All the Face Washes That Do and Don’t Work for Your Skin, According to Experts

Keep your skin glowing with the right cleanser for your skin type

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Even if you’re not out and about as much, as usual, these days, you don’t want your coworkers to be distracted by your breakout on the next Zoom call. We know that it can be a struggle to find the best face wash for your skin type without drying out your wallet.

Brittney Powell, a skincare blogger at The Blushing Bliss, knows that routine well and has tried many different acne-targeting face washes to no avail.

“Previous cleansers I’ve tried that didn’t work [include] Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash, Murad Acne Cleanser, Cetaphil, Cerave, Kate Sommerville Eradikate Cleanser, Clean & Clear Triple Clear, and Clean & Clear Continuous Control,” Powell tells me.

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“Depending on how specific you break it down, there are either 4 types of skin or up to 16 (a belief made popular by Dr. Leslie Baumann, a trusted dermatologist in the beauty space), but at the end of the day, I’m a believer in 4 types: dry, oily, combination, or normal skin,” says Todd Minars, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology, University of Miami School of Medicine. “One thing to keep in mind is that there are A LOT of skin types and some of them do require different approaches, which is why I like to recommend acne sufferers at least consult with a board-certified dermatologist.”

While you surely won’t avoid trial-and-error entirely, given that your skin is unique, there are thankfully some budget-friendly options to check out before considering a larger spend.

Best for Men: Jack Black Pure Clean Daily Facial Cleanser 

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Graphic: Juliana Clark
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The Jack Black’s Pure Clean Daily Facial Cleanser is a 2-in-1 liquid cleanser and toner that will scrub your skin, so it’s ready for a nice, close shave. This formula works gently, leaving your complexion hydrated and smooth. This product is dermatologist recommended and made without parabens, sulfates, fragrances, or colorants.

Key ingredients include Rosemary and Chamomile Extract, Witch Hazel, Oat and Coconut, Organic Sage Leaf Extract, and Organic Aloe Leaf Extract.

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Best for Acne: SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser

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Graphic: Juliana Clark

SkinMedica’s AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser is a groundbreaking face wash that combines alpha and beta hydroxy acids to remove dead cells and other impurities from your skin. As a result, the user’s skin is smoothed and brightened. Plus, it’s formulated with jojoba spheres for gentle exfoliation and lavender extract to soothe inflammation. 

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As part of Dermstore’s promotion on SkinMedica products, this cleanser is available at a 15% discount, plus a free gift with purchase.

Best Oil-Based: DHC Deep Cleansing Oil

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Graphic: Juliana Clark
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Remove excess oil, dirt, and makeup with the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil. This water-soluble formula is made with olive oil and vitamin E to hydrate skin while rinsing it clean. Plus, it’s guaranteed never to leave behind any greasy residue. Note that it is paraben free and is ideal for those concerned with free radical damange.

Best Drugstore: Neutrogena Ultra Gentle

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Not all of us have purely oily or dry skin. For some people, their skin falls somewhere in the middle. Whether you suffer from eczema or prefer a hypoallergenic formula, the Neutrogena Ultra Gentle is a great choice. Available in both creamy and foaming formulas, this product was developed by dermatologists to include minimal ingredients, reducing the chance of possible skin irritation.

Formulated with nourishing polyglycerin, this face wash is ideal for those with dry and sensitive skin and makes a great addition to your daily skincare routine.

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“This face wash is light and smells great. It [feels] good on my skin and, actually, works perfect[ly] as a shaving cream because it’s frothy and doesn’t have [a] strong chemical smell like most shaving creams. Feels like a clean, deep clean but with a light scent. Fantastic!!!” says Craig, an Amazon customer.

Best for Sensitive Skin: EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser

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Graphic: Juliana Clark
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The EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser features an oil-free, pH-balanced formula that gently cleanses your skin without causing dryness or irritation.

It easily strips the skin of pollutants and impurities causing a 48% reduction in skin damage caused by pollutants. This product also prevents the recurrence of skin damage, resulting in a 36% reduction in skin damage when exposed to pollutants in the future.

The micro-massaging bubbles also infuse more oxygen into the surface of your skin with every wash, creating a deep skin clean.

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Best for Oily Skin: Clinique Rinse-Off Cleanser (5oz.)

Free gift with purchase

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The Clinique’s All About Clean Rinse-Off Foaming Cleanser is a cream-mousse cleanser that gently wipes away makeup. It also rinses away pollution, dirt, and excess oil gently and effectively. Plus, it’s non-drying and non-stripping. Note that the tube and cap are made from post-consumer recycled material as well as plant-derived plastic.

This story was originally published by Chaya Milchtein on 09/10/2020 and updated by Juliana Clark with new information on 09/03/2021.

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