The 9 Best Facial Cleansers for All Skin Types
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.
Our top choice is the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser, a gentle option that keeps the skin hydrated and removes makeup. Read on for all of our favorite facial cleaners, as well as the answers to a few common questions about face washing.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall Facial Cleaner: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser
- Best Drugstore Facial Cleanser: Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser
- Best Splurge Facial Cleanser: Augustinus Bader The Cream Cleansing Gel
- Best Natural Facial Cleanser: Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser
- Best Gentle Facial Cleanser: Fresh Soy Face Cleanser
- Best Facial Cleanser for Dry Skin: First Aid Beauty 2-in-1 Cleansing Oil + Makeup Remover
- Best Facial Cleanser for Oily Skin: Paula's Choice Clear Pore Normalizing Cleanser
- Best Facial Cleanser for Acne: CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser
- Best Cleansing Balm: Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm
Best Overall Facial Cleanser: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser
Best Drugstore Facial Cleaner: Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser
Best Splurge Facial Cleaner: Augustinus Bader The Cream Cleansing Gel
Best Natural Cleanser: Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser
Best Gentle Facial Cleanser: Fresh Soy Face Cleanser
Best Facial Cleanser for Dry Skin: First Aid Beauty 2-in-1 Cleansing Oil + Makeup Remover
Best Facial Cleanser for Oily Skin: Paula's Choice Clear Pore Normalizing Cleanser
Best Facial Cleanser for Acne: CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser
Best Cleansing Balm: Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm
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.