The 5 Best Face Washes for Blackheads


While there are countless tools and products designed to suck out blackheads from pores, one of the most effective ways to treat (and more importantly, prevent) them is by using a reliable facial cleanser. Some of the best face washes for blackheads contain an exfoliating chemical called salicylic acid, which is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA). “If you have blackheads, the go-to ingredient to look for in a face wash is salicylic acid,” dermatologist Joshua Zeichner tells Elite Daily. “This beta-hydroxy acid helps remove excess oil and dead cells from the skin’s surface to keep pores clear,” he explains.

The expert

Joshua Zeichner, MD, FAAD, is Associate Professor and Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. He is also the medical advisor for acne-focused hormonal skincare brand, JORI.

How to Incorporate a BHA Cleanser into Your Routine

Salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliant that digs deep into pores to remove any excess dirt, debris or oil which can harden into a blackhead. Since BHA works to dissolve the matter inside your pores, it can also help clear up unwanted whiteheads or acne. For a milder alternative to salicylic acid, you can opt for an ingredient called willow bark extractwhich is thought to have similar properties.

To use a BHA cleanser, Dr. Zeichner recommends letting the product sit on the surface of your skin before washing it off to let the active ingredients do their job. “Think of your cleanser as more than just a facial cleanser, but more of a short contact treatment,” says Dr. Zeichner. He recommends applying the cleanser and letting it sit while you sing happy birthday to yourself to give the BHA enough time to exfoliate your skin. Since chemical exfoliants box make your skin drier – especially if your skin is naturally sensitive – always apply a moisturizer or serum.

Shop the best facial cleansers for blackheads

Need a facial cleanser ASAP? Here are the best face washes for blackheads:

  1. The choice of the dermatologist: Bliss Clear Genius Clarifying Cleansing Gel
  2. The one who has a feeling of freshness: Dermalogica Skin Purifying Cleanser
  3. The affordable: CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser
  4. The one with moisturizing amino acids: Paula’s Choice CLEAR Pore Normalizing Cleanser
  5. The one with a jelly consistency: Hero Cosmetics Clear Collective Exfoliating Cleansing Jelly

1. Choice of dermatologist


  • This cleanser is recommended by Dr. Zeichner.
  • In addition to exfoliating salicylic acid, the formula also contains soothing ingredients.
  • Both vegan and cruelty-free.

The inconvenients:

  • Its gel consistency may be too dry for dry, acne-prone skin.

“The Bliss Clear Genie [Clarifying] Cleaning gel effectively treats blackheads without causing irritation,” says Dr. Zeichner. He recommends this formula because it contains salicylic acid to dissolve blackheads while being gentle enough to use daily. The Brazilian sea water in this formula helps soothe and balance the skin, while willow bark extract provides further pore-cleansing benefits.

Key ingredients: Salicylic Acid, Brazilian Seawater, Willow Bark Extract Cruelty Free: Yes Cut: 6.4 oz.

2. One who has a feeling of freshness


  • Contains soothing and cooling botanicals for a feeling of freshness.

The inconvenients:

  • Expensive.
  • Menthol and camphor could potentially irritate sensitive or allergy-prone skin.

If you are looking for a feeling of freshness after using your cleanser, consider Dermalogica Acne Skin Cleanser. This face wash contains salicylic acid to help clear congested pores and promote an overall clearer complexion. Moreover, it also contains menthol and camphor to soothe irritation, while Balsam Mint and Eucalyptus provide a cooling, cooling sensation. Finally, tea tree oil — which has antimicrobial and antibacterial activities — works alongside salicylic acid to help keep acne at bay.

Key ingredients: Salicylic Acid, Menthol, Camphor, Balsam Mint, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree Oil Cruelty Free: Yes Cut: 8.4 oz.

3. Affordable


  • Contains ceramides to support your skin barrier.
  • This is the most affordable cleanser on this list.

The inconvenients:

  • CeraVe is not cruelty-free.

CeraVe Replenishing SA Cleanser is an ideal choice for sensitive and blackhead-prone skin, as it is gentle on the lipid barrier while being tough on clogged pores. This cleanser contains ceramides to support the skin’s natural moisture barrier without leading to more clogged pores, since this formula is non-comedogenic. But, the best part? It costs less than a typical salad.

Tip: This cleanser is also a popular choice for treating breakouts.

Key ingredients: Salicylic acid, ceramides 1, 3, 6-II, hyaluronic acid Cruelty Free: Nope Cut: 8 oz.

4. The one with hydrating amino acids


  • Contains a low dose of 0.5% salicylic acid, which makes it milder than other formulas.
  • Contains hydrating and firming amino acids for plumper skin.

The inconvenients:

  • Although Paula’s Choice claims this formula is safe to use on sensitive skin, some Amazon reviewers have reported burning or redness after using this cleanser.

For combination skin, it is possible to have both blackheads in the T-zone while the cheeks remain relatively dry. There are a ton of extra-drying face washes for blackhead-prone skin, but Paula’s Choice CLEAR Pore Normalizing Cleanser is formulated with argininea moisturizing and hydrating amino acid that also has claimed healing benefits. While arginine plumps skin with moisture, salicylic acid clears out clogged pores while keeping excess oil at bay.

Key ingredients: Salicylic acid, arginine, vitamin B5 Cruelty Free: Yes Cut: 6 oz.

5. The one with a jelly consistency


  • Contains various exfoliants to remove blackheads including AHAs, BHAs, PHAs and fruit enzymes.
  • Has a gel consistency ideal for oily skin.

The inconvenients:

  • If you have dry or combination skin, this may be too many exfoliants for you.

Creamy cleansers may contain too many emollient ingredients for easily clogged skin, but this Hero Cosmetics Cleansing Jelly could be the perfect solution for oily, acne-prone skin. This lightweight cleanser contains a multitude of exfoliants to dissolve dead skin cells and excess oil: the first are glycolic and mandelic acids which gently remove dead skin cells, as well as gluconolactone (a poly-hydroxy acid, or PHA) that works to resurface and even out the skin. Next comes the aforementioned willow bark extract, while vitamin C and fruit enzymes brighten the complexion to give your skin a total glow.

Key ingredients: Glycolic Acid, Mandelic Acid, Gluconolactone, Willow Bark Extract, Vitamin C, Fruit Enzymes Cruelty Free: Yes Cut: 5.07 oz.

Referenced studies:

Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil: a review of antimicrobial and other medicinal properties, by CF Carson, KA Hammer, TV Riley;


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