The best facial cleansers are strong enough to remove dirt, oil and makeup, but gentle enough not to strip away your skin's natural moisture. The best choice for most skin types is a gentle, water-soluble cleanser that rinses cleanly away. However, those with dry skin may do best with a creamier, lotion-like cleanser, even if it doesn't lather as much. Those with very sensitive skin should avoid irritants like artificial fragrances, dyes and harsh detergents; instead, opt for gentle, soothing ingredients like glycerin or hyaluronic acid.
You don't need to pay a high price for a great cleanser. With many of the product lines we've evaluated, it's true that you get what you pay for -- but in the case of high-end department store cleansers or doctor-endorsed face washes, you're paying for fancy labeling and big names on what usually turns out to be the same ingredients you'll find in drugstore brands. And believe it or not, those drugstore brands -- with an average price of about $1 per ounce -- beat out their pricier competitors in just about every category of this report.
It may still be tempting to pay extra for a cleanser line that's created (or endorsed for profit) by a doctor or dermatologist. But the American Medical Association has issued guidelines advising physicians not to sell health-related products for profit because it creates a conflict of interest.
Also, in her highly acclaimed book, "Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me," skin care expert Paula Begoun points out that the phrases "dermatologist-tested" and "dermatologist-approved" are meaningless because there's no standard for what they mean. Often, they only indicate that one or two dermatologists tried a skin care product at the manufacturer's request and liked how it felt. How well a face wash actually cleans, how it feels on your face and how it leaves your skin feeling afterward remain the ultimate arbiters of which product really is best.
We've named the top cleansers in seven important categories. No two women have the same type of skin, and there is no one-size-fits-all facial cleanser either. Some people may want a cleanser that also removes makeup well. Other need something to handle, or prevent, acne breakouts. Those with very sensitive skin may need an all-natural product with absolutely no chemicals, dyes or fragrances. Convenience is important as well, which is why we've noted how well each of these products travel. Nothing is more annoying than opening your suitcase after a long flight only to find your face wash has leaked all over your clothes.
ConsumerSearch editors evaluated dozens of expert reviews, tests and roundups, as well as hundreds of user reviews to find the best face cleansing products. Here you will find the top facial cleansers for those with sensitive skin, the acne prone and some general use facial products that are guaranteed to give you a beautiful glow.