This post may contain affiliate links.
We love a luxury cosmetic as much as the next person, but even we must admit that drugstores cleansers are killing it. A drugstore face wash is not always the most exciting or groundbreaking product, but if it gets your face clean without compromising its well-being, what more could you ask for?
We selected the best drugstore face wash products available online for a variety of skin types and concerns. We then explain how you can choose the best cleanser for your skin type, so you can easily choose the right one for you!
Drugstore Cleanser Guide: Contents
13 Best Drugstore Cleansers to Buy
The drugstore is killing it with a ton of great cleansers, but these are our favorites!
1. Best Overall: CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
CeraVe is not the most interesting brand, sure, but their products are consistently so friggin’ good. This is why this brand is so loved by dermatologists! This cleanser is one of our favorites, especially for sensitive skin, though anyone could use it. It’s a light, hydrating gel formula that doesn’t lather but still does a decent job cleaning the skin (though it’s not the best for makeup removal). It’s enhanced with skin-loving ceramides, so it’s gentle on the skin barrier. You can buy it at Ulta.
2. Best for Dry Skin: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser
Light and creamy, this is the best drugstore face wash if you have dry skin! The lotion texture is lovely and infuses the skin with lots of hydration thanks to glycerin and panthenol. It also has the antioxidant benefits of niacinamide and the restorative effects of ceramides. It’s not the strongest makeup remover, but it’s an awesome second cleanse and also works well in the morning. Order it from Amazon!
3. Best Micellar Water: Simple Kind to Skin Micellar Cleansing Water
Sometimes you don’t have the energy for a full-on cleanse, which is when this micellar water really comes in handy! It’s super affordable, which is always nice, and it does a great job of removing light makeup and impurities. The formula is enhanced with lots of hydrating agents as well as balancing niacinamide, so it’s a lovely choice for all skin types. It’s fragrance-free, but we still recommend that those with sensitive skin rinse it off at the end. Pick it up on Amazon!
4. Best Budget: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
If you’re on a major budget, this drugstore cleanser is a solid choice that is very affordable for a massive size. It has a very unique gel formula, but it doesn’t foam up much when you add water, so it doesn’t strip the skin of moisture either. It’s appropriate for all skin types, including the very sensitive since it’s fragrance-free. We recommend using it when the skin is dry and then adding water after to rinse it away. It’s available at Ulta.
5. Best for Combination Skin: Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser with Pump Dispenser
If your skin is somewhere between dry and oily or exhibits signs of both, we think this is one of the best drugstore cleansers to try. It’s gentle and fragrance-free, which we always love, and it cleanses the skin really thoroughly, which helps the oily sections. The dry parts of the skin benefit from the hydrating glycerin that’s in the cleanser. It’s also a safe choice for young or sensitive skin. Shop for it on Amazon!
6. Best for Sensitive Skin: Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser
If your skin is ultra-sensitive, this is the best drugstore face wash to try. While most of the cleansers we’ve selected are sensitive skin-approved, this one stands out for offering thorough makeup removal and for having some added skin-soothers. Those include feverfew and chamomile, not to mention the hydrating effects of glycerin. The formula foams up gently without stripping the skin, so it’s a great choice for combination and oily skin, as well. You can get it from Amazon.
7. Best for Dry, Acne-Prone Skin: Differin Gentle Cleanser for Sensitive Skin
Differin is the brand that brought OTC adapalene, a very strong vitamin A-based acne medication, to the market, and this is their cleanser to go with it. Adapalene, tretinoin, and similar non-cosmetic retinoids are powerful skin-regenerating agents that can also irritate the skin and cause flakiness.
If you’re using such a product, you want a gentle, mild, and creamy cleanser like this one to remove your makeup without aggravating your skin. At the same time, you also don’t want the cleanse to include anything that might bring your acne back. Well, this is the best drugstore face wash to buy if that’s your situation! Purchase it from Amazon!
8. Best for Oily Skin: Yes To Tomatoes Daily Clarifying Cleanser
We don’t usually like to recommend foaming gel cleansers, but if you have oily skin, then this might be the best drugstore face wash for you. The formula is simple but effective, with gentle surfactants that remove impurities, makeup, and oils without an issue. It also contains tomato extract and watermelon seed oil, which give an antioxidant boost. Buy it from Amazon!
9. Best Oil Cleanser: Kose Softymo Speedy Cleansing Oil
When it comes to makeup removal, nothing can beat an oil cleanser. This is one of the best drugstore cleansers in that category, coming from the Japanese brand Kose. The formula is made with mineral oil, so it’s gentle and affordable, but also includes a touch of jojoba oil and glycerin for added nourishment. You apply it as an oil to dry skin, but once you add water, it turns cloudy, so you can rinse it clean. Pick it up from Amazon!
10. Best Exfoliating Cleanser: e.l.f. Gentle Peeling Exfoliant Enriched Face Cleanser
This is the best drugstore cleanser for exfoliation. It removes dead skin thoroughly with cellulose beads but also includes papaya, which is rich in skin-smoothing enzymes. Licorice root extract boosts the formula with its brightening and soothing effects. It’s gentle and hydrating, but we’d still only recommend it for those without sensitivity or acne. Find it through Amazon!
11. Best Natural: Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Cleansing Foam
If you prefer using natural products, you’ll be happy to know you can still find a drugstore face wash that’s made of natural ingredients! Andalou Naturals is a great natural drugstore brand, and this cleanser is particularly lovely, with a refreshing rose scent. It’s a foaming cleanser, so it’s best for oily and combination skin, though it includes pomegranate and rosehip seed oils, which do add a nourishing touch. It’s available online via Amazon.
12. Best for Oily, Acne-Prone Skin: Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne and Redness Facial Cleanser
A lot of drugstores cleansers for acne-prone skin contain harsh ingredients, so we love this one for being both gentle and effective. The star ingredient here is 2% salicylic acid, which sloughs away dead skin cells and treats acne, but it also features chamomile and aloe, which help keep the skin soothed. It’s a foaming cleanser, so it’s still better for oily skin, though it is non-stripping and free of sulfates. It’s sold on Amazon.
13. Best Anti-Aging: Olay Regenerist Regenerating Cream Cleanser Face Wash
This luxurious cream cleanser combines chemical and physical exfoliation to transform the skin. It includes gentle silica beads and salicylic acid, which work together to remove dead skin cells, along with collagen-renewing vitamin C. Of course, none of these effects are extreme in a wash-off product, but we still love it for its gentle, moisturizing touch. You can shop for it on Amazon.
Choosing the Best Drugstore Face Wash for Your Skin Type
A lot of drugstore cleansers are one-size-fits-all, but keeping your skin type and concerns in mind will help you pinpoint a more specific and targeted face wash.
If you have dry skin that produces very little sebum and tends to get flakey, you’ll want to choose a drugstore cleanser that will help your skin retain some moisture. Cream and oil cleansers are usually the best because they rely on oils to clean the skin instead of stripping surfactants.
When looking at the ingredient list, choose cleansers like La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane Cleanser or Kose Softymo Speedy Cleansing Oil, which are rich in humectants like glycerin or moisturizing oils.
Oily and Combination Skin
Oily skin produces a lot of sebum throughout the day and tends to have larger pores. When selecting a cleanser for oily skin, you want to know that it’ll get rid of that excess oil without drying out your skin.
Light gel or gel-cream cleansers are usually a nice choice, as long as they’re low on moisture-stripping surfactants like sodium laureth sulfate. We recommend the Differin Cleanser, Yes to Tomatoes Clarifying Cleanser, and Neutrogena Oil-Free Cleanser.
If your skin is normal and balanced, so it is neither overly dry nor oily, you can really choose any balanced cleanser! Both hydrating gel-cream cleansers and cream cleansers are good choices that clean the skin thoroughly while supporting your skin’s balance. We recommend getting our #1 pick, Cerave Hydrating Cleanser, or the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser.
When you have sensitive skin that gets irritated easily, it’s very important to use a cleanser that won’t make your skin condition worse. It’s best to choose cleansers with very gentle and creamy formulas that don’t contain any fragrances. If the cleansers also contain added soothing ingredients like oat extract or chamomile, that can be a major bonus. Aveeno Ultra Calming Foaming Cleanser and La Roche-Posay Toleriane Cleanser are both fantastic choices for sensitive skin.
If you suffer from frequent breakouts, you can consider choosing a cleanser that’ll help soothe and treat your acne. If you’re already using acne medication, a simple cleanser like CeraVe or Differin that’ll keep your skin calm is best. If your skin is sensitive, a cleanser can actually be a great way of delivering active ingredients, in which case you can try Neutrogena’s Oil-Free Cleanser, which contains salicylic acid.
Photos via Instagram