Best Face Washes for Whiteheads and Acne
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There’s no need to fret and let a bunch of whiteheads ruin your day because there’s hope with the best face wash for whiteheads!

Whiteheads can be pesky, and they can pop up at the worst of times

Rather than chase individual white bumps and whiteheads, it’s better to treat the entire acne-prone area. Step one in combating whiteheads is regularly cleansing the face.

Fortunately, we picked out 8 of the best face washes for whiteheads for you to choose from – all made to cleanse your skin to help give you that healthy and clear complexion.

Budget Pick
COSRX Good Morning Cleanser
Our Pick
Fresh Soy Face Cleanser
Drugstore Pick
CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
Table of Contents

8 Best Face Washes for Whiteheads and Acne

Fresh Soy Face Cleanser

Our Pick

Suited For: All Skin Types | pH: 5.5

Beneficial Ingredients of This Face Wash Formula:

Amino Acid- Rich Soy Proteins

Amino acids are natural factors that help reduce blemishes and acne, fight irritation and bacteria that cause whiteheads, and combats build-up of dead skin cells you shed throughout the day.

If you’re looking to prevent the aging process of your face and want firmer skin, amino acids highly aid in minimizing fine lines, wrinkles, and elasticity loss.

This face wash is a cult-favorite product because it cleanses the face well but pampers it almost immediately after with its rich soy proteins, giving off a glowing, vibrant face and an evenness of its texture.


If your face is a little inflamed, rosewater soothes the appearance of irritation, redness, whiteheads, eczema, and congested pores. A bonus is its scent to give you those spa vibes!

This face wash ingredient regenerates skin tissues and cells for when you’ve been exposing it to damaging environmental factors. It’s perfect for sensitive skin with whiteheads and clogged pores.

You can combat excess oil and whiteheads with rosewater because it naturally maintains oil production and the face’s natural pH balance. You’ll be left with nothing but a  dewy, softer, refreshed, face aesthetic.

Borage Seed Oil

A great essential oil that contains GLA and Omega 6 Fatty Acids that help treat your acne, whiteheads, or rosacea.

Borage Seed Oil is beneficial in a face wash since it can nourish your face and protect it from sun damage, sun spots, and hyperpigmentation issues.

This face wash ingredient restores depleted hydration in those with dry skin.


  • Free of chemical dyes and irritating binding agents
  • Doesn’t strip moisture after washing
  • Gentle enough for the eyes
  • Pleasant Rosewater and Cucumber Extract smell
  • Safe face wash sensitive and acne-prone skin


  • Expensive for a facial cleanser
  • Can’t completely remove waterproof makeup

COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser

Budget Pick

Suited For: Oily Skin/Combination Skin | pH: 4.5 to 5

Beneficial Ingredients of This Face Wash Formula:

Betaine Salicylate

Betaine Salicylate is a natural chemical exfoliant that keeps pores in check, free from dead cells and whiteheads hiding in the walls of pores. This fights the formation of whiteheads.

Because this face wash ingredient also works to gently remove the uppermost layer of the skin, you get to improve any hyperpigmentation you may have.

Tea Tree Oil

This has been a well-known natural ingredient for a long time since users notice its great antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties that help soothe irritation, treat breakouts, and fade scars.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is a go-to medicinal treatment to decongest your pores, treats whiteheads and blackheads, and control oil. It’s particularly popular for being strong enough to eliminate whiteheads.

Saccharomyces Ferment

You may now know it but fermented yeast is partly responsible for producing a bright and hydrated facial glow. It’s sorta like how you take probiotics for your gut, this works like a probiotic for your face!


  • Budget friendly cleanser for whiteheads
  • Cleanses excess sebum without stripping skin of moisture
  • Appropriate pH gel-type cleanser that doubles up as a foaming wash
  • Vegan, Cruelty-Free, and Paraben-Free


  • Can sting when it gets into the eyes
  • Not everyone is a fan of its leaf smell
  • Not the best face wash for very dry skin

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

Drugstore Pick

Suited For: Normal to Dry Skin | pH: 5.5

Beneficial Ingredients of This Face Wash Formula:

Essential Ceramides

Ceramides make up over 50% of skin’s composition, so it’s no surprise they are vital to skincare. Ceramides are one of the anti-aging elements responsible for supporting your skin’s dynamic nature.

Ceramides are good for your everyday protection as they help hold your skin together by limiting moisture loss and protect it against damage from pollution and other environmental stressors.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid, also known as hyaluronan, protects the skin, which is especially helpful for those who are acne-prone since they don’t have a very strong lipid barrier.

Your skin gets thirsty too!

The primary function of hyaluronan is to lock in moisture, making the face very supple. Not only that but, in the long run, this helps reduce any redness and the visible appearance of whiteheads.


  • Dermatologist-approved
  • Non-comedogenic, fragrance-free formula
  • Gives you supple skin
  • Does not exacerbate dryness of the face
  • Can be used for both morning and nighttime skincare routines


  • Can’t remove makeup
  • Hypersensitive skin types may get an allergic reaction

The Ordinary Squalane Facial Cleanser

Suited For: Combination Skin | pH: 5.5 to 6.5

Beneficial Ingredients of This Face Wash Formula:


Despite being an oil, squalane is super lightweight! It’s an acne cleanser that works for oily folks as well. Squalane balances your oil production and rejuvenates parched skin.

Because its molecular structure is so close to the skin’s own, it penetrates deep into the pores to target your skincare concerns at a cellular level.

Squalane makes looking young so easy since the face absorbs this cleanser ingredient quickly and exfoliates any dead skin cells while fighting off skin-damaging free radicals that contribute to the signs of aging.


If you wear light makeup and sunscreen, triglycerides help clean that up from your pores along with any dirt and excess oils from your long day.

Basically, an excellent skin-replenishing ingredient that helps reduce skin dryness by decreasing the loss of moisture. Something exceptionally beneficial for dry skin.


  • Safe on acne-prone skin with whiteheads
  • Anti-inflammatory properties reduce redness and swelling
  • Lightweight cream-to-oil formula
  • Fragrance-free cleanser
  • Removes long-wearing makeup from pores


  • Short shelf-life due to squalene
  • No sensory experience

Krave Beauty Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser

Suited For: Combination Skin  | pH: 5 to 6

Beneficial Ingredients of This Face Wash:


Matcha tea is a “yummy” antioxidant that helps protect the body from damaging free radicals. But how does this help the face, you ask?

Green tea is especially rich in epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a polyphenol that research has shown can improve oily skin.

Hemp Seed Oil

Hemp Seed Oil has natural antibacterial properties, to help relieve your inflamed sensitive skin conditions, and natural sebum regulation to leave you with balanced, hydrated skin.

This is gentle enough to use on sensitive skin, and all other skin types as well.

Vitamin B5 & Sodium PCA

Vitamin B5 can help with scarring, wound healing, and skin conditions such as cystic acne, eczema, and rosacea.

Dry skin? Sodium PCA is a humectant and skin-conditioning agent meant to preserve moisture.


  • Organic cleanser
  • Strengthens the skin barrier 
  • Free of alcohol, silicone, sulfate, and parabens
  • Vegan-friendly and cruelty-free
  • No tight or drying feeling


  • Expensive cleanser

Then I Met You Soothing Tea Cleansing Gel Face Wash

Suited For: Combination Skin | pH: 5 to 6

Beneficial Ingredients of This Face Wash:

Licorice Root

An herb that calms and prevents signs of aging. If you’re looking to naturally brighten your face as well, this is a gentle and effective antioxidant that reduces free radicals.

Green Tea

Also known as Camellia sinensis, green tea is rich in polyphenols to give anti-aging and skin calming properties, treating your UV-exposed skin that’s out and about in the sun a lot.

Tea Tree Oil

A gentle disinfectant for acne-prone skin, this herbal antioxidant is commonly used for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects.

This essential oil can help unblock the sebaceous glands if you’ve got oily skin by penetrating deep into the skin and unclogging your pores.

Centella Asiatica

If you feel like sometimes your skin just needs a break from active products, several studies show the positive wound-healing effects of this cleanser ingredient, as well as increased moisture content of a dry face.


  • Herbal scent gives a sensorial experience
  • Sulfate-free formula
  • Best as a double cleanser to remove water-based impurities


  • Can’t entirely remove makeup 
  • High price for a cleanser

The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Acne Facial Cleanser

Suited For: Acne-Prone, Oily Skin  | pH: 4.5 to 5

Beneficial Ingredients of This Face Wash:


Zinc simply helps reduce your excess oil, therefore geared towards those more oily.

Salicylic Acid

Working together with zinc in the formula, salicylic acid helps reduce blackheads and whiteheads.

If you want to treat acne scars, a bonus is its pigmentation fighting ability—not just because of its exfoliating effect, but also from its ability to inhibit melanin formation with a low risk of irritation.


Allantoin exfoliates dead skin cells to prevent whitehead formation, and also soothes irritation, and protect skin. If you particularly have dull skin, you’ll love how this ingredient will help you out.


  • Lightly foaming cleanser that clears mild to moderate acne
  • Removes makeup, dirt, oil, and acne causing bacteria from pores
  • Reduces whiteheads, blackheads, and appearance of large pores


  • Not recommended for daily use as it can dry out the face 
  • Causes an allergic reaction for those allergic to aspirin

Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit Oil-Free Acne Face Wash

Suited For: Acne-Prone, Oily Skin | pH: 3.6 to 4.4

Beneficial Ingredients of This Face Wash:

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid targets to minimize your existing acne spots and prevent new ones from forming.

Vitamin C

An antioxidant that comes from the grapefruit, protecting you from damaging free radicals caused by UV exposure.

You need to take care of your face as it faces the outdoors, and vitamin C should be your friend!

Apart from keeping your skin healthy, this also helps to lighten hyperpigmentation and brown spots, even out skin tone, and enhance skin radiance.


  • Targets spots, breakouts, and prevents future whiteheads
  • Evens out skin tone
  • Great for daily use
  • Contains moisturizing 
  • Non-comedogenic and oil-free


  • Contains fragrances
  • People with sensitive skin found a mild stinging using the product

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

#1 What skin type gets whiteheads?

It’s common to link having oily skin to being more prone to breakouts such as whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples. After all, excess sebum is one of the contributors to clogged pores.

However, dry skin types tend to have compromised skin barriers due to lack of oils and can still experience acne, whether it’s due to environmental factors or a poor skincare routine and cleansing routine.

 Skin care varies from person to person.  Knowing which skin type you have can help you care for your whiteheads in the best way possible.

#2 Why do I keep getting whiteheads?

Why Do I Keep Getting

Whiteheads are a form of acne -small and round with a thin layer of white at the top.

This white layer is actually made of dead skin cells trapped under the skin, effectively sealing the pores, causing inflammation

What causes whiteheads?

  • Excess sebum production
  • Dead skin cells buildup in the pores   
  • Bacteria buildup in your pores
  • Build up of environmental pollutants
  • Not thoroughly washing makeup off      

What causes sebum to build up?

  • Hormone fluctuations, both whether one is going under puberty or not
  • An environment that is too humid or too arid
  • A poor diet – eating too many sweets and sugary drinks
  • Poor quality cosmetics
  • Genetics
  • Stress

What can I do if I have visible whiteheads?

When you find these little (sometimes painful) bumps on your face, it means your skin is trying to remove collected toxins and bacteria from inside it. Don’t puncture the spots! This adds more bacteria to your pores.

Treat whiteheads effectively at home with a good quality face wash and incorporating better lifestyle habits. It’s advisable to start treating acne spots as early as the first signs of a breakout.

#3 What ingredients should I be looking for to get rid of whiteheads?

What Ingredients

It’s worth noting that at the end of the day if you want something to help your whiteheads, you need it in products that are going to stay on your skin longer than face washes do.

Active ingredients come most helpful if formulated in a serum or a moisturizer. But if you have it in your cleanser, it doesn’t hurt to have that bonus! Just make sure your face is well-moisturized after.

Face washes that contain actives are mostly ineffective as a cure on its own since they don’t have enough time to properly exfoliate.

Though, acne-fighting additives in a face wash may be beneficial for those with highly sensitive skin and cannot tolerate long exposure to an active ingredient.

Whitehead-Banishing Ingredients and How They Work:

1. Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide works by peeling away the skin to get rid of dead cells, excessive oil, and bacteria that may be trapped underneath pores.

Caution: Such effects can lead to dryness, as well as redness and excessive peeling if there is no acne to be treated. You might notice itching and general irritation at the site of benzoyl peroxide application.

2. Tea Tree Oil

Contains compounds known as terpenes, a type of volatile oil, that works to kill acne-causing bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes.

3. Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs): Glycolic acid and Lactic acid

A group of plant and animal-derived acids used in a variety of skincare products including serums, toners, creams, and face washes, as well as occasional concentrated treatments via chemical peels.

These products work by drying up whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples, causing the top layer of your skin to peel.

AHAs are generally safe to use, but they may cause tingling and a mild redness of the skin. Products with AHAs can make your skin very sensitive to ultraviolet light.

Glycolic Acid products will surely help combat any whiteheads that might form on your face.

4. Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs): Salicylic acid and Topical retinoids

Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) is different from other exfoliants – it’s oil-soluble. Therefore, it can get inside pores clogged with oils to better rid whiteheads from the pores.

BHA products with Salicylic Acid get rid of deep-seated whiteheads by penetrating more deeply into pores to break the bonds keeping dead cells glued within.

Retinoids break the acne cycle by normalizing the shedding of pore-clogging skin cells and by demonstrating inflammation-reducing benefits.

5. Clay

Clay masks remove all impurities from the deeper layer of the skin. Clay can absorb oils from your skin and prevent mild forms of acne, such as pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads.

Because clay powerfully absorbs, all the impurities and infections in the skin will rise up to the surface of the skin – to detoxify. That’s why sometimes redness will show a few days after.


All of these ingredients mentioned above are effective at unplugging the pores. You can equip your skincare stash with products with these skin-savers that everybody with an acne-prone face needs.

However, these are better to be used as treatments rather than in a skincare routine. Overusing them on your skin as sensitive as your face can lead to irritation, which is way worse than whiteheads.

Prevention with a quality cleanser and skincare routine to follow-up cleansing, coupled with a healthy lifestyle is still best to avoid whiteheads, and ultimately achieve that clean, clear, and fresh face.

What Is the Best Face Wash to Get Rid of Whiteheads?

What Is the Best

The short answer is a gentle face wash, made without constituents that are nondrying and nonirritating.

These products are considered the best face washes because they’re all gentle & nourishing.

Over-washing your face with a cleanser can be just as harmful as not doing it at all. You want to wash your face without compromising the integrity of the skin barrier itself.

It’s less of how often you wash your face, but more of what you wash it with. Over-washing may result from using a facial cleanser that’s too harsh for the skin, most observable with potent acne face washes.

How to Find a Gentle, Acne-Clearing Face Wash:

From acne-clearing benzoyl peroxide to hydrating hyaluronic acid, most people stop at the ingredient list when it comes to finding the right skincare products.

There are some overlooked yet valuable characteristics when it comes to looking at the best face washes that can make a huge difference in the way our skin looks, feels, and functions.

Texture and Formulation

A gentle facial cleanser (like a Benzoyl Peroxide facial cleanser) usually comes in a foam, gel, or milky consistency that’s lightweight and easily spreadable.

Gentle cleansers are ideally formulated in a way that contains little to no added synthetic fragrance, is non-comedogenic, and is also hypoallergenic.

A Benzoyl Peroxide facial cleanser usually has a lightweight consistency and are therefore good for a delicate skin type.


Surfactants are an ingredient that helps a foaming cleanser bubble up and is what allows the excess sebum and dirt that’s attached to the sebum to be thoroughly washed off your face.

Typically, a regular acne cleanser will use sulfate-based surfactants like SLS and SLES to help the product foam up – too much of these can be quite drying.

pH level

pH levels are what makes a product either acidic [irritated] or more alkaline [dry] and this ranges from 0 to 14. Our skin has a pH between 4.5 to about 5.5, which is slightly on the acidic side.

Our skin’s pH constantly fluctuates when we use different types of water, and when we use different skincare products in our routine.

You’ll find that cleansers will range around pH 5-6 or 9. If you find a cleanser with a higher pH, these are usually the types that will leave your skin feeling a little drier and tighter after cleansing.

The best face washes have a pH formulated to your skin’s normal pH level: 4.5 and 5.5, so when you use it, this translates to feeling more comfortable on the skin.


Some of you might be wondering if essential oils found in cleansers are irritating to the skin since they are scented. The answer is both yes and no.

Not everyone is allergic to essential oils and some essential oils can be really beneficial to the skin, depending on what it is and how much of it is in the cleanser, and how it’s formulated.

Essential oils are generally safe constituents of a facial cleanser that can also offer antibacterial or antimicrobial qualities, and that’s why you’ll usually see them in more acne-targeting products.

It’s more likely to get irritated from a product containing old, oxidized, or expressed essential oil. So it all comes down to the formulation of the face wash.



Among these best face washes, Fresh Soy Face Cleanser is the best overall gentle cleanser for whiteheads.

The best face wash for you should be working with you and with what your skin has. A healthy skin barrier is the most important part of an acne-fighting skin care regimen.

The perfect face wash for whiteheads will come down to picking formulations that work for your skin type, a consistency that you like, and how well it jives with the other products in your skincare routine.

Who would’ve thought that the humble cleansing step could get so deep?

STRONGER OPTIONS: Best At-Home Chemical Peels for Skin Resurfacing

Paola Diaz
Paola Diaz

Hi, I'm Paola! A skin care enthusiast and nature lover. Creating content that promotes proper skin treatment and keeping a healthy glow is my way of sharing with the world how healthy skin can go a long way. I’m a firm believer of natural beauty that radiates inside all of us. All we need is the right kind of nourishment that inspires our wellness from inside out. So it’s really not about physical beauty alone – it’s the beautiful life we can create for ourselves when we connect with our own nature and see there is beauty that shines from every one of us.