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Skincare is serious business in our book. We all know that the foundation of good skin is a good cleanser, which 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. 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. The real things 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 for the best drugstore face wash they recommend, with a few of our favorites in the mix.
Click through for the best drugstore face washes you can feel good about not splurging on.
Best Overall: CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
Say hello to the 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 Scent: Basis Cleaner Clean Face Wash
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 cleanser was a permanent fixture in our family for years and years.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Foaming Face Wash
Micellar water is composed of micelles, tiny molecules that attract dirt, oil, and other nasties and draw them away from the skin. This one is a great cleansing option for sensitive skin because it is—first and foremost—gentle, but also fragrance- and alcohol-free, too. Plus, no need for excessive rubbing to remove debris—the texture glides on smoothly.
Best for Dull Skin: Aveeno Positively Radiant Brightening 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 Oily Skin: Avène Cleanance Gel Soapless Cleanser
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 Aging Skin: Aveeno Absolutely Ageless Nourishing Daily Facial 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 Redness-Prone Skin: Cetaphil Redness Foaming Face Wash
“Cetaphil Foaming Face Wash is an excellent choice 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.”
Best for Dry Skin: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser
“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 non-comedogenic 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.”
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Differin Balancing Cleanser
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.”
Best Gentle: Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser
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 for acne or breakouts as it nips in the bud due to the benzoyl peroxide.”
Best Cleansing Oil: Burt's Bees Cleansing Oil
A true favorite of our associate editor's, 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.
Best Exfoliating: Yes To Tomatoes Clear Skin Detoxifying Charcoal Cleanser
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.
Best Natural: Burt's Bees Brightening Daily Facial Cleanser
What makes this cleanser special is its inclusion of the ingredient daisy extract, a natural skin brightener that can help take dull skin to glowing in just four short weeks. Skin looks and feels more even as dark spots and blemishes are reduced thanks to a multi-fruit complex in the formula. It’s also as natural as a cleanser can get—about 98.6% natural in fact. Free of pesky ingredients like parabens and phthalates and dermatologist-tested, it’s safe to use multiple times a day. We recommend using this product in the morning and before you go to bed.