What issues are you trying to treat? Some cleansers contain ingredients to help treat acne, even skin tone and reduce the size of pores. If you have conditions like eczema, psoriasis or allergies, you're better off with a non-irritating cleanser that's formulated for extremely sensitive or damaged skin.
Is acne a problem? If you struggle with these persistent blemishes, it may be tempting to head straight to the strongest face wash that can dry the acne out. However, these strong cleansers sometimes set up a vicious cycle of drying your skin out so much that they cause more acne. Consider alternating your acne cleanser with a gentler, lightly moisturizing cleanser to help mitigate those drying effects.
Do you prefer natural, eco-friendly products? There are no set guidelines to govern what's labeled as "natural" or "eco-friendly," so people really have to do their homework in this category. Look for products that contain recognizable ingredients and are free of mineral oils, parabens and other chemical preservatives, coloring and fragrances. The Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Skin Deep Cosmetic Database is an in-depth resource that discusses the ingredients used in various cleansers, as well as their environmental impact and whether they're tested on animals.
Microbeads -- the tiny plastic pellets sometimes included in exfoliating facial scrubs and other cosmetics -- are terrible for the environment. That's because they're so tiny, they pass through water treatment systems and into our waterways. Once that happens, small creatures mistake them for food and the plastic then makes its way up the food chain.
Because of this, the US legislature passed -- and the president signed into law -- the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, which bans the manufacture of personal use products containing microbeads as of July 2017, bans the sale of cosmetics containing microbeads as of July 2018, and bans the sale of over-the-counter drugs containing microbeads as of July 2019.
Elsewhere in this report: