A single-blinded, randomized, controlled clinical trial evaluating the effect of face washing on acne vulgaris

Pediatr Dermatol. 2006 Sep-Oct;23(5):421-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1470.2006.00276.x.


Despite the common recommendation to wash the face twice daily with a mild cleanser, there is little published evidence to support the practice. Indeed, while the general public believes that cleaner skin will result in fewer blemishes, dermatologists often warn that overwashing and scrubbing can exacerbate the condition. To clarify the effect of frequency of face washing on acne vulgaris, we designed a single-blinded, randomized, controlled clinical trial to be conducted on males with mild to moderate acne vulgaris. Subjects washed their faces twice daily for 2 weeks with a standard mild cleanser before being randomized to one of three study arms, in which face washing was to be done once, twice, or four times a day for 6 weeks. At the end of the study no statistically significant differences were noted between groups. However, significant improvements in both open comedones and total noninflammatory lesions were observed in the group washing twice a day. Worsening of acne condition was observed in the study group washing once a day, with significant increases in erythema, papules, and total inflammatory lesions. We concluded that slight support exists, both in terms of efficacy and convenience, for the recommendation to wash the face twice daily with a mild cleanser. However, excessive face washing may not be as culpable as previously thought.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / pathology
  • Acne Vulgaris / therapy*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Baths / methods*
  • Detergents / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Quality of Life
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Skin Care / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Detergents