Most dermatologists will tell you that a good quality face wash is the first essential item you need to kickstart your serious skin care routine.
We all know the importance of washing your face to remove the daily build-up of makeup, oil, and dirt, especially if you live in a buzzing metropolis like New York City or Los Angeles where you will be prone to the effects of pollution on your skin. Not to mention the mask-induced acne we're all faced with since the pandemic began!
You will need a facial cleanser that leaves your skin feeling fresh, rejuvenated, and hydrated. But with all of the various types of cleansers available, how do you find the best face wash that will feel just right for you?
The secret is in identifying your skin's needs and knowing what ingredients to look for. That's why we've created this guide to finding the best face wash, including a roundup of the 10 best face washes chosen by our beauty editors.
What Should A Cleanser Do For Your Skin?
Face wash, or cleanser, is the essential first step in your skincare routine, removing makeup and dirt and preparing your face for the skin toner, serums, and moisturizers to follow.
Your face wash should clean your skin and remove makeup without stripping it bare of all of the good oils that keep it healthy and supple. Dr. Whitney Bowe, renowned New York dermatologist and beauty expert, says that the ideal cleanser leaves skin feeling refreshed and hydrated, but not overly tight or squeaky clean.1
Many beauty routines recommend washing your face twice, starting with a cleansing oil and following up with a water-based cleanser. This has become popular thanks to K Beauty and its infamous 10-step beauty routine. But is double cleansing with two separate face washes necessary?
If you're concerned about spending money, time, and precious counter space on multiple cleansing products, you'll be happy to hear that double cleansing isn't really necessary for most people.
Of course, as with any skincare solutions, it all comes down to your skin's specific needs. If you have super oily skin or wear heavy makeup you might find it beneficial to cleanse twice. However, most cleansers today are formulated to remove all oil, dirt, and makeup in one go.
More helpful reading: RenewSkin Inc.'s Best skin care routine
4 Tips For Finding The Best Face Wash
Before we dive into our top picks of face washes available on the market today, here are some tips that will help you when searching for your perfect fit.
1. Choose Ingredients According To Your Skin Type
The best face wash for you will entirely depend on your skin type.
Dry skin types should look for a facial cleansing balm or cleansing oil, as these textures cleanse without stripping away the skin's natural oils. Dry skin will benefit from face washes that contain humectants and emollients, which include ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and ceramides. If you are someone with sensitive skin, you should look for a face wash that is hypoallergenic and fragrance-free.
Oily and combination skin types should look for a facial cleansing gel or foam, as these lightweight cleansers are most effective at clearing oil and bacteria from the skin. Oily and acne-prone skin types should look for exfoliating cleansers containing AHAs or BHAs such as salicylic acid or glycolic acid, which can remove dead skin cells and brighten your complexion. Ingredients like tea tree oil, charcoal, and witch hazel are also good to see in cleansers for acne-prone skin.
Antioxidants are great ingredients for everyone to include in their beauty products, as they work to protect your skin against external pollutants while also brightening your complexion. They are particularly important ingredients for anyone suffering from redness or inflammation.
More helpful reading: Best ingredients for skin
2. Keep Your pH Balance In Check
When you are trying to find the best face wash, you will want something that removes oil, dirt, and makeup while also maintaining your pH balance.
The potential hydrogen (pH) scale measures the acidity level of your skin between 0 and 14, with lower numbers being acidic and higher numbers being alkaline. The ideal range for skin is slightly acidic, between 4 and 6 on the pH scale.2
When your skin's pH is outside of this range, your skin's protective barrier is weakened and you are more prone to bacteria, allergens, and pollutants. Look out for cleansers with a pH of 5.5, which is the perfect balance to maintain your skin barrier and keep blemishes and bacteria at bay.
More helpful reading: Skin care tips
3. Learn To Read The Labels
There are certain terms you should watch out for on a beauty product label that will help you identify if it checks all of the boxes when it comes to helping you achieve clear skin:
Oil-free means that (you guessed it) the face wash does not contain any oils, which is perfect if you already have oily skin as it will help target sebum and clogged pores.
Non-comedogenic means that the product is unlikely to clog your pores, which is especially important if you have oily or acne-prone skin.
Soap-free means that the face wash does not contain any alkaline detergent, which is best for sensitive skin types or anyone with allergies.
Hypoallergenic means that the product has been proven to cause fewer allergic reactions than other skincare products, which is important if you have sensitive skin.
More helpful reading: What ingredients should not be mixed with skincare?
4. Avoid Harsh Chemicals
While you're reading that label, you should also be aware of some no-go ingredients to keep an eye on!
Sulfates are detergents that make suds and cause a face wash or shampoo to lather. Unfortunately, sulfates can strip your skin of its good oils and cause dryness, redness, and irritation, so it's best to avoid these as much as you can. If you see sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) on a cleanser's ingredient list, avoid it!
Parabens are used as preservatives to keep active ingredients stable in skincare and beauty products, but recent studies suggest that parabens could be carcinogenic. Although there is not enough conclusive evidence to definitely link them to cancer, it is best to avoid them in your cleansers if you can.3
More helpful reading:
The Top 10 Best Face Washes For All Skin Types
Here are the top 10 face washes chosen by our beauty editors, to help you narrow your search and find your perfect fit!
1. La Roche Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser
Best for: Sensitive skin
The La Roche Posay Toleriane range is consistently top of beauty editors' lists when it comes to skincare for sensitive skin, and this gentle skin cleanser is no exception.
Gentle enough to use daily, this hydrating cleanser is infused with prebiotic thermal water in a formula designed to maintain your skin's healthy bacteria. It also contains niacinamide (vitamin B3) to clear pores and reduce blemishes, plus ceramide and glycerin to soothe and hydrate your face.
It is non-comedogenic so it won't clog your pores, and even better it is entirely free from sulfates, parabens, and artificial fragrances.
More helpful reading: Best face serum
2. Renée Rouleau Moisture Protecting Cleanser
Best for: Dry or sensitive skin
Another hydrating cleanser, the Renée Rouleau Moisture Protecting Cleanser has a unique gel texture that turns milky on the skin.
Its combination of aloe and allantoin lends healing, soothing, and gently exfoliating properties, making this formula especially good for calming redness and inflammation.
As a gentle skin cleanser that doesn't disrupt the skin barrier and leaves your face clean and hydrated, it checks all of the boxes for dry and sensitive skin.
More helpful reading:
3. CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
Best for: Dry skin
The CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser is loved by skin care experts and clients alike as it combines a powerful formula with a budget-friendly price tag.
This non-foaming gel face wash boasts glycerin and hyaluronic acid, two humectants that attract and retain water in the skin for a more hydrated, plump, and dewy appearance. It also contains not one but three types of ceramides, which are fatty acids that lock moisture into your dermis.
To top it off, it is a non-comedogenic, oil-free formula that can nourish and hydrate your skin without clogging pores.
More helpful reading: How to get rid of dry skin
4. Cetaphil Gentle Foaming Cleanser
Best for: Every type of skin
The Cetaphil Gentle Foaming Cleanser is another winning formula with a price that won't break the bank.
This instantly foaming cleanser removes even the most stubborn makeup, sunscreen, and dirt, and it leaves your face feeling soft and clean. Its fragrance-free, non-comedogenic formula contains glycerin and vitamin B5 for hydration, plus vitamin E as a skin-brightening antioxidant.
This face wash is great for combatting inflammation, redness, and rosacea. Plus, it has a hypoallergenic formula, meaning it is gentle enough for sensitive skin.
More helpful reading:
5. First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser
Best for: Normal or dry skin
First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser is a lightweight cream cleanser with a perfectly pH-balanced formula, with many experts touting it as the best face wash in recent years.
It has a whipped texture that transforms into a luxurious cream when applied to the skin with water.
Aloe and allantoin work together in this mighty formula to calm and soothe the skin, and these botanical antioxidants can also help keep redness at bay and brighten your complexion. This formula also contains glycerin, a humectant that keeps your skin supple and hydrated.
The best news? It's fragrance-free, and it contains no parabens, phthalates, or sulfates.
6. Vichy Normaderm Phytosolution Purifying Cleansing Gel
Best for: Oily or acne-prone skin
This gel cleanser by Vichy is a miracle worker for oily skin, one that helps clear up breakouts and rebalance sebum.
A gel cleanser is perfect for oily skin, as it is non-comedogenic and will not clog your pores. Vichy's formula is especially good at removing dirt and pollutants while reducing blemishes and mattifying skin. Enriched with salicylic acid and glycolic acid, this is a cleansing gel with exfoliating and brightening properties, removing dead skin cells for a more radiant appearance.
Vichy's hypoallergenic formula also contains no parabens, alcohol, or soap, making it a winner in our books!
7. Philosophy Purity Made Simple Cleanser
Best for: Normal, combination, or dry skin
Philosophy's Purity Made Simple Cleanser is an award-winning, bestseller formula packed with essential oils like meadowfoam and rosewood.
This lightweight cleansing balm offers deep cleaning of the pores without drying or irritating the skin, and it's gentle enough to remove eye makeup without irritating the sensitive skin around the eyes.
This is a skin-balancing cleanser that removes makeup, hydrates, and brightens your complexion, making it the best all-rounder face wash in our opinion. It's also free from parabens, sulfates, and artificial fragrances, and is likely to suit most skin types.
8. Youth To The People Kale + Green Tea Cleanser
Best for: Oily, combination, or normal skin
Youth To The People's Kale + Green Tea Cleanser is packed with plant-based antioxidant power, designed to hydrate and brighten your complexion.
Kale, green tea, and spinach make this almost like a topical smoothie for your face, packed with antioxidants, polyphenols, and vitamins A, C, E, and K. It works to brighten skin and reduce redness and inflammation, fighting free radicals and reducing the signs of aging for a more youthful, dewy glow.
Made with 100% natural and vegan ingredients, this cleanser is a winner for the environment too!
9. Fresh Soy Face Cleanser
Best for: Every skin type
We rate Fresh Soy Face Cleanser as the best makeup removing cleanser, as it removes stubborn makeup from your face without drying the skin.
This lightweight gel cleanser is infused with soy proteins, which are rich in amino acids that hydrate and plump the skin for a dewy glow. Combining these skin-loving proteins with gently toning rosewater, this cleanser has a perfect pH balance that leaves your skin feeling refreshed and hydrated.
Its gentle formula should suit even sensitive skin, and it contains no parabens, phthalates, or sulfates.
10. Dermadoctor Ain't Misbehavin' Medicated AHA/BHA Cleanser
Best for: Acne-prone skin
This blemish busting face wash is a must-have for acne sufferers!
Dermadoctor's medicated formula is a gentle cleansing milk containing salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and witch hazel. This is a winning trio for fighting the oiliness, pimples, blackheads, and inflammation associated with acne, and it tightens pores to boot.
The formula also contains allantoin, a botanical antioxidant that soothes the skin and minimizes irritation. This facial cleanser removes oil, dirt, and makeup and sloughs away dead skin cells, to gently exfoliate the skin and leave a refreshed, radiant glow.
Last but not least, it is soap-free, oil-free, and pH balanced!
More helpful reading: Skin blemishes
3 Ways To Supercharge Your Skincare Routine
Of course, it's not all about having a good cleanser. Once you have found your perfect face wash, your skin care routine will also benefit from some topical treatments and healthy lifestyle choices.
Here are our best beauty tips to complement your face wash:
1. Follow Up Your Cleanser With A Collagen Mask
After cleansing, your pores will be clear and your skin will be primed to absorb active ingredients deep into the dermis. It's the perfect time to apply a deeply nourishing treatment with radiance-boosting, antiaging ingredients, as they will be most effective at this moment.
Taut Collagen Mask is a sheet mask infused with marine collagen peptides, hyaluronic acid, botanical squalene, and vitamin C designed to tone, hydrate, and brighten your skin in one 15 minute treatment.
The sheet mask forms a protective barrier layer that prevents its ingredients from evaporating, keeping them in close contact with your skin to ensure maximum absorption. Collagen peptides work to plump your skin, reducing fine lines and wrinkles for a more youthful appearance. Hyaluronic acid deeply hydrates and moisturizes your skin, while botanical squalene and vitamin C act as skin-brightening antioxidants for maximum glow.
Simply apply after cleansing, put your feet up, and relax for 15 minutes. Once you remove the sheet, massage any excess essence into your skin and you are good to go, no need for any further serums or moisturizers. So you can forget your complicated 10-step beauty routine–just cleanse, mask, and enjoy your newfound glow!
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2. Hydrate From Within With a Hyaluronic Acid Supplement
The secret to healthy, radiant beauty is a routine that starts from within.
What we put into our bodies can be the difference between problem skin and flawless radiance. That's why here at RenewSkin we are all about finding the right skin-loving nutrients for our supplements, to help you achieve a healthy and supple complexion from the inside out.
Taut Hydrate by RenewSkin Inc. is a hyaluronic acid supplement that you can rely on to plump, hydrate, and tone your skin. Formulated with 99% pure plant-based hyaluronic acid and grape seed extract, this beauty supplement works to moisturize skin, improve firmness, and visibly reduce signs of skin imperfections.
Hyaluronic acid in topical beauty products can hydrate your skin at the surface level, but ingestible supplements replenish your body's natural supplies from within, delivering more effective antiaging results.
3. Rejuvenate Your Skin With Collagen Peptides
Whether you are just beginning to think about those fine lines on your face, or you are noticing more prominent wrinkles appearing, you should consider including some high-quality collagen peptides into your skin care routine.
A collagen supplement like Taut Premium Collagen Drink can help you replenish your body's supplies of collagen, the protein essential to your skin's structure.
Taut Premium Collagen Drink contains a potent 13,000 mg of marine collagen peptides in every bottle, plus elastin, hyaluronic acid, grape seed extract, vitamin C, ceramide, and vitamin B6, which work synergistically to reduce the signs of aging on your skin.
Ingesting collagen peptides triggers a wound repair response in the body, causing cells called fibroblasts to produce more collagen. This in turn improves the concentration of collagen in your skin and helps fill in fine lines and wrinkles for a more supple, youthful appearance.
One dose of Taut collagen a day can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, scars, and stretch marks, as well as lift and tone sagging skin, and improve overall radiance.
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Transform Your Skin in 24 Days
If you are looking for a real boost for your complexion, we recommend our Intense Transformation Program. This kit contains a 24-day supply of our liquid collagen supplement, designed to reverse the signs of aging and rejuvenate your skin in, you guessed it, 24 days!
Over the course of the program, you will drink one bottle of Taut every day, providing your body with the nutrients it needs to restore your skin from the inside out. After the program has finished, you can switch to drinking 3 to 4 bottles of Taut per week to maintain your newfound youthful glow.
Interested in our transformation programs? Contact our team or try our skincare quiz to find the best fit for you.