One could say your choice of the best face wash can make or break your routine. Because the wash is “meant to remove dirt, oil, sweat, makeup, and other impurities from your face,” as dermatologist Dr. Lauren Penzi puts it, a good cleanse sets the stage for an efficacious skin-care routine to follow.
Best Face Wash
- Best for Acne-Prone Skin: SkinCeuticals LHA Cleansing Gel, $45
- Best Drugstore: CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser, $18
- Best Micellar Water: Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water, $13
- Best Cleansing Milk: Osea Ocean Cleansing Milk, $54
- Best for Hyperpigmentation: Revision Brightening Facial Wash, $44
- Best Gel: Naturium Niacinamide Cleansing Gelée 3%, $18
- Best Foam: La Prairie Foam Cleanser, $100
- Best for Combination Skin: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Facial Cleanser, $17
- Best for Dry Skin: Dior La Mousse OFF/ON Foaming Face Cleanser, $50
Qualities of a Good Face Wash
“A good quality face should be capable of effectively cleaning your face, but not strip the skin of its natural oils that would cause dryness and irritation,” Penzi explains. “It should be effective at removing makeup and other heavier buildup on its own, without the addition of other facial products.”
She continues that, generally speaking, sodium lauryl sulfate is the central ingredient of any face wash—acting as the “soap” that cleanses the skin. Otherwise, the ingredients to look for depend on your skin goals. “If you are dry, look for hydrating ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides. If you are prone to acne look for acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. For pigment and texture issues, look for AHAs and BHAs.”
How often you wash also depends on your goals. Double cleansing, the K-beauty practice of cleansing with an oil ahead of a water-based wash, is best for those who wear a lot of makeup or are exposed to environmental pollutants or debris. Those with dry skin, on the other hand, might opt for the French pharmacy secret of washing just once daily. Keep in mind, though, that over-cleansing is possible. Per Penzi, avoid washing more than two times per day to avoid stripping the skin of its natural oils.