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Facial Cleaners: Expert and User Reviews

By: Lisa Maloney on May 01, 2017

Facial Cleansers: Ratings of Sources

Paula Begoun, As of April 2017

Skincare expert Paula Begoun, author of the highly acclaimed book "Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me," reviews thousands of skin care and makeup products. Her research sources include medical journals, cosmetic industry reports and the Food and Drug Administration. She also issues a star rating for each product reviewed.

April Franzino and GH Institute Beauty Lab, April 11, 2017

The rigorous testers in Good Housekeeping's Beauty Lab select the best products they've tested all year long, including a few face washes and facial cleaning brushes. Elsewhere on the site, a roundup of 2016 Beauty Breakthrough Awards is also available. Although no comparative ratings are assigned, each product receives a short summary review, tester comments, and a "Lab Lowdown" insight into how it was tested.

Editors of InStyle.com, Not Dated

The editors of InStyle.com issue "Best Beauty Buy" awards every year in a number of categories including skincare, which in turn has several sub-categories that address facial washes along with scrubs, peels, masks and even self-tanners. Each winning product gets a short blurb and a comment from a big-city dermatologist, covering issues like scent, performance and feel.

Lila Glick, Allie Flinn, Not Dated

The editors of TotalBeauty.com poll their readers and, based on their feedback, select the 17 best face cleansers. Each cleanser is assigned a comparative rating out of 10 possible; the editors also provide reader quotes to illustrate what they loved so much about each product. Drugstore products receive equal play next to more upscale products that sometimes retail for four times as much.

Editors of GoodGuide.com, As of April 2017

GoodGuide.com combines information provided by manufacturers along with proven research about the attributes of ingredients. The result is an "out of 10" rating for each product that also lists any ingredient hazards and how well-researched those ingredients are. These ratings didn't figure prominently in our picks for this report, but this site is still an excellent resource for gauging the safety of products you're interested in.

Jenna Rennert, March 2, 2017

The author consulted with a dermatologist to help select best face washes for the warmer weather of spring. They don't assign comparative ratings, but they do recommend a short list of specific products, along with explaining which ingredients you should look for and the benefits they provide.

Kristin Canning, Feb. 8, 2017

The author consults with a Los Angeles dermatologist, who explains that occasional breakouts are typical once you reach your 30s. Those breakouts tend to have a slightly different mechanism than teen acne, though, with dry skin on the outer layers and the breakout surfacing from beneath that layer. They then list the facial cleansers that work best for adults in their 30s with acne -- usually not the same products you'd use for teen acne.

Kristie Dash, Dec. 23, 2015

The author and a consulting dermatologist call out their nine favorite facial washes for combatting dry winter skin. Each product gets a short review, with a few comments that strong imply hands-on testing, although the testers are never identified. Each review also includes a short comment from the dermatologist. Elsewhere on the site, they also list 13 face washes for those with oily skin, although they do not appear to have consulted a doctor for that roundup.

Editors of Elle.com, Feb. 27, 2017

Editors and contributes to Elle weigh in on their favorite face cleansers for their personal skin types, based on years of experience and trial and errors. In many cases these solutions have worked so well, the authors have been using them for years -- and one editor is still using the same face wash that she started using back seventh grade.

Contributors to Ulta.com, As of April 2017

Ulta.com is the very best source of user reviews we found; many of the face washes have several hundred user reviews at least, sometimes in the thousands. Star ratings are displayed on the product listings, but you have to click through to see how many reviews each product actually has. We selected stand-out products that received an average score of at least 4.5 stars after 100 or more user reviews.

Contributors to Sephora.com, As of April 2017

Sephora.com is also an excellent source of user reviews, with many of their plentiful product listings receiving dozens -- if not hundreds -- of comments. Star ratings are shown in each product listing but the number of reviews is not, which makes it challenging to gauge the true relevancy of each product's score. We selected items that receive a hundred or more user reviews and an average score of 4.5 stars or better.

Contributors to Amazon.com, As of April 2017

Amazon.com lists hundreds of facial cleansers for sale; some of them have more than a thousand user reviews. Consumers tend to be passionate and pointed in the comments they post here. We selected those products that have a 4.5-star or better average score after at least 50 user reviews. Amazon.com also sells facial cleansing brushes, although they're listed in a separate category.

Julyne Derrick, August 25, 2016

Julyne Derrick, About.com's expert on beauty, offers a dozen picks for the best facial cleanser according to your skin type. The list was updated at some point in 2015 and, although she doesn't assign objective ratings or appear to have tested every single product herself, she's drawing on a solid base of reader feedback, ingredients analysis, and of course her own expertise with beauty products.

Carly Cardellino, Sept. 7, 2016

It's unclear whether the author actually conducted any hands-on testing of these products, although she does call out a couple as personal favorites. Still, her observations about which ingredients are most beneficial to which skin types, and how the cleansers will affect skin with continued use, indicate in-depth knowledge of the products.

Lanique McMillian, Not Dated

The author explains the benefits of glycolic acid for protecting your face during cold weather, and recommends five face washes that contain glycolic acid. It's not clear how much (if any) hands-on testing was done, but a few stray comments indicate that the author or other contributors have some level of hands-on experience with at least a few of these products.

16. GQ
Reginald Christian, Aug. 27, 2015

GQ.com offers one of the few facial cleanser roundups that's not only targeted at man-friendly products, but also breaks them down by skin type. They even explain the basics of what each skin type means. Every product receives a short blurb on how it works, although we can't tell if they've been subjected to hands-on testing.

Charlotte Picotte-Williams, Not Dated

The author urges men to go further than soap and water, briefly explaining the use of cleansers, face washes and scrubs. Each of the man-specific products he selects receives a brief evaluation of its scent and effects on your skin; however, it's not clear if any hands-on testing was conducted.

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