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We all know that the foundation of clear, glowy skin is a great cleanser. Simply washing your face every day makes a big difference, but cleansing your skin of any makeup, dirt, and debris is super important, too. It’s all about finding the right face wash that's packed with ingredients that work for your skin type.
Full disclosure: While we're completely supportive of splurging on beauty products, we believe that if you can find an exquisite product for a fraction of the price, go for it. The real things to consider when it comes to cleansers are the ingredients and your skin’s response—and there really are high-quality face washes for all skin types in your local drugstore. “You don’t need to spend a fortune on a good cleanser. Drugstore cleansers are my go-to's, and in my opinion, surpass the prestige versions. They’re often much more simple when it comes to the formulation without all the unnecessary bells and whistles. Sometimes, and especially when it comes to cleanser, simplicity is the name of the game,” says board-certified cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Shereene Idris.
We reached out to top dermatologists and estheticians for the best drugstore face washes, and included a few of our favorites in the mix, too.
Scroll for the best drugstore face washes available now.
Best Overall: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Facial Cleanser
“This cleanser comes from a small town in Toleriane, France, where the thermal spring water comes out of a local natural spring,” explains aesthetician Graceanne Svendsen. “A clinic was made in Toleriane, and the naturally thermal spring waters are used to treat patients in the clinic who have rosacea, dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis. This cleanser is a gentle non-comedogenic cleanser that also helps heal skin and is non-irritating for all skin types. It’s made with glycerin. What I love about glycerin is its ability to bind and attract water molecules in the air. It’s one of the most effective humectants for non-oily hydration.” Idriss is a big fan, too, also lauding it for the addition of glycerin, as well as ceramides. And because it’s fragrance-free, she says it’s suitable even for the most sensitive skin types.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
Say hello to another holy grail drugstore cleanser. Developed with the brand's ceramide trifecta, this gentle yet effective face wash replenishes moisture, restores the skin’s barrier, and uses a unique delivery technology that continuously supplies support to the skin throughout the day. Although the texture is smooth and creamy, almost like a lotion, it does lather well when mixed with water.
Best Micellar Water: Simple Skincare Kind to Skin Micellar Cleansing Water
Micellar water is composed of micelles, tiny molecules that attract dirt, oil, and other nasties and draw them away from the skin. Board-certified dermatologist Marnie Nussbaum is a fan of this cult-favorite option. “This product cleanses without harsh ingredients and keeps your skin barrier intact and natural,” she explains.
Best Gentle: Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser
Benzoyl peroxide is an organic acid in the peroxide family that has been used to treat acne because of its keratolytic, moderate comedolytic, and antibacterial properties, which include the reduction of P. acnes and Staph. aureus on the skin.
Nussbaum also recommends reaching for Neutrogena the next time you’re in a drugstore. “I love Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser as it gently cleanses without stripping the skin of lipid barrier,” she explains. “I also love Neutrogena Clear Pore Facial Cleanser/Mask for acne or breakouts as it nips in the bud due to the benzoyl peroxide.”
Best for Removing Makeup: Alaffia Everyday Coconut Face Cleanser
No need for a double cleanse here. This mild facial cleanser melts makeup away with ease without stripping the skin of its natural oils. Ideal for normal to oily skin, this no-fuss cleanser smells great and gets extra brownie points for being fair trade.
Best Exfoliating: Cetaphil Extra Gentle Daily Scrub
Cetaphil is a drugstore skincare brand that's beloved by dermatologists and editors alike, and this gentle exfoliating cleanser is no exception. Skin conditioners and vitamins work to hydrate and soften while micro-fine granules polish and exfoliate; it's also hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic, so it won't clog your pores. The results? Smooth, clean skin that's soft to the touch. What's not to love about that?
Best for Redness-Prone Skin: Cetaphil Foaming Face Wash for Redness Prone Skin
Caffeine is a natural stimulant most commonly found in tea, coffee, and cacao plants. In skincare, it helps to stimulate blood flow and decrease puffiness, as well as works to dissolve fat, which makes it a choice cellulite treatment.
“Cetaphil Foaming Face Wash is an excellent choice for a daily cleanser,” recommends Svendsen. “Most people tolerate this cleanser very nicely, as it is great for makeup removal, sensitive skin, acneic skin, and those looking to do specific lasers or peels. This face wash contains caffeine. One of the interesting aspects of ingredients such as caffeine in skincare is the dilation effect it has on broken blood vessels and redness. Caffeine is an excellent anti-inflammatory agent.”
Best Cleansing Oil: DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
According to board-certified dermatologist Dendy Engelman, this product is one of the original cleansing oils and is ultra-popular in Japan. "It's infused with olive oil and vitamin E," she says, "so it's both nourishing and hydrating. It's completely residue-free and doesn't leave a greasy feeling on the skin." Need more convincing? Apparently, one bottle sells every 10 seconds.
Best for Aging Skin: Aveeno Absolutely Ageless Nourishing Face Cleanser
When it comes to restoring moisture to aging skin, this antioxidant-rich face wash should be first on your list. Created with blackberry extract, the silky formula intensely hydrates for a softer and more supple canvas. Because it’s non-comedogenic, it also won’t clog your pores. When applying, work the product into a lather first and then massage into wet skin.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Foaming Gel Facial Cleanser
This micellar water is a great cleansing option for sensitive skin because it's gentle, first and foremost, but also fragrance- and alcohol-free, too. Plus, no need for excessive rubbing to remove debris—the texture glides on smoothly.
Best for Oily Skin: Avène Cleanance Cleansing Gel for Face and Body
This soap-free cleanser maintains the natural oil balance of your skin with natural spring water. It also controls your skin’s sebum production because it’s formulated with glyceryl laurate, which is why it's our top pick for oily skin types.
Best for Dull Skin: Aveeno Positively Radiant Skin Brightening Face Cleanser
If you’re looking to even out discoloration spots or smooth the texture of your skin, this brightening cleanser needs to be your go-to. Its star ingredient is soy, an ingredient that’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine for years to fade dark spots.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Differin Gentle Cleanser
Board-certified dermatologist Melissa Levin always recommends a makeup wipe as the first step in your cleansing routine. “If you have oily or acne-prone skin, this gives the additive physical exfoliation, which can help remove oil, makeup, and dirt from the skin,” she says. “I recommend following that up with a proper gentle cleanser to ensure all the makeup is removed. One of my favorites is Differin Balancing Cleanser as a gentle hypoallergenic option.”
Runner-Up, Best for Acne Prone Skin: SheaMoisture Matcha Grean Tea & Probiotics Transforming Clay-to-Cream Cleanser
Green tea is a botanical derived from the leaves and buds of the tea plant Camellia sinensis. The active components of green tea are polyphenols (also called catechins) that are believed to benefit the skin due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
You might know Shea Moisture for their natural hair products, but their skincare should be on your radar for delivering serious results as well. This clay-to-cream cleanser uses a blend of antioxidant-rich matcha green tea and probiotics to be a game-changer to sensitive and acne-prone skin.
We couldn’t choose between the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Facial Cleanser and the CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser; both are amazingly gentle, moisturizing cleansers that are ideal for all skin types. If you’re looking for a workhorse that will take off even a full face of makeup in just one round of washing, try the Alaffia Everyday Coconut Face Cleanser. Those battling blemishes should consider either the Differin Gentle Cleanser or the SheaMoisture Matcha Green Tea & Probiotics Transforming Clay-to-Cream Cleanser; the Avène Cleanance Cleansing Gel for Face and Body is also great for oily skin(and can in fact be used on face and body).
What To Look For In a Drugstore Face Wash
Your skin type
According to Idris, your best bet when choosing a drugstore face wash is to consider your skin type and choose a formula accordingly. “The choices of great drugstore cleansers are limitless,” says Idris. Narrowing them down by skin type will help the decision-making process.
The texture of the product
Once you've identified your skin type, it's easier to know what texture is best. If you have dry skin, creams, oils, or balms are the way to go. For those with oily or acne-prone skin, gel cleansers are best, she says.