With so much information to digest about skincare products, it can be channeling to find a great facial cleanser.

Additionally, it can be find to find a budget friendly cleanser. This article will discuss, in depth, the best drugstore facial cleansers available. Ready to find the best drugstore cleanser? Read on!

What Are Facial Cleansers?

Generally defined, facial cleaners are products designed to rid the skin of dirt, oil, grime, and other environmental and natural impurities.

Facial cleansers can come in many forms, with the most common being bar soaps, gels, foams, and oils. An effective cleanser will work to unclog pores and improve the appearance of the skin.

How Do Facial Cleansers Work?

One of the primary ingredients facial cleansers are surfactants.

Surfactants are chemicals that stabilize oil and water by reducing the surface tension at the interface between the oil and water molecules.

Surfactants work by drawing in and holding onto oil. Therefore, when the surfactant is rinsed , the oils are rinsed off with the water. Pretty cool, huh?

How to Use a Facial Cleanser

Although it is not rocket science to use a facial cleanser, you will want to ensure that you are getting the most out of your cleansing routine. And how you wash your face can make a difference in your skin's appearance.

  1. Start with a dime or nickel size portion of cleanser. Be sure to use lukewarm water, taking care that it is not too hot nor too cold.
  2. Gently massage the product into the face, rubbing in a circular motion so that all of the skin is covered. Once a gentle foam forms, rinse the cleanser off of the face with the lukewarm water.
  3. Pat the face dry with a clean towel, being careful to not be too rough. Gently drying the skin will help prevent any irritation.
  4. Follow-up with your favorite vitamin c serum, and non-comedogenic face moisturizer.

6 Best Drugstore Facial Cleansers

It can be difficult to choose the right face wash. Because you do not want the skin to dry out unnecessarily, it is important to choose cleansers that are gentle. Choose a cleanser that effectively removes excessive oil, dirt and impurities, making sure your skin does not feel overly dry, or tight. Should this happen, scale back usage, or consider switching to a more gentle product.

1. Sebamed Clear Face Cleansing Foam (Acne Prone Skin)

Sebamed Clear Face Cleansing Foam (Acne Prone Skin)

Best Drugstore Facial Cleanser for Acne Prone Skin

For those with acne prone skin, consider the Sebamed Clear Face Cleanser. This ultra-hydrating facial cleanser is formulated to maintain the normal moisture levels of your skin while ridding it of harmful impurities. The gentle foaming action will leave your face feeling refreshed and clean. The deep cleaning action works to fight blackheads, pimples, and other skin impurities before they even get the chance to develop. By removing excess sebum and helping desquamation, this facial cleanser will improve the skin's complexion and help prevent acne and other breakouts.

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2. CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser (Oily Skin)

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser (Oily Skin)

Best Drugstore Facial Cleanser for Oily Skin

Formulated for normal to oily skin, this cleanser is popular for its unique combination of ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide. Working in partnership, these active ingredients reinforce the skin's natural barrier while also bringing in hydration to seal and soothe the skin. Available in three convenient sizes, there is a product for every need and personal preference.

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3. CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser (Dry Skin)

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser (Dry Skin)

Best Drugstore Facial Cleanser for Dry Skin

A drugstore facial cleanser favorite, this unique cleanser is formulated to deliver much-needed moisture to dry skin. This gentle face wash can remove the dirt, oil, and grime that you need it to without disrupting the skin's natural hydration process. The cleanser's ceramides reinforce the skin's protective outer barrier while the hyaluronic acid brings hydration up to the surface of the skin. The 24-hour hydration ensures that your skin will be properly moisturized between cleansings.

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4. Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser (Sensitive Skin)

Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser (Sensitive Skin)

Best Drugstore Facial Cleanser for Sensitive Skin

Specially designed for sensitive skin, this gentle drugstore facial cleanser is free of harmful dyes and other fragrances. The vanicream gentle facial cleanser also does not contain parabens, preservatives, and formaldehyde. This value-driven face wash is a good choice for those on a budget who still want fabulous looking skin. The gentle ingredients of the cleanser ensure that the skin is not stripped or left feeling too dry or parched.

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5. Cetaphil Gentle Foaming Cleanser (Combination Skin)

Cetaphil Gentle Foaming Cleanser (Combination Skin)

Best Drugstore Facial Cleanser for Normal to Combination Skin

The instant foaming properties of this cleanser will immediately get to work in removing a host of impurities from deep below the skin's surface. The unique skin conditioners partner with a vitamin complex to deliver a solid cleaning that makes this product one of the gold standards on the market today. Because it is fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and non-comedogenic, this Cetaphil cleanser is safe for almost any skin type.

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6. Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser (Normal to Oily)

Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser (Normal to Oily)

Best Drugstore Facial Cleanser for Normal to Oily Skin

Our last favorite drugstore facial cleanser is the Cetaphil daily facial cleanser. This gentle face wash is perfect for everyday use during the morning and then again at night. The foaming action removes a host of surface-level impurities without stripping the skin of its natural moisture. The product comes off easily with a gentle rinse of water, eliminating the need to scrub and further irritate the skin. The unscented formula makes it ideal for those looking for a product that leaves the skin feeling fresh.

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How to Patch Test a Facial Cleanser

Before you go full force with a new cleanser, it is important to introduce it slowly with a patch test. To verify that your skin can handle the new product, apply a small dime-size amount on either cheek and then proceed to wash that side of the face. Check carefully to make sure that there is no sign of irritation. If the tested cheek appears to be handling the new cleanser, you can then use it on the entire face without major fear of a skin reaction.

How We Selected The Cleansers

  • Sold in Drugstores: All of the facial cleansers reviewed here are widely-available products sold in most drugstores. These value-driven drugstore facial cleansers are all priced under $20, ensuring you are getting the best bang for your buck.
  • Fragrance and Dye Free: None of these recommended cleansers use an excess of heavy fragrances or harmful irritants such as fake dyes or menthols.
  • No Active Ingredients: Products that contained salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide were also disqualified because they do not stay on the skin long enough to be effective.
  • No Abrasive Features or Microbeads: To protect the skin's moisture properties, cleansers that contained microbeads or other similar abrasive features were not considered.


What are the best drugstore facial cleansers for acne?

Although the cleanser itself is not capable of treating acne, cleansers work to remove dirt, oil, and sebum buildup. Ridding the skin of these harmful particles will then work to reduce the occurrence of acne. This will happen because daily cleanings will help to prevent the buildup of the substances that tend to lead to clogged pores. The best acne prevention cleansers will work without drying out the skin.

What are the best drugstore facial cleansers for sensitive skin?

People with sensitive skin need a gentle cleanser that will keep skin irritation to a minimum. For this reason, it is recommended to avoid cleansers that are made with heavy fragrances, dyes, or other irritants such as menthol. These irritants will only serve to make the situation worse. Be sure that all cleanser product is removed from the skin with lukewarm water, and pat dry. Any leftover cleanser residue can potentially irritate the skin.

Do you have to use these on your face?

No, you facial cleansers are also suitable for other areas of your body. For example, in the blackheads on inner thighs article, the CeraVe Foaming Cleanser is mentioned as a great product to remove buildup of oil and dirt between your thighs (just as it does on your face).

Are more expensive face cleansers better?

Not really. In fact, there are many widely available drugstore cleansers that contain great formulas.

What about salicylic acid, or benzoyl peroxide cleansers?

Salicylic acid, or benzoyl peroxide in cleansers are generally ineffective due to the concern that washes may not provide sufficient contact time, particularly on the back where longer contact times are typically required. Additionally, salicylic acid also needs to be in contact long enough to properly exfoliate. Salicylic acid is better as a leave on exfoliant.

Summary: 6 Best Drugstore Facial Cleansers

The Bottom Line

Drugstore facial cleansers are just as effective as their expensive counterparts. Look for cleansers made by recognized companies, and ones formulated specifically for your skin type. If you notice excess dryness or your skin feeling tight, scale back to cleansing every other day. If dryness continues, consider switching cleansers.