The 6 Best Drugstore Cleansers
Finding the right face wash is a long and personal process. It takes a lot of trial and error to figure out what works best for your skin, but luckily, there are a few infallible cleansers that you can always rely on. Unlike certain beauty products (such as foundation and serum), you don't have to spend a ton of money to get a great cleanser; in fact, many beauty editors and aestheticians swear by the simplest, least-fussy formulas for keeping their skin healthy and clean. Ahead, a foolproof guide to the best drugstore cleansers, depending on skin type — which is really the most important thing to consider when choosing a face wash.
But first, some general rules of thumb to keep in mind. The first and most obvious one is to ensure you're washing your face every night to rid your skin of any pollutants, dirt, and sweat that accumulated throughout the day. If you wear makeup on a daily basis (or sunscreen — which of course you should be), you might want to consider the double-cleansing method, which entails washing your face first with an oil-based cleanser, followed by a water-based cleanser. The oil cleanser breaks down makeup and other oil-based products (like creams and sunscreen), while the water-based cleanser removes anything left on your face — and in your pores.
In a similar vein, you should know that makeup wipes do not count as washing your face. Not only can they leave their own trace residue, but more than actually cleaning, they really just wind up spreading makeup and oil all around your face. Feel free to use a makeup wipe as the first step in your routine, but always follow up with a proper face wash.
Now that you're armed with a few key cleansing tips, scroll on to find the best drugstore face wash for your skin type.
1. Best Basic, Affordable Cleanser For Most Skin Types
Garnier has really stepped up their game over the last few years — and this gentle daily cleanser is proof of that. Because the formula is free of sulfates, oil, fragrance, alcohol, and soap, just about any skin type — dry, sensitive, acne-prone — can use it safely. Anyone who loves a rich lather will love the foam it produces, but of course, being sulfate-free, it won't strip your skin. Additionally, this face wash comes in a large, 13.5-ounce bottle that'll last you ages — all that, for under $10.
2. Best Drugstore Cleanser For Dry Skin
To restore moisture to dry skin, this fan-favorite face wash from French drugstore brand, La Roche-Posay, formulated their Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser with ceramide-3 and prebiotic thermal spring water. Ceramides are essential to maintaining a healthy moisture barrier, and the brand's signature thermal water has long been used for its soothing and hydrating abilities, while niacinamide, another ingredient used in this formula, helps improve clarity and tone. This sensitive skin-safe face wash is free of oil, sulfates, soap, and fragrance, and, like Garnier's cleanser, it comes in a large, 13.5-ounce bottle that'll keep you stocked for a while.
3. Best Drugstore Cleanser For Oily/Acne-Prone Skin
Another French pharmacy pick — let's face it, they put our drugstore skin care products to shame — the Avène Cleanance Cleansing Gel can be used to treat acne on both your face and body. It's formulated with a pH of 7.2 to keep skin balanced, and it doesn't contain any soap, so despite its deep-cleansing abilities, it won't strip your skin. What it does contain is impressive, though: in addition to Avène's skin-soothing thermal spring water, which they source from their namesake town in France, this cleanser uses a patented ingredient called monolaurain to control sebum production (oil-clogged pores are typically the root of acne, after all), and zinc gluconate to relieve inflammation. Choose from three sizes, including a travel-friendly 3.3 ounces.
4. Best Drugstore Cleanser For Highly Sensitive Skin
Formulated for the most sensitive skin types, Vanicream's face wash leaves out just about any potential irritant imaginable fragrance, sulfates, soap, and alcohol, of course, but also betaine, formaldehyde, formaldehyde releasers ... even gluten! The cleanser is a go-to for people with skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis, while it's also a favorite of Accutane users who need something super-gentle to counteract the harsh treatment.
5. Best Drugstore Oil Cleanser
Whether you plan on using the Neutrogena Ultra Light Facial Cleansing Oil on its own or as the first step in a double-cleansing routine, this under $10-face wash is one of the best drugstore oil cleansers around. The formula effectively dissolves stubborn, waterproof makeup and thick, oil-based skin care products, though its consistency is surprisingly lightweight — that means no greasy residue left behind on your skin. It's even noncomedogenic, which means it won't clog your pores, and it leaves skin feeling moisturized and soft.
6. Best Drugstore Face Scrub
If you love a good face scrub, make sure you're using one that's ultra-gentle, like this pared-down formula from Cetaphil. Many face scrubs can be too abrasive and harsh, but the Cetaphil Extra Gentle Daily Scrub was designed to be non-irritating, non-stripping, and even suitable for daily use. In this formula, micro-fine granules exfoliate away dead skin, while glycerin and a blend of vitamins help restore moisture. The result is smooth, soft, oh-so-clean-feeling skin. And even better, it comes in a two-pack.
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