Cleansers are the first step in a skincare routine, and arguably the most important. They remove dirt, impurities, and excess oil from the skin, and prepare it for optimal absorption for the other products in your routine. Whether you’re a skincare snob or a novice, your grooming ritual really isn’t working if your cleanser isn’t up to par.
Some face cleansers are formulated as gels, others as foams, and even some others as oils. Selecting one over another is a matter of preference, but what is important to consider is your skin type. Fortunately, many of today’s options have been engineered to work on all types — including combination skin.
With that in mind, we took a deep dive into skincare and found the best face cleaners to use in 2020. Our picks are gentle enough for all skin types, for use at both morning and night, unless otherwise stated. If you desperately need a cleanser that works, want an alternative to toss into your rotation, or are just looking for a skincare product to try while you wfh, we have just what you’re looking for.
These are the best face cleansers for every skin type
Jackie Aina Approved
If it’s good enough for leading beauty vlogger Jackie Aina, it’s good enough for us. Take The Day Off by Clinique is an oil-based cleanser, which may be new to those used to the foaming or gel variety. Oil actually attracts oil, and is a beast at removing dirt, makeup, and whatever else your face was subjected to during the day. You’ll want to massage the oil onto a dry face and then rinse with water. Feel free to sing Jackie’s theme song while you cleanse.
The Medicine Cabinet Flex
You’ve probably heard us talk about Dr. Barbara Sturm a lot lately — that’s because her products work (and we’re not mad about how they look in our bathroom, either). This foam-based cleanser uses ingredients like purslane — a green, leafy vegetable — and aloe vera to help nourish and repair the skin.
The Haute Hippie
If you care about premium organic ingredients, get acquainted with Josh Rosebrook, who handcrafts his products in small batches using botanical extracts. His Complete Moisture Cleanse makes our cut of the best face cleansers because it not only rids the face of unwanted dirt, but it actually leaves it looking lightly moisturized. If your skin doesn’t need cleansing in the morning, you’ll be tempted to use this regardless, because the formula is so gentle and effective at prepping the skin for other products.
“We talk of ‘heritage’ brands quite a bit, but, unlike Santa Maria Novella, very few brands in the world can claim to be 408 years old. Their apothecary-style store in Florence is one of my favorite retail temples in the world, and their signature men’s scent — the cigar-tinged Tabacco Toscano — is dandyish machismo incarnate. Add that fragrance to a beard-friendly face cleanser that costs $22 and you have something truly divine.” – Thom Bettridge, Editor-in-Chief
The Costs-Less-Than-Takeout Option
This soap-free option by Dermalogica is a great everyday face cleanser because it doesn’t just clean, it soothes. Ingredients like lavender and balm mint help calm the skin. Gentle enough to use morning and night.
The Old Faithful
It’s said to be one of the best face cream cleansers by some of Highsnobiety’s staffers. Aesop uses White Clay, lavender, and chamomile to remove dirt from the surface of your skin. Best suited for normal to dry skin types.
If you’re really serious about cleansing, you’ll do a pre-cleanse, which preps the skin for an actual cleanser (don’t expect every cleanser to get rid of everything). This is especially important if you wear makeup or your face is prone to buildup. Oil-based cleaners are great for pre-cleansing. Like the Clinique select on this list, Malin + Goetz’s uses a blend of grapeseed, avocado, and olive oils to get the job done.
The Skincare Snob
This luxurious cleanser is for evening use only and comes with a spatula, so you know it means business. La Prairie’s Supreme Balm Cleanser should be massaged onto dry skin until it turns into a silky oil. Rinse and bask in your glowing complexion.
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