Like washing your hands, washing your face is pretty much mandatory. Your face is your window to the world — doesn’t it deserve to stay clean and healthy in the midst of environmental stressors, makeup, dirt and grime?
Even if you’re already convinced that washing your face is a necessity, there are a million and one face washes on the market; it can be difficult to choose a cleanser that’s right for you.
So if you’re wondering, what face wash should I use? — we’re here to help with a breakdown of all the different skin types and what the best natural face wash is for each type.
Stay tuned, as we’ll be covering the different types of facial cleanser, best face wash for oily skin, dry skin, sensitive skin, combination skin, acne-prone skin and aging skin.
IN A NUTSHELL
Main Takeaways: Everyone should wash their face, but the type of cleanser you use, and how often you wash depends on your skin type.
Good to Know: If you have oily skin look for a cleanser with a chemical exfoliant like glycolic acid to help keep your pores clean.
Recommended Products: So Clean! Cleanser.
Different Types of Facial Cleanser
When it comes to facial cleansers, there are a wide array of different varieties, from foaming to bars to clay. Which one you choose depends on personal preference as well as what’s right for your specific skin type. The different types of cleansers include:
Foaming facial cleanser — Foaming facial cleansers are the most common type of cleanser, and foam up when mixed with water. Many of these contain sodium laureth sulfate (SLS), however, which can dry or irritate skin, so check ingredients. These types of cleansers are best for oily or combination skin.
Clay cleanser — Clay cleansers utilize clay to decongest pores and remove build up and other impurities. They work best for oily, combination, and on clogged pores.
Bar facial cleanser — Similar to a bar of soap but formulated for the skin on your face, bar cleansers typically lather up when mixed with water. They’re best for oily or combination skin.
Gel facial cleanser — Gel cleansers are clear and have a light feel. They’re best for oily, combination, sensitive, or mature skin.
Cream facial cleanser — Cream cleansers have a heavier consistency and are applied then rinsed or wiped off. They tend to offer more moisture and are best for dry, sensitive, or aging skin.
Oil-based facial cleanser — Oil-based cleansers are great for removing makeup, dirt and other surface grime. It’s best to use an oil-based cleanser as a first step, followed by another face wash to get the full cleansing effect. They work for people with oily, combination, dry, sensitive or aging skin.
Balm facial cleanser — Similar to an oil-based cleanser, a balm facial cleanser is primarily used for makeup removal versus all-over facial cleansing. These cleansers tend to be heavy on the moisturizing so they work best for dry skin.
Facial cleansing wipes — Facial cleansing wipes typically come in a portable package and are most frequently used by people on-the-go. They’re effective in a pinch but aren’t the best at thoroughly cleansing skin. And because they’re single-use, they’re tough on the environment. Facial cleansing wipes work best for oily, dry, or combination skin.
Powder facial cleanser — Less commonly used, powder facial cleanser is mixed with water to create a foam or light cream. They can be a bit drying so they’re best for those with oily or combination skin.
Micellar water facial cleanser — These super-light cleansers are very similar to water. They contain tiny drops of oil that cling to and remove dirt. Most of them are no-rinse so it makes for easy cleansing. They’re best for oily, combination, dry and sensitive skin, but may not provide the full cleansing experience you’re looking for.
Best Face Wash for Sensitive Skin
When your skin is sensitive it can be easily irritated by outside factors, so you have to choose your products carefully. Sensitive skin can be prone to redness, tightness, itchiness or other irritations, so it’s best to choose a facial cleanser (and other products) that are designed to be extra gentle.
If your skin is sensitive, check labels for the following ingredients in your face wash:
Glycerin — This natural moisturizer is gentle and soothing.
Aloe vera — Another plant-based source of moisture, aloe vera is known for its calming properties.
Squalane — This olive oil-derived ingredient helps to nourish, soften, and soothe.
Chamomile — This calming, soothing herb provides a protective shield that’s great for sensitive skin.
The best face wash for sensitive skin is Fleur & Bee’s So Clean! facial cleanser. This all-natural, super soothing face wash is designed to be gentle on all skin types, particularly sensitive. It unclogs pores, balances skin’s natural oils and nourishes with organic coconut oil, organic aloe, glycerin and more.
Earth tu Face Palmarose + Aloe — An alternative option is this pure, calming, cleanser that replenishes moisture and gently protects.
Best Face Wash for Oily Skin
If you have oily skin, your skin likely produces an excess amount of its natural oil, or sebum. Oily skin is prone to clogged pores, so you need a cleanser that can balance your skin’s natural oils and create a clean, smooth surface for your other products to properly absorb.
When you have oily skin, look for the following in your face wash:
Tea tree oil — This calming, natural astringent helps to shrink the appearance of pores and balance skin’s natural oils.
Clays — Kaolin clay, red clay, green clay, Smectite clay — they can all help to unclog pores and leave a clean, refreshed surface.
Glycolic acid — This alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) typically comes from sugar cane and works as a natural exfoliant. It has a low molecular weight which basically means it absorbs more easily into your skin. Glycolic acid helps to dissolve dead skin cells which can unclog pores.
Green tea — This ancient ingredient is known for its natural antioxidant properties that help to hydrate and cleanse the skin, as well as minimize the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
Charcoal — Charcoal is a deep cleanser, and works to unclog the pores, decongest skin, and get rid of dead skin cells.
The best face wash for oily skin is Osea Ocean Cleansing Mudd . Made with clay, tea tree oil and an array of other nourishing ingredients, it helps to purify skin and balance natural oils.
Another excellent face wash option is The Organic Pharmacy Peppermint, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus Face Wash. It includes tea tree oil, refreshing peppermint and vitamin C that helps to brighten and revitalize skin.
Best Face Wash for Dry Skin
When you have dry skin, it means your body produces less sebum, and you need to balance it out with the right skin care products. Dry skin has a difficult time retaining moisture so it’s important to choose products designed to do that.
When you have dry skin, the best cleanser will have some of the following ingredients:
Glycerin — This plant-based ingredient attracts water, which helps to naturally hydrate and help your skin retain moisture.
Aloe vera — This nourishing plant has been used for eons for its soothing properties, and it provides moisture while adding a protective layer to skin.
Coconut oil — This popular oil is made up of medium chain fatty acids which do a great job of providing extra hydration and nutrients while also allowing your skin to retain water.
Jojoba oil — Although it comes from a shrub, jojoba oil actually mimics your skin’s own sebum, so it makes a highly effective moisturizer.
Squalane — Derived from olive oil, squalane hydrates, protects and softens your skin’s texture.
The best facial wash for dry skin is Lush Ultraplant. This cream cleanser is packed with nourishing botanical ingredients to help hydrate dry skin. It has just six ingredients and does the job with jojoba oil, glycerin, sunflower and candelilla wax, orange blossom and agave nectar.
Another alternative is Nourish Organic Moisturizing Face Cleanser. It does a great job of deep cleansing while adding moisture to skin with ingredients like aloe, coconut oil and sesame seed oil.
Best Face Wash for Combo Skin
If you have combination skin, that means you may suffer from both occasional dryness and overactive oil production in the T zone (the area from your forehead down your nose to your chin). You need products that can address both issues and help create the right balance without overdrying or adding more oil.
When you have combination skin, look for the following ingredients in your facial cleanser:
Hyaluronic acid — This substance naturally occurs in the body but depletes over time. It’s a humectant, meaning it draws water, keeping skin hydrated and plump-looking.
Vitamin E — This antioxidant protects and nourishes skin, leaving a balanced, clean surface.
Aloe vera — This plant-based soother helps to keep your skin calm and moisturized.
Chamomile — Chamomile can help calm, soothe and nourish the drier areas of your skin and help you minimize the look of occasional redness.
Glycolic acid — This powerful exfoliant helps skin shed dead cells, creating a smooth, improved texture.
Tea tree oil — Tea tree oil is an excellent natural toner and great for keeping combination skin properly balanced.
Fruit extracts — The antioxidant power of fruits like orange, pomegranate and grapefruit can help protect, revitalize and nourish skin.
The best facial cleanser for combination skin is Alaffia Neem Turmeric Cleanser. It helps rid your skin of impurities and keep it balanced and clean with ingredients like turmeric (a powerful antioxidant), aloe and tea tree oil.
Another option is Tata Harper’s Regenerating Cleanser. This popular cleanser uses ingredients like aloe, pomegranate and white willow bark extract to invigorate and revitalize.
Best Face Wash for Acne
If you’re dealing with acne prone skin, it means you’re prone to too much oil, or sebum, which leads to clogged pores and breakouts. Your skin care products and face wash should be designed to fight acne and balance your skin’s natural oil production. (If you have severe acne, consult a physician for advice on the best treatment options.)
When you have acne-prone skin, it’s helpful to look for the following ingredients:
Tea tree oil — As a natural toner and astringent, tea tree oil works to unclog pores and refresh the skin’s surface.
Willow bark extract — Willow bark is actually the natural form of salicylic acid. It helps to unclog pores and soothe irritation.
Benzoyl Peroxide — Another popular product in the fight against acne, benzoyl peroxide is a topical antiseptic and antimicrobial, meaning it penetrates skin to kill bacteria and unclog pores. (It can also cause sensitivity issues so see how it works with your skin.)
Peppermint oil — This minty scented oil helps to cleanse impurities.
The best facial cleanser for acne is Botanic Tree Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Cleanser. This deep cleansing, natural wash includes willow bark to soften, smooth and remove dirt and other impurities.
Another option is Detox with Activated Charcoal Facial Wash. This antioxidant rich face wash uses key ingredients to deep cleanse skin and leave a smooth, soft surface.
Best Face Wash for Aging Skin
As your skin matures, it tends to get drier and lose volume and elasticity. The production of collagen (the protein which helps give your skin structure and elasticity) slows down, and fine lines or wrinkles may appear.
If you have aging skin, the best face wash ingredients include:
Retinol — A derivative of vitamin E, retinol is an over-the-counter ingredient that’s frequently used to fight signs of aging by plumping skin, improving texture and minimizing the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
Hyaluronic acid — This naturally occurring acid helps contribute to a plump, youthful looking appearance.
Vitamin C — Forever the most powerful skin care ingredient, vitamin C is an anti-aging superstar that improves the look of fine lines, revitalizes, evens out skin tone and helps skin retain moisture.
Glycerin — Glycerin is a humectant, meaning, it attracts water and helps aging skin to retain moisture.
Aloe Vera — Aloe vera does a great job of adding nourishment and moisture to aging skin.
Avalon Organics Intense Defense Cleansing Gel — This antioxidant rich face wash fights free radicals that can cause premature signs of aging. It nourishes skin with vitamin C and white tea to promote a youthful, refreshed appearance.
Another excellent alternative is True Botanicals Renew Nourishing Cleanser. It’s silky smooth and uses glycerin and aloe to help add extra moisture to aging skin.
Choosing the Best Face Wash
When choosing the best face wash for aging skin, oily skin, combination skin — or whatever your unique skin type — it’s all about what works for you. You may need a bit of trial and error to find the best cleanser, but keep at it. Having an amazing cleanser in your arsenal will get you one step closer to the radiant skin you’re looking for.