The 10 Best Cleansers for Combination Skin of 2023

With balancing picks from Philosophy, Pond's, and IT Cosmetics

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Cleansers for Combination Skin

Byrdie / Kevin Liang

When your skin has just one problem, such as excess oil production or dry patches, it’s easy to figure out which products work best for you. When you have both oily and dry skin though (aka combination skin), that’s when things get challenging.

Not all cleansers will work for your combination skin because you need a sophisticated balance. Some might over-moisturize your oily parts and others might not be strong enough to hydrate and smooth your dry parts, which ends up causing more problems instead of solving them.

We conducted hours of research on the best cleansers for combination skin, evaluating each formula on active balancing ingredients, results, benefits to skin, and overall value. After considering dozens of top-rated options, we narrowed down our selections to give you the best in show.

Best Overall

Philosophy Purity Made Simple One-Step Paraben Free Facial Cleanser

PHILOSOPHY Purity Made Simple Cleanser

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Gentle formula

  • Paraben-free

  • Won't strip skin

What We Don't Like
  • Can leave a greasy residue

Philosophy created this cleanser to multitask for even the most complicated of skin. It gently cleanses, so it’s not too harsh for those with sensitive skin. At the same time, it also smoothes, removes makeup, and extracts dirt from your pores. The natural oil extracts also help condition and balance your skin for a clearer complexion.

This product has thousands upon thousands of five-star reviews on Sephora, and the brand positions it as the number one face wash in America. We love that this formula is so effective at deep cleaning without stripping skin of natural oils, making it a superior choice for combination skin.

Price at time of publish: $28

Active Ingredients: Meadowfoam seed oil | Skin Type: Balanced to dry | Benefits: Cleanses, hydrates, tones | Size: 1 ounce, 8 ounces, 16 ounces, 22 ounces, 32 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Budget

Pond's Pond’s Cold Cream Cleanser

Pond's Cold Cream Makeup Remover


What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Dermatologist-tested

What We Don't Like
  • Smaller than other options

If your skin is more dry than oily, this could be the best for you because it’s infused with so much moisture. What makes this cleanser unique is it’s actually made up of 50% moisturizer to infuse your skin with as much hydration as possible.

Like a typical cleanser, it removes dirt and excess makeup from your skin but saves you the added step of applying moisturizer afterwards. The cooling sensation feels great during application, and it doesn’t leave any residue on your skin.

Price at time of publish: $6

Active Ingredients: Mineral oil, beeswax | Skin Type: Balanced, dry, sensitive | Benefits: Cleanses, hydrates, removes makeup | Size: 3.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Foaming

Cetaphil PRO Foaming Face Wash

cetaphil gentle foaming cleanser

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Lathers well

  • Gentle formula

  • Won't strip skin

What We Don't Like
  • Pump bottle can get stuck

Cetaphil’s daily facial wash is always a crowd favorite, but their newest foaming cleanser might just beat it. Because it foams up, it has a rich lather that rinses away easier than before. It’s a gentle cleanser, so it doesn’t irritate sensitive skin while still removing any dirt or oil on your face after a long day.

To make sure your skin doesn’t feel stripped dry or too tight, it’s infused with skin conditioners and a vitamin complex, two ingredients that provide your skin with moisture and overall balance.

Price at time of publish: $9

Active Ingredients: Vitamin B5, vitamin E | Skin Type: Dry, balanced, sensitive | Benefits: Cleanses, hydrates | Size: 8 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: No

Best for Acne

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Face Wash Daily Scrub

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Face Wash Daily Scrub

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Effective against blackheads

  • Oil-free

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • May not be ideal for sensitive skin

When it comes to acne, it’s important to know what you’re looking for when shopping for a great cleanser. This face wash includes 2% salicylic acid, a known acne treatment most useful for blackheads. The oil-free formula should be used twice a day and followed up with your favorite moisturizer and SPF to protect your skin from the sun's harsh rays and any other environmental factors.

Price at time of publish: $8

Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid | Skin Type: Acne-prone | Benefits: Cleanse, exfoliate | Size: 4.2 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: No

Best for Removing Makeup

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup Cleansing Balm

Bye Bye Makeup Cleansing Balm Makeup Remover

It Cosmetics

What We Like
  • Gentle formula

  • Paraben-, sulfate-, and phthalate-free

  • Multi-purpose

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note it smells bad

It Cosmetics created this makeup-removing balm to put all others to shame. Most makeup removers can dry or irritate the skin, especially skin that’s more sensitive, but this formula tackles stubborn makeup without any unwanted side effects.

This balm is infused with an anti-aging serum, so it can reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles while it cleanses the skin. To top it all off: It’s cruelty-free and made without parabens, sulfates, and phthalates.

Price at time of publish: $42

Active Ingredients: Collagen, hyaluronic acid, peptides, ceramides | Skin Type: Combination, sensitive Benefits: Cleanses, removes makeup, hydrates, softens | Size: 2.82 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Cleansing Water

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Cleanser & Makeup Remover

Garnier SKINACTIVE Micellar Cleansing Water


What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Travel-friendly

  • No rinsing needed

What We Don't Like
  • Can be drying

There's water in the name, but this cleanser is more than just plain tap. It boasts tiny micelles, which cluster together to lift out dirt, oil, and makeup stuck in your pores without harsh rubbing, tugging, or—in some cases—rinsing. For this particular formula, no water or washcloth is needed, which means you can cleanse from virtually anywhere regardless of your proximity to a sink.

Price at time of publish: $11

Active Ingredients: Micelles | Skin Type: All | Benefits: Cleanses, removes makeup | Size: 13.5 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Korean Beauty

Glow Recipe Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser

Glow Recipe Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser


What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Smells good

  • Lathers well

What We Don't Like
  • Contains fragrance

Key Ingredients

Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring polysaccharide found in the human body. It acts as a cushioning and lubrication agent for our joints, nerves, hair, skin, and eyes. When used in skincare, it acts as a moisture binder, which means that it will attach itself to the water in the cells (while also attracting and holding water from the air) making them plump.

Packed with antioxidant-rich blueberry extract, hyaluronic acid, and a blend of lactic and glycolic acids, this lightweight gel wash is the key to gently yet effectively removing surface dirt and makeup. The result is skin that looks clear and radiant and pores that are visibly minimized, thanks to a mild exfoliating action.

Price at time of publish: $34

Active Ingredients: Blueberry extract, hyaluronic acid, aha, hydrating suds | Skin Type: All | Benefits: Provides antioxidant protection, hydrates, cleanses, exfoliates | Size: 1 ounce, 5.41 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Softening

Tatcha The Rice Wash

Tatcha The Rice Wash


What We Like
  • Effective ingredients

  • Noticeable results

  • Leaves skin smooth and plump

What We Don't Like
  • High price per ounce

Tatcha's The Rice Wash promises to soften your skin, and it truly lives up to its claims. It leans on a blend of Japanese rice powder, algae, and hyaluronic acid to combat dryness while nourishing, calming, smoothing, and plumping your complexion. The price per ounce is a bit steep, but if it's within your budget, you won't regret the investment.

Price at time of publish: $40

Active Ingredients: Rice powder, algae, hyaluronic acid | Skin Type: Dry, combination | Benefits: Combats dryness, softens, smooths, plumps | Size: 4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Exfoliating

SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser

SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser


What We Like
  • Combats dull, dry, and flaky skin

  • Gentle yet effective formula

  • Leaves skin radiant and refreshed

What We Don't Like
  • Contains PEGs

  • Potentially too intense for daily use

If you're dealing with dull, dry, or flaky skin, this one's for you. This face cleanser contains a blend of AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) and BHA (beta-hydroxy acid or salicylic acid) to oh-so-gently yet effectively dissolve dead skin cells and leave you with a radiant, refreshed complexion. Though some people might find it too intense for daily use, you'll definitely see results if you work it into your skincare routine just a few days a week.

Price at time of publish: $48

Active Ingredients: Lactic acid, glycolic acid, malic acid, salicylic acid | Skin Type: All | Benefits: Gently exfoliates, smooths, brightens | Size: 6 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Organic

Kora Organics Turmeric Glow Foaming Cleanser

Kora Organics Turmeric Glow Foaming Cleanser

Kora Organics

What We Like
  • Won't strip skin

  • Natural formula

What to Consider
  • Includes Fragrance

Turmeric has been used as an anti-inflammatory, acne-fighting, and hyperpigmentation-fading ingredient in holistic medicine for centuries. Supermodel Miranda Kerr started her beauty line Kora Organics to give people luxe organic beauty products that are effective and clean. Her turmeric cleanser was designed specifically with dehydrated or dull skin in mind. It treats dryness, enlarged pores, and an uneven skin tone without leaving the skin feeling stripped. This plant-powered blend is designed to brighten and cleanse by combining soothing aloe vera and inflammation-fighting turmeric. 

Price at time of publish: $44

Active Ingredients: Turmeric, aloe vera, noni, saccharide isomerate | Skin Type: All | Benefits: Cleanse, balance oil production, soothe, and hydrates | Size: 5 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Final Verdict

Our top choice is Philosophy Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser, a gentle, fragrance-free face wash that doesn't strip the skin and leaves you with a balanced complexion. But if you're on a budget, we suggest the iconic drugstore staple, Pond's Cold Cream Cleanser, which moisturizes while it cleans and removes makeup.

What to Look For in Cleansers for Combination Skin

Ability to Remove Makeup

Do you rely on your cleanser to remove your makeup? Consider if the cleanser can be applied safely to your eyelids and can break down your foundation if you don't want to use a separate makeup remover. Of course, if you don’t routinely wear makeup, this isn’t something to concern yourself with.

Our favorite makeup-removing cleansers for combo skin include IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup 3-in-1 Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm and Pond's Cold Cream Cleanser.


Cleansers for combination skin can be in gel, foam, or cream form or loaded with microbeads. When exploring which to buy, consider the cleanser’s texture on your skin. If you have sensitive skin, cleansers with particles designed for exfoliation could cause irritation. Or, if you want a cleanser that’s easier to wash off, you might want to go for a foam cleanser like Cetaphil Gentle Foaming Cleanser versus a thick cream.

Formula Type

If you’re specifically seeking a cruelty-free cleanser or cleanser without fragrance, make sure you look at the cleanser’s formula. This is something to pay close attention to if you have sensitive skin or are allergic to ingredients often used in cleansers for combination skin. Philosophy Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser is an excellent unscented option that's unlikely to irritate reactive complexions.

  • What are the benefits of cleansers for combination skin?

    People with combination skin have patches of oily and dry skin. Typically, this translates to an oily “T-zone” (nose, forehead, chin) and dry cheeks. Oily skin is characterized by its shine and can feel greasy to the touch​, ​while dry skin often appears red, irritated​,​ or flakey. Opting for a cleanser designed for combination skin​ ​can help keep your skin evenly hydrated without exacerbating either oil or dryness.

  • How do you use cleansers for combination skin?

    Like any other cleanser, begin by wetting your face with lukewarm water. Then with clean hands or fingertips, massage the cleanser into your skin. Check before if you can apply this cleanser to your eyelids or directly beneath your eyes, so you can avoid that region if necessary.

    Otherwise, evenly apply the cleanser to your forehead, nose, chin, and cheeks. Rinse with lukewarm water, and then gently dry your face with a clean towel. Be sure to wash your towels regularly to prevent the buildup of bacteria, which can easily transfer onto your face and cause breakouts.

  • How often should you use cleansers for combination skin?

    According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, you should wash your face twice each day, once in the morning and once at night. If you’ve worked out or have been sweating heavily, it’s important to wash your face with a cleanser right after to prevent clogged pores and blemishes.

    That being said, everyone’s skin is different. If you find that your skin is too dry from washing twice each day or is too oily from washing only once each day, make appropriate adjustments.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
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  3. Manosroi, Aranya et al. Anti-aging efficacy of topical formulations containing niosomes entrapped with rice bran bioactive compounds. Pharmaceutical biology vol. 50,2 (2012): 208-24. doi:10.3109/13880209.2011.596206

  4. Kim JH, et al. Beneficial Effects of Marine Algae-Derived Carbohydrates for Skin Health. Marine Drugs. Published 2018 Nov 21. doi: 10.3390/md16110459

  5. John HE, Price RD. Perspectives in the selection of hyaluronic acid fillers for facial wrinkles and aging skin. Patient Prefer Adherence. 2009; 3: 225–230. doi: 10.2147/ppa.s3183.

  6. Rodan K, Fields K, Majewski G, Falla T. Skincare Bootcamp: The Evolving Role of Skincare. Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open. 2016;4(12 Suppl Anatomy and Safety in Cosmetic Medicine: Cosmetic Bootcamp):e1152. Published 2016 Dec 14. doi:10.1097/GOX.0000000000001152

  7. American Academy of Dermatology. Face washing 101.

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