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Best Cleansers for Every Skin Type

My favorites for oily dry, combo, sensitive and blemished skin


There's no need to spend a lot of money on a cleanser with special ingredients in it because your just washing the product down the drain. (Find out what you should splurge on).

You can get a basic cleanser from any drugstore. Look for a mild, soap-free cleanser that's formulated for your skin type. Here I run down the best face cleansers for 5 different skin types: dry, oily, combination, sensitive and blemished. This list includes some of the yearly picks by the staff of 'InStyle' magazine plus the tried and true picks selected by myself other beauty experts.

Not sure your skin type? Find out what it is in my article, How to Tell What Type of Skin You Have.

More bests:

Best Basic Cleanser for All Skin Types: Purpose

My beauty cabinet is full of cleansers from some of the priciest boutique brands, but the cleanser I use every day doesn't cost $60 or even $30, it costs $6 at the average drugstore. When my friend Laura spotted my bottle of Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash in my bathroom, she emerged laughing. She couldn't believe THIS was my cleanser of choice. I had to explain that you don't need a lot of bells and whistles in a good cleanser.

This soap-free, oil-free liquid lathers away dirt, makeup and oil but doesn't leave skin so dry it reacts by overproducing oil. Purpose makes most of the "Best" lists in magazines and is recommended by dermatologists, including the expert I turn to, Dr. Maryann Mikhail.

Buy it online

Best Cleanser for Dry to Normal Skin: Cetaphil Cleanser

Just as there are no bells and whistles with Purpose above, there are none with this baby-mild product that even dermatologists swear by. So why is this $10 cleanser such a must-have? It's creamy, simple and isn't loaded with chemicals or perfumes that can irritate the skin. Cetaphil products are revered in the industry and their cleanser is one of the best drugstore buys out there. Period.

Buy it online

Best Organic Cleanser: Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Cream

I get asked all the time about my favorite organic skincare products. It seems everyone is worried about putting toxins in and on their bodies. So for cleansers, I recommend Dr. Hauschka's Cleansing Cream. Organic and void of chemicals, the Dr. Hauschka line is super popular among those concerned with healthy skin. So what's in this magic cleanser? Sweet almond meal and extracts of anthyllis, calendula, chamomile and St. John's wort. This cleanser gently exfoliates while adding moisture to skin, which makes it great for aging skin, dry skin and combination skin.

And if this doesn't sell you, consider that this cleanser is mentioned in numerous articles as The Cleanser of Choice for some of NY's coolest women in the style industry.

Buy it online

Best Overall Cleanser for All Skin Types: Philosophy Purity Made Simple

This facial cleanser is hugely popular on Amazon.com, on Sephora's Website and is a Readers Choice Winner for Allure Magazine. Users report it washes off every speck of dirt and makeup while leaving skin super soft and moisturized like a lotion. It's simple and effective and it doesn't get much more perfect than that.

Buy it online

Best Cleanser for Combination Skin: Boscia Purifying Cleansing Gel

Perhaps one of the most popular cleansers for combination skincare on the market today, Boscia's purifying cleansing gel works best for oily to normal skin types. It works by gently cleansing skin without stripping it and adding harsh elements to the skin. It can be a tad drying, so it works best on women with more oily spots than dry spots. You can also use it to cleanse your oily T-zone, but keep it away from your dry spots, where you may want to moisturize more.

Buy it online.

See my full list of the best cleansers for combination skin.

Best Moisturizing Cleanser for Dry Skin: Pond's Cold Cream

Women with dry skin might do like the French (and my editor and me) and use a cold cream like Pond's cold cream cleanser to cleanse the face instead of cleansers rinsed off with water.

For years the French have have opted for super moisturizing cold creams. You simply massage this in and then wipe off with a tissue or a warm washcloth and you're left with super soft skin. It removes makeup without leaving skin feeling "tight." Plus, because you aren't using water to rinse the face, you might be saving your skin from the drying effects of water.

The dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross did a major study on water and its effect on skin and he found that the heavy metals in tap water can actually ruin the benefits expensive lotions and serums do for skin. Some cities (New York and L.A., for example) have worse water than others (Seattle, for example). While some dermatologists aren't buying his claims, (Patricia Wexler for one), you can fight the drying effects of water on skin by cleansing with cold cream, a practice common with European women. 

It gets 5 out of 5 stars on Drugstore.com.

Buy it online or make your own cold cream with this recipe.

Best Cleanser for Dry Skin: Boscia Soothing Cleansing Cream

Creamy cleansers are best for dry skin. They won't strip your face of essential oils, but do remove dirt, makeup and impurities. The chamomile in Boscia's cleanser soothes dry skin while the carrot root provides anti-aging properties. Jojoba leaf is also in Boscia's cleanser and is an antioxidant (a must for skin these days).

Buy it online

Best Cleanser for Oily Skin: Clinique Wash-Away Gel Cleanser

Gel cleansers work well for oily skin because they absorb excess oils. This classic cleanser can be a bit drying, so test the product before you buy.

Buy it online

Best Cleanser for Acne: Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash, Acne Treatment

Neutrogena is one of the best drugstore beauty brands, hands-down, and you can't go wrong with this simple acne wash for acne-stricken skin. It's an Allure Magazine 2010 Reader Choice Awards winner, as well. Readers love it because the salicylic acid gel is gentle and soothing -- spiked with aloe and chamomile. It also dries out breakouts without drying out sensitive, irritable skin, according to Allure.

See more cleansers for acne-prone skin.

Buy it online.

Best Organic Alpha-Hydroxy Cleanser: MyChelle Fruit Enzyme Cleanser

MyChelle Dermaceuticals

One of the secrets to great skin is to use an alpha-hydroxy acid cleanser. AHAs are made up of fruit enzymes, the acids of which unclog pores and help increase cell turnover without any harsh man-made ingredients. MyChelle's Fruit Enzyme Cleanser is the best one I've tried. I also love it because it contains the antioxidant Turmeric, which naturally calms skin down from any signs of irritation. 

Buy it online

Best Cleanser for Sensitive Skin: Olay Foaming Face Wash, Sensitive Skin

This basic drugstore cleanser works well for sensitive skin because it contains no harsh ingredients that will inflame skin.

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Best Gentle Organic Cleanser: BeeCeuticals Organics Gentle Facial Cleanser

This lovely cleanser is made from coconut oil and honey and is truly natural. This organic cleanser is paraben-, sulfate- and fragrance-free. It's also fair-trade certified and a favorite of my most environmentally-minded friends. Great for all skin types. The texture may be off-putting at first (one reviewer said it has "the texture of snot") because it won't suds up, but reviewers overall absolutely love this organic cleanser. A bottle will last you several months to a year.

Buy it online

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