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19 Best Cleansers for Every Single Skin Type, According to Cut Editors

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Retailers

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Cleansing is the first step of any solid skin-care routine. Finding a cleanser that doesn’t damage your skin barrier by stripping it of its natural oils is the most important part of picking out a formula, says esthetician and founder of Monastery Athena Hewett. You want to set the rest of your products up for success — and not emerge from crouching over the sink with skin that feels tight, dry, or irritated. But preferences vary based on skin types and concerns, so we asked the Cut editors to share their all-time favorites.

Read on for the best face cleansers of 2023, plus everything to know about popular formulas, what ingredients to look for based on your skin type, and how often you should incorporate a cleanser into your routine.

What is the best cleanser for my skin type?

If your skin is desert-level dry, Dr. Sheilagh Maguiness, a board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of Stryke Club, suggests hypoallergenic formulas with glycerin and hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture. She says balms are great for drier skin types, because they’re formulated with rich hydrating oils.

For acne-prone skin, Hewett recommends an oil formula and credits it with curing her own breakouts. “It is truly what a lot of acneic skin types are missing from their routine,” she says, which seems counterintuitive, but oils can better lift and dissolve impurities without drying out your face. To help with acne, you can look for formulas with any of these three ingredients, according to Maguiness: salicylic acid (for whiteheads or blackheads), benzoyl peroxide (for big, angry pimples), and sodium hypochlorite (for bacteria reduction and inflammation relief).

How often should I wash my face?

Dr. Maguiness recommends cleansing twice per day in general — “when you wake up in the morning, and at the end of the day before you go to bed.” For sensitive or ultradry skin, you may find that once a day works just fine.

Now that you’re armed with all this information, here are 24 face washes and cleansers for every type of skin-care need and concern. Get ready for an immaculately clean, nourished, and glowing complexion.

Below, 19 face cleansers Cut editors swear by.

The Best Cleanser for Balancing Your Skin Barrier


“My opinion on cleansers: They stay on your face for like 60 seconds max, and then you wash them off, so here is not the place to get spendy on actives or flashy ingredients. I like a gentle wash that gets the grime off while leaving my barrier intact, and to me CeraVe’s Hydrating Facial Cleanser is perfect. I first bought it about three years ago, on the recommendation of an aesthetician who judged that the acne-specific cleanser I had been using was overdrying my skin. Within a month or two of twice-daily use (after micellar water, as the second step in my double cleanse), I noticed much less redness and far fewer breakthrough cysts. It makes my face feel soft and clean, without leaving it tight or irritated.” — Claire Lampen, news editor

The Best Cleansing Oil

“I use two cleansers because I’m a double-cleanse girl! I use this oil cleanser from Ma:nyo to remove makeup, and then I go in with the Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser. It’s a hydrating wash that is free of dyes and fragrance and is completely noncomedogenic to really get the skin clean without stripping my skin barrier. Both of these have consistently worked over the past couple of years when I’ve had to travel a lot and need to make sure I don’t get crazy breakouts or any bacteria spreading on my face no matter how many planes I get on.” — Lindsay Peoples, editor-in-chief

The Most Affordable Cleanser

“I have extremely sensitive, acne-prone skin, and every cleanser I was using either broke me out or totally stripped my skin. My roommate is a skin-care fanatic and let me try a smidge of this cleanser, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I noticed an immediate difference in my skin tone and texture when I started using it, and I loooove the price tag.” — Danya Issawi, fashion writer

The Best Foaming Face Wash

“Choosing my favorite cleanser is like asking a mom to choose their favorite child — it’s impossible because they all have different benefits throughout the seasons, based on the state of my skin and more. But, if I absolutely had to choose, I have two favorite cleaners — the first being this one from Dior. It removes my makeup and SPF seamlessly with its creamy formula that often has me wake up with baby-smooth skin.” — Asia Milia Ware, beauty and fashion writer

The Best Gel Cleanser

“Another favorite is this gel formula that thoroughly cleans my pores and leaves my skin feeling refreshed and ready for my multitude of serums.” — A.M.W.

The Best Soothing Cleanser

“I’ve found the fewer products I use on my skin, the more it behaves, so I’m always looking for the simplest, most straightforward face wash out there. My dermatologist passed on a sample of this Neutrogena cleanser, and it checks all my boxes. Since using it, I’ve been significantly less patchy, acne-prone, and oily, plus whenever I run out, I can stock back up on a quick drugstore trip. If you’re looking for a solid reliable face wash, I highly recommend.” —Danielle Cohen, staff writer

The Best Cleanser for Acne

“I rarely splurge on expensive cleansers — partly because I’d rather spend my money on skin-care products like serums, overnight treatments, and eye creams, and partly because there are so many good options at the drugstore. This foaming formula from PanOxyl is one of my all-time favorites. It’s gentle enough for me to use it as a daily facial cleanser, but potent enough to clear up my stubborn back acne. It contains the highest concentration of bacteria-fighting benzoyl peroxide available without a prescription, so I always reach for it when I’m breaking out and nothing else seems to work.” — Hanna Flanagan, shopping editor

The Best Drugstore Cleanser

Non-offensive, readily accessible, and transcendent of both time and trends, Cetaphil’s gentle formula has rightfully earned cult status. It’s humbly effective, works on every skin type, and is beloved by all: dermatologists, famous people, and real-life people with good skin.

The Best Gentle Face Wash

This feels like the fancy version of Cetaphil. It’s extremely gentle and designed to not be irritating to even very sensitive skin types. If you don’t wear makeup often and want a light cleanser, this is for you.

The Best Cleanser for Removing Makeup

Technically, it’s not a face wash, but why do we have to follow every single rule? This is a perfect makeup remover that dissolves even the most waterproof of makeup with a few swipes. (For particularly stubborn mascara, put it on a pad, leave it in place, and give it time to work.) It feels just like water, which is ideal when you’re too lazy to splash water on your face. Dr. Maguiness says a micellar water is a great initial step to wipe away makeup and oils before you follow up with a gentle cleanser.

The Best Cleanser for Dry Skin

This antioxidant-packed, fragrance-free cleanser is loved by both and owners of sensitive, finicky skin for its ability to cleanse while calming irritation. The pH-balanced formula is infused with soothing aloe, which is good news for people with facial eczema or psoriasis. It whips into a lovely, lightweight cream that helps maintain the skin’s natural acidity, so flare-ups become less frequent and skin stays protected and supple.

The Best Cleanser for Oily Skin

Dr. Maguiness suggests this top-rated foaming cleanser for oily skin. It contains niacinamide and ceramides, which help calm redness and protect your skin barrier. “This is a deep cleanser that does not strip or dry,” she says, with the added benefit of being fragrance free and hypoallergenic.

The Best Deep Cleanser

True to its name, this formula gets all up in your pores to rinse away makeup, sunscreen, dirt, and any other buildup. The fragrance-free cleanser leaves no product behind, and even waterproof mascara and eyeliner are no match for its dissolving powers. The solid 4.9-star rating and glowing reviews are proof that it works wonders, and the rosemary-leaf oil (Hello, antioxidants!) and vitamin E ensure your skin is nourished after each wash.

The Most Nutritious Face Wash

Does your skin feel like it’s missing a little something-something lately? This refreshing gel wash contains a healthy dose of probiotics, omega fatty acids, and vitamins that make your face feel nourished and much more balanced. Fittingly, it has a nice, silky texture that feels more like a serum than a stripping soap, making it the perfect final step in a double cleanse.

The Face Wash You Can Use to Shave Your Legs

Austin–based celebrity facialist Renee Rouleau tends to the skin of Demi Lovato and Busy Philipps. She’s all about maintaining skin’s moisture barrier, and this gel-to-milk formula is part of that plan. Glycerin and apricot extract help keep moisture levels in line, while aloe vera extract soothes and hydrates — so much so that leg-shaving is a popular hack with this one.

The Best Oil Face Cleanser

This is the gold standard of fancy oil cleansers, with over a thousand Sephora reviews and close to five stars. The oil doesn’t feel greasy but smooth and silky, and combines with water to create a gentle, thorough face wash that won’t irritate the skin or leave a weird film.

The Best Hydrating Cleanser

In need of complete hydration and silky-smooth skin? Look no further than this fan-favorite cleanser by Paula’s Choice. Beloved for its soft, lotionlike texture that leaves skin feeling supple, this Optimal Results cleanser does exactly as its name states — without making the skin feel dry or tight after cleansing. It’s formulated with skin-restoring ingredients such as glycerin (which acts to retain moisture within the skin) and green tea (which has anti-aging properties to keep the skin looking bright and youthful).

The Best Balm Cleanser

When you think of balm, you don’t automatically think of a cleanser. But this Cerabalm is a compacted elixir formulated with natural ingredients — like sea buckthorn oil and hibiscus oil — that can be used as a cleanser, moisturizer, and mask all in one. What more could you ask for? “Ninety-five percent of people don’t cleanse property. I am a firm believer in double cleansing,” esthetician and Danucera founder Danuta Mieloch says. “Effective cleansers should never be over-stripping … It takes oil to remove oil, so using a cleanser like Cerabalm does the job.”

The Best Vitamin C Face Wash

This best-selling brightening cleanser is a one-of-a-kind product powered by vitamin C and infused with witch hazel water, hyaluronic acid, and natural exfoliants. The cleanser works to boost the radiance of skin without stripping its natural oils. “I like cleansers that multitask. It’s great to be able to remove makeup and sunscreen while keeping the pores clean and brightening the skin,” beauty brand founder Joanna Vargas says, adding of the cleanser, “I love the fact that it’s not drying even though it’s a foaming face wash. It’s great for all skin types and makes the skin look so much brighter when you are done.”

Our Experts:

19 Best Face Cleansers for Every Single Skin Type