10 Best Acne Soaps of 2017 – All From Choosing to Using Them Effectively

Top 10 best acne soaps compared and reviewed.
Image credit: AdamKR

If you’ve been wondering about choosing the right soap for your acne-prone skin, you’re finally at the right place.
Before I dig into all of the information, here’s a quick summary table of the top 3 products I’d recommend.

1st Place2nd Place3rd Place
Tree to Tub Soapberry for BodyExposed Body Wash for AcneCetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar
Tree to Tub Soapberry for BodyExposed Body Wash for AcneCetaphil
Best for: All skin typesBest for: All skin typesBest for: Dry and sensitive skin
Active Ingredient: Soapberry Extract (85%)Active Ingredient: Salicylic Acid (0.5%)Active Ingredient: Triclosan (0.3%)
Size: 11ozSize: 12ozSize: 127g
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I know how daunting it feels when besides spending your hard earned money, all you’re left with is an awful soap that does nothing but worsen your acne.

Now before moving on to evaluating the best acne soap for you, let me explain a few important things…

Using an acne-fighting soap is not dumb!

Perish all thoughts that suggest your hygiene has nothing to do with your acne. Choosing a right acne fighting soap is just as important as choosing a right cream, serum, or pill for treating acne.

But only when you do it the right way…

Let me explain why.

Don’t bother thinking that just by buying and using soap, you’ll be able to eradicate your acne.

The development of your acne has a lot more to do with complex interplay of inner balance of your body than just using a soap topically.

Don’t expect too much from a soap!

Keep in mind that the best a soap can serve is to fade acne causing bacteria, eliminate pore-clogging, moisturize your skin, and keep it clean and refreshed; nothing more than that.

It cannot go deep inside your body to control several internal factors like hormonal imbalance, dietary deficiencies, heredity, stress, certain costmetics (not these foundations for acne prone skin, though) etc., that are the root causes of acne. Therefore, an acne-fighting soap can only help in fading your existing lesions and can’t guarantee to prevent future breakouts.

And that’s where our realistic approach to making use of acne fighting soaps comes into play.

3 Steps for an Effective Use of Anti-Acne Soaps

Step 1: Don’t neglect the root causes of acne

If you aren’t targeting the main hideout of acne, from where it’s deployed all over your skin, using a soap topically will only put temporary patches on it.

This is a thorough discussion indeed, which is beyond the scope of this post, but you can begin with these handy tips to ensure that you’re also treating your acne internally:

  1. Drink lots of water – 12-14 glasses a day: Water helps to dispose of toxic waste, control calories, energize muscles, and most importantly, it promotes your skin health.
  2. Eat lots of vegetables and fruits: They’re the biggest source of essential nutrients that are responsible for your well-being. You have to keep a greater percentage of fruits and vegetables in your diet.
  3. Exercise on a regular basis: It relieves stress, promotes better sleep, controls your weight, and boosts energy. But don’t allow excessive sweat to buildup on your skin as it might clog your skin pores.

Now let’s go towards the second step.

Step 2: Determine your skin type

This is important if you don’t already know your skin type. It’ll help you in the third step, in which you’ll begin evaluating the right soap for yourself.

You can simply go through the following steps to determine the type of your skin.

  1. Thoroughly wash your face – may be with your cleanser.
  2. Leave it for an hour and avoid touching your face during this time.
  3. Now dab your face with a tissue while paying more attention to the T-area of your face.

Once you’ve done that, the condition of the tissue will determine your skin type:

  1. If the tissue is neither flaky nor oily, you most likely have a normal skin.
  2. If it feels rather greasy, it’s a sign of oily skin.
  3. If the tissue seems flaky or feel taut, you have dry skin.
  4. Finally, if the tissue exhibits each of these three traits, you have the most common skin type, i.e. combination skin.

Let’s head on towards the third and the last step.

Step 3: Evaluate the Best Acne Soap for Yourself

You can now begin to choose the best acne fighting soap according to your skin type and needs. Here they are:

1. Tree to Tub Soapberry for Body

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When it comes to body wash, Tree To Tub is hands down the winner, especially for those who prefers a gentle, organic clean. Their signature ingredient, the soapberry, creates a creamy, luxurious lather that’s naturally pH balanced, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial. It gently keeps your protective barrier intact, preventing breakouts. With organic cucumber, aloe vera, and chamomile, the wash leave your skin smooth and calm.

Best For: Dry, oily, combination, sensitive skin, acne or allergy prone skin.

Active Ingredient: Soapberry extract (85%)


  • Naturally calms inflamed areas and prevents bacterial infections with the soapberry
  • Protect your natural lipid barrier with its pH balanced formula
  • Helps regenerate healthy skin cells with organic cucumber, aloe vera, and chamomile
  • Feels clean after wash. Does not leave oily residue, and no feeling of tightness.
  • Great for not only acne prone skin, but also normal and other sensitive skin types.
  • Comes in Awakening Peppermint for a refreshing morning, Relaxing Lavender for the nighttime, and Raw Unscented if you skin is very sensitive.
  • The brand only uses essential oils instead of artificial fragrance, so no allergic reactions.
  • Comes in a beautiful care box and a few raw soapberries (which could also be used as face wash).
  • It’s the only product on the list that’s organic, vegan, cruelty free, eco-friendly, and dermatologist recommended.


  • Just like their facial cleanser, the body wash is more liquid than usual too. So make sure you don’t squeeze too much.
  • The bottle cap is not designed very well for its liquid consistency. Be careful to not squeeze too much.


  • Nothing fancy, just apply to skin when bathing or washing and rinse.

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The body wash is a winner, and we also highly recommend their other products like facial cleanser. They are all gentle and organic, and you can find them on Amazon. They also offer a 30 day money back guarantee there.

2. Exposed Body Wash for Acne

Exposed Body Acne Soap WashIf you’re looking for a soap wash that’s specially manufactured to combat stubborn acne, you should look nowhere else than this body wash from Exposed Skin Care.

Best For: All skin types.

Though it doesn’t contain salicylic acid in its mildest concentration, and it also has glycolic acid present in it, but because there’s also addition of the soothing tea tree oil in it, this makes it a fair choice for even sensitive skins.

Active Ingredient: Salicylic Acid (0.5%). Also contains glycolic acid and tea tree oil.


  • The best choice, by far, if you’re looking for a soap wash to get rid of your body acne.
  • Salicylic acid acne treatment penetrates deep into your clogged skin pores, eliminating excess oil that may be causing pore clogging.
  • Glycolic acid helps exfoliating dead skin cells from your skin, while the soothing properties of tea tree oil ensure this treatment doesn’t get harsh on your skin.
  • Folks at Exposed back all their products with a money-back guarantee. This gives an extra layer of protection to your buck if nothing goes your way.


  • Just as the name suggests, it is a body wash, not one you can use to cleanse your face.
  • Don’t go for it if you have a history of messing up with BHAs/AHAs like salicylic and glycolic acid.


  • Use in the shower or bath.
  • Gently massage over your back acne prone areas (or any area on your neck or shoulders where the breakouts are.). Rinse off well.
  • If possible, follow up with a gentle dabbing (not rubbing) of Derm-X (included in Exposed body acne kit) cloth over these areas to remove any remains of dead skin cells.

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3. Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar

Best acne soap from cetaphil.If you’ve ever been to a dermatologist, it’s probably not the first time you’ve stumbled upon Cetaphil. This is the brand most of the Derms and Pediatricians love to recommend, and rightly so.

Why? Because it effectively clears your skin of excessive oil and bacteria without drying it out too much.

Best For: Dry and sensitive skin.

Cetaphil products are gentle enough that even a baby’s skin can tolerate it. A mother at Amazon claimed she cleared her daughter’s baby eczema with it. Moreover, I’ve also heard a guy using it as an after-shave – it’s that soothing!

Active Ingredient: Triclosan 0.3% (A prominent ingredient used in most of the soaps, detergents, and surgical treatments as an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent.).


  • It’s fragrance free but still smells nice!
  • Leaves your skin with a smooth, soft, and refreshed sensation after rinsing off.
  • Can also help with itching problems.
  • Can act as your anti-acne moisturizer.
  • There’s also anti-bacterial version of cetaphil bar available if you’re looking for an extra strength treatment (though, its just as gentle).


  • Can’t remove your makeup well.
  • It’s thick and doesn’t lather much like an ordinary soap.
  • The bar doesn’t last long; you have to follow the best practices of using soaps.


  • Nothing fancy, just apply to skin when bathing or washing and rinse.

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4. Grisi Sulfur Soap for Acne

Grisi sulfur best acne soap.Sulfur is one of the most effective non-prescriptive acne treatments, and this soap makes full use of it. Officially, you’re required to do 1-8 weeks of trial before being able to observe improvement.

Best For: Combination and oily skin.

Not as gentle as Cetaphil, so not a great choice for dry and sensitive skin. But it can do wonders for an oily skin!

Active ingredient: Sulfur/Azufre = 10% Biosulfur = 0.1%

Sulfur is a mild anti-microbial. It is a known inhibitor of the growth of P.acnes (an acne causing bacteria.), which is why most of the anti-acne products make use of it.


  • The antiseptic and antibacterial properties of the soap clear your skin of excessive oils and dirt.
  • Also has anti-fungal properties.
  • If used persistently, can do wonders for your acne prone skin.
  • Besides using sulfur as an active ingredient, this soap doesn’t smell that


  • Not for children under 12 years.
  • Has lanolin so that it kind of “coats” your skin with a thin film.
  • Smell might not inspire all.
  • It can leave your skin a bit peeled; use a moisturizer if it does so.


  • Wet your face (or other body parts) with lukewarm water.
  • Apply the soap.
  • Leave for 10 minutes (if it doesn’t irritate.).
  • Rinse with cold water.

Two washings a day are always sufficient; too much cleansing might further worsen your acne.

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5. Neutrogena Transparent Facial Bars, Acne-Prone Skin Formula

neutrogena transparent facial bar - best acne soap from neutrogena.Another dermatologist recommended soap that uses a non-medicated formula to combat skin dysfunctions like acne.

Best For: Oily skin, but can be used for other skin types as well.

Active Ingredients: There’s nothing like active or inactive ingredients in it, it’s a long list but there’s no BP or SA for sure. Here are the first four: Tiethanolamine, TEA Stearate, Sodium Tallowate, and Glycerin.


  • Smell is nice.
  • Clears your skin of all pore clogging residues and excessive oils.
  • Cleanses effectively and it can easily remove your makeup (unlike cetaphil).
  • Doesn’t dry out much but can be over-drying if used along with other treatments.


  • Size is small as compared to others.
  • Makes use of glycerin, which is known to promote milia – you have to be careful of that!
  • Pro-allergic – but in extremely rare cases.


  • Wet your face and hands with lukewarm water.
  • Lather soap in hands.
  • Massage lather onto skin with a gentle, circular motion.
  • Rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry with a soft towel.

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6. Purpose Gentle Skin Cleansing Bar

Best acne soap from Johnson and Johnson -- Purpose cleansing bar.Yet another soap loved by the skin experts all over the world. Although not as gentle as cetaphil, if I were to suggest the only soap that could effectively remove your makeup and clear your face of acne, while being gentle enough, I suspect that would be it.

Best For: All skin types, even dry and sensitive skins, but a must have for an oily skin.

Active Ingredients: Again, no active ingredient. Here’s the full long list though: Sodium Tallowate, Sodium Cocoate, Water, Glycerin, Fragrance, Sodium Chloride, BHT, Trisodium HEDTA, D&C Yellow 10, and D&C Orange 4.


  • It lathers up nice and cleanses effectively.
  • Removes dirt and oil without over-drying.
  • Can be used as a full body soap and help clearing your back acne.
  • Can even help with rosacea.
  • Effective for all; works for entire family.


  • Scent is a bit strong.
  • In rare cases, it can dry out your skin.
  • Increasingly disappearing from stores but you can find them at Amazon!


  • Wash face with the bar twice a day.
  • Rinse with lukewarm water.
  • Pat your skin dry.

Upkeep is the key to an acne-clear face; you have to continuously use it for optimum results.

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7. Lemongrass & Tea Tree Soap by Nubian Heritage

Lemon grass and tea tree bar. Best acne soap from Nubian Heritage.If you haven’t heard of the benefits of tea tree oil for acne, it’s high time you did. Because of its unique disinfecting and soothing properties, tea tree oil can effectively help in eliminating your acne while not causing further damage to the skin.

And there’s no better option than using this soap to exploit it!

Best For: All skin types.

Ingredients:  There are several, but the prominent ones are: Shea Butter, Coconut Oil and/or Palm Oil, TheobromaCocao, Lemongrass Oil, Tea Tree Oil, Vegetable Glycerin, etc.



  • It has mixed effects. For some people, it left their skin moisturized, and for others, it dried out their skin.
  • If you don’t like strong scents, its smell might irritate you.


  • Just lather and rinse.

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8. Dudu-Osun African Black Soap by Tropical Naturals

Best african black soap for acne. Dudu-osun by Tropical Naturals.You’ve heard enough about U.S. made soaps, now how about the one made in Africa?

Made in Nigeria, this soap makes full use of all natural ingredients that safeguard you from all skin problems.

Best For: All except very dry and sensitive skin.

Ingredients: Pure Honey, Shea Butter, Osun (camwood), Palm kernel Oil, Cocoa Pod Ash, Palm Bunch Ash, Glycerin, Aloe Vera, Lime Juice and Oil, Lemon Juice and Oil, Water, and Fragrance.


  • Can fade dark spots and stretch marks.
  • Lathers up so well that you only need to just take your wet fingers, run them over the bar a bit, then rub them together and you have enough to wash your face.
  • It sounded crazy, but a guy had used THE SAME BAR for almost ONE YEAR.
  • Cheaper than the rest.


  • Can dry out your skin.
  • Can cause itchiness and irritation.
  • All ingredients are natural except fragrance.


  • Just use it as a normal soap but try not to apply the product using a cloth towel, use your own hands instead.
  • Most of its users feel a burning sensation in the beginning, but they slowly get used to it.
  • It’s better to use a good moisturizer after its usage.

But the bottom line is, if it doesn’t respond well in the first usage, stop using it right away.

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9. Clinique Acne Solutions Cleansing Bar

Four great acne soaps from clinique.Although, Clinique is more popular because of their lotions and perfumes, they also have a nice collection of soaps to help keeping your skin clean and clear.

Best For: All skin types as it comes with four different choices.

  1. Extra Mild (For very dry to dry skin)
  2. Mild Soap (For dry to combination skin.)
  3. Oily Skin Formula (For combination oily and oily skin.)
  4. And the one for all skin types.

Ingredients: Sodium Palmate/Cocoate Palm Kernelate, Water, Petrolatum, Glycerin, Sodium Chloride, TrisodiumHedta, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides, Yellow 5.


  • Separate soaps targeting different skin types.
  • Comes with a convenient soap dish.
  • Seamlessly removes your makeup.


  • Pricey.


  • Use twice a day, morning and night.
  • Lather between palms with tepid water.
  • Massage over makeup-free face.
  • Rinse thoroughly; pat skin dry.
  • Choose the right one according to your skin!

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10. Defense Soap

Defense Soap -- The best antibacterial acne soap.Another soap that makes use of tea tree oil and is specially designed to gain anti-fungal and anti-bacterial benefits. Defense soap can also help eliminating acne causing bacteria and help keeping dirt and oils away from your skin.

It’s carefully manufactured to maintain skin friendly pH, which helps even your skin tone.

Best For: Not recommended for dry and sensitive skin but if you use a moisturizer afterwards, you’re good to go.

Active Ingredients: Active-tea tree oil, eucalyptus leaf oil.


  • It’s a pricey product but lasts for long time and that’s why it’s totally worth it.
  • Can help with clearing up skin rashes.
  • Can’t just help with acne, but with other diseases like ringworm, and can even help with fungal infection.
  • Can also help with treating jock itch.
  • The tea tree oil makes it an anti-fungal agent.
  • If you have a lot of skin to skin contact or sweat a lot, buy yourself some defense soap.


  • The smell of Tea Tree Oil and Eucalyptus Oil might irritate you.
  • Might not work well with eczema.
  • Don’t bother to pay more for defense body soap in search of a better effect. Both defense soap and defense body soap have same effects.
  • Doesn’t lather up nicely, but has super rinsing action – great for deep cleansing.


  • It’s better to use it with a sponge or with gentle scrubbing in circular motions.

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What’s Your Best Acne Soap?

If you think there should be some more worthwhile names added to this list of best acne soaps, you can mention it in the comments below!


  1. Hypoallergenic means LESS likely to cause a breakout due to less or no allergens being used in a product. It is NOT a CON. Pretty much all of these options are very gentle products, which is exactly what any dermatologist will tell you to switch to when trying to rid your face of acne.

    • This really should have skipped the editor’s eye. Rectified now, however. Thanks a lot for pointing out!

  2. Please I have skin eczema problem. It’s a problem I and my siblings have Been battling with over the years. I heard it’s hereditary cause
    my dad suffers from such ailment. Please what can we do to remedy it?

    • Hi Kelvin,

      Sorry for getting back to you late. Yes, heredity or genetics does play an important role in the in development of eczema. And if that’s the case, there’s very little you can do about it.

      However, nothing’s beyond cure today. I’d recommend seeing your Derm ASAP if your eczema is severe. Additionally, this page gives a good precise overview of eczema, it’s symptoms and treatments.

      Hope that helps.

  3. Kelvin have you tried eliminating dairy from your diet? My niece had terrible eczema and found dairy to be the cause of it. Try avoiding dairy for two weeks and see if that makes a difference in your skin. Good Luck.

  4. i had been suffering from pimples and acnes …when the pimples go away ..they leaves red scars …which soap is best for me to make my spots light and prevent new pimples from coming

    • Hi Sandeep,

      All 10 of these soaps I’ve listed here are known for their effectiveness against acne and its aftereffects (like acne scars). Just choose any of these that suits your skin type.

      Hope that helps.

    • Sure, you can try them out if you wish. Unless you have a very sensitive skin, their anti-bacterial properties might yield some positive effects on your acne.

    • I haven’t really used it in this context Grace. But since it’s an anti-bacterial soap, we can guess that it may help fading some blemishes by fighting P.acne bacteria.

  5. I’ve been using Cetaphil’s cleanser and moisturizing cream and always felt itchy and redness on my face even those are made for sensitive skin. BUT I just got the Made from Earth Green tea Cleanser and pH Equilibrium Moisturizer last night and I’m very satisfied with it. Granted I have super sensitive skin(and also oily), never felt any uncomfortable since last night.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts mate.

      Yes, even Cetaphil can get messy at times. This boils down to the fact that it’s hard to tell whether a product will perfectly suit your skin, because all skins aren’t made the same.

      What we can do, however, is to make some educated guesses, and keep trying time tested products until we find the perfect fit.

      Have a nice day! :)

  6. i suffered acne problems for how many years..and i tried using many acne soaps but sad to say it doesn’t work..and i have oil skin also…please help me determine which soaps/soap suitable for my skin…thank u..

  7. I’ve use dudu osun and it foams a lot and I’ve not really seen any difference………I’ve heard of cetaphhil and I heard it’s very good tho

  8. Comment:
    I’ve tried the dudu osun soap cos its one readily available in my country Nigeria and it really didn’t work for Me and made me get darker, is there any other soap available in Nigeria that is very effective for acne?

  9. Comment:what about k-brother soap? How active is d soap pls,and if possible why d soap was not listed among the first 10 soap

  10. Aveeno has discontinued it’s Clear Complexion Cleansing Bar, much to my dismay since I’ve used if for the last 20+ years. It was terrific. Now you only find it on eBay at prices like $39.95 a bar!

  11. Comment:what soap can I use for acne n pimples dat looks lik rashes???I have tried all kings of soaps n face tube but its not working.plss help me out I hav a sensitive skin

  12. Hello Sheikh,

    I have a little oily skin, as well as sensitive. After about 2 hours after I take a shower my skin dries up. I am thinking about using the Purpose soap. Would this be a wise decision or would you recommend a different soap? Also I plan on using the soap for my bacne and this soap will replace my current Dove body-wash just FYI.

    Thanks in Advance,
    – Sai

    • Hello there Sai,

      I’d say, Cetaphil gentle cleansing bar is a better option for skin like yours. I advice you to also get in touch with your Derm to find out the perfect match for your skin.

      – Cheers

  13. Hello i hav acne and acne spots on my back and shoulders.. which soap for bath should i use which can give a relief from it so that i can use the soap for bath.. thanks i wil be waiting for your reply sir …

  14. I have an oily skin, I have too much pimples on my face,hands and back am using Neutrogena transparent bar and is clearing it ,i just hope it won’t come back

  15. Hi I’m new to this but I have been dealing with acne For years my neck my back It’s not as bad as it was when I was younger but on the List of soap you have listed what would you recommend and I’d like something that would leave your skin feeling smooth I’ve tired your African black soa African black soap I liked it but I wanna try something different thank you

  16. Hi! I have an acne or pimples in my arms, back, legs and it leaves dark spots. I always press it and a white thing comes out like a pimples in the face. Its been years I have got this problem. Me I know the best bar soap for this. Thanks! Hoping for your response…

  17. Comment:hi am jennifer I have too many dark spot on my face I have tried to many tins but is not working which of those soaps is best for me to use

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