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When it comes to washing your face, it can be tempting to reach for a regular bar of soap. After all, soap’s soap, right? Not quite.

While regular soap is fine for your body, it can be drying when used on your face. That’s partly because the skin on your face is thinner and more sensitive than the rest of your skin. Bar soap also has a higher pH level than your skin, which can strip the skin’s natural moisturizing factors, according to Barry D. Goldman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist.

“Long-term use of bar soap can leave skin dry, red, and irritated. Skin may lose its natural elasticity and feel tight,” says Goldman.

Cleansers designed specifically for your face can have different benefits depending on which one you choose. But they all have one thing in common: cleaner, clearer skin. While products marketed for men may offer extra benefits for male skin (which differs somewhat from female skin) don’t get too hung up on who it’s marketed toward. Instead, focus on ingredients and products made for your skin type.

Read on to learn about our top picks for different skin types, plus simple tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of your face wash.

We picked these products based on:

  • Ingredients. We looked for face washes that contain beneficial ingredients that actually live up to the hype.
  • Online reviews. We scoured retail sites and looked at ratings and reviews.
  • Affordability and availability. Many of the products on our list are under $10 and can easily be found at your local drugstore or online.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $10
  • $$ = $10–$20
  • $$$ = over $20

ProductPriceKey ingredientsProsCons
Clinique for Men Oil Control Face Wash$$$aloe, salicylic acid• anti-inflammatory and antibacterial
• contains salicylic acid, which can help with acne
• oil-free
• contains sodium laureth sulfate
• expensive
L’Oreal Men Expert Extreme Cleanser Infused with Charcoal$charcoal powder, salicylic acid• salicylic acid and charcoal may treat acne
• budget-friendly
• strong scent may not be ideal for some
Brickell Clarifying Gel Face Wash$$$geranium oil, gotu kola, aloe• safe for all skin types
• mostly natural and organic ingredients
• scent may not be ideal for some
Bulldog Skincare Sensitive Face Wash$baobab oil, oat oil, omega-3 fatty acids• fragrance-free and ideal for sensitive skin
• contains ingredients known to soothe dry skin and eczema
• some may not like thick consistency
• not ideal if you prefer scented face wash
Anthony Algae Facial Cleanser$$$algae, aloe, lavender• safe for sensitive skin
• dermatologist-tested
• free of parabens, phthalates, gluten, triclosan, GMOs, and DEA
• expensive
Paula’s Choice PC4MEN$$coco glucoside, aloe• gentle on sensitive skin
• aloe helps reduces redness
• some reviewers mention defective packaging
Nivea Men Moisturizing Face Wash$provitamin B5, glycerin• budget-friendly
• available in most stores
• paraben-free
• cruelty-free
• people with sensitive skin may find menthol irritating
Dove Men Care Hydrate + Face Wash$lauric acid, stearic acid, cetearyl alcohol• inexpensive
• can be found in most stores
• oils and fragrance may not be suitable for acne-prone skin
Jack Black Pure Clean Daily Facial Cleanser$$$sage leaf extract, glycerin• doubles as toner
• fragrance-, oil-, and sulfate-free
• rosemary extract may irritate sensitive skin or eczema
Lab Series for Men Multi-Action Face Wash$$$glycerin, peppermint oil• good for all skin types
• a little product goes a long way
• expensive
• cooling effect from the peppermint and menthol isn’t for everyone
Cetaphil Gentle Foaming Facial Cleanser$vitamin E, panthenol• inexpensive
• easy to find
• well-reviewed
• some consumers report it leaves a film
Andalou Naturals Men Refreshing Face Wash with CannaCell$hemp seed oil, hemp stem cells• all natural
• for all skin types
• a little bit goes a long way
• only available in a small tube
Lush Kalamazoo$$pineapple enzymes, almond oil, jojoba oil• beard-friendly
• softens facial hair
• ethical sourcing and recycled packaging
• some may find scent overpowering
Every Man Jack Face + Beard Wash$$aloe, glycerin• beard-friendly
• for all skin types
• scents get rave reviews
• not ideal for those who prefer unscented
Kiehl’s Facial Fuel$$caffeine, menthol, vitamin E• for all skin types
• paraben-free and alcohol-free
• tingling sensation may irritate sensitive skin
Every Man Jack Activated Charcoal Facial Wipes$activated charcoal, salicylic acid, glycerin, aloe• convenient; no need to rinse after use
• designed for oily and acne-prone skin
• paraben and phthalate-free Pi
• salicylic acid may irritate sensitive skin
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleansing Cloths$glycerin, aloe• convenient and inexpensive
• dermatologist developed and tested
• for all skin types
• can be used on the face and body
• contains parabens

Best for oily skin

Clinique for Men Oil Control Face Wash

  • Price: $$$
  • Key ingredients: aloe, salicylic acid
  • Key features: oil-free, gluten-free, won’t clog pores

This oil-free, gluten-free face wash contains aloe. While aloe is typically known as a soothing, calming ingredient, it also contains some salicylic acid, which has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. That makes aloe vera especially useful for oily skin since it can help get rid of bacteria and unclog pores.

One drawback to this product is that it contains sodium laureth sulfate. It’s not harmful in small amounts, but it can cause irritation in some people.

Pros

  • has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties
  • contains salicylic acid, which can help with acne
  • it’s oil-free and won’t clog pores

Cons

  • contains sodium laureth sulfate, which may cause irritation in some people

Best for acne-prone skin

L’Oreal Men Expert Extreme Cleanser Infused with Charcoal

  • Price: $
  • Key ingredients: charcoal powder, salicylic acid
  • Key features: combats oily skin and blackheads

With salicylic acid to alleviate inflammation and reduce bacteria, this face wash is a good choice for those dealing with acne. It also contains oak charcoal, which may help draw out bacteria and other impurities from the pores and reduce acne.

A 2019 study found that a charcoal mask enhanced skin cleansing by enlarging pores temporarily for a deeper clean.

Some consumers report it has a strong scent.

Pros

  • contains salicylic acid, which helps treat acne
  • contains charcoal which may help with acne and other skin conditions
  • budget-friendly

Cons

  • some users report it has a strong scent

Best clarifying face wash

Brickell Clarifying Gel Face Wash

  • Price: $$$
  • Key ingredients: geranium oil, gotu kola, aloe
  • Key features: brightens skin, safe for all skin types

This is one of the pricier options on our list, but users say a little goes a long way. Plus, it’s full of acne-fighting ingredients like geranium oil and aloe. It’s also got gotu kola extract, which can help boost collagen production and fade scars.

Cruelty-free and made with organic ingredients, this face wash is also free of phthalates, a potentially harmful ingredient that the Environmental Working Group (EWG) says can cause hormone changes and decreased sperm count.

Pros

  • can be used by all skin types
  • 97.5 percent natural, 72 percent organic

Cons

  • some consumers describe the scent as “too perfumey”

Best budget-friendly option for sensitive skin

Bulldog Skincare Sensitive Face Wash

  • Price: $
  • Key ingredients: baobab oil, oat oil, omega-3 fatty acids
  • Key features: fragrance-free, safe for sensitive skin

Fragrance-free and anti-inflammatory, this face wash is made with oat and baobab oils. If you have eczema, baobab and oat oils may be particularly useful for soothing dry, irritated, and even itchy skin. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids that can help moisturize and soothe skin.

All Bulldog products are vegan and cruelty-free.

Pros

  • fragrance-free
  • safe for sensitive skin
  • contains ingredients known to soothe dry skin and eczema

Cons

  • some reviewers aren’t a fan of the thick consistency or lack of scent

Best splurge for sensitive skin

Anthony Algae Facial Cleanser

  • Price: $$$
  • Key ingredients: algae, aloe, lavender
  • Key features: allergen- and dermatologist-tested, safe for sensitive skin

If you have sensitive skin and want to splurge, this high-end cleanser works for every penny. It’s allergen- and dermatologist-tested and free of parabens, phthalates, gluten, triclosan, GMOs, and DEA. The combination of skin-loving ingredients like algae, aloe, and lavender nourish, soothe, and moisturize your skin while it cleanses.

Research suggests that algae has anti-inflammatory and anti-aging benefits for skin.

It also doubles as a hydrating face mask.

Pros

  • safe for sensitive skin
  • allergen and dermatologist tested
  • free of parabens, phthalates, gluten, triclosan, GMOs, and DEA

Cons

  • cost

Best for combating redness

Paula’s Choice PC4MEN

  • Price: $$
  • Key ingredients: coco glucoside, aloe
  • Key features: fragrance-free, gentle, won’t clog pores

This fragrance-free Paula’s Choice face wash is made with coco glucoside, which is derived from coconut. It helps wash away dirt and oil without drying out your skin. The aloe soothes and reduces redness.

Consumers report excellent results on sensitive skin and very dry skin.

Pros

  • gentle on sensitive skin
  • reduces redness
  • paraben-free
  • cruelty-free

Cons

  • several reviews mention defective packaging

Best for dry skin

Nivea Men Moisturizing Face Wash

  • Price: $
  • Key ingredients: provitamin B5, glycerin
  • Key features: hydrates dry skin and locks in moisture

This face wash is made with two humectants: glycerin and provitamin B5. Humectants work by attracting water and bringing moisture back into the skin. An older study in 2013 confirmed that glycerin can help treat dry skin, and a 2016 study called glycerin the most effective humectant.

The ingredients list on this face wash includes menthol, which provides a cooling effect. While some people like this sensation, those with sensitive skin may find it irritating.

Pros

  • budget-friendly
  • available in most stores

Cons

  • people with sensitive skin may find the tingling effect produced by the menthol irritating

Best for normal-to-dry skin

Dove Men Care Hydrate + Face Wash

  • Price: $
  • Key ingredients: lauric acid, stearic acid, cetearyl alcohol
  • Key features: moisturizes, good for normal-to-dry skin

This face wash includes lauric acid, a lipid naturally found in coconut oil, and a fatty alcohol called cetearyl alcohol, both of which can help moisturize the skin.

If you’re looking for an affordable daily face wash for normal-to-dry skin or seasonal dryness, this may be a good option.

It also contains stearic acid, which is a surfactant. Surfactants lower the surface tension of water, allowing it to blend with and wash away dirt and oils.

Many reviewers report this product has a mild, fresh scent.

It contains oils and fragrance and may not be the best choice if you have acne-prone skin.

Pros

  • inexpensive
  • can be found in most stores

Cons

  • ingredients include oils and fragrance which may not be suitable for acne

Best cleanser and toner combo

Jack Black Pure Clean Daily Facial Cleanser

  • Price: $$$
  • Key ingredients: sage leaf extract, glycerin
  • Key features: fragrance-free, sulfate-free, oil-free, leaves skin shave-ready

Fragrance-free, sulfate-free, and oil-free, this cleanser uses glycerin to help moisturize dry skin. It also contains sage leaf extract. Studies show that scalerol, which is found in sage, may help fight signs of aging.

It also contains chamomile extract for a soothing effect and witch hazel, which is known as a natural skin toner.

This face wash also contains rosemary extract, which can cause irritation in people with sensitive skin or eczema.

Pros

  • doubles as a cleanser and toner
  • doesn’t contain fragrance, oil, or sulfates

Cons

  • contains rosemary extract which may irritate sensitive skin or eczema

Best for normal skin

Lab Series for Men Multi-Action Face Wash

  • Price: $$$
  • Key ingredients: glycerin, peppermint oil
  • Key features: safe for all skin types, gentle exfoliating action, cooling sensation

Great for all skin types, this face wash has a slightly gritty texture to remove dead skin cells. It uses glycerin to moisturize skin while peppermint and menthol extract provide a cooling sensation.

This is a pricier product that comes in a small, almost travel-sized tube. However, users say a little goes a long way.

Pros

  • good for all skin types
  • a little product goes a long way

Cons

  • pricier than other brands
  • not everyone enjoys the tingly, cooling effect from the peppermint and menthol

Best drugstore face wash

Cetaphil Gentle Foaming Facial Cleanser

  • Price: $
  • Key ingredients: vitamin E, panthenol
  • Key features: hypoallergenic, safe for all skin types, designed for sensitive skin

Chances are you know someone who uses this cleanser. It’s a no-frills, hypoallergenic formula that’s designed for sensitive skin but can work for all skin types.

With vitamin E and panthenol, it’s easy on the skin while still being tough on dirt and oil. Plus, it’s inexpensive and easy to find in most stores. It’s also recommended by many dermatologists.

Some consumers report that the product leaves a bit of a slimy film on the skin.

Pros

  • inexpensive
  • easy to find
  • one of the most highly reviewed face washes

Cons

  • some consumers report it leaves a film on the skin

Best natural face wash

Andalou Naturals Men Refreshing Face Wash with CannaCell

  • Price: $
  • Key ingredients: hemp seed oil, hemp stem cells
  • Key features: all-natural, effective for all skin types

This all-natural cleanser is made with hemp seed oil and hemp stem cells to provide vitamins and antioxidants. It also contains aloe vera to help soothe and soften skin.

Citrus extracts and mint leaf oil have a refreshing effect that leaves the skin feeling energized.

It’s rated well by the EWG, which rates products based on the safety of their ingredients.

It’s only available in a tiny tube, but users say a little amount goes a long way.

Pros

  • all natural
  • effective for all skin types
  • a little bit of product goes a long way

Cons

  • only available in a small tube

Best overall to use with facial hair

Lush Kalamazoo

  • Price: $$
  • Key ingredients: pineapple enzymes, almond oil, jojoba oil
  • Key features: acts and a beard wash and softener

This face wash works double-time as a cleanser for both your beard and your skin. Pineapple enzymes wash away dirt, while a blend of almond and jojoba oil tame and soften facial hair.

Based on user reviews — the majority of which are positive — people without beards also love how soft and clean it leaves the skin.

Lush practices ethical sourcing for their ingredients, uses recycled packaging, and doesn’t test on animals, so you can feel good about your purchase, too.

Pros

  • cleanses skin and beard
  • softens facial hair
  • ethical sourcing and recycled packaging

Cons

  • most users love the scent, but a few found it overpowering

Best smelling

Every Man Jack Face + Beard Wash

  • Price: $$
  • Key ingredients: aloe, glycerin
  • Key features: suitable for all skin types and beards of all sizes

Another all-in-one product, this wash from Every Man Jack cleanses and hydrates. It contains beneficial ingredients like aloe and glycerin that help soothe skin and soften beards of all lengths.

It’s available in different scents that, while subtle, get rave reviews.

It’s ethically made in the United States and uses mostly natural or plant-based ingredients.

Pros

  • works as a facial and beard wash
  • suitable for all skin types and beards of any size
  • the scents get rave reviews

Cons

  • some reviewers don’t like the scent

Most energizing

Kiehl’s Facial Fuel

  • Price: $$
  • Key ingredients: caffeine, menthol, vitamin E
  • Key features: for all skin types, paraben-free, alcohol-free

With ingredients like caffeine and menthol, it’s no wonder that this product is described as “invigorating”, “refreshing”, and “energizing.” These ingredients help perk up your skin while vitamin E provides moisture and antioxidant protection.

It’s paraben-free and alcohol-free.

This face wash produces a mild tingling sensation that some people may not enjoy.

Pros

  • safe for all skin types
  • paraben-free and alcohol-free

Cons

  • the tingling sensation may feel irritating to people with sensitive skin

Best facial wipes for oily and acne-prone skin

Every Man Jack Activated Charcoal Facial Wipes

  • Price: $
  • Key features: convenient, won’t clog pores, made for oily and acne-prone skin
  • Key ingredients: activated charcoal, salicylic acid, glycerin, aloe

These facial wipes are made for providing oily and acne-prone skin with a deep but gentle clean on the go.

Ingredients like activated charcoal and salicylic acne help remove dirt and bacteria from pores while aloe soothes the skin.

It contains no parabens, phthalates, harmful chemicals, or dyes.

Pros

  • convenient; no need to rinse after use
  • designed for oily and acne-prone skin
  • paraben and phthalate-free

Cons

  • salicylic acid can cause irritation and dryness

Most gym bag-worthy

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleansing Cloths

  • Price: $
  • Key features: convenient, dermatologist-developed and tested, non-comedogenic, safe for sensitive skin
  • Key ingredients: glycerin, aloe

These wipes let you wash your face on the go and are good for all skin types, including sensitive skin. You can also use them on the rest of your body, making them worthy of a spot in your gym bag.

Glycerin and aloe moisturize and soothe the skin as you cleanse.

They have a 4.6 star rating on Amazon based on more than 26,000 reviews.

They’re developed and tested by dermatologists, non-comedogenic, and fragrance-free, which makes them a good option even for acne-prone skin.

Pros

  • convenient
  • inexpensive
  • dermatologist developed and tested
  • designed for sensitive skin but can be used on all skin types
  • can be used on the face and body

Cons

  • contains parabens

There are lots of different types of cleansers designed specifically to be used on your face. Most often, you’ll find:

  • Creams. Great for normal, dry, or sensitive skin, cream cleansers are thick and moisturizing.
  • Gels. With a jelly-like consistency, gel cleansers are best used on normal or oily skin.
  • Foams. Foam cleansers usually come in a pump bottle. They lather easily and work well on combination or oily skin.

Some brands also make scrubs, which have a gritty or beaded texture to help slough off dead skin cells. They’re not usually meant for daily use, since they can irritate skin when used too frequently.

You can also find bar soap made specifically for facial skin.

When looking for a face wash, start by thinking about your skin type. Many products will be marketed specifically toward certain types of skin.

If you’re not sure what type of skin you have, think about how your skin generally feels a couple hours after a shower.

People with oily skin will start to notice their skin looks shiny and feels oily, while those with dry skin will notice rough patches or flakiness. Combination skin falls somewhere in between, while normal skin looks neither oily nor dry.

You may also want to consider your current skin care routine and the price of the product. Many ace washes are available for around or under $10. If you come across one that’s more expensive, check the ingredients to be sure it’s worth the extra cash.

It may take trial and error to figure out what works best for you, but many people find success washing their face twice a day.

If you exercise or live in a hot climate, you may need to wash your face more frequently. Sweating can irritate your skin and cause breakouts.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using lukewarm water to wash your face. It also suggests washing with your fingertips since scrubbing with a washcloth or washing vigorously can irritate skin. Pat-dry rather than rubbing.

It’s always best to do a patch test when trying a new product, just in case you have a negative reaction.

To do this, put a little product on your wrist and wait 24 hours. If there’s any sign of redness, itching, or burning, don’t use the product. If your skin looks and feels normal, you should be good to go.

What’s the difference between male and female face wash?

Ingredients and formulations vary between brands, so it’s hard to pinpoint specific differences between products marketed specifically for men. Some manufacturers may take into consideration the differences between male and female skin and common needs and preferences.

“Men’s skin is typically thicker than women’s skin. Men also have larger pores,” Goldman says.

The stresses of regular shaving and hormones also contribute to the differences between men’s and women’s skin.

According to Goldman, men also typically prefer a simpler routine, like having one product that does everything. “I estimate half of men use the same soap on their face as they do on their body, which can cause dryness and irritation,” says Goldman.

Can men use women’s skin products?

“In short, men can use products marketed for women and vice versa as tolerated,” says Goldman.

This comes back to choosing the right ingredients for your skin.

“I don’t think men necessarily need their own product line, but they have to figure out their skin type and look for products that are right for them,” says Goldman.

Can women use a men’s face wash?

Yes, but again, the focus should be on your skin type, followed by your preferences.

Doing your homework on a product before use can help you decide if a product may be right for you, regardless of the demographic it’s marketed to. Check the manufacturer’s website or read the label to see what the product contains and what it’s supposed to do.

Using a face wash designed specifically for facial skin can yield great results, keeping your skin clean and healthy.

Look for a product made for your skin type, and watch for beneficial ingredients to help control oil or moisturize dry skin. Always do a patch test before trying any new product.