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Skin care professionals advise that a good facial cleanser should remove excess bacteria, dirt, sebum, and oil from your pores. This will help keep your skin healthy and clean.
If you have oily (and acne-prone) skin, it’s important to pay attention to ingredients when selecting skin care products.
Seborrhea, for example, is a chronic skin condition defined by greasy swollen skin and redness. The National Eczema Association suggests that ingredients such as zinc pyrithione and salycilic acid in low concentrations are helpful. A
So, if you have seborrhea, you might look for products that have these ingredients in them.
How we chose
The cleansers on this list are based on:
- recommendations from our medical review team
- ingredients identified as effective in clinical studies
- customer reviews
A note on price
Like many skin care products, facial cleansers have a wide range of prices that vary based on ingredients, brand recognition, and other factors. Facial cleansers overall can range from $5 to $90 or more for the same amount of product, though most face washes are priced in the $10 to $30 range.
The price points for our picks are indicated by:
- $ = under $15
- $$ = $15–$40
PanOxyl Acne Creamy Wash, Benzoyl Peroxide 4%
Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most commonly used ingredients when managing skin oiliness and breakouts. It works by removing the bacteria that cause acne, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
While the AAD recommends starting with a small amount of product containing 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide to help clear up your skin, this PanOxyl face wash uses 4 percent benzoyl peroxide.
It’s true that a higher concentration of benzoyl peroxide can be a bit too irritating for those with extremely sensitive skin. But this product has the advantage of a creamy texture and a pH-balanced formula that’s filled with humectants and emollients.
These ingredients will help keep your skin hydrated and free of redness.
Buy PanOxyl Acne Creamy Face Wash, Benzoyl Peroxide 4%, online or find it in stores.
Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser
Salicylic acid is another ingredient to consider when you have oily skin. The AAD suggests it unclogs pores and prevents new breakouts.
This Kiehl’s wash uses salicylic acid — a chemical exfoliator — to clear out your pores. If your pores are on the larger side, it can help reduce their appearance.
The formula also has ingredients like zinc oxide and diotamaceous earth to help wash away and absorb oils.
Note that this product does contain oat kernel flour. Though it’s soothing for some skin types, this ingredient may act as an irritant for people with an oat allergy.
Buy Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser online or find it in select department stores.
Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser
This Vanicream cleanser is made without fragrances and parabens, which are chemical preservatives that increase a product’s shelf life. These two common product additives are harsh on your skin, according to the Environmental Working Group.
You might want to avoid these products if you have sensitive skin. And because sensitive skin is on the delicate side, it’s wise to talk with a board-certified dermatologist before using any kind of cleanser.
Although a product may claim to be a dermatologist-tested product, you still can’t be sure how your skin will respond to it. Your dermatologist can advise you on whether a cleanser is right for you and, if so, which type to choose.
SkinMedica Facial Cleanser
Combination skin, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is defined by a combination of oily, normal, and dry skin areas.
So, if you have combination skin, it’s important to select a wash suitable for all skin types. This ensures that you can address an oily T-zone and a dry forehead simultaneously, without disturbing your skin.
This SkinMedica face wash has panthenol (vitamin B5) as an ingredient. It acts as a lubricant on your skin and can soften your skin’s appearance.
It also contains Camellia oleifera extract, which comes from a green tea plant. Green tea has been studied and is thought to have qualities that can protect your skin from sun damage.
One downside: This isn’t the most budget-friendly cleanser on our list. While it’s a favorite of many estheticians and dermatologists, you can find dermatologist-recommended products for a lower price.
Buy SkinMedica Facial Cleanser online or purchase it from a local dermatologist authorized to sell SkinMedica products.
Holika Holika Aloe Facial Cleansing Foam
Aloe vera can be a good ingredient to use when you’re combating inflammation caused by breakouts. This Holika Holika foam uses pure aloe vera to gently cleanse your face without stripping it of moisture.
The product’s inexpensive price tag may be attractive to your budget, too.
But if you’re looking to avoid added fragrances, this product may not be the right one for you.
Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Removing Foam Wash
Summer can definitely spell trouble for oily skin because the heat and humidity can lead to more slick spots around your face.
With this in mind, you might want to try a foaming wash that incorporates oil-free ingredients. It may help keep grease and shine to a minimum.
This Cetaphil cleanser is oil-free and noncomedogenic, which means it won’t clog your pores. The foam can help gently cleanse your face, while ingredients like zinc soak up excess oils.
This could be a good bathroom staple to invest in: It gives you 8 ounces of product at a good price.
But because this wash can be on the clarifying side, you might experience dryness from daily use. In that case, you may want to rotate it with a more hydrating facial cleanser.
Buy Cetaphil’s DermaControl Oil Removing Foam Wash online or find it at select drugstores.
Acwell Bubble Free pH Balancing Cleanser
The cold winter air tends to dry out skin, making gentle face washes that contain a low pH level especially helpful.
This Acwell wash keeps its pH level on the low side (5.5), making it a good product to consider during the winter. Plus, it resolves oiliness using a formula enriched with aloe and salicylic acid, which won’t leave your skin red and inflamed.
The price tag is the main drawback of this pH-balanced face wash.
Garnier SkinActive Micellar Foaming Face Wash
If you have oily skin, it’s not enough to simply use makeup products that are noncomedogenic, meaning they won’t clog your pores. How you remove that makeup is just as important.
This Garnier foaming face wash was designed to gently remove makeup and greasiness from your face.
Keep in mind that some water-resistant makeup formulas may require an additional step: cleansing with wipes or cleansing balms. Waterproof eyeliners and mascaras can be particularly hard to remove with micellar water alone.
Using a facial cleanser is a great foundation for healthy hygiene. Many washes, foams, and gel-based products work well to remove irritants, dirt, and bacteria from your skin and pores.
When choosing a product, it’s important to keep in mind:
- product ingredients
- your skin type
- the pH-level of the product formula
Product labels are also worth taking into consideration. The AAD suggests many terms included on cleanser product packaging can be very misleading. These include phrases such as “for sensitive skin” and “hypoallergenic,” because they aren’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The AAD also advises being wary of product labels that claim a product is “all-natural.” A cleanser that contains some natural ingredients can also be combined with preservatives or other unwanted ingredients.
Although using a face wash seems pretty straightforward, how you cleanse your face can vary depending on your skin type and concerns.
For example, a 2011 review suggests that patients living with atopic dermatitis (a type of eczema) should wash twice daily with alkaline soap, while those with sensitive skin should use liquid-based cleansers that contain mild cleansing agents.
Whether you are living with balanced or acne-prone skin, it’s typically best to wash or rinse your face twice a day. This helps keep your skin free of dirt and bacteria that can collect in your pores.
If you want more personalized insight on what ingredients and products are best suited for your skin, it can be helpful to book an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist. They can help you develop a sound and simple skin care regimen that works well for your skin type.
Many face wash products continue to flood the market. So, before you actually buy one, you might want to figure out your skin type, your budget, and which product ingredients you want to look for or avoid. Keep in mind that many terms used on product labels aren’t regulated.
When it’s time to actually cleanse your face, it’s helpful to wash twice daily. Use a cleanser that contains the right ingredients for your skin care concerns.
It’s always a good idea to book an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist to get a professional opinion before selecting your go-to product.