There is no arguing about the importance of properly cleansed face. After all, it’s the only way to ensure the precious actives, acids, -oids, and -mides get to deliver all the brightening and anti-aging properties we hope for. Some choose to double-cleanse, some skip using a cleanser in the morning (why tho) while others transform the simple step into an indulgent ritual (me on average twice a week). Luckily, the beauty industry offers countless formulas to cater to every particular preference of texture, scent or packaging.
As one who is among the least loyal to face cleansers, I do enjoy rotating a handful of face washes each season. This time of year is pretty tricky on my usually normal to combination skin, however, which can be prone to dryness, redness, and sometimes, irritation.
I thought it would be helpful to share my most reached for face washes during the cold weather months. In this round-up, I’ll focus on my personal experiences and preferences as well as the basic facts such as ingredients and overall performance. About my skin: almost 40, combination, congestion prone pores on my nose, sporadic redness on cheeks (most likely caused by over-exfoliation), no sensitivity to fragrance. I am also a minimal makeup wearer with just a half a pound of concealer under the eyes and sometimes tinted sunscreen.
Allies of Skin Molecular Silk Amino Hydrating Cleanser
The new Allies of Skin cleanser is actually all-around perfection. It’s a juicy, amber-hued gel that can be applied to dry skin (to remove stubborn SPF) or to damp skin to create a light foam that sweeps away impurities and excess oil. What’s even more impressive is the laser-focused ingredient deck: a gentle blend of nourishing cleansing agents, antioxidant-rich plant extracts, and Hyaluronic Acid. It is also sulfate and fragrance-free. I haven’t been this impressed with an everyday cleanser in a long time. My only gripe, albeit very personal, is that I am going through it more quickly than I want to. $38 (100ml) dermstore.com
DHC Mild Soap
If you’re like my husband and prefer the simplicity of bar soap, this DHC classic is the perfect pick. Its simplicity results in the cleanest feel without the slightest hint of dryness or tightness after rinsing. Mild Soap features a short and straightforward ingredient deck. The clear, Glycerin base highlights nourishing Olive Oil and Honey to deliver antibacterial and anti-inflammatory perks to skin that can be stressed by the environmental elements. Additional notes: soft, creamy lather and zero fragrance. Available in three sizes. $2.50, $9, $17 at dermstore.com
Naturium Mixed Greens Nutrient-Rich Cleanser
Let me count the reasons this ultra-affordable face wash climbed to my favorite product charts in only a week. It has a perfect non-runny gel texture, comes in a pump bottle, smells like a luxurious spa that only a blend of Verbena and Vetiver can project, creates soft foam, cleanses without stripping the skin’s natural oils, and is sure to last a couple of months. In addition to coconut and sugar-based surfactants that help remove dirt and oil, the ingredient deck also features Green Tea, Caviar Lime, Aloe Vera, and Ginseng Extracts to boost that glow. $16 amazon.com
Ranavat Luminous Ceremony Cream Cleanser
Unofficially crowned eco-luxe royalty, Ranavat sits among the most decadent skincare formulas on my vanity. It is no surprise that the recently launched Luminous Ceremony Cream Cleanser has become the ultimate indulgence. Almost overnight. The unique cream-but-make-it-a-balm texture works on wet or dry skin to melt away makeup and impurities in a single move. Personally, I prefer to apply it to dry skin, massage it in for a minute or two, and then step into the shower. The Ayurvedic herb Manjistha Root is the rockstar ingredient; it purifies the skin and increases circulation (fingers crossed for a body version coming soon). Rose lends its subtle scent to the lush formula but its performance extends beyond a simple sensory experience — it is also rich in antioxidants such as Vitamins A and C. $42 ranavatbotanics.com
ZO Skin Health Hydrating Cleanser
This ZO face wash may be the only skincare product I own that is labeled for Normal to Dry Skin. Why do I love it? The cream-to-foam texture (feels very K-beauty) takes the smallest amount of product to generate copious amounts of firmly whipped lather. It’s a gentle formula I reach for to calm and soothe my skin after overdoing it on peel pads or other acid-laced resurfacing solutions. Some may want to take note that the dermatologist created face wash does contain added fragrance. On the flip side, I enjoy the fresh scent. The foam never bothers my eyes. Dare I say, it leaves my skin feeling hydrated. The 200ml tube is massive, by the way. P.S. In a pinch, it doubles as a shaving cream. $45 zoskinhealth.com
MyChelle Refining Sugar Cleanser
It takes every ounce of self-discipline to leave Whole Foods without picking up another tube of this face wash. Natural sugar is the first ingredient and a hint of added Vanilla Extract gives this daily exfoliant an almost dessert-like aroma. If you normally stray from physical exfoliators, you may still want to consider adding this MyChelle find to your shower shelfie. The paste-like texture turns foamy after contact with water. Since sugar dissolves quickly, the wash won’t feel even the tiniest bit abrasive. Sucrose is a powerful humectant and draws moisture into the skin so this tasty wash leaves your complexion feeling plump and smooth. $25 (3.5 oz.) also available at dermstore.com
100% Pure Lavender Oat Milk Soothing Cleanser
I absolutely love using this powder cleanser in the mornings, especially if there are post-retinol skin flakes decorating my face. The powder mixes great with water and creates a soft lather that gently cleanses as it softens the skin. Colloidal Oatmeal is the hero ingredient to soothe and calm the skin while Coconut Milk, Calendula, Coneflower. Ground Rose petals nourish and revive a dull complexion. Since the bottle weighs next to nothing (no worries, 40g of powder is still plenty of product), it is one of the most TSA-friendly products I pack before traveling. $30 100percentupure.com
Skinfix Barrier+ Foaming Oil Cleanser
This Skinfix find is possibly the most universal face wash in the shower as both I (combination, congested) and my other half (dry, sensitive) use it daily with great results. It’s a lightweight lotion that gains a slightly oily slip when mixed with water. It then turns into a soft foam and rinses off like a dream. Since it’s packed with coconut-derived cleansing agents and skin-softening ingredients such as Vitamin B5, Aloe Vera, Jojoba Oil, and Squalane, it maintains the skin’s healthy pH level and preps it for the rest of your routine. Other notes: no fragrance added. $28 (6 oz.) sephora.com
Dr.Organic Aloe Vera Micellar Water
Let me be the first to say that a bottle of micellar water is not a must-have in your skincare regimen. With that said, I find that a bottle comes in handy more often than you’d think. The Dr.Organic liquid solution delivers a great gentle cleanse in the morning. More importantly, it can become an extension of your self-care ambitions on evenings when you’re fading more quickly than a dollar store lightbulb (followed by the Peach & Lily Lazy Day Pads). This Aloe Vera infused cleansing water also includes skin conditioning Glycerin, soothing Calendula Extract, and Allantoin. Bear in mind that micellar water serves as a makeup remover or as the first step of a double cleanse when used properly. It is not meant to replace your daily one-step cleanser. No matter its marketing claims. $9.99 (6.9 oz.) ulta.com