Although natural products have become a mainstay in the cosmetics and skin-care industry, reviews of natural facial cleansers are still hard to find. To make matters more confusing, companies often market their products in a way that makes them appear to be "natural," but most contain chemical ingredients of some sort. Aveeno Active Naturals products, for example, only contain a handful of "natural" ingredients, and many of the products contain sodium laureth sulfate, a possible carcinogen according to the David Suzuki Foundation, a Canadian environmental advocate group, and other advocates for natural skin care. Several Aveeno cleansers also contain fragrance and parabens, which are suspected of disrupting hormone function.
Neutrogena Naturals is relatively new on the natural and eco-friendly scene, and although the formulas aren't 100 percent natural, they have relatively short ingredient lists and they lack the worst in the way of offending ingredients. Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash (*Est. $5.50 for 6 oz.) , for instance, is completely paraben-free and 90 percent of its ingredients are derived from natural sources. Paula Begoun gives the formula her highest rating, saying that it's suitable for all skin types except for sensitive skin due to the fragrance it contains. She adds that the formula is very gentle and it cleanses and removes makeup without making skin feel dry.
The cleanser was also given a Cosmetics Executive Women (CEW) beauty award in 2012 for using eco-friendly manufacturing processes. Users at MakeupAlley.com and Amazon.com say Purifying Facial Cleanser does an excellent job of cleansing the skin and removing makeup. Some with sensitive skin, however, had allergic reactions to the formula.
Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash (*Est. $5.50 for 6 oz.) is another mostly natural option. It's marketed as a perfect option for sensitive skin, but Begoun says it contains fragrance -- "albeit a very low amount" -- which isn't recommended for those with sensitive skin. However, the formula is very gentle and soothing. Editors at Allure magazine also praise the formula for the "instant cooling sensation" it produces. The formula contains soy proteins for added moisture along with green tea, a rich antioxidant. The cleanser is paraben- and phthalate-free. We didn't find many user reviews for Yes to Cucumbers Gentle Milk Cleanser, however, which is why we chose to list Neutrogena Naturals Purifying Facial Cleanser as a Best Reviewed cleanser.