The 5 Best Gentle Face Washes
When it comes to a great cleanser, even the oiliest faces can agree that the ideal choices are non-stripping and non-irritating. That's why the best gentle face washes suit all skin types, even if your skin isn't particularly sensitive.
As general rules, you want a formula that's free of drying ingredients like denatured alcohol and has moisturizing ones — think ceramides, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid. And even if your skin is oily, avoid washing it more than twice a day and use an oil-absorbing sheet during the day instead. Over-washing is a big cause of all that excess oil.
If you do have sensitive skin, any kind of fragrance should be avoided including essential oils. Even though they are natural and work for some people, they can also cause irritation, especially when used in large doses. Consider choosing a creamy wash. While these won't give you a squeaky clean feeling, they are also much less likely to dry out your skin. Exfoliating ingredients like glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acids should also be avoided in your wash since they can be a little too intense.
Just because you're not irritating your skin doesn't mean you won't get a deep clean. These picks for best gentle face washes will remove dirt and makeup without causing unwanted reactions.
1. The Best Overall Gentle Face Wash
Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser, 6 Fl. Oz.
Free of fragrance and soap, this dermatologist-recommended wash from Aveeno still manages to foam and remove dirt, oil, and even makeup without irritating your face. Packed with calming feverfew extract, redness-reducing soy protein, and strengthening amino acids, it works for most skin types. Best yet, the price is right, too.
Reviewers say: "I can't believe how well this washes my face! I wear heavy makeup to cover up my rosacea and it takes it off so well. It's so light and airy and foamy. No irritation for me at all. ... It was recommended by my dermatologist, and I will continue to use this."
2. A Gentle, Non-Drying Face Wash For Oily Skin
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Purifying Foaming Cleanser, 13.5 Fl. Oz.
When it comes to formulas that are less likely to irritate, try to keep the ingredients list short. This bottle for normal to oily skin fits the bill while staying soap-, sulfate-, fragrance-, and paraben-free and including beneficial ingredients like moisturizing ceramide and redness-reducing niacinamide. Tested by dermatologists, this will clean off dirt, oil, and all but the most stubborn waterproof makeup without flare-ups.
Reviewers say: "I have very sensitive skin that jumps between acne, drying out, and oily. This cleanser is gentle enough to use every day (twice as necessary) without negative side effects. ... It's what I always use since I found it from a sample pack at the dermatologist."
3. The Best Gentle Wash For Dry Skin
First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser, 5 Fl. Oz.
Those with dry skin should consider First Aid Beauty's cult-favorite cleanser renowned for being gentle and hydrating thanks to the soothing allantoin, glow-giving aloe, and antioxidants. The creamy formula also skips the fragrance, sulfates, and alcohol. While it's not the cheapest choice, users reported that a dime of product is all it takes to clean effectively.
Reviewers say: "I have sensitive combo skin and this stuff doesn't irritate it and actually seems to actually soothe redness. I have also noticed a significant decrease in breakouts since I started using it."
4. A Gentle Exfoliating Face Wash For Acne-Prone Skin
CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser, 8 Fl. Oz.
A great choice for those who suffer from acne, this bottle from CeraVe with salicylic acid cleans deep into the pores to decrease congestion, dirt, oil, and makeup but still manages to be gentle. Fragrance-free and developed by dermatologists, all except very dry and very sensitive skin types can benefit from the ceramides-rich formula.
Reviewers say: "I have sensitive skin that breaks out when I try most new skin-care and makeup products. But not with CeraVe. I've been using their face products for about 8 years now and no breakouts at all. Suggested by a friend, glad I followed her advice."
5. The Best Face Wash For Eczema And Super-Sensitive Skin
Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser, 8 Fl. Oz.
For those dealing with extra sensitive and dry skin, dermatologist-tested Vanicream is your best choice. The extra-short ingredients list of this bottle is so moisturizing, it not only helps dry types but also with symptoms of eczema and psoriasis like severe itching and flaking.
Reviewers say: "I swear, I have the most sensitive skin on the planet. I've had combination skin my whole life, am acne-prone due to my sensitivities, and easily dry out with most cleansers or when the weather is harsh. I also have dealt with bouts of perioral dermatitis. This is the only cleanser that has worked for me to combat everything I have just mentioned. ... I literally washed my face with this one evening, and the next day my skin had quieted down. So I kept at it, and now I have the clearest, smoothest, softest skin I have ever had."
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