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Best Facial Cleansers

Updated March 2024
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Best of the Best
Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water
Sensibio H2O Micellar Water
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Multitasking Product
Bottom Line

It's a popular product and worth trying, even if you prefer traditional cleansers; it tones and cleanses without drying skin or leaving a residue.


Micellar water cleanser with nourishing ingredients. Gentle enough to be used on sensitive skin yet highly effective at cleansing and removing makeup. Has a light, pleasant scent.


Bottles with broken or leaking lids upon arrival have been reported. Priced on the higher end of the scale for this type of product.

Best Bang for the Buck
Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser
Daily Facial Cleanser
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Effective Formula
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It's an affordable, popular cleanser that's versatile for numerous skin types.


A rich cleanser that's ideal for all skin types thanks to its dermatologist-approved formula that cleans without irritating. Also a good deal, considering you get two bottles for the price.


The scent is surprisingly strong. Rare reports of skin feeling dry after use.

Humane Benzoyl Peroxide 10% Acne Wash
Benzoyl Peroxide 10% Acne Wash
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Best for Acne
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Though it's not the best formula for everyone, those with acne-prone skin will like it.


Specially formulated for blemish-prone skin. Earns praise for being effective. Doesn't contain harmful, unnatural ingredients, animal products, fragrance, or parabens, and is cruelty-free.


A pricey cleanser for 8 ounces, but it's also made for tough problems that other cleansers may aggravate. Known to be somewhat harsh on sensitive skin.

EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser
Foaming Facial Cleanser
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pH Balanced
Bottom Line

Offers excellent cleansing with a rich lather and a pleasant scent, though it may be a bit drying for some.


Earns praise for being effective for deep cleansing and for leaving skin feeling refreshed and clean. Has a pH-balanced, oil-free formula that contains amino acids and a light scent. A bottle lasts, as a little cleanser goes a long way.


May be a bit drying on some skin types, especially for those whose skin is prone to dryness. Pump dispenser occasionally clogs.

Ghost Democracy Transparent Gentle Exfoliating Daily Cleanser
Ghost Democracy
Transparent Gentle Exfoliating Daily Cleanser
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Gentle Exfoliation
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This gentle formula cleanses and exfoliates skin while preserving its natural moisture for a bright, radiant complexion.


Exfoliates without drying or irritating the skin. Suitable for daily use, and good for all skin types. Formulated with ingredients that help dissolve impurities and break down dead skin cells. Free of chemicals and artificial ingredients that can irritate and dry skin.


For some users, it’s a bit too exfoliating for daily use.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.About BestReviews 

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best facial cleansers

If you’ve been reaching for whatever bar of soap is next to the sink when it comes time to wash your face, set down the soap and step away. Bath soap is far too harsh for delicate facial skin and likely to leave your complexion tight, dry, and irritated.

But with seemingly endless facial wash products on the market, how do you choose the best one for your skin? Is a cream cleanser best, or should you try clay? What about scrubs or micellar water? It’s no wonder so many people shrug their shoulders and simply reach for the same bar of deodorant soap that they use for washing their underarms.

We’re here to help clear up the confusion.  If you just want to get your face clean, check out our five recommendations. But if you’d like to learn more about facial cleansers in general, including the best way to choose and use them, read on. We’ll help you make sense of this often-confusing skincare product.

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Washing your face with the right facial cleanser for your skin type is the first step toward healthy, smooth, soft skin. Once your face is washed, you are ready to continue your beauty regimen with treatments, moisturizer, foundation, and/or other cosmetics.

Why use a facial cleanser?

While of course you can wash your face with the same soap you use on the rest of your body, there are several compelling reasons to stick with a product formulated specifically for facial skin. Body soaps are far harsher than facial cleansers, and many contain deodorants and other potentially drying or irritating ingredients.

By contrast, a good facial wash does the following:

  • Removes makeup, oil, and pollutants

  • Leaves your face feeling clean, not tight

  • Softens your complexion without leaving it greasy

  • Suits your skin type, whether that is oily, dry, normal, sensitive, or mature

  • Rinses easily and doesn’t irritate your eyes

  • Doesn’t break your budget

  • Is convenient to use

Many facial cleansers offer further benefits, such as moisturizing dry skin or treating acne.

What are the different types of facial cleansers?

There are several types of facial cleansers on the market. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, and there is no one “best” type of cleanser. The right choice mostly comes down to your type of skin and your personal preference.

Foaming facial cleansers

These facial cleansers start off as liquid or cream but turn into light, fluffy foam once dispensed. Foaming cleansers are a good choice for oily, normal, or combination skin, as this type of face wash effectively cuts through grease and makeup, removes oil from pores, yet leaves skin feeling refreshed, not dried.

Gel facial cleansers

Thicker than foaming cleansers yet thinner than cream cleansers, gel facial cleansers are another good choice for oily, normal, or combination skin. Some have ingredients that battle acne, and some have scrubbing grains to lightly exfoliate your complexion while removing makeup and oil.

"If you love long-wear makeup, you’ve probably encountered some difficulty in removing it at day’s end. You need a facial cleanser that melts even stubborn makeup, whisks it away, and leaves clean, fresh skin behind. Look for a product specifically formulated to remove waterproof and long-wear makeup."

Cream facial cleansers

One of the largest category of facial cleansers, cream washes are usually formulated for dry, mature, or sensitive skin. Their thick, creamy consistency removes makeup effectively while depositing moisture onto the skin.

Bar facial cleansers

While most bar soaps are for washing the hands or body, a few are specifically formulated for the face. Clear glycerin bars are good for any type of skin, including sensitive skin. You’ll also find bar soaps for battling acne and oily skin.

Oil facial cleansers

Fairly new to the beauty market, oil cleansers gently and effectively remove makeup – even waterproof formulas – while leaving the complexion clean and soft. Most oil cleansers are for normal, mature, or dry skin, but there are a few suitable for oily complexions as well.

Clay facial cleansers

Clay draws oil and impurities out of your pores, helps reduce acne breakouts, and removes oil, making it an excellent cleanser for combination to oily skin.

Micellar facial cleansers

Another new type of cleanser, micellar water, contains tiny oil molecules – called micelles – that attract and remove oil, makeup, and dirt from your skin. Micellar cleansers usually don’t require rinsing, making them especially good for travel, the gym, or those late nights when you’re too tired to wash up with your regular routine. You’ll find formulations for every type of skin.

Powder facial cleansers

Although not as common as the other types, powder cleansers – which turn into a creamy lather upon contact with water – are a good choice for many skin types, including sensitive, combination, and oily skin.

Cleansing facial wipes

Perfect for the gym or your travel bag, cleansing wipes are soaked with a liquid cleanser. Depending on the formula, this type of cleanser could be suitable for any type of skin. Most facial wipes do a good job of removing sweat, oil, and dirt.

Facial scrubs

Typically a gel or cream cleanser with abrasive particles, facial scrubs are good for exfoliating the skin, but be careful: too much use could irritate your complexion. Limit the use of facial scrub cleansers to once or twice per week.

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Did you know?
Most complexions benefit from twice-per-day cleansing: once in the morning and once before bed. If your skin is very dry, however, a splash of water in the morning might be all you need.

How do you determine your skin type?

It’s difficult to choose the right facial cleanser without knowing what type of skin you have. The following guidelines will help.

  • Dry skin: Flakiness, dry patches, a tight feeling, and a dull look are indicators of dry skin. Treat your dry skin tenderly when washing up, and choose a gentle cleanser that has moisturizing ingredients.

  • Oily skin: A shiny appearance, large pores, tendency towards breakouts, and greasy feel characterize oily skin. You need a cleansing product that can cut through the oil and grease, remove pore-clogging makeup, and yet leave your skin balanced – not overly dry and stripped.

  • Sensitive skin: Sensitive skin reacts to many cosmetic ingredients, including fragrances, dyes, or abrasive scrubs. Gentle cleansers formulated without irritants will leave your skin clean, not stinging or red.

  • Combination skin: This common skin type tends towards oiliness on the forehead, nose, and chin but dryness on the cheeks. Cleansers that gently remove oil without stripping moisture are best for combination skin.

  • Mature skin: It’s a fact of life: skin ages just like the rest of you. Mature skin is often dry, and fine lines can be a problem as well. If this is your complexion, choose a moisturizing cleanser.

  • Normal skin: Not too dry, not too oily – normal skin is just right. Outside of cleansers that are very moisturizing or formulated for the oiliest skin, most facial cleansers are suitable for this skin type.
"If your face is prone to acne, don’t despair. You need a face wash that removes makeup, pore-clogging oil, and breakout-causing bacteria while treating pimples with salicylic acid or other acne-battling ingredients. But don’t go overboard; overly harsh cleansers or scrubs can actually make acne worse."

How much should you pay for a facial cleanser?

You can buy a perfectly adequate facial cleanser for less than $5, or you can spend $50 on an upscale product. As a general rule, the cheapest products are likelier to be irritating or hard on your skin, while the most expensive products are likely charging you more for brand name or marketing hype.

You’ll find the largest array of effective and skin-pampering facial cleansers in the $10 to $15 range.

How to wash your face

Some people are surprised to learn that their face-washing habits are actually hurting their skin. Here’s how to do it right.

  1. When it’s time to wash up at night, pull your hair away from your face with a headband or scrunchie.

  2. Wash your hands.

  3. Wet your face with warm water.

  4. If your skin is very dry or sensitive, use just your hands for washing. Otherwise, use a washcloth or a facial cleansing brush to thoroughly remove makeup, oil, and dirt.

  5. Don’t go overboard with cleanser; use just enough to do the job.

  6. Rub cleanser into your skin, paying special attention to your hairline, the creases around your nose, and your jawline.

  7. Rinse with clean, warm water, using your washcloth if desired. Rinse several times until every trace of cleanser is gone.

  8. Blot your face dry with a clean towel. Don’t rub or scrub at your skin.

  9. Apply your usual moisturizers, serums, sunscreen, or cosmetics.