Like washing your hands, washing your face is pretty much mandatory. There are a million and one facial cleansers on the market, so it can be difficult to choose a cleanser that’s right for you.
If you’re wondering which cleanser to use, we’re here to help with a breakdown of the different skin types and the best clean skincare face wash is for each type.
We’ll be covering the different types of facial cleanser and the best face wash for oily skin, dry skin, sensitive skin, combination skin, acne-prone skin and aging skin in this article.
IN A NUTSHELL
Main Takeaways: Everyone should wash their face, but the type of cleanser you use depends on your skin type.
Good to Know: It’s important to cleanse your skin morning and evening– if you find that your skin feels too tight or dry after cleansing, you may not be using the correct cleanser for your skin type or needs.
Recommended Products: So Clean! Facial Cleanser.
Different Types of Facial Cleanser
When it comes to facial cleansers, there are a wide array of different varieties– from foaming cleansers, to bar cleansers, to cream cleansers. 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; they foam up when mixed with water. However, many of these contain sodium laureth sulfate (SLS), which can dry or irritate skin, so check ingredients before using. These types of cleansers are typically 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 and combination skin and are great for cleansing 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 moisturizing, so they work best for dry skin or as a pre-cleanser.
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 they 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 normal, 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 All Skin Types
If you are looking for a one-size-fits-all kind of cleanser, we’ve formulated just the thing for you. Our So Clean! is lightweight gel face wash designed to be gentle on all skin types, particularly sensitive skin. It unclogs pores, balances skin’s natural oils and nourishes with organic coconut oil, organic aloe, glycerin, and it has a tiny bit of pink grapefruit peel oil to give it a bright, refreshing aroma.
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.
Fleur & Bee: So Clean! Facial Cleanser
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.
For those who prefer cream cleansers, Acure Seriously Soothing Cleansing Cream contains chamomile and peony to soothe and protect, and hyaluronic acid to hydrate.
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.
Osea: Ocean Cleansing Mudd
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.
The Organic Pharmacy: Peppermint, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus Face Wash
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.
Youth to the People: Superberry Dream Cleansing Balm
The best facial wash for dry skin is Youth to the People’s Superberry Dream Cleansing Balm. It uses a lush blend of oils (moringa, jojoba and sunflower) to remove makeup and moisturize the skin, while a blend of berries and prickly pear provides antioxidant protection.
Nourish Organic: Moisturizing Face Cleanser
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.
- Glycerin — This plant-based ingredient attracts water, which helps to naturally hydrate and help your skin retain moisture.
- 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.
Paula’s Choice: Perfectly Balanced Oil-Reducing Cleanser
The best facial cleanser for combination skin is Paula’s Choice Perfectly Balanced Oil-Reducing Cleanser, which is formulated specifically to balance the oils in your skin while also targeting dehydration and dullness.
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.
- Glycolic acid — This powerful exfoliant helps skin shed dead cells, creating a smooth, improved texture and helping to clear skin.
- 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.
Botanic Tree: Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Cleanser
The best facial cleanser for acne is Botanic Tree Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Cleanser. This deep cleansing, vegan 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:
- 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.
- Glycolic acid — This powerful exfoliant helps skin shed dead cells, creating a smooth, improved texture and effectively working to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Aloe Vera — Aloe vera does a great job of adding nourishment and moisture to aging skin.
Royal Fern: Phytoactive Cleansing Balm
The best facial cleanser for mature skin is Royal Fern Phytoactive Cleansing Balm. This antioxidant rich face wash contains hyaluronic acid, cucumber, and green tea to soothe and hydrate, and their patented “Royal Fern Complex” formula includes a synergistic blend of anti-aging botanicals.
Pacifica: Glow Baby Brightening Face Wash
Another excellent alternative is Pacifica Glow Baby Brightening Face Wash, which features glycolic acid and vitamin C to smooth and brighten your 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.
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