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The Best Cruelty-Free Skincare for Acne-Prone Skin

by Sara Kelley

Mar 7, 2024

Woman applies cruelty-free mud mask on her face

Acne got you down? Whether you’re fifteen, fifty, or any age in between, acne breakouts can be a frustrating experience. Knowing the best and most effective products to zap your zits is the key to healthy, blemish-free skin. Check out these 7 cruelty-free & vegan acne skincare products that will have your face glowing in no time.

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Skincare Brands That Test on Animals

Unfortunately, many popular acne-fighting skincare brands are not cruelty-free. These brands either directly test their products on animals, test on animals through a third party, or sell their products where animal testing is required by law.

Brands such as CeraVe, Neutrogena, Cetaphil, Clean and Clear, La Roche-Posay, and Avene are all examples of acne skincare brands that test on animals.

That means it's best to shelve these brands and seek out alternative products that are kind to animals. Thankfully, there are plenty of amazing cruelty-free & vegan acne skincare readily available on the market.

The Best Vegan Ingredients for Acne-Prone Skin

Before we dive into the best acne skincare, let's talk ingredients. Knowledge is power, and understanding which vegan ingredients are best for acne-prone skin will help you make informed purchasing decisions.

Ingredients such as Salicylic Acid (also known as BHA, or Beta Hydroxy Acid) is by far one of the most popular ingredients used to combat acne. Vitamin C, Zinc, Willow Tree Bark, Tea Tree Oil, Niacinamide, Kaolin Clay, and Charcoal are other ingredients to look out for when it comes to zapping your zits.

We love that all of these ingredients are vegan, meaning they're naturally derived from plants and not from animals.

While all of these ingredients are vegan, not every product containing them will be. Fear not, as we've catered this list to be almost 100% vegan for the most ethical shopping experience!

The Inkey List

The Inkey List is an affordable cruelty-free & vegan skincare brand that prides itself on ingredient transparency. Famously known for its Acne Solutions line, this brand is sure to have a product (or five) that is right for you. Our go-to anti-acne product from The Inkey List is...

Start off your routine right with this affordable acne-fighting cleanser from The Inkey List. This lightly foaming cleanser contains Salicylic Acid, a staple anti-acne ingredient that deeply penetrates and clears clogged pores.

Added Zinc Compound helps to balance oil production within the skin, preventing future breakouts from surfacing. This cleanser is perfect for oily and combination skin types experiencing frequent breakouts.

Alba Botanica

This cruelty-free drugstore beauty brand is loved for its accessible price points. Alba Botanica is another affordable beauty brand with an entire line dedicated to combating acne. An anti-acne staple from Alba Botanica is...

Acne has never been exclusive to the face. Thankfully, for beauties who also experience body acne, Alba Botanica has got you covered. The Acnedote™ Scrub is a multi-tasking product that’s safe for both your face and your body.

Gently buff away pore-clogging debris with finely ground walnut shell. Willow Tree Bark and Salicylic Acid will help to combat acne, while soothing Chamomile will calm skin for a clean and refreshed look.

Dr. Dennis Gross

Science-backed and cruelty-free, Dr. Dennis Gross is a cruelty-free skincare brand that prides itself on proven formulas that actually work. Every Dr. Dennis Gross product is developed using years of expert knowledge and hands-on experience. Our must-have anti-acne treatment from Dr. Dennis Gross is...

Think Dr. Dennis Gross products are only for aging skin concerns? Think again, as this anti-aging treatment serum is also an acne-busting superhero. Infused with Vitamin C and Lactic Acid (AHA), this hydrating formula combats active breakouts while preventing new ones too.

Vitamin C is also known for its skin-brightening abilities. If you suffer from post-acne scarring (those pesky red spots that linger long after your acne), this serum will be your new best friend.

Paula's Choice Skincare

A well-established brand, Paula's Choice has always placed education at the forefront of its product offerings. This ethical beauty brand develops uncomplicated products that bring out the best in your skin. The most popular blemish-banishing product from Paula's Choice is...

What’s an acne-clearing skincare routine without the cult classic Paula’s Choice Liquid Exfoliant? This gentle chemical exfoliant utilizes the power of BHA to renew blemish-prone skin.

Not only that, but this product also balances uneven skin tone while preventing signs of aging. For best results, apply this no-rinse exfoliant on freshly cleansed skin. 


Banish is built on the foundation that acne can be a daunting experience, but with the right products, anyone can transform their skin. We love this small but mighty business because it was born from real-life experiences. Our favorite acne-fighting product from Banish is...

This is a sponsored listing.

The Pumpkin Enzyme Masque by Banish contains a powerful cocktail of ingredients designed to battle blemishes. Pumpkin Enzymes are a superfood ingredient that's packed with Vitamin C and exfoliation properties.

This mask also contains Glycolic Acid, a chemical exfoliant known to effectively decongest skin by removing pore-clogging buildup. By applying this mask once or twice per week, you can expect clearer, brighter, and smoother skin. Plus, it smells delicious.

Sunday Riley

Sunday Riley is a brand that formulates incredibly effective cruelty-free acne skincare products. This luxury beauty brand is also B Corp Certified, reinforcing its commitment to creating positive social and environmental change. Our go-to anti-acne product from Sunday Riley is...

Let’s bust this myth here and now: skincare oils are amazing for acne-prone skin! On the list of the most amazing anti-acne face oils is the U.F.O Ultra Clarifying Oil by Sunday Riley. This oil is designed to zap zits while moisturizing the skin to give you a healthy, youthful complexion.

Tea Tree Oil, Black Cumin Seed, and BHA will banish blemishes overnight. Meanwhile, Milk Thistle and Cucumber Seed Oil will deeply moisturize your skin, combating dryness typically associated with acne-fighting ingredients. While this product is the only non-vegan option on this list, it's guaranteed cruelty-free.

The Ordinary

The Ordinary is another affordable skincare brand that paves the way for ingredient transparency. We love this cruelty-free brand for its ability to help you build your routine with minimal legwork involved. The best zit-zapping product from The Ordinary is...

Can you tell we love a good vegan skincare mask? That’s exactly what you’ll get and more with this fan-favorite mask from The Ordinary. Kaolin Clay and Charcoal will help to pull out impurities from your skin while 2% Salicylic Acid effectively targets stubborn pimples. Apply one to two times per week for 10 minutes after cleansing for the most effective results.

Cruelty-Free & Vegan Acne Skincare

As you can see, it's easy to shop cruelty-free when equipped with the right information. At Cruelty-Free Kitty, our goal is to make the process of going cruelty-free as painless as possible, for both animals and you! Remember, when you're in a pinch or need the best cruelty-free acne products for your skin, you can shop the products and brands found here:

Which Brands Are Cruelty-Free?

Download our list of 600+ verified cruelty-free brands straight to your device. Bring it with you everywhere you go, and never worry about supporting animal testing again. Click here to download

+ Show Comments (2) - Hide Comments (2)
  • Cindy M says:

    Trader Joes Spa tea tree oil facial cleaning pads. Trader Joes Spa tea tree oil face wash.
    Trader Joes ultra hydrating gel moisturizer.
    All excellent products for Acne.

    • Suzana Rose says:

      I appreciate your suggestion! Trader Joe’s is on our cruelty-free list and we do recommend their products.

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