The Best Face Washes for Your Skin Type
No two complexions are alike — and neither are facial cleansers. Washing your face is the first step of any skincare routine and it's one that absolutely cannot be skipped over. That being said, the type of face wash or cleanser you use is just important.
But before we get started, Dr. Kenneth Howe, a board-certified dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology in New York City, explains that it's always good to know exactly what you're rinsing off your face every day. "The skin is our interface with the outside world, and so it gets subjected to a certain amount of build-up," he says. "Our skin’s own oils, any make-up that’s applied, sunscreens, environmental pollutants, garden-variety grit or dirt, even residue from cleansers themselves — all of that stuff accumulates on the skin’s surface over the course of a typical day."
If that makes you want to go and wash your face right now, same.
When it comes to the cleansers themselves, Dr. Howe says the best way to clean your face, and the product you use to do so, varies from person to person, because everyone's skin is so different. However, the dermatologist does have some face wash and cleanser recommendations for various skin types that just might end your search for the right product.
Keep scrolling to discover the best face wash for your skin type, along with what makes each cleanser so great.
- Best Overall: Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser with Cottonseed
- Best for Dry Skin: CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
- Best for Oily Skin: Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser
- Best for Sensitive Skin: Cetaphil Gentle Daily Facial Cleanser
- Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Differin Daily Deep Cleanser with Benzoyl Peroxide
- Best for Mature Skin: SK-II Facial Treatment Cleanser
- Best for Combination Skin: Youth to the People Superfood Antioxidant Cleanser
Best Overall: Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser with Cottonseed
Dr. Howe says this Clarins cleanser is a good fit for a number of different skin types. With a gentle formula (thanks to soothing cottonseed) it removes makeup and cleans skin without stripping it dry.
Best for Dry Skin: CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
This drugstore cleanser is packed with ceramides, which is why Dr. Howe recommends it for dry skin. "Ceramides are the waxy lipids that form an essential part of our skin’s natural barrier. (They’re the mortar in the bricks-and-mortar model of the skin.)," he says. A strong barrier is what locks in hydration.
Best for Oily Skin: Drunk Elephant Baste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser
"Unless you’re deep in the throes of puberty, oily skin still needs to be treated carefully," says Dr. Howe. "Cleansers that are too aggressive or harsh can leave oily skin irritated, rough, or dry — and will still have a surface sheen on top of that." Instead, he suggests a mild cleanser that washes away excess oil, not all of your skin's moisture. Packed with cleansing cononut-based surfectants, hydrating glycerin, and soothing antioxdiants, Drunk Elephant's Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser checks off all the boxes.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Cetaphil Gentle Daily Facial Cleanser
Without any fragrances or harsh soaps, this mild, but effective drugstore staple is a great option for sensitive skin types.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Differin Daily Deep Cleanser with Benzoyl Peroxide
Benzoyl peroxide is the gold-standard of acne-fighting ingredients because it kills bacteria and is anti-inflammatory. This means it can open up and unclog pores, plus minimize inflammation. And that's exactly why Dr. Howe is a fan of Differin's Daily Deep Cleanser for acne-prone skin. It deep cleans pores thanks to micronized benzoyl peroxide.
Best for Mature Skin: SK-II Facial Treatment Cleanser
SK-II's cleanser is meant to be the second step of a double cleansing routine, but it's strong enough to be used on its own. "It cleans while also hydrating, all while delivering a potent dose of Pitera, SK-II’s signature anti-aging ingredient," says Dr. Howe. On top of cleaning and hydrating skin, this cleanser can improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles with continued use.
Best for Combination Skin: Youth To The People Superfood Antioxidant Cleanser
The ingredients in Youth To The People's cleanser sound like the ideal recipe for a green juice, but the blend is also an ideal skincare formula for combination skin. Kale and spinache soothe and keep the dry areas of your face balanced, while anti-bacterial and anti-infammatory green tea declogs pores on your oily T-zone.