Best Fungal Acne Safe Face Washes

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best face wash for fungal acne

Face Wash Fungal Acne Safe

A good cleanser is essential in any skincare routine, but for those suffering from fungal acne, or Malassezia Folliculitis, it’s especially important in order to get rid of it. Most cleansers on the market contain ingredients that are known to make the condition worse, but these best fungal acne safe face washes are free from any problematic ingredients and can help you treat it on your face or body.

What Is Fungal Acne?

The name is incredibly deceiving because fungal acne isn’t actually acne at all. In fact, it’s actually an infection inside the hair follicle caused by an overgrowth of Malassezia yeast.

The yeast is naturally found on our skin and is an important part of our skin’s microbiome, so usually the yeast doesn’t cause any issues, unless there’s an overgrowth. Skincare, antibiotics and lifestyle factors can all lead to an outbreak of fungal acne.

It usually presents itself as tiny flesh colored or red bumps, but can also present as pustles or papules with a head.

Fungal acne is also known as folliculitis, Pityrosporum Folliculitis or Malassezia Folliculitis. They’re all the same thing.

The good news is that folliculitis is pretty easy to treat. The bad news is that your skincare products may be contributing to the yeast growth, which is why it’s important to find a good fungal acne safe facial cleanser as well as other products like moisturizers and sunscreen.

Beneficial Ingredients In Facial Cleansers For Fungal Acne

face cleanser for fungal acne
  • Pyrithione Zinc – An antimicrobial and antifungal ingredient. You’ll find this in most medicated dandruff shampoos, but it’s a great option for treating fungal acne because it kills the yeast
  • Salicylic Acid – A beta-hydroxy acid that works to exfoliate and unclog pores. It helps to remove the yeast inside the hair follicle/pore so it doesn’t lead to an infection and an outbreak
  • Ketoconazole – Another common ingredient found in anti-fungal creams and dandruff shampoos, it helps to kill the yeast to prevent more breakouts and kill the infection
  • Sulfur – Sulfur is an antimicrobial agent, so it can also help to kill Malassezia yeast. Sulfur is also a great ingredient for regular acne, so if you have a combination of fungal acne and regular acne, this is a great ingredient that can treat both
  • Tea Tree Oil – Although most oils you want to avoid, Tea Tree Oil is an exception as it is actually an anti-fungal so it can treat and prevent Pityrosporum Folliculitis
  • Turmeric – turmeric is anti-microbial so it’s a great natural option for fungal acne. You can read more about turmeric soap benefits here

Ingredients To Avoid In Cleansers For Fungal Acne

  • Fatty Acids – Fatty acids are long chain hydrocarbons and are essential building blocks to a healthy skin barrier. Although they are an incredible ingredient to moisturize the skin and keep the skin barrier strong, the fungus or yeast feeds off the fatty acids, allowing them to multiply
  • Esters – Esters are fatty acid with an alcohol on the end and typically end in “-ate” such as Polysorbate, Glyceryl stearate or Isopropyl palmitate. Fungus feeds on these esters, so they can encourage yeast growth and feed fungal acne
  • Oils – Most oils are rich in fatty acids, so they are off limits when it comes to dealing with folliculitis This includes popular oils like jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, argan oil and rosehip seed oil. . Pretty much all oils are a no-go with the exception of Squalane
  • Butters – Most butters like shea butter, cocoa butter or mango seed butter also contain fatty acids, so it’s best to avoid any kind of butter in your skincare products when treating fungal acne as they can help the yeast thrive
  • Fermented Ingredients – Fermented ingredients like Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate is a type of yeast that is often used in skincare products (especially Korean skincare) because it has a multitude of benefits for the skin. However, because it is a yeast, it can worsen fungal acne so steer clear of any Galactomyces or other fermented ingredients

Additional ingredients to avoid:

These ingredients do not cause yeast growth, but they can irritate and dry out the skin and are just good to avoid in general.

  • Fragrance
  • Essential Oils
  • Alcohol (SD Alcohol, Denatured Alcohol, Ethanol, etc)
  • Sulfates

How To Pick The Best Fungal Acne Safe Face Wash

face wash for fungal acne prone skin

When looking for the best facial cleanser for fungal acne, it’s important to consider a few factors to find the right one for your skin type.

In general, you want a gentle, sulfate-free cleanser as anything that dries out the skin can aggravate the condition.

If you have dry or sensitive skin, it’s a little more tricky to find a moisturizing cleanser that doesn’t have any ingredients that can worsen folliculitis. Cholesterol, fatty alcohols, squalane, honey or propolis can all be used to help keep the skin moisturized.

You also want to look for cleansers with minimal ingredients because the more ingredients a cleanser has, the more likely there could be a reaction or worsening of fungal acne.

Best Face Wash For Fungal Acne

Finding a good face wash for folliculitis can be a tricky feat because you need to avoid many ingredients that are found in almost all skincare products. However, these best fungal acne safe cleansers have been well-researched and are free of any ingredients that can promote Malassezia yeast growth.

DermaHarmony 5% Sulfur 2% Salicylic Acid Bar Soap

Why We Love It

A powerful anti-fungal combo of sulfur and salicylic acid that can treat fungal acne and regular acne and keep skin clear

Ingredients We Love

  • Sulfur
  • Salicylic Acid
  • Glycerin

Certified: Fragrance-free

With 5% sulfur, this facial soap is less drying than other brands but still has all the powerful anti-fungal properties from sulfur. It also has 2% salicylic acid to help unclog pores and get rid of any yeast that may be lurking in the pore just waiting to cause problems.

The formula features Glycerin which helps to hydrate skin and repair the skin barrier, which is super important when using a cleanser with sulfur and salicylic acid because both can be slightly drying. If your skin gets dry or irritated from using this, try scaling back and using it every other day.

Related Post: Difference Between Azelaic Acid And Salicylic Acid

The sulfur soap can be used daily and you can also leave it on for a few minutes before rinsing for added benefit.

Another great benefit to this soap is that it can also treat regular acne, so if you also suffer from traditional acne and fungal acne, you can kill two bird with one stone.

Etude House SoonJung pH 6.5 Whip Cleanser

(Best Korean Fungal Safe Acne Cleanser)

Why We Love It

A pH balanced cleanser that’s perfect for sensitive or dry skin types. Packed with soothing ingredients, this creamy foam cleanser cleanses skin and leaves it feeling soft and smooth.

Ingredients We Love

  • Panthenol
  • Madecassoside
  • Green Tea

Notes: Fragrance-free, Limited ingredients, pH balanced

This luxurious-feeling whipped cleanser has a low pH of 6.5 and uses limited ingredients to gently cleanse the skin and reduce sensitivity. With only 13 ingredients, it’s the perfect fungal acne safe cleanser for dry skin.

Panthenol, a humectant, attracts moisture to plump skin with hydration and promote a healthy skin barrier. Madecassosid (derived from Centella asiatica) soothes skin, reduces irritation and redness while repairing skin damage. Green tea provides antioxidant benefits to protect the skin from damage and also helps to soothe irritation.

Noble Formula 2% Pyrithione Zinc 

Why We Love It

A gentle, yet powerful soap for fungal acne that can easily be used on the face or body to kill yeast and keep the skin clean and fresh.

Ingredients We Love

  • Pyrithione Zinc

Notes: Fragrance-free

A zinc soap is one of the most commonly recommended cleansers for folliculitis among dermatologists and Reddit threads. The pyrithione zinc kills the yeast that causes folliculitis and helps to cleanse the skin.

Of note, this bar soap does have oils in it, which typically is not good for fungal acne, however, it has thousands of reviews from people suffering from fungal acne and this soap helped them clear up their skin, so it’s definitely worth a shot!

Since it’s a bar soap, it has a high pH, which can lead to irritation and dryness, so be sure to use a good moisturizer (a fungal acne safe one of course!) to combat dryness.

Avene Tolerance Extreme Cleansing Lotion

Why We Love It

A creamy cleansing lotion with limited ingredients designed to soothe sensitive skin and gently cleanse without stripping.

Ingredients We Love

  • Squalane
  • Glycerin

Notes: Fragrance-free, sulfate free, minimal ingredients

With one 6 ingredients, this is the best fungal acne safe cleanser for sensitive and reactive skin types. It’s a thick lotion designed to gently cleanse the skin and keep it moisturized. You don’t even have to use water! It can simply be tissued off, which leaves skin moisturized and supple.

Squalane is a derivative of Squalene, which is naturally found in our skin’s sebum, meaning it’s 100% safe to use when dealing with folliculitis. It can help moisturize the skin and promote a healthy and strong skin barrier.

Glycerin also helps to draw moisture into the skin for added hydration. It’s also shown to help reduce inflammation and strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier.

Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser

Why We Love It

A lightweight, gentle cleanser formulated to remove light makeup, dirt and oil to leave the skin feeling clean, but not stripped or dry

Ingredients We Love

  • Glycerin

Notes: Fragrance-free, sulfate free, non-comedogenic

Vanicream is known for its products formulated for sensitive and reactive skin types, and this cleanser is no different! With only 12 ingredients, this is a great choice for a drugstore fungal acne safe cleanser.

Formulated without sulfates, this facial cleanser will leave your skin feeling soft and moisturized. Glycerin helps to draw moisture into the skin to prevent skin from drying out.

Bioderma Sensibio H2O

Why We Love It

A micellar water designed to remove makeup, dirt and oils while hydrating and soothing the skin.

Ingredients We Love

  • Cucumber Fruit Extract
  • Sugars

Notes: Fragrance-free, sulfate free, non-comedogenic

If you’re looking for a fungal acne safe makeup remover, this micellar water is the way to go. Although it doesn’t remove waterproof makeup super easily, it does work incredibly well at removing light makeup and prepping the skin for a cleanser.

It can be used as a sole cleanser, but it’s not ideal as micellar waters and cleansers are not the same (although they’re similar). A micellar water usually just isn’t enough for a proper cleansing, especially if you wear lots of makeup or sunscreen.

However, this micellar water is very gentle on the skin and is a great option as a first cleanse. It has Cucumber fruit extract which helps to soothe skin and strengthen the skin barrier. It also has a trio of sugars ( Mannitol, Xylitol and Rhamnose) which help to add hydration back into the skin.

Related Post: Micellar Water Vs Toner: What’s The Difference?

Good Skin Days A New Leaf Cream Cleanser

Why We Love It

A green cleansing gel with mugwort leaves to soothe skin, add hydration and gently exfoliate. This cleanser is gentle, yet effective and packed with hydrating and soothing ingredients.

Ingredients We Love

  • Green Tea
  • Mugword
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli

Notes: Fragrance-free, sulfate free, cruelty-free

Like a green juice for your skin, this cleanser is packed with lots of plant extracts to soothe and nourish the skin while gently cleansing for skin that’s left feeling hydrated, smooth and happy.

Green tea, spinach, celery and broccoli help to hydrate and soothe the skin while providinng antioxidant protection, which helps to repair and defend against environmental damage. Crushed mugwort leaves are added to provide gentle physical exfoliation and additional soothing properties.

Because of its antioxidant properties, this makes a great morning cleanser to provide some protection against what the day may bring for your skin.

Naturium Niacinamide Cleansing Gelée 3%

Why We Love It

A silky cleansing gelee designed to gently cleanse the skin, dissolve makeup, dirt and oil while nourishing the skin barrier.

Ingredients We Love

Notes: Fragrance-free, sulfate free, cruelty-free

This gel cleanser is perfect for those with combination, oily or acne-prone skin because of its high concentration of niacinamide which helps to balance oil production, minimize pores, strengthen the skin barrier and brighten dark spots.

Glycerin and hyaluronic acid help to add moisture back into the skin and prevent dehydration, dryness and barrier damage.

Camu Camu Fruit Extract provides antioxidant protection to help prevent damage from things like UV rays or pollution.

CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser

Why We Love It

A medicated acne cleanser that helps to treat and prevent blackheads and acne. A powerful blend of Benzoyl Peroxide, Niacinamide and Glycolic Acid help to keep skin clear.

Ingredients We Love

  • Benzoyl Peroxide
  • Ceramides
  • Glycolic Acid
  • Niacinamide
  • Cholesterol
  • Phytosphingosine

Notes: Fragrance-free

Acne doesn’t stand a chance against this medicated cleanser that kills acne causing bacteria, reduces inflammation and nourishes the skin. Benzoyl peroxide kills acne causing bacteria while glycolic acid gently exfoliates away dead skin cells and yeast buildup to avoid clogged pores and infections.

Niacinamide helps to brighten discolorations, minimize pores and balance oil production.

This cleanser is also formulated with CeraVe’s patented trio of barrier repairing ingredients: ceramides, cholesterol and phytosphingosine to help reduce dryness and irritation from the BP.

Although this cleanser has 4% Benzoyl Peroxide, which is on the lower side, it can still be drying, so if you experience any irritation, try using it every other day or 2-3 times a week.

Versed Wash It Out Gel Cleanser

Why We Love It

A perfectly formulated daily cleanser designed to remove makeup, dirt and oils from the skin while adding hydration, nutrients and barrier repairing ingredients for healthy skin

Ingredients We Love

  • Rosewater
  • Ceramides
  • Seaweed Extract
  • Cholesterol
  • Phytosphingosine

Notes: Fragrance-free, sulfate-free, cruelty-free, vegan

This gel cleanser has everything you need and more. It gently foams to wash away any impurities and leaves the skin feeling clean but not stripped.

Rosewater helps to add moisture back into the skin to prevent dehydration after cleansing, while ceramides promote a healthy skin barrier and lock in hydration for skin that’s plump and soft.

Cholesterol and phytosphingosine are essential components to a healthy skin barrier, so this cleanser is great for repairing a damaged barrier and promoting healthy skin. This cleanser is also pH balanced and ranges from about 5.7-6.0, which fits in perfectly within skin’s healthy pH range.

Which face wash is good for fungal acne?

While all of these facial cleansers are great choices, my top choices are the Versed Wash It Out Gel Cleanser for normal to oily skin types, CeraVe Acne Foaming Cleanser for acne-prone skin and the Etude House SoonJung Whip Cleanser for sensitive skin types.

These are all great picks, but you may need to try a few different ones to find the right face wash for your skin. You may also need to use 2 different cleansers to get clear. For example, you could use the Pyrithione Zinc Soap 3x a week and the Versed Wash It Out Gel Cleanser the rest of the days.

Can cleansers cause fungal acne?

As mentioned before, cleansers are not the direct cause of fungal acne. However, if you have folliculitis and your cleanser contains ingredients that can worsen Malassezia yeast growth (fatty acids, esters, oils or butters), it could result in worsening skin inflammation and flare-ups.

What products are good for fungal acne?

When dealing with fungal acne, it’s important to not only use anti-fungal ingredients, but you also need to make sure you are using the right skincare products to avoid feeding the yeast further.

Anti-fungal ingredients like Azelaic Acid, Sulfur, Pyrithione Zinc, Ketoconazole or Clotrimazole can help to kill the Malassezia yeast and treat fungal acne.

You should also make sure you are using skincare products that are fungal acne friendly. Ingredients like esters, oils, butters and fatty acids can all provide food for the yeast and help it continue to grow, despite using anti-fungal treatments.

It’s also important to use products with minimal ingredients and keep your skincare routine simple: a good cleanser, anti-fungal treatment and a good fungal acne safe moisturizer.

Once your skin clears up, you can add other products back in.

How do you treat fungal acne on the face?

To get rid of fungal acne, you need to treat the root cause of it: Malassezia yeast growth on the face. Using anti-fungal treatments like Azelaic Acid can help clear up your skin and get rid of any breakouts.

You should also make sure you are using a gentle skincare products while you are treating fungal acne. You may also need to make a few lifestyle changes.

For more information on how to treat fungal acne, check out my post on treatment options.

Is Micellar Water Good For Fungal Acne?

Micellar water cannot treat fungal acne, but it can be a good product to add into your skincare routine to ensure you’re removing all the makeup, dirt and oil from the skin. Although, I don’t recommend using micellar water by itself, it can be used as a water-free cleanser, which can be beneficial for those with very sensitive or reactive skin types.

Can I Use Dandruff Shampoo As A Face Wash For Fungal Acne?

Yes, anti-dandruff shampoos are commonly used on the face or body as a cleanser to treat fungal acne. They usually contain ingredients like Pyrithione Zinc or Ketoconazole which can help to kill the yeast on the skin. It’s best if you lather it up and leave it on the skin for 3-5 minutes for best results.

Related post: Can You Use Body Wash As A Face Wash?

Best Fungal Acne Safe Face Wash: Wrap Up

Following a fungal acne skincare routine is essential to clearing up the skin and one of the most important parts in any skincare routine is a good, gentle cleanser. Treating fungal acne can be tricky, but using an anti-fungal cleanser can help treat the skin condition at home.

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