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The Best Facial Cleansers
Everyone needs a good facial cleanser to ensure their facial hygiene is up to par at all times.
You might need a more specific cleanser if you wear a lot of makeup, work in a greasy environment, have sensitive skin, or live in a smoggy city.
How can you find your ideal cleanser? That's where we come in.
We've reviewed plenty of the best facial cleansers for you, whatever your scenario may be.
Best for Acne & Pimples
Formulated with a gentle cleansing base to effectively cleanse without over drying. Leaves skin visibly purified & improves skin tone & texture over time.
Facial Cleanser vs. Face Wash?
Want to know the difference between a facial cleanser and face wash?
The chart below compares the two based upon what they should be used for.
Daily use is okay with a cleanser
Best for oily skin
Better for makeup removal
Harsher, but with more cleaning power
Foaming power for deeper clean
Formulated with fewer irritants
Usually not for daily use
Usually not exfoliating
Deeper clean in pores
Better for dry skin
Can use daily if necessary
Not designed for makeup removal
What are the Benefits of Using a Facial Cleanser?
Using a facial cleanser is beneficial for almost everyone, especially individuals prone to dry skin or are exposed to skin irritants every day.
There are three main benefits to using facial cleansers as a part of your skincare routine: improved look and feel of skin, removal of dirt and irritants from face and pores, and blemish management.
(Use our quick navigator below to find the best facial cleanser that best suites your needs)
SkinCeuticals Soothing Cleanser
Calming, soap free cleansing foam with a high-concentration blend of botanical extracts.
SkinCeuticals Soothing Cleanser is an ideal cleanser for individuals of all skin types, but especially those with sensitive skin.
It is paraben, sulfite, and soap-free, and is an excellent option for post-procedure skin.
First Aid Beauty Cleanser
A fragrance-free, gentle cleanser that effectively removes makeup, dirt and grime, leaving skin soft and supple.
First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser is fragrance-free and pH-balanced, which is perfect for sensitive skin.
It guards against environmental aggressors that could harm your face or lead to hot spots. It is allergy tested and free of harmful ingredients.
Glossier Milky Jelly
A gentle-yet-effective creamy gel face wash for all skin types.
Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser is a pH-balanced gel cleanser that you can use on either dry or wet skin.
It removes makeup well and refreshes your face, but the best part is that it's safe for your eyes.
Tatcha The Deep Cleanse
A daily gel cleanser with natural fruit exfoliant that deeply but gently lifts impurities and unclogs pores.
The Deep Cleanse is a daily-use gel cleanser that contains a natural fruit exfoliant to lift out dirt and impurities from your skin.
This cleanser is excellent for uneven and oily skin because of the Japanese Leopard Lily and Wild Rose ingredients.
Fresh Soy Face Cleanser
A best-selling 3-in-1 face wash that gently melts away makeup and mascara (without the sting!), removes impurities & tones for clean, balanced skin.
Fresh Soy Face Cleanser is a 3-in-1 face wash that is amazing at removing makeup, even mascara.
It tones your face and creates balance for all skin types.
Cetaphil Gentile Skin Cleanser
A mild, soap-free face and body cleanser that hydrates and soothes skin as it cleans.
Cetaphil's Gentle Skin Cleanser is one of the best facial cleansers that contains no soap or fragrance.
It's a basic product, but works well for dry and sensitive skin, especially for a drugstore price.
Drunk Elephant No. 9 Jelly Cleanser
An innovative jelly cleanser that removes all traces of makeup, excess oil, pollution and any other grime from the day.
Beste No. 9 is a great gel cleanser for removing irritants without stripping the face of too many natural oils.
It contains no fragrances or essential oils and no silicones.
Products from The Drunk Elephant brand are always cruelty-free.
Joanna Vargas Vitamin C Face Wash
A non-drying face wash that gently cleanses and purifies skin for a smooth and luminous complexion.
The Joanna Vargas Face Wash contains vitamin C to help brighten dull skin.
The product is gentle and non-drying, making it a solid choice for individuals with dry skin.
It contains exfoliants to deep clean as well.
iS Clinical Cleansing Complex
This clear, lightweight cleansing gel is powerful, yet gentle enough for hypersensitive skin.
iS Clinical Cleansing Complex is ideal for dry and ultra-sensitive skin types because it cleans and shrinks pores without stripping necessary, natural oils from the face.
You can use it as a step in the process of a facial or use it for daily cleansing.
La Roche-Posay Facial Cleanser
This daily facial cleanser for normal to dry skin gently removes face and eye makeup, dirt, and impurities.
La Roche-Posay hydrating facial cleanser works well to retain moisture in your skin by working with your skin's natural microbiome through prebiotics.
It removes dirt and impurities while focusing on rehydrating your skin for a natural, healthy glow for those with normal to dry skin.
La Mer The Cleansing Oil
This cleansing suspension transforms into a detoxifying emulsion of precious marine oils and pearl powders.
You can use La Mer The Cleansing Oil on dry skin to remove dirt and makeup or with water for a deep, cleansing wash.
It removes oils and impurities easily while keeping dry skin hydrated. This product is on the pricey side compared to others we've reviewed.
Philosophy Purity Made Simple
Fuel your immunity daily with essential greens without chopping, or messy clean-up.
Philosophy's Purity Made Simple is a 3-in-1 cleanser that can help remove your makeup while cleansing your skin and leaving behind natural oils.
It smells great because of the blend of 12 essential oils inside, but it is synthetic fragrance-free.
Banila Clean It Zero Balm
Designed with all skin types in mind, this skin-loving formula, completely cleanses skin and hydrates in one simple step.
The Banila Clean It Zero Balm hydrates skin as it cleanses impurities and removes stubborn makeup.
It is an excellent part of a double cleansing routine, which means you shouldn't expect perfection using only the balm, but it does its job of hydrating and removing grime very well.
Renee Rouleau Cleanser
A unique gel-to-milk formula for dry, damaged and sensitive skin types to give the most gentle cleansing experience.
The Renee Rouleau Moisture Protecting cleanser is an excellent option for dry and sensitive skin.
It's also good for aging skin since it keeps necessary moisture barriers intact without skimping on makeup and dirt removal.
You can even use this as a gentle shave gel, which is a nice additional feature.
Vichy Normaderm Gel Cleanser
Deep cleansing gel for oily & acne-prone skin. Purifies skin and unclogs pores without dryness or irritation.
Oily skin and acne are no match for Vichy Normaderm Gel Cleanser.
This product deeply cleanses pores without creating dry spots or irritating sensitive skin.
It contains a gentle exfoliant to encourage the removal of dirt and grime from deep and clogged pores.
Dermalogica Cleansing Gel
Refreshing lather thoroughly removes impurities, without disturbing the skin’s natural moisture balance.
Demalogica's Special Cleansing Gel removes impurities without removing too much hydration from your face or leaving you feeling tight.
It's a soap-free foaming cleanser, which is good for sensitive skin. It is a lightweight and mild formula that works well for everyday use.
Mario Badescu Cleansing Gel
Lightweight and refreshing gel formula. Removes excess oil and surface impurities.
Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel face wash is an excellent formula for all skin types.
It keeps your face hydrated while eliminating the impurities that can cause breakouts and irritation.
This is a daily cleanser that is so gentle you can use it twice a day.
Erno Laszlo Pore Refining Cleanse
A refreshing morning cleanse helps cleanse overnight impurities from pores while smoothing away buildup on the surface.
In this Erno Laszlo cleanser, Black Charcoal helps draw out dirt and impurities in the skin that may have settled in overnight.
This product also helps to balance and smooth skin with a fruit extract blend, and it nourishes dry skin with kale proteins. It's an excellent morning-only cleanser.
Dermadoctor Ain't Misbehavin
A medicated aha/bha acne cleanser is formulated to clear and prevent blemishes and enhance your daily acne control regimen.
Acne is no joke, but Ain't Misbehavin will help take down the oil and shine to leave a smooth and refreshed surface free of blemishes.
This product is excellent for normal to oily skin, it is soap-free, and it's pH-balanced to help keep skin happy during daily use.
Eve Lom Cleanser
A signature blend of four aromatic plant oils, the result is incredibly glowing, radiant skin with a smoother, more refined texture.
Eve Lom Balm Cleanser removes long-wear and waterproof makeup like a champ.
It deep cleanses but doesn't dry out skin, which makes it ideal for multiple skin types.
This formula can help to drain toxins and exfoliate when used with a muslin cloth, as the brand recommends.
Ingredients to Watch Out For
Although beauty industry ingredient standards have improved over recent years, there are plenty of potentially harmful ingredients in skincare products that you should watch out for when you buy.
Below, you’ll find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding facial cleanser and their benefits, safety, and ingredients.
Facial cleansers help to clean out pores while maintaining skin's natural oils and infusing skin with vitamins and minerals.
A good facial cleanser isn't easy to define because what makes a cleanser good for one person might make it a poor choice for another.
You should choose one that focuses on your skin type. You should also use cleansers that work for sensitive skin because they are less likely to contain harsh or toxic ingredients.
A cleanser is not the same as a face wash. Facial washes are often soap-based and are harsher on the skin than your average cleanser.
Washes focus on removing dirt and debris, while cleansers focus on balancing skin while cleaning.
Typically dermatologists recommend cleansing at least once daily. Some cleansers are too harsh to use every day, so make sure you have one that will maintain your skin's balance with daily use.
Which Facial Cleanser Should I Buy?
Buying the right facial cleanser can be a struggle, so let's talk about choosing the right one for your skin.
First, it's essential to understand your skin type.
Do you have dry skin, or is it oily?
Are you acne-prone, or do you generally have clear skin?
All of these details will make a significant difference in how cleansers work for you.
Seasonal changes to your skin, your age, and how much makeup you wear each day will make a difference in which cleanser works best.
Some people need two or three different cleansers as the seasons' change, while others can use the same one every day for years without trouble.
For dry and sensitive skin, you'll want a cleanser that is hypoallergenic, calming, and hydrating.
For oily skin, you'll need a foaming or gel cleansers that are oil-free, and for combination skin, you may need to try a few products before you find one that balances all your skin's needs.
Using a facial cleanser helps to balance your skin, clean out your pores, and reduce your risk of forming acne or blemishes.
Finding the right cleanser for you and understanding what to look out for is a challenge, but ultimately worth it for beautiful, radiant skin.
Check out some of the items we've highlighted in our reviews, and we are sure you'll find an excellent facial cleanser for your skin type and needs.
Our top pick: SkinCeuticals Soothing Cleanser
Calming, soap free cleansing foam with a high-concentration blend of botanical extracts.