5 New Face Washes To Try — & They All Contain One Very Unique Ingredient


Everyone likes an oxymoron. Think definitely maybe, or the “Big Short,” or lots of other phrases that aren’t also movie titles. But in the skin care world, there’s one oxymoron to rule them all: Good bacteria. It’s this improbable principle that makes the best probiotic face washes so effective.

Here’s how it works: Just like your gut, your skin barrier is home to a diverse network of microorganisms (a.k.a your microbiome). When your microbiome is in check, that barrier is strong enough to ward off natural and environmental stressors that can cause all kinds of skin conditions, from run-of-the-mill redness and irritation to psoriasis, eczema, and acne. So you can guess what happens when your skin flora is out of whack.

Probiotics in skin care products, like face washes, are infused with friendly bacteria that help rebalance your microbiome, both by promoting the proliferation of your skin’s good bacteria and inhibiting the growth of bacteria that can cause infections. Although typically ingested in capsule form, or as fermented foods like kombucha and kimchi, probiotics are equally effective for your skin when applied topically. Beyond keeping infections at bay, Dr. Roshini Raj, a practicing gastroenterologist and founder of probiotic skin care line TULA, told me that “probiotics act as a protective layer on the skin, locking in moisture for a more radiant, hydrated and balanced appearance.” Relatively new to the skin care space, Dr. Raj calls these clinically proven products “a true breakthrough in skin care.”

Of course, the best probiotic face washes are actually intended to clean your skin; the probiotics in the formulas just add an extra hit of strengthening, hydrating, radiance-boosting goodness. It’s also worth mentioning that probiotic face washes (and any other probiotic skin care product, for that matter) are safe and effective for all skin types, including those that typically require special attention. Probiotics are a truly all-purpose ingredient, since everyone has a microbiome that needs to stay balanced.

Everyone has skin that needs to be cleansed, too. And with that in mind, I’ll run you through five of the best probiotic face washes you can get right now. From an all-purpose gel cleanser to a refreshing micellar water, bacteria has never felt so good.


The Overall Best Probiotic Face Wash

This TULA Probiotic Skin Care The Cult Classic Purifying Face Cleanser is one of the best face washes I’ve used recently, probiotic or otherwise. The milky gel formula doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin, nor does it leave my dryness-prone cheeks and chin feeling tight and uncomfortable. Instead, it does so many good things, like making my skin feel soft, hydrated, and nourished. After using this gently foaming cleanser for about a week, I also saw a noticeable improvement in my skin’s tone, brightness, and clarity. (It was so good a barista asked me what highlighter I was wearing on a makeup-free Sunday morning, which is pretty much the best product endorsement I can give you.) In addition to the probiotics, that’s probably down to the formula’s brightening and anti-inflammatory superfood ingredients, like chicory, turmeric, and antioxidant-rich blueberries. Whatever it is, I can assure you that its “cult-favorite” status is well-deserved.


The Best Probiotic Face Wash For Acne-Prone Skin

Dr. Raj confirmed that probiotic face washes are safe for acne-prone skin, but she still recommends that people who experience breakouts check out the ingredients list to make sure the cleanser is free of potentially irritating or imbalancing substances (she named alcohol and artificial fragrances as no-gos). A good probiotic face wash for acne-prone skin should also contain astringents, like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.

This Glowbiotics Probiotic Acne Treatment Cleanser definitely fits the bill. The potent formula contains both probiotics and prebiotics (the former are live organisms, and the latter act as food for those live organisms), which better enable your skin to fend off acne-causing bacteria. It also contains 2% salicylic acid, which is the highest concentration of salicylic acid you can find in an over-the-counter product. Menthol and eucalyptus round out the arsenal of acne-fighting ingredients to calm, soothe, and clear the redness and irritation that typically accompany breakouts.


The Best Probiotic Face Wash For Tightening & Rejuvenating Skin

Because probiotics can literally do no wrong, Dr. Raj told me that these bacteria can also “defend the skin against environmental stressors and free radicals” that damage your skin’s elastic fibers and mess with collagen production. In addition to strengthening and protecting probiotics, this Andalou Naturals Apricot Probiotic Cleansing Milk contains naturally derived ingredients that further brighten, tighten, and rejuvenate compromised skin, like collagen-boosting resveratrol (which is derived from grapes) and coenzyme Q10 (derived from fermented vegetables — more good bacteria!).

This soothing, non-foaming cleanser is an especially good choice for people with dry or sensitive skin, which really means that it’s suitable for all skin types. Beyond that, I always gravitate toward Andalou Naturals when I’m looking for a vegan, clean beauty product that won’t kill my budget (or my skin’s collagen production).


The Best Probiotic Face Wash For Brightening & Smoothing Skin

If you have a little more time on your hands — by which I mean one minute — go for the Elizabeth Arden Superstart Probiotic Cleanser Whip to Clay. This probiotic-infused cleanser has a whipped, mousse-like texture when initially applied, which then dries into a rich clay mask. Leave it on for a minute while you let the pink and green clay mask do its work, like cleaning out your pores and softening your skin, though you can also leave it on a bit longer for a deeper treatment. (That also gives the probiotics time to do their own, myriad jobs.) This cleanser contains hydrating glycerin and squalane to counteract the clay’s drying effects, so people who might typically shy away from clay masks can give this one a shot.


The Best Micellar Water With Probiotics

If you don’t have a bottle of micellar water under your sink, you probably should. These multifunctional cleansers are balancing for oily skin, gentle enough for sensitive skin, and powerful enough to dissolve the most stubborn makeup, like waterproof mascara and liquid lipstick. I usually use micellar water when the last thing I want to do is wash my face (e.g. very early in the morning or very late at night), since you don’t need to bother rinsing it off — just swipe it all over your face with a cotton round or muslin cloth, feel good about yourself, and head to work (or bed).

So I was thrilled to find the Derma E Vitamin C Micellar Cleansing Water, which combines two miracles in skin care — micellar water and probiotics — to cleanse, protect, and treat your skin. The formula also contains STAY-C 50, a stable form of vitamin C that deeply penetrates skin to improve its firmness, elasticity, and radiance with virtually no effort on your part.

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Dr. Roshini Raj, MD, board-certified gastroenterologist.