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  • Share your skin goals and snap selfies

  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

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Face wash for acne-prone oily skin

How to find the best acne cleanser for your skin type

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 6, 2023 • 3 min read
Person rubbing skincare cream on their face
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 6, 2023 • 3 min read
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 oily skin and acne, you might feel like your skin is out of control. That’s why we’re here to help you find the best cleanser for oily, acne-prone skin.

Wait, what’s my skin type?

The best face wash for 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 on 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 oily


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.

Normal: Smooth, no signs of dry flakes or shiny oilOily: Slick and shiny, larger poresDry: Dry flakes, tight-feelingCombination: Oily T-zone, with normal-to-dry skin everywhere else (fun fact: most people actually have combination skin!)

The best face wash for oily acne-prone skin

If a gentle cleanser just isn’t cutting it for your oily skin, there are cleansers designed for acne-prone, oily skin available with stronger ingredients. Look for cleansers with benzoyl peroxide, alpha hydroxy acids (AHA, such as glycolic acid or lactic acid), or beta hydroxy acid (BHA, i.e., salicylic acid). These ingredients are helpful for controlling both oil and acne, but they can sometimes cause irritation for those with sensitive skin. If your skin is oily but not too sensitive, feel free to try some of these!

We recommend…

How to check if any cleanser has pore-clogging or skin-irritating ingredients is such a valuable (free!) tool — it’s a must-have for your Bookmarks. We recommend using to research your skincare products (including body washes and lotions) in their product database. Pull up and run the ingredient list through the “Analyze Cosmetics” section of their website. Once you click “Analyze”, look in the “acne” column — if there are any 3’s, 4’s, or 5’s, consider stopping using that product. Of course, these ratings are a guide; your (sk)individual reaction may vary.

Read more: How to use to screen your skincare products

Custom superbottle for breakouts | Free Trial button

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 of prescription ingredients with Curology. 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.

Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

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