Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Cleanser

  • Dries out blemishes
  • Removes makeup
  • Can dry skin
  • May cause irritation

Bottom line

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash is tough on acne -- but it can also be tough on your skin, leaving it dried out after regular use. Still, if your skin really needs some help with acne, this may be the product for you -- as long as you follow it up with a non-comedogenic moisturizer. And it does a great job of removing makeup.


Dries out blemishes -- and skin. Editors at InStyle magazine praise Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash for clearing acne, and hundreds of users agree. "I have very clog prone/cystic acne prone/oily skin ... it keeps my skin clear & smooth. As soon as I stop using it/switch to something new, my skin gets awful!" writes one reviewer.

On the downside, this cleanser may dry out your skin, and skin care expert Paula Begoun says that the salicylic acid is of little benefit due to its short time on your skin. Still, user reviewers say they love how quickly it clears up their acne.

Feel and smell

Tough on skin and harsh on the nose. Reviewers at say Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash leaves skin feeling squeaky clean, but warn that it can be a little harsh and doesn't smell so great. (One says it smells a lot like dishwashing detergent.) They say it's best to use it only occasionally to protect your skin.

That harshness is probably due to the detergent cleansing agent sodium c14-16 olefin sulfonate, which skin care expert Begoun warns is very drying and irritating. Still, quite a few users at and say they rotate this acne wash through their beauty regimen for its breakout-busting benefits.

Where To Buy
Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash, 6 Ounce

 (120 reviews)
Buy new: $8.05 $7.50   38 New from $3.20

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Our Sources


Paula Begoun relies on published scientific research to rate hundreds of beauty products, including Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash. She gives the cleanser a poor rating because it contains a harsh detergent cleansing agent that is very drying and can cause irritation.

Review: Oil-Free Acne Wash, Paula Begoun, Aug. 12, 2013

2. InStyle

InStyle magazine editors choose Neutrogena's Oil-Free Acne Wash as the best cleanse for acne-prone skin from 2009 through 2014. They say it "kicks butt but still treats you tenderly" and doesn't leave a medicinal film on your skin.

Review: Best Beauty Buys, Editors of InStyle magazine, As of May 2014

3. Elle

Deanne Kaczerski, director of, chooses Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash as her favorite facial cleanser. "This stuff keeps my face clean, clear of acne, and looking refreshed," she writes.

Review: Editors' Picks: Our Favorite Face Washes, Editors of Elle, Feb. 20, 2013


Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash earns a rating of 2.8 out of 5 lipsticks from more than 800 reviewers. Most say the formula is very drying and even irritating; others say that's nothing a good moisturizer can't fix and that the cleanser clears up and prevents acne.

Review: Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash, Contributors to, As of May 2014


More than 280 reviewers at give Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash an average score of 7.2 out of 10. Some users love the formula, saying it clears up acne and prevents future breakouts; others say it dries out and irritates skin.

Review: Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Reviews, Contributors to, As of May 2014

6.'s beauty guide, Julyne Derrick, offers facial cleanser recommendations for every skin type. She suggests Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash for acne-prone skin because it contains salicylic acid as well as soothing aloe and chamomile. Derrick says the formula dries out breakouts but not your skin.

Review: Best Cleansers for Every Skin Type, Julyne Derrick, Not Dated

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