Best Drugstore Skincare Products for Acne-Prone Sensitive Skin

Image of Rachel Sheldon
Rachel Sheldon

It's a hard life being a skincare junkie with acne-prone, sensitive skin.

It's even harder on a budget.

There are so many beautiful products out there that I drool over, but are simply out of my price range right now. (I'll be posting a Skincare Wishlist soon so lucky you, you can drool over them too.)

Buying skincare at the drugstore can be extremely hit or miss if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin. I've had some of my worst skincare fails with drugstore products, but I've also had some major successes.

The key is reading a ton of reviews, checking ingredients, and trial and error. Luckily for my fellow acne-prone, sensitive skin gals, I did all of that for you!

Here is a roundup of my top skincare products at the drugstore.

1. CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser

This cleanser has been a staple of my beauty cabinet since high school. It was part of the routine that helped clear up my skin in the first place (I'll be making a full post about my acne story soon, so look out for that!).

It's super gentle, non-irritating, and doesn't dry out the skin at all or leave a film. I wouldn't rely on it to remove all my makeup, but it's a great basic cleanser if you have sensitive, acne-prone, or dry skin.

2. Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Cleanser

In the same vein as the CeraVe cleanser is the Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Cleanser. I started using this about a year ago when I realized my face was getting too used to the CeraVe cleanser, and I love it just as much. Just like the bottle says, it's ultra gentle and non-irritating, and I haven't found that it dries out my skin or leaves a film. Once I finish my current bottle of CeraVe, I'll be switching back to this one

3. La Roche Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Sunscreen

This is a little pricey for a drugstore item, but I've never been able to find a sunscreen that doesn't give me horrible cystic acne before this. Granted, I still get some whiteheads after wearing this for a few days in a row, but that's how my skin reacts to sunscreen unfortunately. The texture is super thin and lightweight, and it doesn't take a lot of effort to blend into the skin. You can also put makeup over this sunscreen and it won't ball up like with other sunscreens I've used. It's hard to find a good mineral sunscreen at the drugstore, so this has been my go-to for the past two summers.

4. Bioderma Micellar Water

Not technically a drugstore product in the U.S., but you can get it on Amazon for under $10 so I'm counting it as drugstore. Micellar water changed the game for me in terms of eye makeup removal. I don't usually use it to remove my entire face of makeup (though you definitely can), but it's a fantastic, gentle way to remove eye makeup if you have sensitive eyes like me. I'm still baffled that a product that looks and feels like water can remove makeup so well, but I'm grateful for it.

5. Olay ProX Advanced Cleansing System with Facial Brush

I can partially credit this cleansing brush with clearing my horrible acne in high school. It's gentler than the Clarisonic sensitive skin brush, so better suited for hyper-sensitive skin, and it's less expensive - around $30. As long as you regularly replace the brush heads, it's hygienic too.

Before purchasing my Foreo Luna dupe, I used this cleansing brush every night with my CeraVe cleanser for years. It helps remove makeup and dirt from the skin better than just using your hands, and it exfoliates at the same time. I saw a noticeable difference in my skin's texture when I didn't use this brush for even a couple days.


6. Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash

If you suffer from any kind of body acne, this body wash is a lifesaver. When I was experiencing breakouts on my chest and back, this product cleared them up in the span of a week. It has salicylic acid to fight acne, it's not too harsh on the skin, and it's super cheap. This is also a good product if you work out and tend to get breakouts or bumps on your legs from wearing sweaty leggings for too long.

UPDATE 2021:

I've removed a few products from this list that I no longer stand by. Here are a few new-to-me drugstore products that I have been loving over the past year:

  1. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream (the unscented version)
  2. La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 (for extremely dry skin)
  3. CeraVe Moisturizing Cream (in the tub - the best moisturizer EVER)

For a more up-to-date look at my favorite skincare products, check out this blog post.


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