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We rounded up the best face wash because skincare is never one-size-fits-all. What works on “normal” skin is often harsh, drying, and irritating on the more sensitive folks. The best face wash for sensitive skin is going to be gentler, with soothing ingredients that preserve the skin’s precious balance. They’ll prevent overdrying, breakouts, and irritation.
It’s tempting to reach for a too-harsh cleanser. Perhaps you’ve even chased that “tight” feeling, the telltale sensation of your skin being pulled across your cheekbones as you scrub it down. But that feeling’s a bad sign, a signal that your cleanser is too strong and will only hurt your skin in the long run. These picks, on the other hand, are as gentle as a lamb. They range from on-the-go wipes to milky washes, from pore-clearing powders to oil-eliminating wonders. Which means there’s bound to be an option here that’s right for your skin type, ridding your moneymaker of unwanted impurities. (And once you’ve locked down the face wash that’s right for your skincare routine, why not pick out a moisturizer and some UV-blocking sunscreen too?
The Best Face Wash, Period
Philosophy’s ridiculously popular cleanser—seriously, read the reviews—remains a hallmark of eco-conscious skin care for a reason. Its secret sauce? The brand’s meadowfoam seed oil, an antioxidant-rich formula suitable for all skin types and sourced from the imprint’s extensive roster of environmentally-minded suppliers.
The Best Regimen-Replacing Face Wash
Your skin care routine should include more than washing your face. But when shit hits the fan (read: your roving apothecary of beauty products explodes in your duffel) or you’re in a pinch, iS’s cleansing complex offers a pretty close approximation of the whole shebang. Willow bark exfoliates and un-clogs your pores, antioxidants fight back against free radicals, and all of it works overtime to help smooth your complexion.
The Best Gentle Face Wash
Our most recent Grooming Award-winning cleanser nabbed top honors for its uncanny ability to clean your mug without causing irritation or uncomfortable tightness.
The Best Face Wash for Dry Skin
Dry and sensitive skin are often categorized together, and for good reason: They both react adversely to many otherwise “normal” products, and are left parched or reddened. This cleansing milk is a powerful flush for toxins and grime, but leaves skin feeling as hydrated as it is clean.
The Best Face Wash for Fighting Oil
This calendula-enriched, creamy-gel cleanser soothes and strengthens the skin while it washes away grease. It’s formulated for oily skin (and as you may know, men have oily skin more often than not). But to flush out all that extra grime, you need a cleanser that balances and soothes the skin instead of stripping it of its moisture entirely. Kiehl’s and its calendula cleanser are the solution for that.
The Best Non-Traditional Face Wash
Not all cleansers are liquid. This powder needs a few drops of water in your palms to create a gently exfoliating lather. It uses exfoliating fruit enzymes (from pineapple and papaya) to dissolve dead skin and reveal your brightest complexion, as well as vitamins C, E, B3 and B5, which combine for soft, smooth, and—again—bright complexion.
The Best Drugstore Face Wash
It’s easy to be skeptical of mass-produced skincare, but sometimes the most affordable option is also one of the simplest and most effective. This hypoallergenic foaming cleanser is totally free of soaps and dyes—so cleanse in the morning, cleanse in the evening, cleanse after the gym. This is one drugstore staple that won’t dry you out.
The Post-Sun Pick
A multitasking, creamy cleanser that uses aloe to hydrate and soothe the skin. It’s a great addition to your regimen after a day under the sun’s harsh rays. And even though it’s formulated for the face (which is inherently more sensitive than the body), you can also use it on other sunburnt parts.
The Dermatologist’s Pick
One of the dermatologists I trust most with product recommendations, Dr. Heather Rogers of Modern Dermatology, recs Revision’s gentle cleansing lotion to most patients with sensitive skin. It uses apple amino acids to lift oil, then soothes and moisturizes with chamomile and algae extracts.
For After Shaving
Part cleanser, part toner, these cloths gently balance the skin after each shave. They disinfect and clean pores with the help of tea tree oil and witch hazel, while soothing sensitivities with eucalyptus. You can pack them for one-offs to the gym or for a midday refresh, even if you aren’t shaving.
Plus 5 More Face Washes We Love
Murad clarifying cleanser
Acne-prone folks, you should be exfoliating too. Murad’s cleanser helps vanish existing blemishes and prevent more of ’em from cropping up down the line, soothing your skin in the process.
Avène Antirougeurs cleanser
A frothy, pillowy face wash that erases redness like felt on a whiteboard.
The Inkey List salicylic acid acne + pore cleanser
The pimple-clearing miracle we can’t get enough of, thanks to its strategic use of salicylic acid and that sweet, sweet price.
CeraVe hydrating facial cleanser
CeraVe’s highly affordable cleanser is a fan favorite packed with ceramides that’ll help lock in moisture when your face needs it most.
Fresh soy face cleanser
Fresh’s cult-loved, fragrance-free cleanser comes full of soothing ingredients like aloe vera to protect your skin from the grating irritants of the great outdoors.
La Roche-Posay hydrating gentle cleanser
France’s gentlest cleanser (well, probably) derives its certain je ne sais quoi from glycerin, a humectant that’ll keep your skin looking hydrated but not oily.