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Acne Skin Care Advice


What to look for in a facial cleanser

Look for a mild 'soap free' liquid face cleanser which is acid and/or pH balanced and free of abrasives and alcohol.

If you have oily skin, look for a cleanser with 'high rinsability' as it won't leave a surface film and contains only enough moisturiser to protect the skin from irritation and damage during cleansing. Options are Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser or Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Wash.

If you have combination, dry sensitive, irritated skin and/or if you're using acne treatments containing benzoyl peroxide, tretinoin, adapalene and/or tazarotene, look for a 'gentle oil-free plus moisturising' liquid cleanser.

Moisturising liquid cleansers contain added moisturisers (e.g. cetyl alcohol or glycerine) that help protect the skin and speed up its repair and recovery if it's dry and irritated. Examples include:

  • Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
  • Neutrogena Extra Gentle Cleanser
  • Dermaveen Soap Free Wash
  • Sebamed Liquid Face & Body Wash
  •     QV Gentle Wash

More highly moisturising cleansers should generally be avoided (e.g. those containing high levels of paraffin, mineral or highly fragrant 'natural' oils)

Salicylic acid containing cleansers

Salicylic acid works by getting into sebum; getting to where it's needed to help unblock pores. Cleansing products that contain salicylic acid include Neutrogena, L'Oreal Pure Zone and Garnier Pure.

Salicylic acid helps dissolve, remove and prevent formation of the keratin plug which helps speed up the clearing of pimples as well as improving long term control.

For people with mild acne, a cleanser with salicylic acid might be all you need for your everyday control of acne. Remember to speak with a pharmacist or doctor before combining this with any other medicated products (eg, prescription acne products or those containing benzoyl peroxide).


Toners can help remove make-up but also irritate the skin. For most people, a toner is not necessary for daily skin care. Use alcohol-free toners if necessary. 

Last updated March 2016

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