Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser is a basic and affordable cleanser that is suitable for all skin types except for oily. The formula only contains eight ingredients, but one of them -- sodium lauryl sulfate -- is a potentially irritating surfactant. Although it only contains a small amount, reviewers say Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash (*Est. $5.50 for 6 oz.) is a better overall option at the drugstore -- and it reportedly removes makeup better.
Gentle but doesn't clean very well. Reviewers rave about Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser because it is extremely gentle and is suitable for almost all skin types -- except oily. Several users complain, however, that the basic formula doesn't remove makeup very well -- although this is a common complaint about gentle cleansers for sensitive skin.
Paula Begoun, skin-care expert and author of "Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me," has recommended the cleanser for years, but no longer. She says there are several options available that have more state-of-the-art ingredients. Furthermore, she says Cetaphil contains too much sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), which can damage skin. Begoun points out that although it likely contains less than 1 percent of the potentially irritating ingredient, there are other gentle cleansers that avoid SLS altogether.
Non-lathering formula. Critics say Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser does not lather up, but it is a nondrying lotion-type formula that is soothing to dry, irritated and sensitive skin. Some say that their skin doesn't feel clean enough, however, after using the fragrance-free cleanser.
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Review Credibility: Excellent 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, Dec. 19, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser is named the best cleanser for dry skin by editors of InStyle magazine. They say the cleanser is a winner year after year because it is strong enough to remove dirt and makeup but gentle so that it doesn't dry out skin. The cleanser has won InStyle's beauty awards in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Review: Best Beauty Buys 2011: Skin, Editors of InStyle magazine, May 2011
3. Real Simple
Review Credibility: Good Real Simple magazine readers name Cetaphil Gentle 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
Review Credibility: Good Over 4,500 users at MakeupAlley.com review Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. The overall consensus is lackluster, with 63 percent saying they would buy it again, and the average rating is 3.5 out of 5. Reviewers say it clears their skin of redness, irritation and even blemishes, though many say the cleanser does not do a good job of removing makeup.
Review: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, Contributors to MakeupAlley.com, As of February 2013
Review Credibility: Good More than 380 consumers posting to Drugstore.com give Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars, and 82 percent of them say they would recommend the product to a friend. 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 February 2013