The 9 Best Facial Cleansers for All Skin Types

Our favorite is the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser for its moisturizing ingredients, gentle formula, and affordable price.

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Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm

A good facial cleanser removes the makeup, dirt, and oil that accumulates throughout the day, without stripping the skin or causing breakouts. To determine the best facial cleansers, we considered different skin concerns and ingredients: For drier skin types we focused on ingredients like hyaluronic acid and squalane, which lock in moisture, and for oily and acne-prone skin types, we focused on cleansers with ingredients that nourish the skin without stripping it of its natural oils. We also spoke with Marisa Garshick, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, to answer a few questions about the best face washing practices.

Read on for all of our favorite facial cleaners, as well as the answers to a few common questions about face washing.

Best Overall Facial Cleanser

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Facial Cleanser

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Facial Cleanser


Who it's for: Anyone looking for an affordable, gentle cleanser that's suitable for sensitive skin and removes makeup.

Who it isn't for: People with very oily skin.

This gentle yet powerful cleanser is a great choice for anyone with normal to dry, sensitive skin. Not only does it effectively remove makeup, but it helps the skin retain moisture and remove impurities. Key ingredients include ceramide-3, which supports the skin's natural barrier; glycerin, which hydrates the skin; and niacinamide, which soothes the skin and helps with hyperpigmentation. Additionally, La Roche-Posay products contain thermal water that's rich in antioxidants like ​​selenium.

The cream formula feels much more luxurious and moisturizing than foaming cleansers, and a little definitely goes a long way. With the lower price point and larger bottle size, this is a cleanser that'll last for quite awhile. It's made with normal/combination and dry skin in mind, but if you're more oily there's a foaming version of this cleanser that's designed to purify skin without totally drying it out.

Skin Types: Normal, dry, combination, sensitive | Formulation: Cream | Size: 6.76 or 13.5 ounces

Best Drugstore Facial Cleaner

Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser

Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser


Who it's for: Those looking for a very gentle daily cleanser at a budget price.

Who it isn't for: Those looking for a powerhouse makeup remover.

One reason why the Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser is such a great choice is that it's free of pretty much any irritation-causing ingredients. It's so gentle that it's often recommended for people who have severe eczema or psoriasis, and it has received the Seal of Acceptance from the National Eczema Association. On top of that, it's also eyelid- and lip-safe, and is gluten-free.

Its key ingredients are glycerin and coco glucoside—glycerin is a humectant, which means it holds in moisture and protects the skin barrier; coco-glucoside loosens dirt and oil from the skin to help it wash away more easily. The formula is incredibly gentle and can be used more than once per day, and it's a great makeup remover since it doesn't irritate the eyes and lathers into a foam, which is a great way to gently slough away makeup and grime.

Skin Types: Dry, sensitive | Formulation: Foaming | Size: 8 ounces

Best Splurge Facial Cleaner

Augustinus Bader The Cream Cleansing Gel

Augustinus Bader Cream Cleansing Gel


Who it's for: Those who want to splurge on a product that helps with dullness and hyperpigmentation.

Who it isn't for: Those who don't want to spend a lot on a cleanser.

When a face wash costs this much, it better come with something special–and for Augustinus Bader's The Cream Cleansing Gel, it's their patented ingredient, TFC8. According to the brand, this formula is composed of amino acids, high-grade vitamins, and synthesized versions of molecules that the skin produces naturally. All together, these ingredients support the skin's cell renewal, resulting in brighter, smoother skin.

In addition to this proprietary ingredient, The Cream Cleansing Gel contains rose flower water, which acts as a toner. This is great for reducing discoloration and redness, all while soothing any inflammation or skin irritation. The other ingredient that makes this a skin-restoring powerhouse is aloe leaf juice, which is packed with antioxidants and acts as an emollient, helping the skin trap in moisture. The gel formula doesn't foam and instead has a creamy consistency that is entirely non-comedogenic, with an incredibly lightweight and refreshing feel.

Skin Types: Normal, dry, combination, and oily | Formulation: Gel | Size: 3.38 ounces

Best Natural Cleanser

Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser

Who it's for: People who want a plant-based cleanser that is great for dullness.

Who it isn't for: Those who are sensitive to scents.

Just because a cleanser is natural doesn't mean that it isn't effective. This one in particular is packed with powerhouse ingredients that will leave your skin feeling moisturized and soothed. It's chock full of antioxidants thanks to ingredients like strawberry seed oil, which has vitamins A, B, C, and E. These antioxidants will help the skin heal from any acne-related blemishes, as well as redness and inflammation. The formula also contains hydrolyzed wheat proteins, which act as a natural humectant that holds in moisture.

Gentle exfoliating properties come from tomato extract, which also acts as a gentle astringent on the skin. The best part about this cleanser is that it can also be worn as a mask—simply apply it to the skin in a thick layer and let it sit for up to five minutes. This will allow the ingredients time to sink in, leaving your skin feeling smoother and softer. This is also a great practice for people who are hoping to reduce the appearance of large pores.

Skin Types: Normal, dry, combination, and oily | Formulation: Gel | Size: 4.2 or 10.1 ounces

Best Gentle Facial Cleanser

Fresh Soy pH-Balanced Hydrating Face Wash

Fresh Soy Face Cleanser


Who it's for: People who want a non-stripping face wash that gently removes all makeup, including eye makeup.

Who it isn't for: Those with very oily skin.

If you're looking for something gentle, the Fresh Soy Face Cleanser definitely won't leave your skin feeling tight and stripped of its natural oils; instead, you'll walk away with softer skin that feels plump and clean. Suitable for all skin types, it's a particularly great option for anyone dealing with breakouts, since it has calming and redness-reducing ingredients like cucumber extract and aloe vera.

The formula also includes soy proteins, which helps to improve the skin's elasticity. This is a particularly helpful quality for those with cystic acne, as it will help the skin bounce back much more quickly from scarring. The soy proteins also remove dirt and excess oil, all while giving the pores a deep clean. This is a great face wash if you are hoping to use it to remove eye makeup because it's so gentle that it won't cause any irritation if it gets in your eyes. It's also good for those using acne treatments or prescription medications that can cause dryness or flaking, as the nourishing ingredients will continue to hydrate your skin even after it has been rinsed away.

Skin Types: All, but best for dry, combo, and normal | Formulation: Gel | Size: 5, 8.4, or 13.5 ounces

Best Facial Cleanser for Dry Skin

First Aid Beauty 2-in-1 Cleansing Oil + Makeup Remover

First Aid Beauty 2-in-1 Cleansing Oil + Makeup Remover

Who it's for: People who want to minimize their skincare routine.

Who it isn't for: People who don't wear makeup.

This 2-in-1 cleansing oil is a great option for dry skin, as it truly sloughs away all of the makeup and residue without leaving the skin feeling tight. This is thanks to ingredients like glycerin, which acts as a humectant that holds in water, and calendula, which is an ingredient that helps soothe the skin by calming redness and easing swelling or inflammation. It's also a soothing ingredient for people with skin concerns like eczema. It also contains colloidal oatmeal, which is a great ingredient for skin that is super dry, chapped, or itchy, as it will soothe and relieve any side effects of swelling or general distress.

Since it's oil-based, it's also a great option for removing eye makeup–even tough-to-remove waterproof formulas. It lathers into a foam, which helps to pull dirt and grime away from the skin, and comes in a good, long-lasting size.

Skin Types: Dry, combo, normal | Formulation: Cream | Size: 5 ounces

Best Facial Cleanser for Oily Skin

Paula's Choice CLEAR Pore Normalizing Cleanser

Paula's Choice CLEAR Pore Normalizing Cleanser


Who it's for: People who want a cleanser that will remove oil without drying out the skin.

Who it isn't for: People who don't need salicylic acid in their daily routine.

While this face wash is on the gentler side, it still contains salicylic acid, which is commonly known as an acne-fighting powerhouse. Salicylic acid acts as an antibacterial agent, which is great because it removes oil and debris in your pores that could lead to future breakouts. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that make it a good pick for people who are also struggling with the occasional breakout or even deeper blemishes caused by cystic acne.

This formula also contains arginine, which is an amino acid that has even been found to increase collagen production. This will help to reduce the signs of fine lines and wrinkles and it will help to restore moisture to the skin's barrier. Finally, this face wash contains vitamin B55, which is more commonly known as panthenol. This is another anti-inflammatory ingredient, and it has the added benefit of providing the skin with hydration and improved elasticity. This formula has no smell and it's free of parabens and dyes.

Skin Types: Oily, combo, normal | Formulation: Gel | Size: 6 ounces

Best Facial Cleanser for Acne

CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser

CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser


Who it's for: People looking for something that's gentle yet exfoliating.

Who it isn't for: People who are sensitive to chemical exfoliants.

This cleanser is packed with ingredients that are known as chemical exfoliants, but it's important to note that they are balanced out with moisture-enhancing and anti-inflammatory ingredients. The salicylic acid will work to pull away dead skin cells along with any other dirt and grime that may have accumulated on your skin, making it a great option for those who are sensitive to scrubs or facial cleansing brushes.

The formula also contains hyaluronic acid and three essential ceramides. These ingredients work to add in moisture and reduce the signs of fine lines and wrinkles. The ceramides are lipids that are naturally produced by the skin that work to make up the skin's barrier. They're great at holding in fluid and moisture, which allows them to not only nourish the skin, but also act as a protectant from outside irritants. The cleanser does lather into a foam, which helps to pull away makeup and grime, and it will leave your skin feeling refreshed and smoothed.

Skin Types: Normal, acne-prone | Formulation: Foaming gel | Size: 8 or 16 ounces

Best Cleansing Balm

Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm


Who it's for: Those whose primary concern is removing makeup and those who double-cleanse.

Who it isn't for: People who don't wear makeup.

Not only does this cleansing balm have a satisfying texture, but it also leaves your skin feeling amazing. It's different from your typical cleanser—first off, it comes in a little pot with a tiny spoon to scoop it out with. As you massage it into your skin you will visibly see any makeup melt away, even heavy makeup. Use it as a first step in your double-cleanse routine, or use it on its own if you're wearing no or light makeup.

It's packed with seaberry, persimmon extract, and olive oil, all of which work to moisturize and nourish the skin. The standout ingredient is seaberry (or sea buckthorn) oil, which is full of antioxidants and fatty acids. It's believed to help improve any discoloration or texture problems, as well as hold in moisture, making it a soothing choice for those who are prone to irritation. It's also completely free of ingredients like parabens, polyethylene, mineral oil, and alcohol (which can be super drying).

Skin Types: All | Formulation: Balm | Size: 3.17 ounces

Final Verdict

The La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser is our top choice thanks to its gentle formula, moisturizing properties, and budget-friendly price. It's formulated to support the skin's natural barrier, lock in moisture, and infuse the skin with powerful antioxidants.

How to Shop for Facial Cleansers Like a Pro


There are cream, gel, and oil-based balm cleansers, with some options lather into a foam. Typically, foam cleansers are a bit more stripping, so this might be something to avoid if you are prone to skin irritations—though they are great at removing dirt and makeup. Gel and oil-based cleansers are a bit more gentle, and if you're doing a double-cleanse you can even use a gel-based cleanser after you've used an oil cleanser to take your makeup off.


Consider ingredients based on your skin concerns. If you have dry skin, focus on moisture-rich ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and squalane. For oily or acne-prone skin, consider lactic and salicylic acids, which are gentle exfoliants, as well as colloidal oatmeal, which can soothe irritation. If you're looking for a makeup remover, you may want to opt for an oil-based balm cleanser, as these are great at breaking up makeup particles.


Consider how often you plan on using your face wash, and for what purpose. If you want something that you can use morning and night, make sure you choose gentle formulas that won't irritate the skin. If you want something stronger for acne, most popular cleansers can be used twice a day—although, you might want to start by using it once a day and see how your skin reacts. If you want something specifically for melting away your makeup, opt for an oil-based formula.

Questions You Might Ask

How often should you wash your face?

If you choose to wash your face twice per day, make sure you're using a super gentle formula (or just water!) in the morning. Garshick also specifies that once per day is definitely sufficient for those with dry skin, "to avoid stripping the skin or causing it to become overly dry." That said, in the evenings, make sure you're taking time to wash away any dirt, makeup, or impurities you've picked up throughout the day.

What's the best way to wash your face?

Garshick recommends adding a "dime- to nickel-sized amount" of face wash to your skin using your fingers to minimize potential irritations.Then gently massage it into the skin using small circles for 30 to 60 seconds. For eye makeup, make sure you're using an oil-based formula and spending a little extra time gently massaging the area—and make sure your cleanser is eye-safe before you put it near your eyes. You can also use a damp muslin cloth and let it soak over the eyes for a second to break down the makeup.

Should you use a facial cleanser brush when washing your face?

If you use a facial cleansing brush, make sure you're using it gently and no more than once or twice per week. You can also choose to focus it on areas that are more prone to clogged pores like the nose and the chin. "If opting to use a facial cleanser brush it is best to find one that is gentle on the skin and won't cause injury to the skin barrier, as this can subsequently lead to skin irritation and redness," explains Garshick.

Take Our Word For It

This article was written by Brittany Loggins, a freelance writer who specializes in beauty and lifestyle content. To come up with the best facial cleansers, she considered ingredients, skin type, and formulation, taking into account the gentleness of each cleanser and versatility among different skin types and concerns. She also spoke to Marisa Garshick, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, to get expert advice on face washing and choosing a cleanser.

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