Skincare Products » Best Face Washes & Cleansers

Best Face Washes of 2023

The Glowsly editors independently test and choose the best products. We may receive commissions on purchases made from the affiliate links.

Facial cleansing is the most fundamental step in just about any skincare routine. Before you load on the luxurious serums, you need to take off all of the day’s grime, not to mention those layers of sunscreen and makeup. However, many face washes can be harsh and stripping, making cleansing an unpleasant and even skin-damaging experience. 

We’ve curated this list of the best face washes — ones that won’t harm your skin. These cleansers really feel like skincare, with dedicated formulas that don’t just clear your face but also add something to your skin, no matter your budget or skin type. 

Best face washes overview:

How we chose the best face washes

To create this article, we asked dermatologists and researched manufacturer specifications, including formats, ingredients, and more, to create a short list of the top face washes. Then, we combed through detailed product descriptions, ratings, and reviews to find the best face washes for each category.

Our picks for the best face washes

Best overall
CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser

What we love

  • Cleanses thoroughly without stripping the skin
  • Enriched with barrier-fortifying ingredients
  • Dermatologist-approved

What we don’t love

  • May be too rich for very oily skin

Picking just one best face wash from a brand like CeraVe is difficult, but this cream-to-foam cleanser is a newer release that effectively and gently cleanses. It comes out of the pump as a light lotion, but once you rub it in, it creates a delicate foam that rinses with ease. The formula removes makeup effectively and won’t strip your skin of its natural moisture. 

It’s enriched with CeraVe’s signature barrier-fortifying blend of ceramides, amino acids, and humectants for comprehensive moisturization. It was developed by dermatologists as a gentle, fragrance-free, non-comedogenic, and pH-balanced cleanser. 

Though it’s recommended for dry and balanced skin, we think combination skin will benefit from it as well. If you have oily skin and hate moisturizers, it could be hydrating enough to use on its own.

Skin type: Dry, balanced | Key ingredients: Ceramides, amino acids, hyaluronic acid | Scented: No | Size: 8 fl oz

Best budget
Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser

What we love

  • Safe for sensitive skin
  • Budget-friendly
  • Glycerin hydrates the skin

What we don’t love

  • Won’t remove heavy makeup

This simple, affordable cleanser is the internet’s darling because it works for almost everyone. Free from many commonly irritating ingredients like fragrance and harsh cleansing agents, it’s a safe choice even for very reactive skin.

It has a gel texture that foams up gently but doesn’t strip the skin of oils. It also contains a dose of hydrating glycerin for a soft yet clean feel. It takes off sunscreen and light makeup easily, but we suggest adding an oil cleanser for heavier makeup removal.

Skin type: Dry, sensitive | Key ingredients: Glycerin | Scented: No | Size: 8 fl oz

Best splurge
Tatcha The Rice Wash

What we love

  • Ultra-luxurious and elegant cleanser
  • Foams into a rich, creamy lather
  • Leaves skin soft and hydrated

What we don’t love

  • Expensive
  • Fragrance may be overwhelming

Everything about this cleanser feels ultra-luxurious and comforting, from packaging to texture to scent. It’s a rich cleanser that hydrates the skin with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and amino acids. 

Many cream face washes don’t foam up well, but this is an exception — it creates a creamy lather that adds to the overall experience. Some reviewers noted it’s also slightly gritty, likely because of the rice powder. You may find that it gives your skin a bit of a glow-boosting micro-exfoliation. Just beware, it has a strong smell.

Skin type: All, but especially dry and combination | Key ingredients: Amino acids, rice powder, hyaluronic acid | Scented: Yes | Size: 4 oz

Best for sensitive skin
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Facial Cleanser

What we love

  • Recommended by dermatologists
  • Gentle and fragrance-free
  • Creamy and soothing

What we don’t love

  • May not remove heavy makeup

Rest assured, this list has no shortage of derm-approved face washes, but Toleriane is a favorite, especially for sensitive skin. It’s a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser with barrier-supporting ceramides, niacinamide, and the brand’s signature prebiotic water. 

The creamy formula keeps the skin soothed, hydrated, and moisturized. While it’s ideal for dry skin, it can work for all skin types. That said, some reviewers found that it’s not as effective for heavy makeup removal, so in that case, you may want to double cleanse.

Skin type: Dry, combination, sensitive | Key ingredients: Prebiotic water, ceramides, niacinamide | Scented: No | Size: 13.52 fl oz

Best for dry skin
The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

What we love

  • Non-comedogenic and soap-free
  • Ideal for sensitive skin

What we don’t love

  • Natural smell may bother some

This affordable balm-cream hybrid cleanser is an obsession for us. It’s made with squalane, a light, non-comedogenic, yet moisturizing oil-like substance that effectively dissolves makeup. Glycerin and water are also present in the blend for added hydration. The cleanser comes out from the squeeze tube a little thick but spreads easily as you rub it into dry skin. 

It’s recommended for all skin types, and we have to agree — unlike many other balmy cleansers we’ve tried, it leaves the skin feeling fresh and free from any residue. That said, the slightly viscous texture may not be for everyone. Since it’s fragrance-free, some reviewers noted they didn’t like the natural smell.

Skin type: All | Key ingredients: Squalane | Scented: No | Size: 5 oz

Best for combination skin
Youth to the People Superfood Cleanser

What we love

  • Antioxidant-enriched formula
  • Lathers beautifully
  • Gentle enough for most users

What we don’t love

  • Fragrance can be an issue
  • Too drying for some users

This cult-favorite cleanser is loaded with antioxidant extracts from kale, spinach, and green tea to give your skin the same kind of boost as your favorite detox smoothie. It’s a classic foaming gel, perfect if you need a good lather to feel clean but still relatively gentle and non-stripping.

We think it’s ideal for those with combination or oily skin. It has a refreshing herbal scent that adds to the experience but could be an issue for some. While it’s designed for all skin types, some users with dry skin found it didn’t work for them.

Skin type: All | Key ingredients: Kale, spinach, green tea | Scented: Yes | Size: 8 oz

Best for oily skin
The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser

What we love

  • Unclogs pores with salicylic acid
  • Soothing and mattifying ingredients
  • Balanced and non-stripping

What we don’t love

  • Might be too intense for twice-daily use

This cleanser, designed to minimize pores and control oils, is a dream face wash for oily skin. It includes pore-unclogging salicylic acid and oil-controlling zinc to keep your skin looking clear and matte. A touch of allantoin and glycerin prevents the skin from feeling irritated or stripped. It’s a perfect balance that many cleansers for oily skin lack. 

The directions mention that it can be used twice a day, including around the eyes, but we worry that it might be too aggressive for more sensitive skin types.

Skin type: All | Key ingredients: Salicylic acid, zinc, allantoin | Scented: No | Size: 5 fl oz

Best for morning
COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser

What we love

  • Restores pH balance
  • Tea tree oil treats acne
  • Apt for all skin types

What we don’t love

  • Not ideal for evening use or heavy makeup removal

This fun, gentle cleanser is a K-beauty staple for many. It has a low pH (meaning it’s slightly acidic), so it actively restores the skin’s pH balance for a stronger skin barrier. The gel texture is perfect if you need a foaming cleanser to feel clean. A touch of tea tree oil treats acne and betaine salicylate boosts the clarifying action.

Although it’ll work for all skin types, those with oily and acne-prone skin may appreciate it the most. As you can guess from the name, it’s formulated for use in the morning, so it doesn’t remove heavy makeup well. That said, it’s a satisfactory second cleanser.

Skin type: All | Key ingredients: Betaine salicylate, tea tree oil | Scented: Yes | Size: 5.07 fl oz

Best oil
Shiseido Perfect Cleansing Oil

What we love

  • Excellent for makeup removal
  • Luxurious to use
  • Leaves skin feeling dewy and soft

What we don’t love

  • Pricey
  • Scent can be an issue for some

It’s a bit of a splurge, but Shiseido’s cleansing oil is incredibly luxurious to use. Makeup removal can be a bit of a pain, so you may as well choose an oil cleanser that makes the experience fun. 

It’s made with grapeseed and mineral oils to break down makeup completely (including most waterproof makeup). Once you rinse it away, it doesn’t leave the skin feeling greasy — just dewy and soft.

If your skin is oily, you might like it as a first cleanser, while those with dry skin could potentially use it alone. It also smells incredible, although you may prefer an unscented face wash if you have sensitive skin.

Skin type: All | Key ingredients: Grape seed oil, mineral oil | Scented: Yes | Size: 6 oz

Best gel
Krave Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser

What we love

  • Cleanses without stripping
  • Includes soothing green tea
  • Made with hydrating ingredients

What we don’t love

  • Odd texture

This bouncy gel cleanser is a lot of fun, thanks to its unique texture, vibrant green color, and exceptionally soothing formula. It’s a little thick and sticky initially, but once you add water, it lathers gently. 

It’s very effective at breaking down excess oil, so those with oily or combination skin will enjoy it without feeling stripped. It’s designed with double cleansing in mind, but some reviewers mentioned that it removed their makeup effectively on its own. 

The star ingredient in the blend is matcha green tea, known for its high content of antioxidants and skin-soothing abilities. Hemp seed oil, sodium PCA, and glycerin are just a few of the moisturizing ingredients you’ll find here.

Skin type: All | Key ingredients: Green tea, hemp seed oil, sodium PCA | Scented: No | Size: 4.05 oz

Best balm
Banila Co. Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm Original

What we love

  • Effective makeup removal
  • Leaves skin soft and moisturized
  • Luxurious texture

What we don’t love

  • May require double cleansing

This balm cleanser is another makeup-removing powerhouse. It’s a shining example of Korean skincare, with a luxurious texture and a fruity acerola scent at a reasonable price. 

This face wash melts into an oil as you rub it over your skin, then turns milky when you add water. Once you rinse it, you can expect your skin to feel clean, soft, and hydrated. To get your skin feeling completely fresh, you may want to follow it up with a second cleanser, although we think it’d be okay on its own for those with dry skin.

Skin type: All | Key ingredients: Acerola extract, Zero Balance Technology, hot springs water | Scented: Yes | Size: 6.09 oz

Best for targeted breakouts
Differin Daily Deep Cleanser

What we love

  • Medicated acne treatment
  • Mild way of using benzoyl peroxide
  • Designed to hydrate

What we don’t love

  • Can’t be used around eyes
  • Must be paired with sunscreen

Dealing with breakouts? This cleanser doubles as a powerful acne treatment, thanks to 5% benzoyl peroxide. The trusted acne medication clears pores and reduces acne. Because it’s in a hydrating, rinse-off formula, it’s less likely to irritate the skin than leave-on treatments. 

Leave it on for a few minutes for best results and avoid using it around your eyes. Make sure to ramp up your sunscreen usage when out in the daytime.

Skin type: Acne-prone | Key ingredients: Benzoyl peroxide, glycerin | Scented: No | Size: 4 oz

Best for acne-prone skin
Skinfix Acne+ 2% BHA + Azelaic Acid + Niacinamide + AHA Cleanser

What we love

  • Salicylic acid treats breakouts
  • Doubles as an exfoliator
  • Improves dark spots and redness

What we don’t love

  • May be too intense for daily use
  • Slightly pricey

This salicylic acid-based cleanser is phenomenal if you have acne-prone skin but don’t want something as intense as benzoyl peroxide. With additional key actives like niacinamide, azelaic acid, and glycolic acid, it’s designed to address breakouts through exfoliation, soothing action, and sebum control. 

We love this multifaceted approach to treating acne-prone skin. Plus, the active ingredients may also help with dark spots and redness while promoting skin renewal. That said, it contains a lot of strong ingredients, so it may be too intense for daily use. Because of the AHA, make sure to combine it with sunscreen.

Skin type: Acne-prone, oily, combination, balanced | Key ingredients: Salicylic acid, niacinamide, azelaic acid, glycolic acid | Scented: No | Size: 5 fl oz

Best micellar water
Bioderma Hydrabio H2O Micellar Water

What we love

  • Easy-to-use no-rinse formula
  • Effectively removes makeup
  • Fortifying and hydrating

What we don’t love

  • Contains fragrance

We love a lazy day skincare hack, and a cleanser that takes off makeup, leaves the skin supple, and doesn’t require rinsing certainly counts as one. This micellar water from Bioderma does all that in the best way possible. 

Infused with niacinamide, glycerin, and a few patented skin-fortifying and hydrating complexes, it’s a nourishing product that cleanses the skin thoroughly. Though it’s formulated for dry and sensitive skin, it’s also been tested on combination skin and is confirmed non-comedogenic.

It does contain fragrance, though, so if that’s an issue for you, you might prefer the brand’s Sensibio micellar water instead. We recommend rinsing off micellar water if you can.

Skin type: Dry, sensitive | Key ingredients: Niacinamide, glycerin, Aquagenium patent, D.A.F. patent | Scented: Yes | Size: 16.7 fl oz

Best natural
Cocokind Oil to Milk Cleanser

What we love

  • No questionable ingredients
  • Supports moisture barrier with an organic oil blend
  • Natural, lovely scent

What we don’t love

  • Fragrance can be an issue

If you prefer natural skincare, this cleanser is a solid choice. It’s designed to support the skin’s natural moisture barrier and keep it thriving with a blend of organic oils from sunflower, grape seed, and baobab.

A fermented oat complex helps support the microbiome, ensuring balanced skin. It has a floral scent, thanks to a small amount of geranium essential oil. We think it smells great, but it may not appeal to all users.

Skin type: All | Key ingredients: Organic oils, fermented oat complex | Scented: Yes | Size: 2.9 fl oz

Wash away the day

Our standards for a great face wash have changed over the years. Once upon a time, facial cleansers were often drying and irritating. Today, we expect an excellent face wash to do its job without causing dryness, even if it’s designed for oily skin. 

Our top pick, CeraVe Hydrating Cream to Foam Cleanser does just that at a very reasonable price point, but there are many other cleansers for you to choose from if you have other preferences. 

How to pick the right face wash for you

When choosing the best face wash for you, there are a few key factors you should consider first: your skin type, the type of formula, and the key ingredients. 

Skin type

  • Dry. If your skin produces very little oil and is prone to dehydration, stick to creamy or oily cleansers that are high in moisturizing ingredients. Avoid most gel cleansers since they tend to strip away too much of your skin’s natural oil, which can increase dryness and dehydration. 
  • Oily. If your skin produces a lot of oil, you might enjoy gel face washes. Gel formulas are based on surfactants that do an excellent job of removing greasy buildup. That said, we still recommend choosing gentle gel cleansers that won’t damage your skin barrier. Your skin should feel fresh and comfortable when you’re done cleansing — not tight. 
  • Balanced. If your skin is at a happy medium where it’s neither too dry nor too oily, aim for very gentle gel or milk cleansers that only slightly foam up. 
  • Combination. If your skin has both dry and oily areas, you’ll probably enjoy gentle gel cleansers like our pick from Vanicream and Youth to the People. You can even use a more potent gel cleanser on the oily areas and a more nourishing cream or oil cleanser on the dry areas.  
  • Sensitive. Avoid harsh, stripping cleansers and formulas laden with fragrances and essential oils. Instead, choose gentle formulas made with barrier-supporting and soothing ingredients.  
  • Acne-prone. If you’re prone to breakouts, choose face washes with acne-fighting and skin-soothing ingredients that can help address clogged pores while calming redness.  


  • Cream/milk. These cleansers tend to be very gentle on the skin. Cream and milk cleansers foam up lightly and remove makeup or heavy sunscreen reasonably well. 
  • Gel. Gel face washes are very concentrated. They lather easily and tend to create bigger, more bubbly foam. They effectively break down oils, often recommended as second cleansers or for those with oily skin. 
  • Oil. These cleansers effectively break down makeup and sunscreen, thanks to their oil-based formula. They usually contain small amounts of surfactants, which allow oil and water to mix, ensuring you can rinse them away once you’re done. 
  • Balm. Balm cleansers are functionally similar to oil cleansers, so they’re great for dry skin and makeup removal. Balm is solid at room temperature, though, so you’ll need to rub it between your hands so it can melt and spread easily.  


  • Barrier-fortifying. If your skin is easily irritated or dehydrated, look for barrier-fortifying ingredients like ceramides, fatty acids, and niacinamide. These ingredients bolster the skin’s defenses. 
  • Soothing. Cleansers with green tea, oat, allantoin, and niacinamide can offer a skin-calming effect. 
  • Acne-fighting. The best acne-fighters in cleansers are salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, but azelaic acid and tea tree oil may also help. 
  • Moisturizing. Glycerin and hyaluronic acid help pull water into the skin to prevent dehydration, while cleansers with oils can help nourish and seal in moisture. 
  • Anti-aging. Cleansers sometimes include anti-aging ingredients like vitamin C, vitamin A, niacinamide, or green tea. However, since they don’t stay on the skin, investing in leave-on products that include such ingredients makes more sense. 


What’s the No. 1 recommended face wash? 

Our top pick is CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser for its exceptionally gentle, non-stripping formula and ability to cleanse the skin thoroughly. It’s a phenomenal choice for all skin types, including the most sensitive.  

What do dermatologists recommend you wash your face with?

We interviewed some dermatologists who recommended CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser and La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Facial Cleanser, thanks to their gentle, barrier-fortifying formulas that work even for sensitive skin.

What’s the most natural way to wash your face?

If you’re transitioning to an all-natural skincare routine, you may want to stick to oil-based cleansers like the Cocokind Oil to Milk Cleanser. They tend to include smaller amounts of synthesized surfactants, so they help to preserve the skin’s moisture barrier. If your skin is oily, you might prefer a gel cleanser, like Youth to the People Superfood Cleanser, that’s natural but still includes a few foaming agents.