As if choosing a face wash from the hundreds available isn't hard enough already, picking the best cleanser for combination skin can feel a bit like picking the winning racehorse — a game of chance. The good news is that it's simpler than in sounds.
First, understand that combination skin is really a spectrum of varying skin types with different levels of dryness, oiliness, and sensitivity. So you'll want to get to know your skin a little better and narrow down what your biggest concerns are. If you experience excess sebum production (basically oily spots), you may have accompanying acne or blackheads. And if you've got dry spots, you might have flaking, discoloration, or sensitivity.
If your main concern is acne and blackheads, look for a cleanser with salicylic acid or another exfoliant to clear away pore-clogging dead skin. If you're more worried about the drier skin on your face, try something that refreshes, protects, and soothes skin with ingredients like aloe, glycerin, and hydrating oils.
Whatever your decide, gentle, non-comedogenic cleansers are always better choices for combination skin because if you treat one of your skin's concerns too harshly, you risk upsetting the balance of the rest of your skin. Balance really is the best way to keep any kind of combination skin happy and nourished.
And you can't go wrong with any one of the nine cleansers — all of which expertly cleanse the skin without stripping your natural moisture barrier or, in other words, throwing off your skin's precious balance.
1. A Mattifying Clay Cleanser With An Essential Oil Complex
This gentle cleanser works for both the dry and oily parts of your face. French kaolin clay absorbs oils, leaving your skin feeling fresh, while an essential oil complex of chamomile, lavender, and sage to calms inflammation and redness. The clay also reduces the lifecycle of existing pimples and blackheads by sucking out bacteria and impurities.
2. A Vegan Cleanser With Vitamin C To Protect, Refresh, And Brighten Skin
If you’re both budget and environmentally conscious or are just looking to score a highly rated gentle cleanser for under $10, Avalon Organics Intense Defense Cleansing Gel is the way to go. The gel formula smells like oranges and refreshes and renews skin with a fusion of Vitamin C, white tea, and lemon bioflavonoids and aloe. Vitamin C is great for combination skin because it hydrates, calms and heals dry skin while also clearing breakouts and limiting the effects of environmental damage.
3. A Skin-Balancing, Foaming Face Wash With Mint
A little goes a long way with Origins’ combination skin-specific cleanser. The formula’s star ingredient is mint which rejuvenates and purifies pores and sweeps away impurities but it also contains broad leaf kelp extract to control excess oil production and wheat protein to keep dry zones protected.
4. An Acne-Clearing Gel Cleanser With Salicylic Acid
A budget friendly option for oily, breakout-prone skin, Vichy Normaderm's Daily Deep Cleansing Gel is also safe and effective on dry skin to remove flaking and reveal smooth, soft skin. The french brand’s formula lathers easily into a fresh foam that rinses clean and uses salicylic acid along with glycolic acid and micro-exfoliating LHA to purify, exfoliate, and unclog pores without dryness or irritation.
5. A Moisturizing Bar Cleanser With An Ideal pH Level
While bar cleansers aren’t often the top choice for dry skin, Drunk Elephant’s revolutionary formula is completely soap-free and great for all skin types. It’s gentle but also effective in removing makeup and impurities without stripping the skin of it’s natural oils. The bar contains marula oil which is deeply nourishing, healing, and moisturizing along with the antioxidant properties of blueberry extract and honey and has a pH level of 6.5 — the perfect pH level to protect your skin’s natural moisture barrier.
6. A Lightweight Cleansing Oil With Charcoal To Draw Out Impurities
This cleanser easily breaks up makeup, dirt, and oil buildup without ever causing dryness. The lightweight formula (which transforms from black to white on contact) also includes charcoal which acts like a magnet to draw out pore-clogging impurities along with powerful antioxidants and botanicals to combat the everyday buildup on the skin.
7. A Therapeutic Gel Cleanser For Sensitive Skin
Formulated with two different olive extracts (for their therapeutic and protective benefits) and housed in a ultra-luxe glass bottle, this extremely mild cleanser is perfect for sensitive, combination skin. The wash removes dirt and excess oil but leaves skin soft, refreshed, hydrated, and prepped for easy makeup application.
8. An Exfoliating Cleanser That Takes Care Of Both Dryness And Oil Buildup
Proper exfoliation is your combination skin’s best friend, and this cleanser provides gentle exfoliation from four different agents: salicylic acid, lactic acid, glycolic acid, and mini jojoba beads. Tested by dermatologists, it's both gentle and effective and promotes healthier skin.
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