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Top five cleansers for maskne and acne-prone skin

Lucy Holloway

Even the cleanest people can get acne, spots and maskne. A meticulous skincare routine is no match for the power of genetics or hormones, but cleansing is a key step in taking back control of your skin.

Regular, gentle cleansing helps to restore and strengthen your skin’s natural balance. The right products should remove dirt, dead skin cells, pollution and make-up without drying your skin out. Skin should feel clean, but not squeaky.

I already had my favourites (from scouring ingredients lists, relentless testing and researching for and with acne sufferers). But the latest lockdown has given me a spot-suffering teenager to test on, and a chance to re-fresh my list. Here are five favourites, in alphabetical order:

1. Alpha-H

Australian brand Alpha-H delivers on its promises. Clear Skin Daily Face and Body Wash (£35 for 200ml) is a light gel cleanser formulated to keep blemishes under control. Salicylic acid and anti-bacterial botanicals – thyme, tea tree and eucalyptus – clean and cool skin, and the formula smells great too. If areas of your face are also prone to dryness, or if you’re using foundation to conceal blemishes, try Alpha-H’s Balancing Cleanser for your evening cleanse (£25 for 185ml, or £5 for 30ml at Cult Beauty). Suitable for sensitive skin, it removes excess oils and and even the most stubborn waterproof make-up without drying skin out. With vitamin E and aloe vera it soothes the red bits too. Both can be bought here.

2. Decree

A friend of mine who is plagued with spots swears by Decree. This focused, doctor-led range offers two cleansers – Light Cleanse for the morning, and Deep Cleanse for the evening. Cleansing in the morning is about removing the excess sebum that your skin produces overnight; come the evening there’s more for your cleanser to tuck into – sebum build-up during the day, dirt, pollution and make-up (if you’re still bothering). At £55 for 130ml, I wouldn’t let a teenager loose on Decree’s Deep Cleanse, but the creamy, clay-based formula feels super-luxe. And, with anti-bacterial zinc and anti-inflammatory sulphur, it thoroughly but gently clears and soothes grown-up, temperamental skin. It’s also a great intro to the exfoliating benefits of lactic and salicylic acids. Treat your skin at Cult Beauty.

3. Eucerin

Eucerin DermoPurifyer Oil Control is a comprehensive range specially formulated for acne-prone skin. Products can be used on their own, but also partner well with acne medication. On the cleansing front there’s a scrub, a micellar water and a gel. The scrub is fine for occasional use, and the micellar is a quick wipe-and-go option that’s better than no cleanse, but for every day cleansing the refreshing Cleansing Gel is where it’s at. Great for teenagers suffering from spots or acne, and the easiest one to convince my son to use (semi) regularly. At around £9.50 for 200ml it’s kind on both skin and pocket. You’ll find it at Boots and Superdrug.

4. Oskia

There’s so much to love about Great British brand Oskia. The dreamy smelling Renaissance Cleansing Gel (£36 for 100ml) nourishes and refreshes skin in equal measure. Pink, luscious and rich in pumpkin enzymes the gel makes light work of cleaning skin and clarifying pores. Splash your face with water and it turns milky and washes off instantly. Chamomile and the brand’s signature MSM (a form of sulphur that cells use to build collagen) soothe and strengthen while skin-boosting Vitamins C and E leave skin looking and feeling smooth and zingy. Put one in your bag here.

5. REN

REN was born out of the need to find solutions for sensitive skin, and they’ve got cleansing covered. The spot-fighting Clearcalm Clarifying Clay Cleanser (try saying that quickly) has had a facelift – the tube is now made of 50% recycled plastic in line with the brand’s Zero Waste goals – but the formula is just as it was. An effective kaolin clay cleanser to deep-clean and protect sensitive, reactive skin, this is ideal for teenagers or young adults. It’s £24 for 150ml, and you can grab one here or go for a discounted bundle: the cleanser is joined by REN’s AHA tonic in Maskne Power Duo and by their spot treatment in Essential Blemish Fighting Duo.

I hope you find something that works for you. I’d love to hear your experiences or help you find a cleanser that works for you. You can message me @lucy_holls with any questions or comments. Next up, we’ll be looking at the best cleansers for dry skin.

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