Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

  • Gentle
  • Non-drying
  • So-so makeup removal
  • Not for oily skin
  • Contains potential irritants

Bottom line

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser is a basic, affordable cleanser that is suitable for all skin types except for oily. It has a nearly cult like following thanks to its gentle cleansing, and it does an adequate -- if not great -- job of removing makeup. However, it contains several potentially irritating ingredients, including sodium lauryl sulfate and parabens.


Gentle, but doesn't clean very well. Reviewers rave about how gentle Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser is and how well it suits every type but oily skin. However, if you wear a lot of makeup you may need a separate makeup remover to get your face completely clean. (This is a common complaint about cleansers made for sensitive skin.) Paula Begoun, skin care expert and author of "Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me," recommended this cleanser for years -- but no longer -- because she says the state-of-the-art ingredients in more recent cleansers are better. However, Cetaphil remains nearly a cult favorite with many users.

Feel and smell

Non-lathering formula. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser doesn't lather; it feels more like a lotion that's very soothing to dry, irritated and sensitive skin. "This is the only cleanser I can use without having an allergic reaction. It leaves your skin super soft," writes one user at Beautylish.com. However, the most common complaint is that soothing doesn't always equal squeaky clean, especially if you tend to wear a lot of makeup. Skin care expert Begoun also points out that this formulation contains sodium lauryl sulfate, which can damage skin. It also contains endocrine-disrupting parabens.

Where To Buy
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, For all skin types, 16-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 2)

Buy new: $27.98 $20.78   35 New from $20.78

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Our Sources

1. PaulasChoice.com

Paula Begoun says Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser is a dated formula that doesn't compare to other cleansers with higher-quality ingredients. She notes that it contains sodium lauryl sulfate, which can cause irritation for those with sensitive skin.

Review: Gentle Skin Cleanser, Paula Begoun, Nov. 18, 2013

2. InStyle

InStyle magazine editors chose Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser as the best cleanser for sensitive skin in 2005, 2006 and 2009. "It's more of a lotion, so it removes dirt and debris without affecting the top barrier of the skin," writes a consulting dermatologist.

Review: Best Beauty Buys, Editors of InStyle magazine, As of May 2014

3. RealSimple.com

Real Simple magazine readers name Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser the best budget-friendly facial cleanser for sensitive skin. Editors say the gentle formula cleans deeply while leaving skin "extremely soft."

Review: Best Budget-Friendly Facial Cleansers, Lori Bergamotto, Not Dated

4. RealSimple.com

The author writes a very brief blurb for each of the six facial cleansers featured, including Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. She says it's gentle yet purifying and recommended for even the most sensitive skin.

Review: 6 Great Face Wash Picks Under $40, Rosa Casoni, July 2013

5. MakeupAlley.com

Almost 5,000 users at MakeupAlley.com review Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, giving it an average score of 3.5 lipsticks out of 5. Reviewers say it clears their skin of redness, irritation and even blemishes; the chief complaint is that it doesn't remove makeup very well.

Review: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, Contributors to MakeupAlley.com, As of May 2014

6. Beautylish.com

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser gets a 4.5-star rating, out of 5, from about 30 user reviews on Beautylish.com. Reviewers say it's one of the best cleansers for sensitive skin.

Review: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, Contributors to Beautylish.com, As of May 2014

7. Drugstore.com

About 400 consumers posting to Drugstore.com give Cetaphil's Gentle Skin Cleanser an average rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars. A few say it doesn't clean skin well, but most say it is extremely gentle on sensitive skin.

Review: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, Contributors to Drugstore.com, As of May 2014

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