The Best Face Cleansers

Washing your face correctly is the most important part of any skincare routine. There's no sense in using fancy serums, face oils, or other treatment products if you're working with a dirty canvas. In fact, this can actually just exacerbate skin issues, like acne, dullness, and wrinkles (yikes). This is why picking the right facial cleanser is so crucial. A good cleanser is one that's well-suited to your skin type and doesn't strip or irritate the skin, but still provides a thorough cleanse. Also, it's good to avoid anything that contains fragrances, alcohol, or other irritants; you want something that's gentle, but extremely effective. Not sure where to start? You've come to the right place. Whether you have oily, dry, or normal skin, you're bound to find the perfect face wash on this list.

iS Clinical Cleansing Complex

Powerful and clarifying

iS Clinical always brings the goods, and this face wash is no exception.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin

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If you struggle with acne, iS Clinical Cleansing Complex is a godsend. This highly-touted cleanser is the real deal—it does an excellent job of deep-cleaning the skin and vacuuming out every last trace of dirt and oil, but it’s not at all harsh. It’s quite the opposite, actually: this cleanser incorporates a blend of top-notch antioxidants, bio-nutrients, and mild resurfacing ingredients that work together to gently, thoroughly cleanse the skin and prevent acne from flaring up, all while preserving your skin’s natural oils and tightening the pores (many report smoother, tighter-looking skin after just one use).

Pros:

  • Lightweight gel-based formula that feels super gentle on the skin, yet does a great job of deep-cleaning.
  • Helps to prevent acne, thanks to a unique blend of antioxidants, bio-nutrients, and mild resurfacing ingredients.
  • Pores may look smoother and tighter after just one use.

Cons:

  • This is definitely a pricier face cleanser.

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser

No more oil slick face

This CeraVe cleanser gets rid of all the gunk, but doesn't strip your skin.
Best for Oily Skin

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CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser is awesome for oily skin, since it works into a foamy lather almost instantly, effectively removing excess oil and grime without disrupting the skin barrier. Dermatologists love the formula, too, which has hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and three essential ceramides—these ingredients help to soothe, refresh, and hydrate the skin, and even diminish redness. Say goodbye to that familiar oily sheen, and hello to your new clean, glowing complexion.

Pros:

  • Super gentle cleanser that doesn’t strip the skin of its natural oils, but does get rid of excess oil and grime.
  • The formula has several derm-recommended ingredients: hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and three essential ceramides.
  • Available at any drugstore; accessible price point.
  • Comes in a giant bottle, so it lasts for a long time.

Cons:

  • Not the best for dry skin.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser

Soothing and hydrating

A cream cleanser is best for those with dehydrated skin, and this La Roche-Posay cleanser is awinner.
Best for Dry Skin

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Luxuriously creamy and oh-so-nourishing, La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser is definitely best for those whose skin tends to be a bit parched. Think of this cleanser as a big glass of water for your face—it’s formulated with prebiotic thermal water, ceramides, niacinamide, and glycerin, so it’s wonderfully hydrating for even the driest complexions. Plus, it removes even the heaviest eye makeup.

Pros:

  • Rich and creamy formula that helps the skin retain essential moisture and suppleness, while still removing dirt and impurities.
  • A great cleanser for maintaining the skin’s natural protective barrier and proper pH.
  • Removes eye makeup.

Cons:

  • Definitely not for oily skin.

Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micellar Water

A cult-favorite product

If you haven't heard of Bioderma yet, you may be living under a rock; this micellar water is all the rage in the skincare world.
Best Micellar Water

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If you haven’t yet heard of Bioderma, you’re in for a treat. This oil-free facial cleansing product is everyone’s favorite French girl beauty secret. It’s a micellar water, which is a cleanser that uses purified water, light oils, and moisturizers to dissolve makeup and rinse away impurities. The result? Skin that looks and feels softer and fresher than a newborn’s (well, almost).

Pros:

  • Still the best micellar water available, no matter how many others keep cropping up; it removes makeup like no other.
  • Light and gentle.
  • Doesn’t strip the skin.
  • You’ll likely notice that your face feels silky-smooth afterward.

Cons:

  • Not the most eco-friendly option, since you have to use cotton pads.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to use a facial cleanser or can I just use regular soap to wash my face?

You really shouldn’t use a bar of soap to wash your face. Soap can strip your skin of its natural oils and disrupt your skin’s pH balance (which is a big no-no in the skincare world). Plus, a targeted facial cleanser can help you address your specific skin concerns.

Do I really need to double-cleanse at night?

That depends. If you wear foundation, or your skin is oily or acne-prone, then yes, you should double-cleanse your skin at night. If you wear minimal makeup, it’s probably fine to just do a one-step cleanse.

How do I know what type of facial cleanser is right for me?

It all comes down to your skin type. Those with oily or acne-prone skin should opt for a light foaming cleanser, sensitive or dry skin types should use a cream-based cleanser, and normal or combo skin types will likely be happiest using a gel-based cleanser. If you do a double-cleanse at night, then using an oil-based cleanser first (to remove makeup) is a great option for all skin types.