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The 14 Best Face Washes — Clean & Natural Cleansers

Alexandra Engler
Author:
Updated on September 28, 2022
Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director
By Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com.
Last updated on September 28, 2022
Our editors have independently chosen the products listed on this page. If you purchase something mentioned in this article, we may earn a small commission.

Ah, face washes: The backbone of the beauty routine, the unsung hero. Serums and oils tend to get all the attention and adoration for their potent actives. Toners and essences are trendy. Masks are Instagram's favorite. But cleansers? They're always there, ready to help you wash off the day. And lately, they've started to get a bit more love themselves.

Now there are innovative textures with benefits that go well beyond "removing makeup." Need more proof? Below you'll find the best clean options out there, no matter your need. 

How we picked

Ingredients

We searched high and low for the cleanest and most effective facial cleansers on the market. These formulas contain natural skin-boosting ingredients to help you maintain healthy skin during and post-wash.

Variety

Everyone's skin is different, so we chose a few options for each skin type. Some of these cleansers are best for oily and acne-prone skin, while others benefit dry or sensitive skin. We'll call this out in the side bar.

Tried + tested

Our beauty team has tested a number of these products. When that wasn’t possible, we searched authenticated customer reviews to bring you accurate information about the sensorial experience.

Affordability

We know that everyone has a different skin care budget, which is why we offer a few products to fit each one without compromising on quality.

Our picks for the best face washes of 2022:

Best for acne-prone skin: Caudalie Vinopure Pore Purifying Gel Cleanser

Vinopure Pore Purifying Gel Cleanser
VIEW ON Caudalie | $28VIEW ON Dermstore | $28VIEW ON Sephora | $28

Pro

  • Helps ease breakouts

Con

  • Contains fragrance (for those who try to avoid it)
Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Good for acne-prone skin
Standout ingredients: Salicylic acid, Grape extract, Lavender essential oil

This foaming gel is ideal for those with breakout-prone skin: It's made with a natural salicylic acid, to break up oil and clean out pores. Then their organic essential oil complex and grapeseed polyphenols act as an antioxidant and antibacterial agent to reduce the look of existing breakouts while treating future ones.

Best balancing: Cocokind Oil to Milk Cleanser

Oil to Milk Cleanser
VIEW ON Cocokind | $18VIEW ON Ulta | $14VIEW ON Target | $18

Pro

  • Contains prebiotics

Con

  • May not rinse all the way clean
Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free
Standout ingredients: Sunflower seed oil, Grape seed oil, Fermented oat

"Transforming" cleansers are a relatively new sensation: They start off one texture and evolve into a brand-new one with motion or water. This starts off as a silky, thick oil that melts makeup and dirt, then transforms into a milky-like liquid. Plus, it's pH is formulated at the ideal 5.25, so it won't disrupt your microbiome or strip skin.

Best oil control: Holifrog Shasta AHA Acid Wash

Shasta AHA Acid Wash
VIEW ON Holifrog | $38VIEW ON Dermstore | $38

Pro

  • Gently exfoliates

Con

  • May irritate hypersensitive skin
Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Good for acne-prone skin, Good for oily skin
Standout ingredients: Mandelic acid, Glycolic acid, Aloe vera, Lactic acid

This face-wash-first line has four washes for everything from dry skin to breakout-prone skin. This one comes with AHAs to treat texture, tone, and pores, but they also have a cream, oil, and gel. They recommend a one-minute wash in the morning, and a two-minute wash at night (with a double-cleanse, depending on necessity).

Best oil: One Love Organics Botanical B Enzyme Cleansing Oil

Botanical B Enzyme Cleansing Oil
VIEW ON One Love Organics | $42VIEW ON Credo | $42VIEW ON Ulta | $42

Pro

  • Cleanses without stripping

Con

  • Pricey
Considerations: Cruelty-free, Good for dry skin
Standout ingredients: Sunflower seed oil, Papaya seed oil, Pumpkin seed oil

Oil cleansing, and double cleansing, hit fever pitch a few years ago, but it is a mainstay in the organic and natural world. This oil keeps your pH balanced, too. Always apply oils to dry skin first, and then add water to wash it off. Or use it with a cotton pad to remove stubborn eye makeup.

Best brightening: Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser

Brightening Cleanser
VIEW ON Indie Lee | $36VIEW ON Sephora | $36VIEW ON Ulta | $36

Pro

  • Rich in antioxidants

Con

  • Strawberry scent (for those who prefer unscented)
Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Good for oily skin, Good for sensitive skin
Standout ingredients: Strawberry seed oil, Tomato extract

A personal favorite cleanser, this works for all skin types, from sensitive to oily. Its primary focus is for those who just want to amp up tone, for that glowy, just-rested skin. Many brightening cleansers tend to use strong exfoliants to encourage cell turnover, but this is deeply nurturing if you're not looking for a scrub or acid.

Best gel: 27 Rosiers Fight Grime

Fight Grime
VIEW ON 27 Rosiers | $39

Pro

  • Gently exfoliates

Con

  • Contains fragrance (for those who try to avoid it)
Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Good for oily skin, Good for sensitive skin
Standout ingredients: Moringa extract, AHAs, Aloe extract

This new gender-neutral, nontoxic line is all about sensations, meaning every product has the most delightful texture. This gel cleanser has just enough slip and is lightly foaming. But at its core is an aloe vera, ashwagandha, calendula, and chamomile complex, so it's incredibly soothing, too.

Best for dry skin: Pai Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil

Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil
VIEW ON Credo | $49VIEW ON Pai Skincare | $49VIEW ON Detox Market | $49

Pro

  • Removes makeup with ease

Con

  • Pricey
Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Good for sensitive skin, Good for dry skin
Standout ingredients: Sunflower seed oil, Rosehip seed oil, Olive fruit oil

Perfect for dry and sensitive skin, this oil is made with a blend of olive, castor, rosehip, and sunflower seed oils. It's lightweight, yet nurturing. Simply apply and it will melt into skin, makeup, and SPF to help rinse them off. Use it with one of their muslin cloths for a little exfoliation.

Best bar: Osmia Rose Clay Facial Soap

Rose Clay Facial Soap
VIEW ON Osmia | $24

Pro

  • Sustainable option

Con

  • Not the best for dry skin
Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Good for sensitive skin, Good for dry skin
Standout ingredients: French pink clay, Coconut milk, Avocado oil


This is made with two types of clay: Australian pink and kaolin to help lift off impurities. Then it's layered in with coconut milk for a gentle lather, while wild-harvested mango butter and cold-pressed, organic avocado oil nurture dry skin. The slight rose scent comes from the organic oil blend.

Best exfoliating: Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser

Regenerating Cleanser
VIEW ON Tata Harper | $88VIEW ON Sephora | $88

Pro

  • Gently exfoliates

Con

  • Pricey
Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Good for acne-prone skin, Good for oily skin
Standout ingredients: Sunflower seed oil, Pink clay, Pomegranate enzymes

If you want a proper exfoliation, look no further. This cult-classic wash has both physical and chemical exfoliators. The apricot microspheres and BHAs work together to really lift off dead skin cells and the like. But the base is an organic aloe, so it's soothing as well.

Best balm: Farmacy Green Clean Cleansing Balm

Green Clean Cleansing Balm
VIEW ON Farmacy | $36VIEW ON Sephora | $36

Pro

  • Removes makeup easily

Con

  • Requires double-cleanse
Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Good for sensitive skin, Good for dry skin
Standout ingredients: Sunflower seed oil, Papaya enzyme, Turmeric

As far as cleansing balms go, this is going to give you the most results. This cream is made with sunflower and ginger root oils to get off makeup, waterproof included. Turmeric and moringa extract go a step further and rid pores of SPF and pollution. Then the papaya enzymes act as a natural, yet gentle, exfoliant.

Best gentle wash: Symbiome The Renewal Daily Cleanser

The Renewal Daily Cleanser
VIEW ON Symbiome | $60

Pro

  • Simple, clean ingredient list

Con

  • Pricey
Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Good for sensitive skin, Good for dry skin, Fragrance-free
Standout ingredients: Croton Cajucara (Sanoma) Leaf Oil, Glycerin, Oenocarpus Bataua (Seje) Fruit Oil

This eco-friendly gel-to-milk daily cleanser has exactly 7 ingredients, keeping things simple, yet effective. Seje fruit extract is packed with omega fatty acids that keep skin moisturized rather than stripped. Glycerin, a more underrated humectant, helps pull water into the skin for lasting hydration. The rest of the blend is rich with antioxidants, providing an army of free-radical fighters.

Best for sensitive skin: Naturium Multi-Calm Cream Cleanser

Multi-Calm Cream Cleanser
VIEW ON Naturium | $16

Pro

  • Affordable

Con

  • Not the best pick for oily skin
Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Good for acne-prone skin, Good for sensitive skin, Good for dry skin
Standout ingredients: Calendula, Squalane, Niacinamide

If you need a budget-friendly daily cleanser, this might be the best bang for your buck. This no-foam cleanser calms the skin while cleansing, making it especially beneficial for those with sensitive skin. If you tend to feel dry post-cleanse, this cream wash will be a dream come true.

Best micellar: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water

SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water
VIEW ON Garnier | $10.50VIEW ON Ulta | $9VIEW ON Target | $8

Pro

  • Affordable

Con

  • Requires second cleanse at night
Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Good for acne-prone skin, Good for oily skin
Standout ingredients: Glycerin, Micellar water

As far as Micellar water, the trendy cleansing agent of late, this is going to be your go-to. Not only do you get a lot of it at a very affordable price, but you can pick it up almost anywhere. At night start with the water to remove makeup and then follow with a proper cleanse, or use it alone in the morning.

Best milk: Savor Beauty Jasmine Milk Cleanser

Jasmine Milk Cleanser
VIEW ON Savor Beauty | $52

Pro

  • Calming aroma

Con

  • Pricey
Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Good for dry skin
Standout ingredients: Rose water, Jasmine, Safflower oil

If you enjoy a scented cleanser, this one will be your next favorite. A blend of jasmine, neroli, and rose gives a calming scent, perfect for a few moments of mindfulness at the end of your day. Aloe vera extract boosts hydration while rose water extracts help soothe complexion and provide an antioxidant boost.

mbg’s review process

At mbg, high standards are earned—and there are no shortcuts. Our beauty editors stay up to date on the latest ingredient research and innovation. It's a dynamic, continuously evolving space, and it's important we look into the science so we can make informed choices about which formulas earn our stamp of approval (figuratively speaking).

Our high standards also come from testing products—many, many products. Our editors and writers rigorously test and research the products featured in our roundups to offer you the best, most informed recommendations. When we write reviews, you can trust we spend quality time with the formulas: We don't simply rave about products we've slathered on the back of our hand. We endorse products we've tried and loved. 

Learn more about our testing process and clean beauty standards here

The takeaway.

While face cleansers are typically overlooked, they really are the backbone of your evening skin care routine. After all, whether your skin is covered in makeup, SPF, or sweat, it's your cleanser that will wash it all away. And if you're unsure which to choose, start by figuring out your skin type and go from there.

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Alexandra Engler
Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director

Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.