One skincare truth you can count on? Healthy skin begins with a great facial cleanser. After all, there's a reason that dermatologists recommend everyone's skincare routine begins with this essential product: It does an amazing job removing dirt, sweat, grime, and even makeup after (and before!) a long day.
But with so many different skin types and so many different formulas, it can be difficult to find your perfect match. To make things easier, NYC-based dermatologist Doris Day has a few recommendations about the good-for-you, skin-loving cleanser ingredients you can look for. “For oily skin, I like glycolic acid. For acne, I like salicylic acid. For rosacea, I like colloidal oatmeal. And for dry skin, I like micellar water,” she says.
When selecting the right cleansing texture (we’re talking gel, oil, foaming, and more), Day says, “For those with thicker skin and more prominent pores, I like foaming face washes, whereas for those with dry or more sensitive skin, I prefer creamy or milky cleansers that often can be gently wiped off without water.”
With those preliminary tips in mind, we've compiled this list of our picks for the best face wash for every skin type. Whether you have dry, combination, or oily skin, or just want to target specific skin concerns like fine lines or blackheads, there's a skin cleanser for you below. Clearer skin days ahead!
About the Expert:
This 3-in-1 cleansing gel thoroughly washes your face, removes makeup, and also works as a clarifying mask for those times when your skin needs a little extra love. The gel formula is packed with antioxidant-rich berry extract and exfoliating acids to gently remove dead skin cells and keep your complexion soft, healthy, and radiant. Added bonus: We love how this bouncy gel texture feels on our skin.
"Smells AMAZING and makes my face feel so fresh and clean after use," says Ipster Sfaucett86.
This lavish cleansing balm offers a cleansing experience so luxe you might think you teleported to a five-star spa. The balm-to-oil formula feels super nourishing on your skin and includes a summery essential oil blend that’s super invigorating with its light, clean scent. It's also packed with natural extracts, oils, and enzymes that hydrate and cleanse your skin while also removing all traces of makeup.
"I cannot stop raving about this product," says Ipster dmsilva484. "It literally makes my makeup melt away in just seconds! It smells like lime sherbet and it doesn’t sting your eyes."
While this oil cleanser thoroughly breaks down makeup (yes, even that waterproof mascara you love to wear but hate taking off) it also wipes away daily impurities and infuses your skin with vitamin C, vitamin E, AHAs, BHAs, and turmeric. All in all, it washes the day away and helps to reveal a brighter, smoother complexion.
"I usually prefer cleansing oils that are a bit thinner, but this one did an amazing job getting my face clean," says Ipster abandrews1977. "Left my skin really soft too."
For sensitive skin types, cleansers with essential oils can sometimes cause irritation. If that's the case for you, use this gentle, hypoallergenic formula to reap the benefits of a cleansing balm without worrying about any added fragrance. This cleanser begins as a balm when you apply it to dry skin, then transforms into an oil as you massage. Finally, it shifts shape again into a milk when it comes into contact with warm water.
"This stuff is fabulous. I’ve been using it since I got the product in late January and I just love it," says one Ipster. "Goes on light, makes my skin feel hydrated, and takes off the stickiest mascaras with ease."
If you tend to struggle with breakouts, turn to this clarifying cleanser that’s formulated with 1.5% salicylic acid. The salicylic acid here is also specially formulated to release slowly throughout the day to continue fighting blemishes even after you've cleansed. Genius.
"Really like this cleanser," says one Ipster. "It did not leave my face feeling dried out. It left me feeling clean and refreshed."
This oil-to-milk formula combines a unique complex of nourishing natural oils with CBD, an ingredient that's being used more and more in skincare formulas for its soothing properties. It's been known to help calm skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and even acne.
"This made my skin feel nourished and clean! It didn't leave it dry or tight, and was great in my sensitive skin," says Ipster t4ylorleigh.
On those sleepy mornings when you need a quick energy boost, lather on this gentle cleanser that includes grapefruit extract, coconut-based surfactants, and hydrating glycerin. These ingredients work together to thoroughly cleanse your skin without stripping any essential moisture—and it has a deliciously citrus scent that wakes you up.
"This cleanser was so refreshing and made my face so smooth to the touch," says rebecka80. "Rinsed clean and didn’t leave any residue."
This foaming cleanser is another top-notch choice for anyone with acne-prone skin. If you want to be gentle with your skin but still combat your breakouts, you’ll want to give this one a try. The formula harvests the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits of tea tree oil to calm and actively fight all types of blemishes, and it also includes chamomile extra to further soothe redness and irritation.
"I absolutely LOVE this cleanser," says Ipster wendy4660. "I have rosacea and this totally calms the redness. Rinses off easily and leaves my skin silky."
This cleanser pivots away from the standard oil-to-milk texture and instead magically shifts from a luxurious oil to a deep cleansing foam. The formula uses macadamia ternifolia seed oil to gently hydrate and acai fruit oil to soothe and provide anti-aging benefits.
"First time using an oil cleanser to remove makeup. Worked like a charm," one Ipster writes. "My makeup basically melted off. Followed up with my regular cleanser to see if there was any residue and there wasn't! Impressive."
When you're back to living that carry-on life, keep this portable cleansing stick in your TSA-approved beauty bag. This spill-proof cleanser effectively washes away makeup, dirt, and excess oil while also gently exfoliating your skin with non-abrasive, plant-based exfoliants. Who knew cleansing could be this convenient?
"So easy to use and my skin feels so soft after using," says Ipster juju5083. "Definitely gets rid of dead skin!"
Here's another A+ cleanser that hits stubborn breakouts from all fronts. This foaming cleanser combines the powerhouse acne-fighting ingredients salicylic acid, tea tree oil, and centella asiatica extract to eliminate bacteria, calm irritation, and regulate oil production.
"I use this whenever my acne starts getting worse and it helps to calm it down," says Ipster oliviakeetch13.
This nourishing formula packs in a host of A-list skincare ingredients like collagen, hyaluronic acid, colloidal oatmeal, and a ceramide complex to deeply hydrate, plump, and protect your skin. Plus, since it’s soap-free, this cleanser is a great daily go-to for all skin types–even those with sensitive skin.
"I can tell how luxe this is from the first use," says Ipster taralowcbd. "It feels amazing, cleanses my skin immaculately, and leaves it silky smooth and feeling light."
If you have super sensitive skin and you're looking for the gentlest of gentle cleansers, try out this low-pH formula that won't disrupt your skin's delicate moisture balance. Even better, this formula is also cruelty-free and paraben-free.
"Super mild but nice. Clean and fresh. Left me smooth," says Ipster agabr2011.
This specialized skincare brand is designed with pollution-exposed city dwellers in mind. In this formula, you'll find a range of antioxidants as well as a special Longevity Complex™ that works to counteract the aging effects and of environmental pollution.
"I have had so much build-up on my skin from a summer full of sunscreen and sweat," says paigelonergan22. "This cleanser is the perfect way to clean out my pores and leave my skin feeling fresh and hydrated!"
A makeup remover and cleanser in one, this cleanser is so gentle that you can even use it on your eyelids to remove eye makeup. The sulfate-free formula includes a blend of soy milk, soy proteins, whole oats, and white tea that deeply soothes and moisturizes your skin with every wash.
One Ipster gives this cleanser the ultimate seal of approval. She says, "I will probably use this for the rest of my life. It's the best cleanser I have ever used."
Get your vitamins—in skincare form. This gel cleanser is formulated with vitamins A, C, and E, and will help remove pollution and other impurities from your skin while refreshing and restoring moisture. Great for all normal, dry, oily, and combination skin types, this face wash is not only an energizing way to get your skincare routine started, but great for preventing and treating breakouts, too.
"It really balanced my skin and brightened it without the harshness of stripping my skin dry," says Ipster gab_acgo67. "My acne went down and it really left me feeling clean and bright in the morning!"
Oil-free, ultra-gentle, and packed with soothing ingredients like aloe, colloidal oatmeal, and amino acids, this is one face wash that you'll reach for again and again. It's light enough for sensitive skin, moisturizing enough for dry skin, and balancing enough for combination and oily skin—but it can still lift away skin-clogging grime for all skin types. Free from parabens, alcohol, and artificial fragrances, this foaming cleanser is also soy- and gluten-free, proving that less really can be more.
"I have sensitive combination skin and this works great as my cleanser," writes Ipster valentinacruz321.
If you’re looking for a paraben-free cleanser that will leave your skin feeling hydrated, bright, and toned, then this multitasking cleanser is for you. Made with a blend of fruit stem cells and vitamin C, it's a hydrating, revitalizing face wash that's especially great for those concerned with fine lines. Vegetable glycerin acts as a moisturizing agent, while skin-soothing algae keeps your skin soft, supple, and super clean.
"This cleanser was nice. It kept my skin clear and wasn't overly drying," one Ipster writes.
A powerful-yet-gentle gel cleanser, this face wash is brimming with nutrients from kale, spinach, and green tea. Use it daily as your go-to makeup remover, blackhead-clearer, and skin-balancing moisturizer in one. While it's great for a variety of skin types, we especially love it for combination skin types or acne-prone skin for a soothing, lightweight clean (that's vegan and recyclable, too).
"Fresh and filled with nutrients, this cleanser leaves my skin feeling clean and nourished," an Ipster write. "Hands down a favorite!" We couldn’t have said it better.
This cream cleanser is like a massage in a bottle. Powerful ingredient pumpkin feeds your skin hydrating nutrients like vitamins A and C, while finely ground walnuts exfoliate away dead skin and impurities. Great for normal and dry skin types, lather this face cleanser onto your skin as a daily exfoliant to leave your skin feeling silky smooth.
"This is gentle enough for every day and non-drying," says Ipster clbetter. "It’s not harsh yet removes dead, dry skin without leaving skin raw as some exfoliant do."
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