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How it works:

  • Share your skin goals and snap selfies

  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

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Cleanser for dry, acne-prone skin

How to find the best acne cleanser for your skin type.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 6, 2023 • 5 min read
Medically reviewed by Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C
Close up of woman with cream on her face, holding hands near face
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 6, 2023 • 5 min read
Medically reviewed by Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Wouldn’t it be great if getting rid of acne was as easy as just washing your face? If only it were that simple! If you have dry skin and acne, it can be extra challenging to figure out how to nurture your face. That’s why we’re about to break it down for you so you can find the best face wash for dry, acne-prone skin.

Wait, what’s my skin type?

The best face wash for your acne depends on your skin type, which (newsflash!) changes on you from one week to the next. Your skin may be dry one day, oily or combination the next. What makes it change its mind? It could be hormones, your diet, or the time of the year. Your skin type may even be different on different parts of your face — you might have an oily T-zone, for example, but dry skin on your forehead. Luckily it’s not hard to figure out what your skin type is on any given day.

How to determine if your skin type is dry


Wash your face gently, wait an hour, then check out your skin in the mirror.


Pat a blotting paper (gently) on each area of your face: T-zone, forehead, chin, and cheeks. It can be hard to tell whether what you’re seeing on your skin is oil, shine, or just glowiness, so check the sheet each time you blot to see which part of your face was oilier.


Wait an hour. If oil has reappeared on your face, your skin type is likely oily skin or combination skin (if you’re only oily in certain places). “Normal” skin isn’t dry nor oily, but smooth and balanced. If you have dry skin, your skin will feel tight, and you also may notice dry flakes. If you have combination skin (the most common skin type), you’ll be oily in your t-zone and normal-to-dry everywhere else.

Curology cleanser bottle open above green tile floors

Best face wash for dry acne-prone skin

There’s a common misconception that oily skin is what causes pimples, but acne can crop up in dry skin just as well. Dry skin may be more easily irritated, or more vulnerable to invading bacteria; if you’ve got flaky skin, those dead skin cells might be clogging up the works deep down inside your pores, too. The right hydrating cleanser can help clear things up for you and reduce dryness, too.

Your typical anti-acne cleanser might contain ingredients that can actually make dry skin worse, so try a hydrating, non-comedogenic cleanser that will leave your skin refreshed, moisturized, and balanced.

We recommend…

One of the best face wash for sensitive, combination, or “normal” acne-prone skin

Whatever your skin type, our advice is: keep it simple, smartypants. Whether you’ve got sensitive, combination, or “normal” skin, a gentle cleanser will do the trick. Even if one part of your face is more sensitive than the other, or more oily or dry than the other, you can’t really go wrong with a simple, gentle face wash that’s suitable for every skin type.

Curology set with cleanser, Curology bottle, and moisturizer against abstract shapes and pale neutral background

The cleanser by Curology

We love this cleanser because we developed it with Curology members in mind. It’s great for sensitive, acne-prone skin because it’s formulated with non-comedogenic ingredients and it’s free of parabens, allergens, sulfates, fragrances, dyes, or anything else that could irritate your skin.

We also recommend…

If you have another favorite cleanser that your skin likes — especially if it’s labeled gentle or formulated for sensitive skin — feel free to keep on using it! But if you’re breaking out, you’ll want to check the ingredients to make sure your favorite cleanser isn’t the culprit.

Micellar water: the cleanser alternative

Micellar water is a secret one-minute shortcut to clean skin. A skincare staple originating from French pharmacies, a few drops on a cotton pad will gently remove oil, dirt, and makeup in a hot minute. It’s great for when you’re on-the-go, because it even comes in gentle face wipes you can stick in your bag.

Image of woman cleansing with Curology Micellar Makeup Remover

We recommend…

When in doubt, custom skincare is what it’s about

If a cleanser alone doesn’t seem to be enough for your acne-prone skin, it might be time to add on a custom formula with prescription ingredients from Curology.

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

curology bottle
curology bottle

If you haven’t given us a try already, sign up for a free trial today and pay just $4.95 to cover the cost of shipping and handling on your first bottle of custom acne-fighting cream, plus a non-comedogenic cleanser and moisturizer paired with it if you wish! Just apply it at night, after cleansing your face, and let it do the work while you get some beauty sleep.

• • •

Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).

We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.

*Cancel anytime. Subject to consultation. Subscription is required. Trial is 30 days + $4.95 shipping and handling.

Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Nicole Hangsterfer Avatar

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C

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