The 17 Best Face Washes of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

Dr. Loretta Gentle Hydrating Cleanser removes every trace of dirt and makeup in a single rinse, without stripping your skin

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17 Best Face Washes of 2022

InStyle / Brian Kopinski

I’ll be the first to admit it: When I’m browsing around for face wash, I am (slightly) overwhelmed by the amount of options out there. As if choosing between foam, gel, and cream formulas wasn’t enough, finding one that works for my skin type and needs feels nearly impossible. 

To cut out the confusion (and to make selecting a top-tier facial cleanser a seamless experience), we put 38 highly-rated formulas to the test to find the best of the best. A handful of testers tried every formula keeping in mind ease of use, feel, cleansing effectiveness, skin hydration levels, and overall skin appearance. In the end, we found that Dr. Loretta Gentle Hydrating Cleanser effortlessly washes away makeup, dirt, and grime while replenishing hydration — and it does all of this without any irritating ingredients. 

No matter your skin type of concern, there’s a face wash on this list that will become a must-have in your routine. Read on to find the best face cleansers, according to InStyle testers.

Best Overall

Dr. Loretta Gentle Hydrating Cleanser

5
Dr. Loretta Gentle Hydrating Cleanser

Saks Fifth Avenue

What We Love: The sulfate-free formula effectively cleanses without stripping away your skin’s natural oils.

What We Don't Love: You can’t unscrew the cap which makes it difficult to get the last bit of product out. 

We know, we know. You’re probably wondering what a high-end cleanser can do that a drugstore one cannot. Our tester came in with that same skepticism, only to find that this gentle hydrating cleanser from Dr. Loretta feels like a dream. “I wondered if I would feel dry after lathering it onto my face, but I was surprised to find myself feeling refreshed and hydrated,” she says. Though washing your face can feel like an ordinary task, this cleanser turns it into a full sensorial experience thanks to the calming marine-herbal fragrance that combines notes of chamomile and algae. Along with the botanicals, marine peptides boost hydration, while the lack of sulfates, parabens, and silicones help calm and balance redness to prevent irritation.  

What really puts this cleanser at the top of our list is the visible results. Our tester says that after rinsing, no trace of makeup could be found. Instead, she was left with refreshed skin that was “significantly softer than before.” And, if you want an even deeper clean, it can be left on for three to five minutes as a detoxifying treatment. Regardless of how you use it, your complexion will feel supple and look rejuvenated.  With a product so impressive, you’ll want to use every last drop — but that may be a bit difficult because the bottle can’t be unscrewed, leaving the last bit (sadly) unreachable. Despite that packaging misstep, this is one product that you’ll want to continue purchasing again and again. 

Price at time of publish: $35

Size: 6.8 fl oz. | Scented: Yes | Active Ingredients: Glycolic acid, Glycerin, Chamomile | Skin Type: Dry and sensitive 

Best Splurge

SkinCeuticals Purifying Cleanser

4.7
SkinCeuticals Purifying Cleanser

Dermstore

What We Love: It removes excess oil without drying out your skin. 

What We Don’t Love: While it makes skin feel great, the visible results aren’t noteworthy.

My goal is to always have soft, clear, hydrated skin. If you feel the same, then using this purifying cleanser can make that goal a reality. Anyone with oily skin (hi, hello) will find that this gentle, lightweight formula effectively removes dirt and residue without stripping your skin — this is thanks to the exfoliating and hydrating ingredients like glycolic acid (which dissolves dead skin cell buildup) and glycerin (which delivers intense hydration). Our tester was impressed by this duality: “This product is both hydrating and cleansing which works perfectly with my skin,” she says. “My skin feels much better than it did before.”

When mixed with water, the gel texture transforms to a foam, which allows it to dive deep into pores. Once rinsed and patted dry, our tester notes that while she didn’t see any major difference in her complexion, her skin felt much more supple. That said, If you’re looking for a brightening cleanser or even something that effectively removes blackheads, this probably isn’t for you. But, if you want your skin to feel clean and plush, then this is exactly what you should grab.  

Price at time of publish: $38

Size: 6.8 fl oz. | Scented: No | Active Ingredients: Glycolic acid and Glycerin | Skin Type: Normal, oily, and combination

Best Budget

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

5
CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

Amazon

What We Love: At 16 ounces, this offers the most product at the best value. 

What We Don't Love: This cleanser may not be the best option for people with oily skin.

Before Insta-famous skincare lines came about, there was CeraVe — the drugstore brand has been a mainstay in people’s medicine cabinets for years because of its affordable yet effective formulas. And while we love almost everything the brand has to offer, nothing tops the Hydrating Facial Cleanser. Beyond having the National Eczema Association’s seal of approval, this sensitive skin-friendly cleanser is chock full of skin-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and glycerin, that work together to reduce fine lines, increase hydration, and banish dryness.  When our tester gave this a try, she could barely believe how quickly and effectively it removed all her makeup. “My makeup slid right off without any harsh rubbing,” she exclaims. “It washed my skin perfectly, and removed all dirt without the need for a second cleanse.” 

At 16 ounces, you also get a major value (most of the other cleansers on our list are between five to eight ounces). We can’t sing enough praises on this cleanser, but those with oily skin might not find it effective enough at sloughing away dirt and debris. Luckily, CeraVe has a slew of other face washes formulated for different skin types, making it easy to find one that fits your needs. 

Price at time of publish: $15

Size: 16 fl. oz | Scented: No | Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, Ceramides, Glycerin | Skin Type: Sensitive, dry, and normal

Best for Eczema

First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser

4.7
First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser

Amazon

What We Love: It’s pH-balanced, which helps reduce eczema flare ups and inflammation.

What We Don't Love: It is not as moisturizing as other products on this list.

This First Aid Beauty face cleanser was specifically made for sensitive skin types, especially those prone to eczema flare ups. Similar to a rich moisturizer, the formula is thick and creamy, but rest assured it beautifully melts into skin and thoroughly removes the day’s makeup along with dirt and sweat as it’s massaged in (you’ll really see it start to work its magic with a splash of water).

pH-balanced and infused with antioxidants, the gentle formula helps protect skin from irritating flare ups and maintains the skin's moisture barrier (which is key for keeping your skin healthy). Our tester, who has dry, sensitive skin that’s prone to acne, hesitates on incorporating new cleansers into her routine. However, she found herself very pleased with this one, saying that it exceeded her expectations. “This cleanser lathered up nicely and was easy to massage into my skin to remove all of my face makeup,” she explains. “I didn't feel like it over-stripped my skin or left me feeling too tight or dry. ” Despite the creamy texture, she says it didn’t leave her skin feeling as hydrated as she anticipated, so be sure to layer on your trusty hydrating serums and creams after cleansing. 

Price at time of publish: $23

Size: 5 oz | Scented: No | Active Ingredients: Glycerin | Skin Type: Oily, combination, dry, and normal

Best for Sensitive Skin

Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser

4.4
Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser

Amazon

What We Love: It’s fragrance free and extremely gentle.

What We Don’t Love: It’s not the best at removing concealers and foundation.

If you have sensitive skin, you’re probably used to hearing what you shouldn’t put on your skin (sulfates, dyes, and fragrances top the list, but it can get pretty lengthy). Luckily, you won’t find any of those questionable ingredients in this cleanser from Vanicream: Everything that can be harsh and irritating has been removed, so you’re left with a cleanser that gently washes the day away. Our tester, who has combination-sensitive skin, loved this cleanser from the moment she tried it. “This feels wonderful on my skin when lathering and washing,” she says. “It doesn’t leave my face feeling tight or dry — my skin actually feels quite hydrated.” That said, she did say there were traces of makeup (like eyeliner and mascara) left on her face — this is due to the gentle nature of the formula. In order to get a full, deep clean, our tester recommends using a makeup remover before cleansing with this. On days when you don’t wear makeup, though, this will be a trusty one-and-done cleanser. 

Price at time of publish: $9

Size: 8 fl. oz | Scented: No | Active Ingredients: Glycerin | Skin Type: Sensitive

Best Sustainable

Blueland Facial Cleanser Starter Set

4.9
Blueland Facial Cleanser Starter Set

Blueland

What We Love: Blueland offers a subscription service.

What We Don't Love: It’s a gentle cleanser, therefore not the best at removing excess oil.

Blueland has a mission to eliminate single use plastic bottles, which is why refills of this cleanser arrive in powder packets — all you have to do is mix it with water, shake, and voila: You have a ready-to-use gel cleanser at your fingertips. Made up of clean ingredients such as oat, kaolin clay, and vitamin E, this cleanser is pH-balanced to help ward off skin flare-ups and keep your complexion clear and happy. Despite being a gentle cleanser, our tester says that it did a great job of cleansing her skin. “My pores felt more open and my skin could breathe better,” she says. “I got compliments from a couple of my co-workers about how clean and rejuvenated my skin looked after testing this.”

While there’s no commitment to subscribe, Blueland’s subscription service is as smart as it gets. With the starter pack you get the forever bottle (that you use over and over again) and one refill packet. If you love it, you can choose to get refill pouches sent directly to you every three to six months, but you also have the option to cancel at any time.  

Price at time of publish: $16 for the starter kit, $9 for one refill packet

Size: 8 fl. oz | Scented: No | Active Ingredients: Vitamin E, Kaolin clay, and Coconut acids | Skin Type: Sensitive and combination

Best Gel

iS Clinical Cleansing Complex

4.9
iS Clinical Cleansing Complex

Bluemercury

What We Love: The chamomile scent is very natural and clean.

What We Don’t Love: You’ll probably need to repurchase often because the bottle isn’t very big.

Chamomile is a wonderful ingredient that can accelerate cell renewal and give you a more youthful glow — and it happens to be the star ingredient in iS Clinical Cleansing Complex. Other noteworthy ingredients include centella asiatica, which helps diminish the appearance of premature aging, and sugarcane, which gently exfoliates. In one wash, the gel formula completely breaks down and removes dirt, leaving your complexion looking visibly brighter and smoother, and feeling well-hydrated. “This cleanser didn’t make me feel tight or dry at all,” says our tester. “If anything, it left my face feeling so much more moisturized.” 

While it does have a slight scent, our tester — who has sensitive skin — didn’t mind it. In fact, the mild, natural scent enhanced the overall face washing experience. Rather than the fragrance, the one thing we’d change is the size of the product — you’ll only get two ounces (which isn’t a lot), so if you wash your face regularly you’ll probably have to repurchase often. 

Price at time of publish: $25

Size: 2 fl. oz | Scented: Yes | Active Ingredients: Chamomile extract and Centella asiatica | Skin Type: Dry and acne-prone

Best for Combination Skin

KraveBeauty Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser

5
KraveBeauty Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser

KraveBeauty

What We Love: Matcha is filled with antioxidants that help boost your skin’s microcirculation. 

What We Don’t Love: It doesn’t do the best job at removing makeup.

To our friends with combination skin, we know how frustrating it can be to find a product that works double duty — but KraveBeauty Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser doesn’t disappoint. This cleanser leans on the natural powers of hemp seed oil, along with the antioxidant-rich properties of matcha, to give you an intensely hydrating and soothing gel that boosts your skin’s microcirculation. Vitamin B5 and sodium PCA help intensify matcha’s moisturizing capabilities as well. While this combo does a great job at removing any oils, it doesn't break down the skin barrier (a good thing!). Instead, it supplies it with essential nutrients like amino acids, which helps skin retain moisture. In other words, it evens out an unbalanced skin tone.  

“I would highly recommend this product to anyone, especially with combination skin, hyperpigmentation, dryness, roughness, uneven texture, or sensitive skin,” says our tester. That’s a lot of people who would benefit from this face wash. Note that its natural ingredients make it less effective in removing thick makeup. Because of this, the brand recommends using a makeup remover beforehand. 

Price at time of publish: $16

Size: 4.05 fl. oz | Scented: No | Active Ingredients: Hemp oil, Matcha, Glycerin | Skin Type: Combination, dry, and sensitive

Best for Oily Skin

Hyper Skin Hyper Even Gentle Brightening Cleansing Gel

4.9
Hyper Skin Hyper Even Gentle Brightening Cleansing Gel

Sephora

What We Love: It does an excellent job at removing all of your makeup and cleansing your skin, without overdrying.

What We Don’t Love: It does come with a mild fragrance, which may irritate hyper-sensitive skin types.

Oily skin is the gift that keeps on giving — whether you like it or not. Typically, removing all of that oil comes with the price of over-drying and irritating your skin. We went on a mission to find a product that effectively rids you of excess shine while providing a healthy dose of hydration, and we struck gold: Meet the gentle brightening gel cleanser from Hyper Skin that cleared our tester’s clogged pores and made her look bright and refreshed.

You won’t need to use a separate makeup remover because this product removes it all — even stubborn mascara. “The cleanser didn’t leave behind any residue at all,” says our tester. “I did have to rub a bit more to get off my eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick, but it removed all traces of makeup which surprised me.” While washing your face in the sink might not exactly evoke feelings of a spa-like treatment, that’s exactly how our tester describes using this. “My face feels like it just experienced a luxurious bath — this cleanser is the perfect combination of what I need to fully cleanse my skin without over-stripping my dry areas.” 

Price at time of publish: $28

Size: 5 oz | Scented: Yes | Active Ingredients: Mandelic acid, Bearberry, Willow bark | Skin Type: Normal, oily, and combination

Best for Redness

EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser

4.8
EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser

Amazon

What We Love: The mild cucumber scent adds to the overall experience. 

What We Don’t Love: Compared to some of the other products on this list, it doesn’t leave skin very hydrated.

If you’re prone to redness, EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser is here to calm your complexion. Together, enzymes, amino acids, and cucumber reduce inflammation and repair damaged skin while also gently removing dirt — all without irritation. “My face was left feeling very clean and refreshed, not stripped or overly dry,” our tester explains. She appreciates how it easily removed every bit of makeup, including waterproof mascara (although, it did require some extra rubbing).

Cucumber doesn’t just contribute to the calming benefits, it also provides a soothing scent that adds to the overall experience. In fact, it’s so subtle that even those with sensitive skin will enjoy it. “I can be sensitive to fragrance but my skin didn't seem to react to this face wash,” says our tester. “It isn’t overwhelming at all.” Keep in mind that because this is a foaming wash, it’s inherently not as hydrating as other options on this list, so be sure to have a moisturizer on hand to replenish your complexion after using this. 

Price at time of publish: $31

Size: 7 fl. oz | Scented: Yes | Active Ingredients: Bromelain enzymes, Amino acids, Cucumber | Skin Type: All

Best for Hyperpigmentation

innisfree Hydrating Cleansing Foam with Green Tea

4.7
Innisfree Hydrating Cleansing Foam with Green Tea

Amazon

What We Love: The cleanser does a great job at clearing out pores and removing makeup, and a little goes a long way.

What We Don’t Love: The green tea scent can be irritating to some.

Green tea (in my opinion) is one of the most underrated ingredients in skincare. The benefits are almost endless, as it’s rich in antioxidants, full of caffeine (let’s wake that skin up shall we?), has anti-inflammatory effects, treats acne, and, of course, evens out skin tone. And green tea is what really makes this option from innisfree an A+ cleanser. Our tester found that the thick, creamy formula worked well in removing the day's makeup and dirt (without over-stripping her skin). “The cleanser seemed to clear out my pores really well even without using a facial cleansing brush,” she says. While she adored how it felt on her skin, she was a bit wary of the green tea scent. So if you find that fragrances can be irritating you may want to skip this pick. But overall, at just $10, this cleanser does an incredible job at evening out skin tone and removing grime.  

Price at time of publish: $10

Size: 5.07 fl. oz | Scented: Yes | Active Ingredients: Jeju green tea extract and Glycerin | Skin Type: Normal, combination, and oily

Best for Acne

PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash

4.7
PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash

Walmart

What We Love: It’s incredibly effective at treating acne and rosacea thanks to the benzoyl peroxide in the formula

What We Don’t Love: It is very drying, so perhaps not the best option for people with dry skin.

To our friends with dry skin, feel free to keep scrolling. But for everyone else with acne prone or oily skin, let us introduce you to a top-tier cleanser: The PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash. Made with 10 percent benzoyl peroxide — a powerful ingredient that reduces the amount of acne-causing bacteria — this cleanser effectively lifts pore-clogging debris and washes away harmful bacteria for a deep clean.

How deep of a clean are we talking? Well, our tester couldn’t find a drop of oil, makeup, or dirt left on her skin. “I was quite surprised how it took off a full face of foundation in one try,” she says. “It broke down my makeup very quickly and didn’t leave any residue.” With a strong concentration of benzoyl peroxide, it’s extra important to follow up with a moisturizer as the ingredient can be extremely drying. But you can rest assured knowing your complexion will be squeaky clean. 

Price at time of publish: $10

Size: 5.5 fl. oz | Scented: No | Active Ingredients: Benzoyl peroxide | Skin Type: Oily and acne-prone

Best for Blackheads

Differin Daily Refreshing Face Wash

4.5
Differin Daily Refreshing Face Wash

Amazon

What We Love: This works especially well with oily skin.

What We Don’t Love: It claims to not have a scent, but we found that it has a strong chemical smell.

Pesky blackheads always overstay their welcome, but we found something that will clear them out and keep them at bay: Differin Daily Refreshing Cleanser digs deep to remove excess oils and debris that cause blackheads. Though many acne-fighting cleansers foam up, this one doesn’t — instead it has a gentler gel formula that lightly sloughs away dirt and makeup. If you have periodic acne and blackhead build up rather than chronic breakouts, this is something to keep on hand because it’s more suited for normal skin and isn’t stripping. Though our tester likes how this cleanser made her skin look, she says it has a chemical scent that is extremely off-putting — which is something to consider if you’re scent-averse.

Price at time of publish: $10

Size: 6 fl. oz | Scented: No | Active Ingredients: Glycerin, Pro-vitamin B complex | Skin Type: Sensitive and oily

Best Anti-Aging

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta AHA/BHA Daily Cleansing Gel

4.8
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta AHA/BHA Daily Cleansing Gel

Sephora

What We Love: It visibly brightens and smoothes skin.

What We Don’t Love: The product has a very thick consistency that doesn’t necessarily spread well.  

While we can’t promise eternal youth, finding a cleanser that works with your skin as it ages can make you feel forever young. In this daily cleansing gel from Dr. Dennis Gross, you’ll find a mix of lactic acid (a naturally occurring acid that supports cell renewal), willow bark extract, and glycolic acid to gently exfoliate and help minimize signs of aging. Beyond the effective exfoliators, hyaluronic acid and vitamin C work together to brighten, encourage cell renewal, and pump collagen into the skin. Our tester confirms that this cleanser visibly brightens skin after one use. “My skin feels smooth, and looks hydrated and clear,” she says. With all the nourishing ingredients, the formula is very thick, which makes it a bit difficult to massage into skin — but a few extra splashes of water help it melt into your complexion and make for an invigorating cleanse. 

Price at time of publish: $38

Size: 7.5 fl. oz | Scented: Yes | Active Ingredients: Lactic Acid, Glycolic acid, Willow bark extract | Skin Type: Oily, combo, and normal

Best for Dry Skin

Paula’s Choice Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser

4.8
optimal-results-hydrating-cleanser

Paula's Choice

What We Love: It leaves the skin buttery soft and hydrated.

What We Don’t Love: For people with rosacea, this may cause mild flare ups.

As someone with sensitive, dry skin, our tester has struggled to find a face wash that doesn’t leave her feeling dry and tight — and this one made a major difference. “Not only did my face feel fresh and clean, but it also felt moisturized which was an astonishing plus,” she says. As the The silky-smooth lotion cleanser melts into skin, it lifts away stubborn grime and makeup while nourishing every layer of your skin. The formula is so rich that the application process almost feels as nice as a facial (no joke). “It doesn’t require much scrubbing, if any at all,” explains our tester. “It’s almost like a massage — I was mentally transported to a spa.” 

As much as she loves its cleansing properties, our tester did notice a mild rosacea flare up after using this product. “My skin is a little red but my face feels good which I guess is a doable bargain,” she says. 

Price at time of publish: $22

Size: 6.4 fl oz | Scented: No | Active Ingredients: Green tea extract, Chamomile, Glycerin | Skin Type: Sensitive, dry, and normal

Best for Enlarged Pores

TULA The Cult Classic Purifying Face Cleanser

4.8
Tula The Cult Classic Purifying Face Cleanser

Sephora

What We Love: It leverages the power of botanical extracts and fruits to even out skin texture.

What We Don’t Love: It requires a good amount of product to effectively remove all your makeup.

If you have enlarged pores, it’s vital to find the right cleanser that can go deep to clean them out and tighten them up once and for all. We found that the Tula Purifying Cleanser, with its turmeric, white tea, and blueberry infused-formula, does a great job at rebalancing skin texture. The probiotic extracts help maintain an even texture across your complexion, while hydrating ingredients simultaneously moisturize and tighten skin. The lightweight gel successfully removes stubborn dirt found deep in those pores and leaves behind a clean slate. “My skin feels clear and lightly hydrated,” says our tester. 

Note that this cleanser focuses more on removing oils and dirt, rather than makeup, so it’s likely you’ll still have some waterproof mascara left after using this. We recommend removing everything with a makeup remover first before cleansing your skin. Another thing to note is that the formulas naturally has a strong scent to it. While this didn’t irritate our tester’s sensitive skin, if you are easily turned off by strong scents then perhaps this isn’t for you.

Price at time of publish: $34

Size: 6.7 fl. oz | Scented: Yes | Active Ingredients: Probiotic extracts, Chicory root, Turmeric | Skin Type: Dry, combination, oily, and normal

Best Drugstore

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

Walmart

What We Love: This cleanser strengthens the skin’s natural barrier.

What We Don’t Love: If you have oily skin, the added moisturizing effects may be too much for you.

Fun fact: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser is actually the very first product Cetaphil came out with when the brand launched in 1947. Since then, they’ve had 75 years to tweak, adjust, and perfect the formula, which we are happy to report they successfully did. Inside, you’ll find a variety of good-for-your-skin ingredients, like hydrating glycerin, vitamin B5, and vitamin B3, without all the bad-for-you elements like sulfates and parabens (and for anyone with sensitive skin, this is fragrance-free as well). A cross between a gel and a cream, it immediately provides skin with a burst of hydration and seamlessly rinses away dirt, makeup, and pollution. Despite having such a simple formula, our tester noticed her complexion was completely rejuvenated. “My skin looked a little brighter — like I had more of a bronze to me as sunlight hit,” she says. “I felt so hydrated after rinsing this off, too, that I feel like I could skip moisturizer.”

Price at time of publish: $9

Size: 8 fl. oz | Scented: No | Active Ingredients: Glycerin, Vitamins B5 and B3 | Skin Type: Dry, normal, and sensitive

Our Testing Process

In order to find the best face wash, we began our process by researching top-rated face cleansers on the market. After identifying 38 promising formulas, we spent 30 hours putting them to the test. A number of volunteers with different skin types and concerns were given a set of face washes and instructions on how to use them. Each person carefully analyzed the performance of the face wash, making notes on cleansing capabilities, hydrating qualities, and overall experience. They rated each product on a scale of 1 to 5 for every category. Once the data was collected, we honed in on the 17 best face washes of 2022.  

What to Keep in Mind

Skin Type

Skin type refers to whether your face is oily, dry, normal, combination, or sensitive. The first three are quite self explanatory – oily skin is when your sebaceous glands in the skin make too much sebum. This can cause your pores to clog and feel generally uncomfortable. On the plus side, your skin is perpetually hydrated (which we love). Those with oily skin should look for a strong cleanser that can melt every pore-clogging substance away and keep those oils from over producing throughout the day. “A foaming cleanser is more suitable for oily skin to help remove sebum and debris,” says board-certified dermatologist Jenny Liu, M.D. We recommend trying PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash with Benzoyl Peroxide.

Dry skin, on the other hand, doesn’t produce as much sebum. This can cause discomfort and leave your skin feeling dehydrated. To keep dry skin soft and moisturized, look for a hydrating face wash. Paula's Choice Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser, Dr. Loretta Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, and Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser are all great options. “A non-foaming, creamy cleanser is more ideal for dry skin,” explains Dr. Liu.

Combination skin is exactly what it sounds like: A combination of dry and oily. Gel cleansers, like KraveBeauty Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser can help balance out the inconsistencies, to keep your skin feeling comfortable. 

Sensitive skin refers to people whose skin easily reacts to external forces. Soaps, scents, detergents, and perfumes can be irritating to such skin, and it requires a very gentle cleanser with minimal ingredients. One of the best picks for sensitive skin is Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser.

Skin Concerns

When it comes to skin concerns, one size most certainly does not fit all. Each one — whether it be hyperpigmentation, fine lines, or acne — requires specific attention and ingredients for proper treatment. Where one ingredient might help one concern, it could exasperate another. 

When it comes to fine lines, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Mitchell Dermatology, Hope Mitchell, M.D., advises selecting a face wash that contains hyaluronic acid, retinol, vitamin C, or glycolic acid. All of these ingredients work to minimize the appearance of fine lines in different ways (for example: Hyaluronic acid plumps the skin to fill in wrinkles, while retinol speeds up the cell renewal process). CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser (which contains hyaluronic acid) and Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta AHA/BHA Daily Cleansing Gel (which is made with glycolic acid) are excellent options to turn to for this reason. On the other hand, if acne is your main concern, then Dr. Mitchell recommends incorporating products with salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or benzoyl peroxide to gently exfoliate and deeply cleanse any acne-causing bacteria. PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash with Benzoyl Peroxide and Differin Daily Refreshing Cleanser are powerful cleansers that can help fight those breakouts. 

As for hyperpigmentation, brightening agents — like vitamin C — gently help even out skin tone.  Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta AHA/BHA Daily Cleansing Gel combines vitamin C with a mix of gentle acids to visibly reduce dullness and even out skin tone over time. 

Your Questions, Answered

How do I wash my face? 

In order to maximize the benefits of your face wash, you’re going to want to know how to wash your face properly. First, Dr. Liu recommends using lukewarm water — nothing too hot or too cold. Then, “gently massage the cleanser onto your face for 15 to 30 seconds, and rinse off. There’s no need for tools,” she says. Pat, don’t rub, your face dry to finish.

Some general tips and tricks: Avoid scrubbing too harshly as it will irritate your skin; cold water will close your pores, which prevents the cleanser from doing a proper job; and hot water, on the other hand, will open them too wide, which can make the cleanser irritate your skin by penetrating too deep. 

How often should I wash my face?

The short answer is there’s no exact rule book for how often everyone should wash their face because a lot of factors play into it. It can depend on your skin type, the time of day, and your activity level. 

Dr. Liu says that for most people, washing your face only once or twice a day should suffice. If you opt for once a day, she says it’s “most important to cleanse well before sleep,” to rinse away the dirt and grime from the day. Board-certified dermatologist, Kavita Mariwalla, M.D., advises that those with oily skin should wash their face a minimum of two times a day — in the morning and night — as the natural oils can build up on the skin and ultimately lead to clogged pores and breakouts.

“People who have oilier skin may discover that they need to wash their face more frequently than those who have dry and sensitive skin,” says Dr. Mitchell. Anyone with normal to dry skin can actually cause damage by washing their face too much. “Excessive washing can cause the skin barrier to be compromised, resulting in red, itchy, dry, or irritated skin,” warns Dr. Mitchell.

Also, take into consideration whether or not you are going to the gym and engaging in any physical activities. “If you are working out and sweating, you should wash your face afterward,” says Dr. Mariwalla. Sweat from working out can also clog pores, so it’s better to take a quick rinse to prevent that from happening. 

What are the 3 types of face wash?

Typically, cleansers either have a foam, gel, or cream texture. Each serves a different purpose and some are better for certain skin types than others. Foaming cleansers are great at removing excess oil. These aren’t as hydrating as others, but provide a deeper clean ideal for those with oily skin. 

Gel cleansers aren’t as deep cleaning as foaming washes, but that doesn’t mean they’re less efficient — they simply contain more hydrating ingredients and are less likely to strip skin of essential oils. Dr. Mariwalla often recommends gel cleansers for those with oily or acne-prone skin, but they’re gentle enough for those with normal to dry skin, too. Finally, cream cleaners have a thicker consistency and are often extremely moisturizing. This type of cleanser is ideal for those with dry skin. 

Why Shop With Us

Bianca Kratky is a commerce writer for InStyle with two years of experience covering fashion and lifestyle products. In order to write this article, she poured over the ratings from our team of testers, selecting the top-rated options, and consulted dermatologists Dr. Mariwalla, Dr. Hope Mitchell, and Dr. Jenny Liu to get professional insight on what to consider when shopping for the best face wash.

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