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Cleansing is the first and arguably most crucial step in the skincare process. It prepares your skin to take on active ingredients contained in the rest of your routine. In today's market, there's an abundance of face washes to choose from. Understandably, guys can get overwhelmed. Skincare is still a new concept for many, but that doesn't mean it has to be complicated.
The key to choosing the proper face wash for men lies in understanding what your skin needs. Perhaps you're looking for hydration, or you might require balance. There are formulas for every skin type that address particular concerns. No matter what your budget is, there are options for you.
To that end, here are the best face washes for men.
What to Look For
Skin-Type Specific Formulas
Choosing the correct face wash for you depends on your skin type. For instance, if you are acne-prone, you may want to look for formulas that include acne-busting ingredients like salicylic acid or willow bark. If you have dry skin, moisturizing oils and creamier formulas might be best. Some face washes can help fight signs of aging, while others might be made for sensitive skin. Check labels for these claims that suit your specific needs.
Non-Stripping or Irritating Ingredients
The key to face wash is to remove dirt, bacteria, pollution, and dead skin cells without destroying your skin's natural balance and hydration. Surfactants in face wash dissolve in water and help remove dirt and oils on the skin. However, some surfactants are more stripping than others. Surfactants can bind to keratin and cause protein denaturation, which damages the cell membrane of keratinocytes. Surfactants that may be best avoided include sulfates, with the most common being sodium lauryl sulfate.
Since face wash, despite your best efforts, can remove some of the natural oils and moisture from your skin's surface, it's best to choose a product that offers hydrating qualities to counteract dryness. Depending on your skin type and needs, there are plenty of options to choose from. Oils, creams, and butters may be helpful for dryer skin types, while gels, glycerine, and hyaluronic acid are likely best for oilier skin types.
Best Overall: Evolve Organic Beauty Daily Detox Facial Wash
If you're looking for an affordable grown-up face wash with natural ingredients, you'll find that and more in this green beauty favorite. This face wash promises to help keep the skin balanced while gently exfoliating using papaya enzymes. The formula is lightly foaming but doesn't tend to dry out the skin. This cleanser works for all skin types but can be especially beneficial for combination skin.
Best for All Skin Types: Paula's Choice Skincare Defense Hydrating Gel-to-Cream Cleanser
Part of the brand’s Defense line, this cleanser claims to double as anti-pollution skincare. It may address blue light damage caused by daily exposure to phone and computer screens. It comes in a mild formula that breaks down surface oils and impurities.
Best for Oily Skin: (MALIN+GOETZ) Grapefruit Face Cleanser
While it's suitable for all skin types, it'll work exceptionally well for oily skin. You'll get a deep cleanse that won't leave you feeling dry. This is a foaming cleanser without harsh ingredients. Grapefruit extract and amino acids are meant to help keep skin balanced. This can be used as part of your day or nighttime regimes.
Best for Dry Skin: Aesop Purifying Facial Cream Cleanser
Aesop’s light and aromatic cleanser is ideal for those in need of hydration. This foam-free formula may leave the skin looking and feeling more supple and smooth. The cream also works to help remove makeup and product buildup. It doubles as a purifying and hydrating mask if you leave it on for 10 minutes.
Best for Combination Skin: Susanne Kauffman Cleansing Gel
This is a good option for all skin types but works well with combination to oily skin. It's popular among celebrities but offers more than just hype. It uses alpine herbs and biodegradable ingredients meant to provide a soothing mild cleanse. This is an excellent cleanser for treating occasional breakouts and inflammation.
Best Anti-Aging: Grown Alchemist Hydra+ Oil-Gel Facial Cleanser
It’s never too early to defend your skin against the signs of aging. This gel to milky cleanser gently washes away surface impurities. It has an impressive list of ingredients like squalane and a host of antioxidants and fatty acids, all working to potentially address the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It's also hydrating, which supports healthy, glowing skin.
Best for Dark Skin: Urban Skin Rx Clear Skin Cleansing Bar
This treatment cleanser is a favorite for darker skin tones, formulated to address common issues such as oily skin and uneven tone. It also exfoliates and can be worn as a five-minute mask—actives like niacinamide and salicylic acid help improve the appearance of the skin over time. The bar comes enclosed in a jar for convenient application and storage.
Best With Charcoal: Boscia Detoxifying Black Charcoal Cleanser
Another great pick for men who are more on the oily side is this warming gel cleanser. It uses charcoal to meant to help deep clean, balance, and reduce the appearance of pores. It can also be used as part of a double cleanse routine. Like all Boscia products, this is vegan and free of any artificial fragrances.
What Our Testers Say
"The Boscia Detoxifying Black Cleanser is ideal for the oily-to-combination-skinned who need a little something extra to balance out and calm their overactive skin. Great for both everyday usage as well as a deep treatment a few times a week, this detox cleanser delivers fresh, balanced, poreless skin." — Bryan Levandowski, Product Tester
Best Micellar Water: Caudalie Micellar Cleansing Water
If you're already double cleansing, then you might be familiar with micellar water. It's a staple of the multi-step skincare process. This no-rinse cleanser can be used to remove product residue, dirt, and oil. Caudalie's grape water, chamomile, and glycerin formula promises to draw moisture back into the skin. This makes this micellar water a go-to for beauty and skincare enthusiasts.
Best Cleansing Balm: La Bella Figura The Clean Slate Rinsable Cleansing Concentrate
This buttery balm provides a deep cleanse without stripping the skin. Created by a brand dedicated to green skincare and beauty, it contains primarily organic ingredients. This balm offers a proper cleanse while providing a healthy and hydrated glow. It makes a tremendous clarifying pre-shower stream mask.
Best No Frills: Homme Face Daily Face Wash
As the name might suggest, this brand was created with men’s skin in mind. This refreshing cleanser is soothing, making it an excellent option for frequent shavers. Tea tree and lavender add to its skin calming effect. This is an ideal cleanser for anyone looking for a more neutral daily wash, all for a price that won’t break the bank.
Best Investment: Dr. Barbara Sturm Enzyme Cleanser
In this formula, ascorbic acid and enzymes promise to resurface and hydrate. It comes in a powder form that’s activated by water. This helps to prepare the skin for other products and treatments. It offers a deep cleanse that removes dead skin. This means it may be used as a mild weekly exfoliant. It also comes in a formula specifically for darker skin tones.
Best Budget: COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
COSRX is an affordable Korean beauty brand that is leading the pack. This soothing cleanser is ideal for overactive skin. It contains tea tree and BHAs meant to help clarify and improve the appearance of the skin. This is a great cleanser for anyone looking for a simple yet effective daily face wash.
Best Gentle: Arcadian Banana Face Wash
You might prefer an uncomplicated cleanser that doesn't sacrifice quality—if so, this one is for you. The formula is fragrance-free and suitable for sensitive skin. It's also vegan and cruelty-free. It's gentle enough for daily use and keeps the skin hydrated—ingredients like organic aloe leaf juice and witch hazel help soothe the skin.
Should males use face wash?
Despite fewer men wearing makeup, it is still crucial for men to use facewash. Pollution, dirt, grime, dead skin cells, and oils can get into pores through the day and lead to clogging. Hair products can also irritate and clog pores when they run onto skin or seep down during sweating.
How do I choose a face wash?
Choose a facewash that is meant for your skin type and needs. Look for products that are designed to treat your concerns such as acne and oil control, fine lines and wrinkles, dryness, or sensitivity. It's wise to choose a face wash that also offers hydrating qualities.
Are face washes good for skin?
Face wash can be very good for your skin if you choose wisely. Avoid products that strip the skin, such as soaps and sulfates. Choose gentle face washes that offer hydration and ingredients that boost the quality of your skin while addressing your specific needs and skin type.