Finding the right skincare routine is a lot like piecing together a complex puzzle, especially when acne is part of the picture.
Another piece of the puzzle is finding the best cleanser for acne that will effectively remove surface dirt and debris while not over-drying your skin or stripping it of its natural oils.
CeraVe has long been a trusted, go-to brand for many looking to achieve clear, healthy-looking skin at an affordable price, and they offer several products specifically designed for acne sufferers.
CeraVe’s cleansers, which typically contain a blend of three essential ceramides and other skin-loving ingredients like niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, are formulated to cleanse your skin without stripping it of its natural protective barrier.
So in this post, I’ve narrowed it down to a few of the best CeraVe cleansers for acne.
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The Best CeraVe Cleanser For Acne
CeraVe Acne Control Cleanser is my overall pick for the best CeraVe cleanser for acne because it is formulated with a potent 2% concentration of salicylic acid that helps fight acne and breakouts.
Salicylic acid (depending on the concentration) tends to be more gentle on your skin than some other actives used to treat acne, like benzoyl peroxide.
|CeraVe Cleanser||Active Ingredient|
|CeraVe Acne Control Cleanser||2% Salicylic Acid|
|CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser||Salicylic Acid (likely under 2%)|
|CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser||4% benzoyl peroxide|
|CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser||N/A|
NOTE: Please keep in mind that since everyone’s complexion is different, benzoyl peroxide-based CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser may be better suited for YOUR skin than salicylic acid, so you may need to try a few cleansers to determine which active ingredients work best for your skin.
All CeraVe cleansers are affordable and effective, so if you’re using one that isn’t on this list and are happy with your results, keep using it!
CeraVe Acne Control Cleanser
CeraVe Acne Control Cleanser is a 2% salicylic acid acne treatment and foaming cleanser formulated with CeraVe’s Oil Control Technology that helps clear acne and reduce blackheads and the look of pores.
This gel-to-foam face wash is designed to target breakouts and help clear existing acne while preventing new pimples from forming.
Salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), clears away dirt, oil, and other impurities that can clog pores and lead to acne.
Salicylic acid exfoliates dead skin cells, which also helps improve the look of uneven skin tone while preventing new blemishes from forming. It’s the perfect active for acne-prone skin.
Clinical studies show that salicylic acid decreases skin lipids (oils) and has anti-inflammatory properties. Its anti-inflammatory benefits are helpful for redness and inflammation that come along with acne and breakouts.
CeraVe’s Oil-Absorbing Technology minimizes shine, and purifying hectorite clay absorbs excess oil, making this cleanser great for oily skin too.
This acne cleanser contains three essential ceramides (ceramide NP, ceramide AP, and ceramide EOP) that help repair and restore the skin’s natural protective barrier. Niacinamide helps soothe irritation and strengthens your skin barrier.
The nice part about this foam cleanser is that it can potentially be used in conjunction with other over-the-counter or prescription-based acne treatments – but it’s important that you check with your dermatologist or doctor to be sure.
The cleanser has a creamy foam and is fragrance-free, paraben-free, and non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores.
CeraVe Acne Treatment: CeraVe Acne Control Gel
If you want to add a more targeted acne treatment to your skincare routine, you can add CeraVe Acne Control Gel, a 2% salicylic acid acne leave-on treatment, after cleansing with CeraVe Acne Control Cleanser.*
The lightweight gel contains 2% salicylic acid plus alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) glycolic and lactic acid to exfoliate your skin, smooth rough skin, improve skin texture, and reduce the appearance of blemishes.
Soothing niacinamide to help reduce redness and nourishing ceramides support your protective skin barrier. It’s a great way to add a more targeted acne treatment to your routine.
*If the cleanser and gel are too strong for your skin but you still want to use a leave-on acne treatment, you can pair CeraVe Acne Control Gel with another gentle cleanser.
CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser
Salicylic acid penetrates your pores and clears away dirt, oil, and debris.
The salicylic acid concentration is not disclosed, but if you look at the ingredient list, you’ll see the salicylic acid is lower on the list (ingredient lists go from highest to lowest concentrations), so it probably isn’t a 2% concentration like in Acne Control Cleanser.
The cleanser also contains niacinamide to help visibly reduce the appearance of skin discoloration and calm irritation. Three essential ceramides help keep the skin barrier strong and healthy.
Hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid is a low molecular weight hyaluronic acid that helps retain your skin’s moisture levels, while cholesterol works with ceramides to improve skin hydration and restore your skin barrier.
The gel consistency of this foaming cleanser creates a rich lather that deep cleanses without stripping your skin’s natural moisture balance, leaving it feeling soft and refreshed.
The non-irritating formula is fragrance-free and non-comedogenic.
CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser
CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser is a 4% benzoyl peroxide foaming acne face wash formulated to clear acne and blackheads and prevent the formation of new acne while allowing your skin to heal.
The cleanser dissolves dirt, makeup, and excess oil with 4% benzoyl peroxide, an organic acid that has antimicrobial benefits and reduces the bacteria that causes acne (P. acnes).
Benzoyl peroxide also supports dead skin cell turnover, which helps reduce clogged pores and breakouts and has anti-inflammatory benefits.
This foaming cream acne cleanser also contains niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, which soothes and calms.
Hyaluronic acid (in the salt form of sodium hyaluronate) helps keep your skin hydrated. Three essential ceramides maintain your skin’s protective barrier.
This creamy foaming cleanser is fragrance-free, non-comedogenic, so it won’t worsen or cause acne.
Benzoyl peroxide is often included in over-the-counter products between 2.5% and 10%, so this 4% concentration is mid-strength.
NOTE: If you have sensitive or dry skin, it’s important to note that this benzoyl peroxide face wash may be too drying and irritating. If this is the case, consider trying another CeraVe acne cleanser with different active ingredients.
CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser
If you want a CeraVe cleanser that doesn’t contain any potent active to treat acne, CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser is a great choice.
This foaming gel face wash is formulated for a normal to oily skin type and also works for acne-prone skin since it removes oil, dirt, and makeup without stripping your skin or compromising your delicate skin barrier.
A compromised skin barrier may cause dryness, irritation, and inflammation. It also makes your skin more vulnerable to environmental aggressors and pollutants.
All these side effects of a weakened skin barrier can worsen acne and breakouts.
The cleanser contains three essential ceramides (ceramide NP, ceramide AP, ceramide EOP) that help repair and restore your skin’s natural protective barrier while hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid acts like a sponge and draws moisture to your skin.
Cholesterol, a skin lipid, supports a healthy skin barrier. Phytosphingosine is another lipid with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial benefits, making it ideal for acne-prone skin.
This gentle and non-comedogenic cleanser is fragrance-free and can be used alongside other acne treatments since it contains no potent acne-treatment ingredients.
For more on this cleanser, see my post: CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser vs Foaming Cleanser.
CeraVe Cleansers For Acne: The Bottom Line
Whether you’re combating stubborn breakouts or just want to refresh and restore balance, there are a variety of affordable CeraVe products that can help get the job done.
Just remember that what works for me might not work the same for you, so it’s important to listen to your skin and check with your dermatologist or doctor if you aren’t getting the results you want.
Whether you choose a CeraVe cleanser formulated with salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or no active acne-fighter, make sure to look for cleansers that are fragrance-free and non-comedogenic to avoid further irritation and breakouts.
And don’t forget to follow with a gentle moisturizing cream or lotion and a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher during the day!
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Thanks for reading!