07.08.2015
14
314
Gentle Skin Cleanser
Rating
16 fl. oz. for $13.99
Last Updated:07.08.2015
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

Cetaphil's Gentle Skin Cleanser is a product we recommended for years, but no more. In many ways the formula has become dated and is now a poor representation of the best of the best when it comes to facial cleansers, which is why it now earns an average, two-star rating.

Part of what led us to this reconsideration (well, beyond the wealth of beautifully formulated water-soluble cleansers) is the amount of sodium lauryl sulfate in this so-called "gentle" cleanser. Sodium lauryl sulfate is one of the more irritating cleansing agents used in skincare products. Although the amount is likely 1% or less of the product's contents (and this product is rinsed away, meaning it's not staying on your skin) there are many other cleansers available that don't use this potentially problematic ingredient and that are far better for skin (especially rosacea-prone skin, which this is marketed for!).

While this cleanser will get skin clean, it isn't adept at removing makeup. It's certainly not the worst option out there, but because it lacks gentle cleansing agents, it's one we don't recommend. We suggest instead considering one of the far superior options on our list of Best Cleansers.

Pros:
  • Effectively cleanses skin.
Cons:
  • Contains sodium lauryl sulfate, which can potentially irritate sensitive skin.
  • Not adept at removing makeup.
Claims

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser is a mild, non-irritating formulation that soothes skin as it cleans. In fact, it's gentle enough for a baby's delicate skin. Designed specifically to work for all skin types, it is a simple, yet highly effective way to care for your skin.

Ingredients

Water, Cetyl Alcohol, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Stearyl Alcohol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben

Brand Overview

Cetaphil At-A-Glance

This familiar, widely distributed skin-care collection is manufactured by Galderma, the same company that markets the prescription products Differin and MetroGel.  Given the dermatology heritage of Galderma, it's surprising the Cetaphil line hasn't advanced beyond the basics. Yes, most of what's available is a safe bet for those with sensitive skin!

If you're in search of simplicity, this is a good line to consider. We should note that many of the formulas omit more complex anti-aging ingredients, but they can always be used alongside a serum or treatment of your choosing.

Strengths: Inexpensive; mostly fragrance-free products; affordable and widely available; offers complete ingredient lists on its website; the sunscreens offer sufficient UVA protection.

Weaknesses:A few formulas could be updated with more complex ingredients, but forgoing that there is a lot to like here.

For more information about Cetaphil, call (817) 961-5000 or visit www.cetaphil.com.

About the Experts

The new Beautypedia Team proudly and unequivocally maintains the commitment to help you find the best products possible for your skin. We do this by relentlessly pursuing and relying on published scientific research so you will have unbiased information on what works and what doesn't-and the sneaky ways you could be making your skin worse, not better!


The Beautypedia Team reviews all products using the same research, criteria, and objectivity, whether the product being reviewed is from Paula's Choice or another brand.

Member Comments
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07.28.2015
Does not remove any makeup

For years, I've used a particular cleanser but have ran out and thought I'd tried something new on the fly. It was affordable and sold at Costco in a double pack. I've washed my faced several times and never felt clean. As I looked in the mirror, I could still visibly see the brown tint of makeup still there!to top it off, I used this and woke the next morning with the biggest red pimple with a whitehead I have EVER had. I was confused because I hadn't had a pimple that big since I was a teen!

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Reviewed by
Joann s
07.26.2015
bug target no more

For years I was plagued with insect bites of all kinds. Each time I went outside in summer I would get attacked. I also probably had Demodex. My skin looked like an underexposed version of a night sky because of all the scars. That was, until I started washing my skin with Cetaphil cleanser (with our without water), and using it (without water) as insect repellant and to soothe current sores. My doctors had tried antibiotics which did nothing, but the Cetaphil treatment cleared everything up!

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Reviewed by
Bug T
07.16.2015
inconsistent reviews

So confused. This product isn't recommended because it 'Contains sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), which can potentially irritate sensitive skin' but on your Best Cleansers list, im seeing many cleansers on the list that contain SLS (eg. Clean & clear Daily Pore Cleanser with SLS as the second ingredient). Sort yourselves out! and is it possible for you to disclose the pH

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Reviewed by
Jus P
07.16.2015
Beautypedia Team Response

Thanks for your feedback.  The ingredient you are referring to (sodium LAURYL sulfate) is not included in any of the cleansers that we rate as BEST.  You are likely thinking of sodium LAURETH sulfate, which is the ingredient in the Clean & Clear cleanser you are referring to.  Despite sounding similar, they are two totally different ingredients -- the former is not one we'd recommend, while the latter is.  I hope that help sorts things out for you!  And we do not order pH testing on cleansers, typically just AHA and BHA exfoliants - sorry!

—Admin
07.06.2015
Gentle Cleanser For Oily Skin With Eczema

I have been using Cetaphil for about a month and I like it because it doesn't cause my skin to burn or sting. I have tried Physiogel before and it stung the areas that were peeling and other areas with Eczema on my face. Lastly, it doesn't leave my skin tight and no residue is left on my face :)

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Reviewed by
elin.y
05.26.2015
Clinical study about Cetaphil for rosacea

I use and like Cetaphil. Below I copy a link to a clinical study to show how things are not black and white regarding it being "not gentle" because it has sodium lauryl sulfate in small concentrations http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16706247 "The mild nonirritating action of the gentle skin cleanser was supported by the lack of adverse events and the tolerability shown in the study. There were no increases in erythema, scaling, dryness, stinging, burning, or lack of smoothness...

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Reviewed by
Cat S.
05.27.2015
Beautypedia Team Response

Hi there!  If you like Cetaphil and find it works for you, great, use it! It’s not a bad formula, just not as good as many others that don’t contain SLS. Plus, we’re fairly certain the study in question was one Cetaphil sponsored; in other words, the dermatologist who authored the study was paid by Galderma/L’Oreal (Cetaphil’s owner) to do so. But even if that’s not the case, the study only looked at results from two weeks of use, while we know from lots of other research that the effects from irritation can be cumulative. 

—Admin
04.10.2015
cetaphil user for 10 plus years

not good skin burns patch itchy stopped using

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Reviewed by
Maria C
03.05.2015
Cetaphil Gentle Skin cleanser is awesome.....

I have very sensitive acne prone skin (mainly hormonal acne), and this is the only face wash I've used that doesn't leave my skin feeling tight and dry. It also never causes me any irritation. Maybe due to the fact that it does not contain too many ingredients. Everyone reacts differently to different ingredients, so no one product will work for every person. However, if something isn't broke then why try and change it? When it comes to skin care, less is more, especially for sensitive skin.

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Reviewed by
Rebecca S.
01.19.2015
Not Exactly a Cleanser

My dermatologist recommended this product to me years ago. Over several months of using this, the oil on my face became thick pads of oily, dead skin cells on my cheeks, chin and brow area. The doc said I must not be using it enough. I would wash my face 4 times in a row and it would still feel dirty. Finally I stopped seeing the doctor, went back to my regular face cleanser, added an exfoliant and the oily pads gradually went away.

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Reviewed by
Nancy E.
07.12.2014
disapponited in bp for their review

I'm so disappointed by the reviews by BP. I have very sensitive skin and rosecea. Ive tried numerous other products recommended by BP with disastrous results. I can only use Cetaphil precisely because it doesn't have all the bells and whistles other products do. I hope Paula reconsiders this review, particularly when you have severe skin issues, Cetaphil is the only product gentle enough for really sensitive skin.

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Reviewed by
sexxy m.
06.12.2014
No thanks!

Trying to think if this cleanser was the worst I've ever used! One fact that is true however, this cleanser definitely ranks within top 3 of worst ever!! Like so many had heard "good things" about it, plus it wasn't expensive. My skin was so itchy, dry, & stripped not to mention it turned my face red. And I don't have sensitive skin!!! I wouldn't even want to wash my hands with this stuff. Bonnie

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Reviewed by
Bonnie
04.14.2014
Love this cleanser

I have been using Cetaphil gentle cleanser for 20+ years and have still not found anything better. There were two reasons I started using it - one was a recommendation from a dermatologist & 2nd was Paula's rave reviews about it when she first started publishing her reviews - 15+ years ago. I have what I would call "normal" skin with no real problems. This cleans, moisturizes and never leaves my skin feeling tight or dry. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT! And the price is extremely reasonable.

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Reviewed by
NM
03.22.2014
The best

This is the best cleanser that i ever use! I have normal to dry skin and i use CeraVe cleanser because Paula's team says thas is the best but i wan it to try this one.No way this cleanser is very gentle on my face and beat CeraVe gentle cleanser!My skin feel very happy when i wash it with this cleanser.Love,love,love!

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Reviewed by
Sonya Georgieva
11.11.2013
CETAPHIL CLEANSER IS THE BEST

I have mild Rosacea and I have been using this cleanser for years. I am a bit annoyed that Paula's Team rated this cleanser as average. I have tried Paula's Choice cleansers and products aimed at Rosacea prone skin with no success. I flare up. Cetaphil is the only cleanser that I can use that does not irritate my skin and I don't think that the formula is out-dated. if you have Rosacea do not dismiss this product. It works for me.

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Reviewed by
Zoe.J.
08.17.2013
Now I know what was causing my skin irritation for years!

I finally stopped using Cetaphil Cleanser. This product is supposed to be "gentle." There's something in the product that was causing red spots and peeling on my face for years. I never thought it was the cleanser until recently reading Paula's review. The cleanser was not removing my makeup either. Since I stopped using it, all that redness and peeling is gone. It's enough that most of the moisturizers these days have some sort of peeling agent in them, I don't need that in a cleanser t

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Reviewed by
Lisa C.
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