Types of Facial Cleansers
The best facial cleansers are strong enough to remove dirt, oil and makeup without scrubbing, but gentle enough not to strip away your skin's natural moisture. For most skin types, the best face wash is water-soluble, so it rinses off easily and won't clog your pores. Some facial cleansers are moisturizing, while others can have a drying effect -- for this reason, certain formulations are better-suited for people with a particular skin type, such as oily or dry.
Facial Cleansers for Sensitive Skin
For those with very sensitive skin, specially formulated face washes help avoid the redness, irritation and breakouts that can result from contact with irritants like artificial fragrances, dyes and harsh detergents. Look for gentle, soothing ingredients like glycerin or hyaluronic acid. Natural face cleansers will be even more gentle on sensitive skin. One caveat: because many cleansers for sensitive skin are very light, they may not clean away makeup very well, so you may need to add a makeup remover to your routine.
Face Wash for Acne
Teenagers are especially prone to acne breakouts, thanks to their rapidly changing hormones, but this condition affects adults too. The best face washes for treating acne balance the drying ingredients that eliminate blemishes, like salicylic acid, with soothing, non-comedogenic ingredients that won't cause your skin to break out again.
You don't need to pay a high price for
a great cleanser
With many of
the product lines we evaluate, it's true that you get what you pay for. But in the
case of high-end department store cleansers and doctor-endorsed face washes,
you're paying for fancy labeling and big names on what usually turn out to be
the same ingredients you'll find in drugstore brands. And believe it or not,
some of those drugstore brands -- with an average price of about $1 per ounce
-- often perform on-par with or even better their pricier competitors.
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.
highly acclaimed book, "Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without
Me," skincare 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 skincare 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.
face wash alone doesn't constitute a good skin care routine -- you may also
need facial moisturizers, wrinkle cream, eye cream and body lotion, all of which we cover in separate reports. The cost of all these products
can add up, so many consumers find effective drugstore brands a more practical
and economical choice for their overall skincare needs.
Finding The Best Facial Cleansers
"Skin Care: Cleansers"
"The Best Face Wash"
"The 2017 Good Housekeeping Beauty Breakthrough Awards"
We found the
best reviews of face wash at Beautypedia, where beauty experts provide thorough
reviews of hundreds of facial cleansers based on an analysis of ingredients,
ease of use and effectiveness, and Reviews.com, where editors evaluate dozens
of facial cleansers and compare 17 brands in head-to-head testing. Good
Housekeeping also reports on facial cleansers that stand out from the pack in
tests conducted at the Good Housekeeping Beauty Lab. We also read reviews from
several sources that rely on expert opinions from dermatologists and other
skincare experts, including Health, which focuses on drugstore face washes, and
Allure, Today and Byrdie, which recommend drugstore facial cleansers along with
some higher-end options.
we found helpful reviews at Elle and TotalBeauty, which feature roundups based
on recommendations from readers, contributors and editors. To get a feel for
how well different face washes work in the real world, we also consulted
thousands of reviews from consumers posting feedback to retail sites -- Ulta,
Sephora and Amazon -- where users report on a facial cleanser's effectiveness,
how well a product works for certain skin types, consistency and ease of use,
scent and other considerations.