Skincare means serious business in our book. We all know that the foundation to good skin is a good cleanser. Your cleanser is arguably the most important product in your skincare lineup. Simply washing (or not washing) your face every single day makes a big difference. Cleansing your skin from makeup along with the dirt and debris it catches during the day is an important step that should feel like second nature to you. It’s all about finding the right face wash packed with ingredients that are suitable for your skin type.
Full disclosure: We’re completely supportive of splurging on spendy beauty products if it’s worth it. However, if you can find an exquisite product that works just as well for you for a fraction of the price, that’s considered a steal. We’ve all fallen victim to judging the quality of a cleanser by its price point. (If I’m being honest, I’ve used cleansers that cost a couple hundred a pop that end up giving me horrendous breakouts.) But the real thing to consider when it comes to cleansers are the ingredients and your skin’s response. There are amazing face washes formulated with high-quality ingredients for all skin types you can find in your local drugstore.
To back this point up, we reached out to top dermatologists and estheticians to find out the best drugstore face wash they recommend, with a few of our favorites in the mix. Next time you peruse a drugstore aisle, keep your eyes locked for one of these alternatives. Click through for cleansers you can feel good about not splurging on.
“Cetaphil Foaming Face Wash is an excellent choice for those for a daily cleanser,” recommends aesthetician Graceanne 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.”
“This cleanser comes from a small town in Toleriane, France, where the thermal spring water comes out of a local natural spring,” explains Svendsen. “A clinic was made in Toleriane, and the natural thermal spring waters are used to treat patients in the clinic who have rosacea, dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis. This cleanser is a gentle noncomedogenic cleanser that also helps heal skin and is nonirritating 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.”
Dermatologist Melissa Levin, MD, 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,” says Levin. “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.”
Marnie Nussbaum, MD, highly 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 ($6) for acne or breakouts as it nips in the bud due to the benzoyl peroxide.”
Nussbaum is also a fan of this cult-favorite cleansing water. “This cleanses without harsh ingredients and keeps you skin barrier intact and natural,” Nussbaum explains.
A true favorite of our associate editor Audrey, this cleansing oil is infused with some of the most hydrating ingredients ever: coconut and argan oil. It gently removes makeup and grime without stripping your pores, making this the perfect option for those with sensitive skin. It’ll also leave your skin silky soft without adding excess oil.
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. Lightly fraganted, this gentle cleanser is ideal for sensitive skin.
I grew up with my entire household loving this oil and soap-free cleanser (my dad included). I literally used it for 21 years of my life—my mom would include about five of these in every college care package she sent me. To be quite honest, I can’t point out exactly what we loved about it so much. Maybe it was the refreshing mint and lemongrass scent, or how the soothing aloe left our skin feeling pillow-soft. Either way, this $6 cleanser was a permanent fixture in our family for years and years.
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.
When oil gathers in our pores, unsightly breakouts result. This exfoliating charcoal cleanser helps combat that by cleaning out your clogged pores without making your skin feel super tight and dry afterward. It’s because of the jojoba spheres, which provide gentle exfoliation while the tomatoes nourish your skin with antioxidants.