Best Cleansers (including Cleansing Cloths)
Cleansers have gotten better and better over the years. That's good news, though in order to make the Best Products list, a facial cleanser must:
- Be gentle and water-soluble (this is critical)
- Not contain needless irritants or drying cleansing agents
- Remove excess oil and makeup without stripping skin
- Rinse without leaving a noticeable residue
- Be fragrance-free or contain minimal fragrance
All of the cleansers on this list were chosen for their exceptional formulation, which, in most cases, means that fragrance and fragrant plant extracts have been excluded and that the cleanser is gentle yet effective for removing surface dirt, oil, perspiration, and makeup without making skin feel dry or tight.
Those with normal to slightly dry, combination, or very oily skin should use a water soluble cleanser; those with normal to very dry skin can use a water soluble cleanser, too, or, if preferred, a cleansing lotion.
Every cleanser on this list is free of harsh, irritating, or sensitizing ingredients. We never recommend bar soap because the ingredients that keep the bar soap in a bar form can clog pores, and the cleansing agents in them are almost always drying.
Emollient wipe-off cleansers may be the only types of cleansers that don’t cause dry, sensitive skin to become drier, and, therefore, we recommend them for that skin type, although such products were not rated as Best because they are inherently difficult to rinse (and you should never remove a cleanser with tissues—talk about outdated!)
You will notice that we do not specify a group of "medicated" or "anti-acne" cleansers supposedly designed for very oily or blemish-prone skin. This is for two reasons:
- Cleansers identified as being good for those skin types generally contain ingredients that are too harsh or irritating, and that is not helpful for any skin type.
- Cleansers for blemish-prone skin often contain topical disinfectants such as benzoyl peroxide or the exfoliant (and mild antibacterial agent) salicylic acid, but in a cleanser, these ingredients are rinsed down the drain before they have a chance to affect your skin for the better.
Whichever cleanser from this list you choose, it will be far better for your skin than one that is loaded with fragrance (including fragrant plants) and needless irritants such as menthol.