The 23 Best Face Washes, According to Dermatologists

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Cleansing is a relatively straightforward step of your daily skincare routine—just lather it on, rinse it off, and move on. But as you may know, not all face washes are created equal. From oils and cleansing balms to gels and gentle exfoliators, there's something for everyone and every skin concern.

No matter your skin type, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Adebola Dele-Michael recommends reaching for a mild formula to remove skin buildup and pollutants—and Miami-based dermatologist Dr. Martha H. Viera agrees. "I like gentle cleansers without sodium lauryl sulfate, alcohol, or fragrance to avoid irritation," she tells Byrdie. With pointers from these experts in mind, we found the choicest products for every skin type and budget.

Below, the best face washes currently on the market.

Our Top Picks
This antioxidant-rich thermal water benefits the skin in more ways than one.
It's a super gentle option that won't irritate even the most sensitive of skin.
This affordable pick transforms from cream to foam to cleanse the skin.
Don't let the price tag scare you—this pick features a natural (exfoliating) formula.
Give skin a deep cleanse thanks to the exfoliating acids in this formula.
This Korean beauty fave features all-star ingredients like salicylic acid.
Gently remove dirt, makeup, and impurities with this oil-based balm.
Dissolve makeup easily with a skin-softening formula, great for all skin types.
This non-irritating cleanser is pH-balanced and softens skin.
This natural formula claims to help soothe skin inflammation.

Best Overall: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Facial Cleanser

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser
What We Like
  • Hydrating

  • Pump dispenser

What We Don't Like
  • Not cruelty-free

Dr. Dele-Michael and Dr. Viera both stand behind La Roche-Posay Toleriane Cleanser, and we're here for it. With sensitive complexions in mind, the ultra-gentle, super-hydrating formula gently removes makeup, dissolves excess oil, and washes away impurities without stripping the skin.

This all-star face wash is formulated with mineral-rich thermal spring water, niacinamide (vitamin B3), moisturizing glycerin, and essential ceramides. The sizable pump bottle contains 13.5 ounces of product, so you won't have to worry about running out any time soon.

Active Ingredients: Glycerin, niacinamide, ceramide-3, thermal spring water | Skin Type: Dry/sensitive | Size: 13.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Budget: Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser

 Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser
What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Pump dispenser

What We Don't Like
  • Not cruelty-free

On a budget? You can't go wrong with Vanicream. The brand's Gentle Facial Cleanser comes highly recommended by Dr. Viera, and we can see why. This no-nonsense face wash calls on standbys like glycerin and coco glucoside to gently rid the skin of dirt, oil, and makeup without irritating skin.

Active Ingredients: Glycerin, coco glucoside | Skin Type: Acne-prone/sensitive/eczema-prone | Size: 8 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Drugstore: CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser

CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser
What We Like
  • Pump dispenser

  • Gently exfoliates

What We Don't Like
  • Not cruelty-free

  • Contains alcohol

CeraVe is a reigning champion in the world of drugstore face washes. Recommended by Dr. Viera, the brand's Cream-to-Foam Cleanser works overtime to remove excess oil and dirt, gently exfoliate, and hydrate the skin without stripping it.

Active Ingredients: Ceramides, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, lactic acid | Skin Type: Dry | Size: 19 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Splurge: Tracie Martyn Amla Purifying Cleanser

Tracie Martyn Amla Purifying Cleanser
What We Like
  • Natural formula

  • Gently exfoliates

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Small amount

If you're open to splurging on a miraculous face wash, you should consider Tracie Martyn's Amla Cleanser. Thanks to papaya enzymes, salicylic acid, and vitamin C, the natural formula offers mild exfoliation and breakout prevention benefits while improving the appearance of fine lines.

Active Ingredients: Amino acids, papaya enzymes, salicylic acid, alma extract | Skin Type: Mature/acne-prone/sensitive/combination | Size: 1.7 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Pore-Minimizing: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting Cleansing Gel

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting Cleansing Gel
What We Like
  • Dermatologist-developed

  • Combats blackheads

  • Pump dispenser

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

When it comes to premium skincare, Dr. Dennis Gross is a household name. The renowned dermatologist's Pore Perfecting Gel contains both AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) and BHAs (beta-hydroxy acids), plus glycerin and buchu leaf extract. This formula claims to balance oil production, combat blackheads, and reduce the appearance of pores.

Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid, mandelic acid, glycolic acid, glycerin, barosma betulina leaf extract | Skin Type: Acne-prone/oily/dry/combination | Size: 7.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best K-Beauty: COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser

COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Good for all skin types

  • pH-balanced

What We Don't Like
  • Relatively small amount

If you've yet to hop on the Korean beauty bandwagon, CosRx is an excellent gateway. The brand's Good Morning Cleanser calls on all-star ingredients like salicylic acid and tea tree oil to remove impurities, balance pH, strengthen the skin barrier, and deliver a firmer-looking complexion.

Active Ingredients: Tea tree oil, salicylic acid | Skin Type: All | Size: 5.1 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Cleansing Balm: Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm

Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm
What We Like
  • Award-winning formula

  • Dissolves waterproof makeup

  • Softens skin

What We Don't Like
  • Relatively pricey

  • Unhygienic container

From the K-beauty queen behind Soko Glam and the 10-step Korean skincare routine, Living Cleansing Balm is by far the best Step 1 cleanser. This oil-based balm smells vaguely like dirt, but not in a bad way—more of a "let Mother Nature handle this" way.

Active Ingredients: Sea buckthorn oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, persimmon extract, vitamin E | Skin Type: All | Size: 3.2 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Makeup Removal: It Cosmetics Confidence in a Cleanser Skin-Transforming Hydrating Cleansing Serum

It Cosmetics Confidence in a Cleanser
What We Like
  • Dissolves waterproof makeup

  • Skin-softening formula

  • Good for all skin types

What We Don't Like
  • Contains fragrance

It Cosmetics knows how to make makeup, and it knows how to take it off. Case in point: Confidence in a Cleanser. This serum-style face wash effortlessly dissolves makeup, removes excess oil, and leaves skin feeling oh-so-soft.

Active Ingredients: Collagen, hyaluronic acid, colloidal oatmeal, ceramides | Skin Type: All | Size: 5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Gentle: Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser

Milky Jelly Cleanser
What We Like
  • Award-winning formula

  • pH-balanced

What We Don't Like
  • Not ideal for removing makeup

Glossier's soap-free Milky Jelly Cleanser is super gentle, non-irritating (even if you get it in your eyes), and suitable for all skin types. Say hello to soft skin—thanks to allantoin, pro-vitamin B5, and comfrey root extract.

Active Ingredients: Poloxamer, allantoin, pro-vitamin B5, comfrey root extract, aquaxyl | Skin Type: All | Size: 6 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Natural: Pholk Beauty Daily Detox Face Cleanser

Pholk Beauty Daily Detox Face Cleanser
What We Like
  • Natural formula

  • Pump dispenser

  • Soothes inflammation

What We Don't Like
  • Small amount

If you're partial to natural skincare products, check out Pholk Daily Detox. It's formulated with earth-sourced oils and white frankincense. This face wash claims to eliminate excess sebum, soothe inflammation, and restore a balanced complexion.

Active Ingredients: Kalahari watermelon seed oil, somali white frankincense, coconut oil | Skin Type: Oily/combination/acne-prone | Size: 4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Softening: Tatcha The Rice Wash Soft Cream Cleanser

Tatcha
What We Like
  • Skin-softening formula

  • pH-balanced

  • Moisturizing

What We Don't Like
  • Relatively pricey

  • Small amount

If you haven't tried a softening cleanser yet, allow us to introduce you to The Rice Wash. Tatcha's beloved pH-balanced formula leans on Japanese algae, rice powder, and hyaluronic acid to moisturize for an all-around better-looking complexion.

Active Ingredients: Japanese algae, hyaluronic acid, rice powder | Skin Type: Dry/combination/mature | Size: 4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Sensitive Skin: Eau Thermale Avene Tolerance Extremely Gentle Cleanser Lotion

Eau Thermale Avene Tolerance Extremely Gentle Cleanser Lotion
What We Like
  • No-rinse formula

  • Fragrance-free

  • Calms skin sensitivities

What We Don't Like
  • Not cruelty-free

Recommended by Dr. Viera, this exceedingly mild cleansing gel is ideal for those with sensitive complexions, eczema-prone skin, and rosacea. Eau Thermale Avene Tolerance boasts a soap-free, oil-free, fragrance-free formula with tried-and-true glycerin and soothing thermal water to leave your face calm, clean, and comfortable.

Active Ingredients: Thermal water, glycerin | Skin Type: Sensitive/dry | Size: 6.8 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Redness: Drunk Elephant Beste No.9 Jelly Cleanser

Drunk Elephant Beste No.9 Jelly Cleanser
What We Like
  • Reduces redness

  • Soothes inflammation

  • Dissolves makeup

What We Don't Like
  • Not ideal for dry skin

  • Small amount

Drunk Elephant has a large fan following for a reason. The brand's Beste No. 9 gently cleanses with glycerin and mild surfactants. The formula also claims to minimize inflammation, soothe redness, and hydrate tired skin.

Active Ingredients: Coconut-based surfactants, glycerin, cantaloupe fruit extract | Skin Type: Oily/combination/sensitive | Size: 5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

What Our Editors Say

"I have oily, sensitive skin, and Drunk Elephant's cleanser is my old faithful. Whether I'm breaking out, dry, or greasy, this cleanser does the job with no irritation. I love using it with my Meejee scrubber for a deep cleanse." Kathryn Vandervalk, Editorial & Strategy Director

Best for Oily Skin: Matrescence Rose Glow Purifying Cleanser

Matrescence Rose Glow Purifying Cleanser
What We Like
  • Reduces inflammation

  • Helps clear breakouts

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Small amount

Oily skin? Reach for Matrescence Skin Rose Glow. This purifying cleanser is formulated to keep greasiness at a minimum, reduce inflammation, and clear breakouts.

Active Ingredients: Burdock root extract, green tea extract, witch hazel | Skin Type: Oily/acne-prone/sensitive/dry | Size: 4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Rosen Skincare Super Smoothie Cleanser

Rosen Skincare Super Smoothie Cleanser
What We Like
  • Smooths uneven texture

  • Balances sebum

  • Antibacterial

What We Don't Like
  • Small amount

You'll be glad to have Rosen's Super Smoothie Cleanser in your arsenal when battling breakouts. This thick, creamy face wash claims to fight acne-causing bacteria, balances sebum, smooths uneven texture, and boosts your complexion in one step.

Active Ingredients: Strawberry powder, lemon peel | Skin Type: Acne-prone | Size: 4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Combination Skin: First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser

First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser
What We Like
  • pH-balanced

  • Minimizes redness

What We Don't Like
  • Somewhat strong smell

When your skin can't decide what kind of mood it's in, wash it clean with First Aid Beauty's pH-balanced Pure Skin Cleanser. This face wash calms irritation with allantoin and aloe and restores dry complexions with glycerin and antioxidants.

Active Ingredients: Aloe, allantoin, glycerin, antioxidants | Skin Type: Combination/sensitive/dry/oily | Size: 5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Dry Skin: Epara Cleansing Lotion

Epara Cleansing Lotion
What We Like
  • Award-winning formula

  • Moisturizing

  • Reduces hyperpigmentation

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Epara Cleansing Lotion is just the thing for dry, parched skin. This award-winning face wash flaunts a silky-smooth formula that works overtime to remove makeup, minimize hyperpigmentation, and deliver much-needed moisture.

Active Ingredients: Plankton extract, marula oil, moringa oil | Skin Type: All | Size: 5.28 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for All Skin Types: Marla Rene Beauty & Co. Turmeric and Honey Cleanser

Marla Rene Beauty & Co. Turmeric and Honey Cleanser
What We Like
  • Natural formula

  • Main ingredient isn't water

  • Good for all skin types

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Small amount

Formulated for all skin types, this pretty tincture from Marla Rene moisturizes, reduces excess oil, addresses unevenness, and calms. Standout ingredients include turmeric, honey, licorice root, and camu camu.

Active Ingredients: Turmeric, honey, camu camu, licorice root | Skin Type: All | Size: 5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Non-Foaming: Klur Gentle Matter Daily Moisture Cleanser

klur
What We Like
  • Moisturizing

  • Main ingredient isn't water

  • Good for all skin types

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Small amount

If you're not big on foaming face washes, go with Klur Gentle Matter. Containing a soothing blend of organic botanicals, resurfacing ingredients, and antioxidants, this daily cleanser is suitable for all skin types.

Active Ingredients: Green tea extract, aloe juice, jojoba oil | Skin Type: All | Size: 2 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Oil-Free: Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash with Salicylic Acid

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash with Salicylic Acid
What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Gently exfoliates

  • Minimizes blackheads

What We Don't Like
  • Contains fragrance

  • Not cruelty-free

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash is good for more than nostalgia. This classic cleanser uses BHA standby salicylic acid, going deep into pores to gently exfoliate, keep blackheads at bay, and prevent breakouts.

Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid | Skin Type: Acne-prone/oily | Size: 9.1 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Cream: Ode to Self Savant Cream Cleanser

Ode to Self Savant Cream Cleanser
What We Like
  • Gently exfoliates

  • Moisturizing

What We Don't Like
  • Short shelf life

  • Small amount

There's a lot to love about Ode to Self's Savant Cream Cleanser. The luxuriously rich, foaming formula replenishes the skin barrier with earth-sourced moisturizers like squalane and kokum butter. But that's not all—this face wash also exfoliates to reveal a brighter, better-looking complexion.

Active Ingredients: Lactic acid, kokum butter, neroli oil, squalane | Skin Type: Combination/dry/sensitive | Size: 1.7 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Powder: AmorePacific Treatment Enzyme Peel Cleansing Powder

AmorePacific Treatment Enzyme Peel Cleansing Powder
What We Like
  • Gently exfoliates

  • Hydrating

  • Good for all skin types

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Small amount

If you're open to trying a powder, your best bet is AmorePacific Treatment Enzyme Peel. Plant-derived enzymes offer mild exfoliation, while green tea extract soothes and hydrates. All you need is a nickel-sized amount and a tiny bit of water to get a good lather.

Active Ingredients: Papaya enzymes, green tea extract | Skin Type: All | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Size: 1.8 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes

What Our Editors Say

"I've always had dry skin, but this cleanser was a game-changer in my routine because it eliminates pesky dry spots. It is expensive, but the bottle lasts me the whole year, plus I can put it in my carry-on bag since it is a powder cleanser." Dwyer Frame, VP

Best Bar: Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar Soap

dove beauty bar
What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Can be used for face/body

What We Don't Like
  • Not portable

Even if you don't reach for it every day, you'll always be glad to have a Dove Beauty Bar on hand. Whether used on your face or body, this ultra-moisturizing skincare bar helps soothe skin sensitivities.

Active Ingredients: Sodium lauroyl isethionate | Skin Type: Sensitive | Size: 3.8 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Final Verdict

Sliding into first place, the best face wash overall is La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser (view at Amazon). The dermatologist-approved formula is extra-gentle and super-hydrating, effortlessly dissolving sebum and makeup while reinforcing the skin barrier. Having said that, Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser (view at Amazon) is an excellent option for those on a budget.

What to Look for in a Face Wash

Formula

Those with dry skin should opt for thicker, creamier textures—think balms and "milks". Foaming formulas are best for those with oily skin, while those in between should consider gels or lotions.

Hydrating Ingredients

No matter what kind of skin you have, it's imperative to impart some moisture back into it during the cleansing process. Again, if your complexion is drier, oils and butter are better. Oilier? Look for lighter hydration such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid.

What It Doesn’t Contain

This is especially important for those with dry and/or sensitive skin. In this case, it's worth looking for "sulfate-free" and "fragrance-free" distinctions.

FAQ
  • How often should you use face wash?

    Dr. Dele-Michael says, "Wash your face two times a day with a gentle cleanser to remove skin buildup of irritants and pollutants." However, some people with extra-dry skin may choose to wash their face only once daily. Additionally, some folks double-cleanse at night, first using an oil-based formula to dissolve makeup and sunscreen, then a water-based formula to remove all remaining residues.

  • Do face washes expire?

    Most face washes will expire roughly a year or two after opening the container, though depending on the formula and packaging, some may only last about six months. Be sure to check the expiration or period-after-opening (PAO) symbol if you're unsure whether a cleanser is still effective and safe to use. Also, keeping your skincare products in a cool, dry place will help them last as long as possible.

Why Trust Byrdie?

Theresa Holland is a commerce writer specializing in beauty, fitness, and lifestyle. She has been contributing to Byrdie since 2019, where she covers skincare, makeup, and haircare. For this roundup, she interviewed two board-certified dermatologists and researched various formulations, ingredients, and packaging types for cleansers. She considered dozens of face washes from various brands and combed through user reviews before making her final selections. As a skincare aficionado with a daily routine nearing ten steps, Theresa has tried several products on this list. She is particularly fond of La Roche-Posay, Vanicream, Tracie Martyn, Dr. Dennis Gross, CosRx, Then I Met You, Tatcha, Glossier, and It Cosmetics.

Meet the Expert

Dr. Adebola Dele-Michael, MD FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist specializing in cosmetic dermatology and dermatologic surgery. She is the founder of Radiant Skin Dermatology & Laser in New York.

Dr. Martha H. Viera, MD FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist based in Miami, Florida. She is a fellow member of several dermatological organizations, including the American Academy of Dermatology, the Women's Dermatologic Society, and the Florida Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery.

According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough face washes from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com, and we will evaluate the product ASAP.

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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