Can shampoo and conditioner give you acne? Unfortunately, yes they can. Oil-rich shampoos and conditioners, and even those with silicone, can clog pores. Pimples form when there’s a buildup of dead skin, bacteria, and excess oil. You might think that always using a clarifying shampoo would solve the problem, but if it dehydrates the skin, it can make things worse. The body will compensate by producing too much sebum. All of this makes it very tricky to find the best shampoos and conditioners for acne-prone skin.
What shampoo will not cause acne? We found that shampoos with salicylic acid keep pores clear. But products like Neutrogena T/Sal are too drying to use every day. Switch off with a mild shampoo that’s non-comedogenic and preferably fragrance-free. We’ve included the top shampoos and conditioners for acne sufferers below:
|The best shampoos and conditioners for acne-prone skin||Why we love them|
|Shampoo for Oily Hair by Tree To Tub||
|Tea Tree Special Shampoo by Paul Mitchell||
|WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Hair Conditioner||
|Neutrogena T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo||
|Free & Clear Shampoo and Conditioner||
- 1 What kinds of shampoos and conditioners are safe for acne-prone skin?
- 2 Best Shampoos and Conditioners for Acne-Prone Skin in 2023
- 3 Conclusion
What kinds of shampoos and conditioners are safe for acne-prone skin?
Whether the acne is on your scalp or your face, certain shampoos will clear up breakouts. As we mentioned, anti-dandruff or clarifying shampoos with salicylic acid are an excellent choice. You might also try a shampoo with sodium hypochlorite to kill the bacteria that cause pimples. Then, tea tree oil and apple cider vinegar shampoos are also suitable for oily skin and hair (1).
Try to avoid shampoos and conditioners with silicones like dimethicone listed in the top seven ingredients because it can cause a buildup. You might also do well with sulfate-free shampoo. If you’re not sure what’s best, stick to transparent shampoos and conditioners that aren’t creamy. Anything creamy is probably too rich for oily hair or skin.
Once you’ve chosen a new shampoo or conditioner, give it a couple of weeks to work.
Best Shampoos and Conditioners for Acne-Prone Skin in 2023
Shampoo for Oily Hair by Tree To Tub
Here’s one of our favorite shampoos for greasy hair. It’s mild enough to use every day. It has a perky peppermint scent but doesn’t make a lot of lather at first. That’s because it’s not full of sulfates or harsh chemicals.
It’s a sulfate-free shampoo that’s naturally fragranced with peppermint essential oil. The base ingredient is wild soapberry juice, a natural cleanser that gets rid of dirt and oil without stripping moisture from the skin. Seriously, it cleanses well enough for adults, but it’s gentle enough for children.
It also has aloe and argan oil for a light dose of moisture that won’t clog pores. Otherwise, there are no silicones, formaldehyde releasers, parabens, or gluten. The essential ingredient, soapberry, is harvested by fairly paid workers in eco-reserves in Taiwan.
The shampoo comes in a pump-top bottle made of recycled plastic that can also be recycled. The brand’s conditioner features argan oil, but you might not need it as the shampoo leaves the hair soft already.
- Sulfate-free shampoo cleanses hair with soapberry juice
- Peppermint essential oil gives it a pleasant fragrance and tingle
- Mild enough to use daily, gentle enough for children, strong enough for adults
- No parabens, formaldehyde releasers, silicones, or gluten
- Fair trade and organic ingredients packaged in a recycled and recyclable plastic pump bottle
- Argan oil conditioner also available
One of the active ingredients in the shampoo is bleach. Seriously, it uses salicylic acid and sodium hypochlorite to get rid of excess oil, dead skin, and impurities. It’s no wonder that it’s often recommended by doctors and dermatologists.
Salicylic acid unclogs pores, exfoliants, and calms inflammation. Meanwhile, sodium hypochlorite kills the bacteria that cause the infection. It’s ideal for treating dandruff, dermatitis, and folliculitis as well as acne. Plus, it’s gentle enough to use on a beard, not just the scalp. Since it’s fragrance-free, it’ll never clash with your perfume or cologne.
However, even though it’s hypoallergenic, the maximum recommended usage is three times per week, not daily. That’s because it’s a bit drying and there’s no matching conditioner.
On the bright side, the company also makes face wash and body wash for acne-prone skin. And you can even use the shampoo for shaving to prevent ingrown hairs.
- Anti-acne and anti-dandruff with salicylic acid and sodium hypochlorite
- Unclogs pores and sweeps away impurities, dead skin, and excess oil
- Can be used up to three times per week on the scalp, the beard, and for shaving
- Fragrance-free and hypoallergenic
- No matching conditioner
Tea Tree Special Shampoo by Paul Mitchell
Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca, is a natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory ingredient. It has an earthy, herbal scent and sometimes it makes the skin tingle. It just so happens that salon brand Paul Mitchell makes this special tea tree oil shampoo for all hair types. It treats dandruff and scalp acne.
What’s nice is that if you leave it in your hair for at least two or three minutes, it really does clear up pimples and stop flaking and itching. It leaves the hair soft and shiny, too.
Even though this isn’t a sulfate-free shampoo, it’s carefully formulated to cleanse without overly drying the hair. And since tea tree oil doesn’t have the best aroma on its own, it’s also fragranced with peppermint and lavender oils.
On the downside, it also has dimethicone and an artificial fragrance.
- Tingly tea tree oil shampoo that treats scalp acne and dandruff
- Suitable for all hair types
- Also features peppermint and lavender oils
- Has a matching conditioner
- Not fragrance-free, and it contains dimethicone, although it’s one of the last ingredients
- Works best if you leave it on the scalp for two or three minutes before rinsing
- Not sulfate-free
WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Hair Conditioner
No, it doesn’t stink like vinegar. This color-safe, plant-based shampoo is made to detox the scalp. It cleanses clogged follicles and sweeps away flakes while balancing the scalp’s pH. If the scalp is pH-balanced, it doesn’t get dry and flaky and it doesn’t turn into an oil slick, either. It makes dull, limp hair gorgeous.
The conditioner is the perfect match for the shampoo as it leaves the hair shiny and manageable. Both products feature lauric acid from natural ingredients like aloe and coconut oil. This single component keeps frizz under control and prevents breakage. Meanwhile, other ingredients guard against damage from heat styling and chemical processing.
Reviewers with scalp acne and psoriasis say that the shampoo and conditioner leave their hair soft and light. Then, some users can go two days without washing.
Moreover, the shampoo is infused with hair growth ingredients like nettle, saw palmetto, and argan oil.
As for cons, the shampoo only has one – an artificial fragrance, which isn’t surprising since it actually contains natural apple cider vinegar.
Meanwhile, the conditioner contains six different plant oils plus an artificial fragrance. If you have oily hair, try applying it only to the ends instead of the scalp.
- Sulfate-free shampoo with natural apple cider vinegar to balance and detox the scalp
- Unclogs follicles and leaves hair shiny and manageable
- Also treats pimples, flaking, and itching
- Protects against damage from heat styling and chemical processing
- Pleasant fragrance
- Infused with hair growth stimulants like saw palmetto, nettle, and argan oil
- Has an artificial fragrance
- The conditioner might be too heavy for oily hair
Neutrogena T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo
Here’s the best drugstore shampoo for acne-prone skin. It’s dermatologist-recommended for dandruff, but the active ingredient is a potent anti-acne medication.
It’s a sulfate-free shampoo that acts as a clarifier to clear away build-up. Furthermore, it’s fragrance-free, although it has a slight odor that fades after rinsing.
The 3% salicylic acid in it not only exfoliates, but also dissolves sebum that clogs pores and follicles. If you have acne along your hairline or on your scalp, try washing with this once or twice a week. It should significantly reduce inflammation, redness, and soreness.
- Dermatologist-recommended product
- Features 3% salicylic acid to unclog follicles and clear away build-up
- Fragrance-free and sulfate-free
- No matching conditioner
- Not good for daily shampooing
You don’t have to be a teenager to enjoy this shampoo. It’s specifically made to clear up and prevent acne on the scalp, face, neck, chest, and back. It contains no parabens, silicones, sulfates, or pore-clogging ingredients like oils.
Instead, you’ll get a delicious-smelling shampoo that makes a ton of lather and leaves the hair hydrated, smooth, and soft. Choose from enticing scents like Blueberry Pomegranate Cucumber, Chocolate Mint, and Vanilla Almond. Each one has a matching conditioner
By the way, this is also an anti-dandruff shampoo because it contains zinc pyrithione. It turns out that this ingredient is also good for getting rid of pimples.
- Sulfate-free shampoo with no silicone, parabens, or pore-clogging ingredients
- Available in three different delicious scents with matching conditioners
- Active ingredient zinc pyrithione clears up and prevents breakouts and also treats dandruff
- Not fragrance-free
Free & Clear Shampoo and Conditioner
The best non-comedogenic shampoo for acne-prone skin also happens to be ideal for sensitive scalps. The dermatologist-tested formula contains no sulfates, artificial fragrance, parabens, or other irritants. However, it has sodium chloride, which keeps it from being the best choice for keratin-treated styles.
The shampoo is odorless and clear and makes a surprising amount of lather. It’s the perfect product for washing on alternate days when you’re using something like Neutrogena T/Sal once or twice a week.
Sadly, if you have longer hair, you may find that your hair feels a bit dry if you don’t condition. The matching conditioner is also fragrance-free and designed for sensitive skin.
- Non-comedogenic shampoo for sensitive scalps
- Dermatologist-tested and fragrance-free
- Doesn’t contain sulfates, silicone, or other irritants
- Lathers up nicely and rinses clean
- Conditioner is also fragrance-free and hypoallergenic
- Not cheap, but worth every penny when other products trigger acne or rashes
Don’t settle for shampoo and conditioner that just make things worse. Switch to a non-comedogenic shampoo and conditioner to keep your scalp, face, and neck pimple-free.
We hope our reviews helped you discover your new favorite shampoo and conditioner today. We’d love to hear how they’re working out for you, so please leave us a comment below.
1. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/skin-care/habits-stop 10 Skin Care Habits That Can Worsen Acne, by the American Academy of Dermatology Association, accessed November 4, 2021
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