The 6 Best Crystal Clean Face Washes (& Cleansers)

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The 6 Best Crystal Clean Face Washes (& Cleansers)
In a hurry? Here are our top picks:

BEST FOR SENSITIVE AND ACNE-PRONE SKIN

ZELEN Life Cleanser

BEST FOR HYPERPIGMENTED SKIN

Boscia Purifying Cleansing Gel

The best clean face wash can prevent acne and clear up any gunk on a day where your face is exposed to the elements. They not just cleanse but also hydrate and moisturize your face leaving you with crystal clean, soft, and supple skin.

In this article, we have reviewed these two cleansers in-depth, along with another four options. For each product, we share with you their best features, what is so good about them, and also highlight the things you should be aware of.

What follows is our comprehensive list of the 6 best clean face washes and cleansers you can find. With our choices, we have ensured there is something for everyone.

Before you find yours, here are some things to take into consideration:

Quick summary

bb2-table__imageZELEN Life Cleanser
  • Handmade organic formula, vitamin and antioxidant-rich
  • Deeply cleans and purifies skin without irritation
  • Replenishes hydration and controls breakouts
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bb2-table__imageBoscia Purifying Cleansing Gel
  • Gel-based texture, clears impurtities and evens skin tone
  • Maintains moisture of the skin barrier
  • Gentle non-irritating formula
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bb2-table__imageJack Black Pure Clean Daily Facial Cleanser
  • 2-in-1 action, cleanser and toner
  • Free from harsh chemicals
  • Powerful action, deep-cleansing
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bb2-table__imageKate Somerville EradiKate Daily Foaming Cleanser
  • Draws our impurities and unclogs pores
  • Contains 3% sulfur, potent acne-fighter
  • Tightens and reduces pore size
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bb2-table__imageELEMIS Deep Purifying Daily Wash for Men
  • Exfoliating action, reduces fine lines
  • Helps those who get ingrown hairs
  • Works fast, cleans skin in an instant
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bb2-table__imageCaudalie Vinopure Natural Salicylic Acid Pore Purifying Gel Cleanser
  • Purifies skin and tightens pores
  • Lathers well, leaving skin clean and supple
  • Contains natural salicylic acid, helps acne
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Before you buy: 6 Things to consider when purchasing clean face washes and cleansers

It’s easy to search for cleansers, read if it’s suitable, and order one online. Once it comes home, you try it, and it is just not right. What went wrong? You didn’t do your homework.

So to help you pick the right face wash and cleanser, here are a few things that you should know.

1. Skin type

It is essential to know your skin type. Do you have normal skin or dry? How about your T-zone? Is it oily, or do you have combination skin? Is your skin sensitive to chemicals or ingredients?

It’s important to understand your skin type, as a cleanser with alcohol can dry your skin, others can exacerbate acne or make your face feel greasy. Knowing your skin type is the first and most crucial step towards picking the right face wash.

2. Cleansers have different textures

Understand that cleansers have different textures. Some are gels, and some are foam. The latter suds up and lathers very quickly, similar to soap. Others don’t and are more watery in consistency. What kind of cleanser are you looking for?

3. Face washes have different actions

While they all cleanse your skin, they have additional actions. Some formulas are created to add moisture to your skin and may not remove deep-seated debris or makeup.

Others have exfoliant properties that remove the dull, dead top skin. Some may reduce the size of your pores or lighten blemishes. What is it that you are looking for in a face wash?

4. Problem areas

To understand what you’re looking for in a face wash, you need first to identify the problem areas of your skin. Do you have excessive sebum production? Are there fine lines, visible pores, or blemishes on your skin? Do you struggle with acne or scars?

These are just some of the problem areas that you face. Hyperpigmentation, melasma, dark spots, and whiteheads are also issues you might encounter. Pick a face wash that addresses your problem areas as well.

5. Read reviews

If your aesthetician or dermatologist recommends a face wash, you might blindly trust it. However, exercise some caution and read the reviews online. Check what other people with similar skin types and skin issues like you have experienced with the product.

Read reviews of people who have purchased the product and posted pictures of their skin. Check for verified reviews for legitimacy.

6. Keep a skin journal

It takes an average of four-to-six weeks for the skin to regenerate and heal. Not all of the epidermal cells are in the same state of growth, and so you may find that some areas of the skin do better than most.

So, journal how your skin reacts and feels for a month with any different product ingredients. This will help you figure out which ingredients benefit your skin the most so you can pick and avoid ingredients in your face wash.

Document any gains and take pictures so you can see any progress being made.

The 6 best clean face washes and cleansers

Now that you’re armed with all the information you need to pick a face wash, let’s take a look at our compilation of the best clean face washes and cleansers.

1. ZELEN Life Cleanser

ZELEN Life Cleanser

Best features:

  • Gentle yet powerful deep-cleanser
  • Vitamin C and antioxidant-rich
  • Non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic

The best clean face wash/cleansers for:

All skin types, particularly sensitive and acne-prone skin.

Overview:

ZELEN Life’s Cleanser is a gentle yet effective daily cleanser that is suitable for all skin types.

It is handmade with organic botanicals packed with vitamins, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants that protect the skin.

They work synergistically to eliminate debris, oil, and pollutants, as well as clogged pores, leaving you with clear, pH-balanced skin that stays moisturized throughout the day.

This cleanser does not leave the skin dry or irritated, making it a great hypoallergenic option for sensitive skin. It is cruelty-free and doesn’t contain harmful chemicals such as parabens, sulfates, or synthetic fragrances.

It also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, making it suitable for those with acne-prone skin. What’s more, it helps regulate the skin’s natural oil (sebum), and it has a non-comedogenic composition, meaning it does not block pores. Both of which help prevent breakouts.

The key ingredients of this cleanser are aloe vera, sunflower, and jojoba.

What do these ingredients do?

Aloe Vera helps to rebalance the skin’s pH while reducing scarring.  Additionally, it contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Aloe vera increases the amount of collagen in wounds and changes its composition by increasing collagen cross-linking. This promotes wound healing and cell development. [1] Scientific studies have also demonstrated that aloe vera gel can increase flexibility and reduce the fragility of the skin.[2]

Jojoba balances sebum on the skin’s surface while combating the effects of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles.

Studies have shown that the oil from the jojoba plant makes wax esters. This has an anti-inflammatory action, and it can be used to treat skin inflammation, reduce signs of aging, and accelerate wound healing.[3]

Sunflower has a variety of uses, one of which is to retain hydration in the skin for a longer amount of time. It absorbs fast and helps to minimize redness while neutralizing free radicals and the damage they can cause.

Various studies have indicated that sunflower seed oil helps to maintain the stratum corneum’s integrity. It increases skin moisture in adults without causing erythema.

This is due to the high concentrations of linoleic acid. Linoleic acid enhances keratinocyte proliferation and lipid synthesis. This aids in the healing of the skin’s barrier.[4]

The good:

  • Organic formula is paraben-free, sulfate-free, vegan and cruelty-free
  • Regulates sebum production
  • Boosts hydration
  • Brightens skin

Things to think about:

  • The organic formula comes with a higher price point

Bottom line:

This is a face wash that is excellent for achieving a clean and clear complexion. It allows you to unclog blocked pores without stripping the necessary moisture and oils that keep your skin refreshed and invigorated.

2. Boscia Purifying Cleansing Gel

boscia Purifying Cleansing Gel

Best features:

  • Clears scars and hyperpigmentation
  • Suitable for sensitive skin

The best clean face wash/cleansers for:

Those with hyperpigmented skin or uneven skin tone.

Overview:

Boscia’s Purifying Cleansing Gel is a gentle face wash that is formulated with hydrangea leaf, green tea, jojoba, and willowherb extracts.

Hydrangea Leaf cleans, refines, and decreases the appearance of pores in a gentle way. Hydrangenol in hydrangea leaf extracts showed in numerous studies that it has significant preventive activity against reduced cell viability and degradation of pro-collagen. It also protects against UVB-induced photoaging of the skin.[5]

Green Tea is a powerful antioxidant that calms and protects the skin from free radicals. Green tea has been shown to boost collagen and elastin fiber content in a number of experiments. It also helps to prevent collagen degradation, which has an anti-aging effect.[6]

Willowherb extract possesses antioxidants, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-wrinkle properties, thanks to the flavonoids and ellagitannins it contains.[7]

Botanical Amino Acids cleanse the face of dirt that can clog pores and cause breakouts, without drying or dehydrating it.

This cleanser can be used both in the morning and at night.

The good:

  • Cleans makeup as well
  • Hydrating skin deeply
  • Protects against free radical damage
  • Reduces acne

Things to think about:

  • Has a scent
  • Doesn’t lather up
  • Not for combination skin

Bottom line:

This gentle and hydrating facial cleanser leaves the complexion looking healthy and refined. It is a great option for hyperpigmented skin.

3. Jack Black Pure Clean Daily Facial Cleanser

Best features:

  • Cleans deep-seated dirt
  • Dual acts as a toner and cleanser

The best clean face wash/cleansers for:

Those looking for a toner and cleanser in one.

Overview:

Jack Black Pure Clean Daily Facial Cleanser is a natural two-in-one facial cleanser and toner. It is very gentle in that it cleans, moisturizes, and refreshes the skin without over-drying.

It is dermatologist tested, cruelty-free and vegan while being free of harmful chemicals such as parabens and sulfates.

It is also an astringent, which makes it a good toner.

What are its ingredients?

Chamomile, aloe vera, sage, and rosemary form the base of this formula.

Reviews of the scientific literature have shown that chamomile has antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory compounds, thanks to the flavonoids it contains.[8]

The oils of sage revealed antifungal activity against fungal strains. It significantly inhibited Nitric oxide production stimulated by lipopolysaccharide in macrophages, without affecting cell viability.[9]

Rosemary’s bioactive molecules, phytocompounds, possess anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiproliferative, and antitumor activities.

The good:

  • Natural toner
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Does not contain harsh chemicals

Things to think about:

  • Makes skin oily
  • May cause a breakout
  • May cause an allergy

Bottom line:

This is a good astringent clean cleanser that works as a toner as well.

4. Kate Somerville EradiKate Daily Foaming Cleanser

Kate Somerville EradiKate Daily Foaming Cleanser

Best features:

  • Alternative to salicylic acid
  • Reduces pores size
  • Unclogs pores by removing impurities
  • Soothes and nourishes acne-prone skin

The best clean face wash/cleansers for:

Those with visibly large pores.

Overview:

Kate Sommerville’s EradiKate Daily Foaming Cleanser is formulated to cleanse acne-prone skin while also unclogging pores, balancing oily skin, and preventing blemishes.

This cleanser has a strong action as it contains 3% sulfur. Sulfur combats breakouts and reduces irritations while also preventing new blemishes from occurring. It also reduces the appearance of pores.

This cleanser also includes a mixture of natural ingredients such as honey and rice bran extracts. Honey minimizes the pathogenicity of skin relevant microbes and modulates cytokine production. It is also found to have a great anti-inflammatory effect.

Honey promotes re-epithelialization and angiogenesis of wounds.[11] It calms and soothes the skin. This cleanser also has natural oat extract that balances out sebum production.

The good:

  • Suitable to use during pregnancy
  • Clears acne and acne scars
  • Reduces milia and whiteheads

Things to think about:

  • Sulfur based face wash
  • Not suitable for dry skin

Bottom line:

This is a superior face wash for those trying to reduce large pores, whiteheads, and acne.

5. ELEMIS Deep Purifying Daily Wash for Men

ELEMIS Deep Purifying Daily Wash for Men

Best features:

  • Exfoliating properties
  • Prevents premature aging

The best clean face wash/cleansers for:

Skin with ingrown hairs and those looking for exfoliation.

Overview:

ELEMIS’ Deep Purifying Daily Wash for Men is a cleanser in the form of a lightweight gel, which has as main ingredients a blend of oak bark, spearmint, and peppermint.

Studies have shown that oak bark formulation minimizes methicillin-resistant S aureus contamination and promotes healing.[12]

Tests indicated that peppermint demonstrates considerable antibacterial, antiviral, and antitumor abilities. It is also antioxidant-rich and provides some antiallergenic capabilities.[13]

In combination, all of the ingredients provide great cleansing action, removing impurities and dirt while leaving the skin refreshed.

It is recommended to use in the morning. It softens facial hair making the shaving process more gentle and easy.

The good:

  • A little goes a long way
  • Good for sensitive skin
  • Reduces fine lines
  • Prevents ingrown hair

Things to think about:

  • Cannot stand the product on a countertop as designed, as the product leaks out
  • Skin feels greasy

Bottom line:

This is a great clean face wash for those looking for exfoliation and having ingrown hair.

6. Caudalie Vinopure Natural Salicylic Acid Pore Purifying Gel Cleanser

Caudalie Vinopure Natural Salicylic Acid Pore Purifying Gel Cleanser

Best features:

  • Purifies and tightens pores
  • Reduces blemishes
  • Reduces excessive sebum production

The best clean face wash/cleansers for:

Oily skin with blemishes and large pores.

Overview:

Caudalie’s Vinopure Natural Pore Purifying Gel Cleanser contains natural salicylic acid, which has many benefits.

The salicylic acid makes it a ‘pore-diminishing’ cleanser. It reduces the appearance of large pores while balancing out the skin’s oil. This has a result in the reduction of acne breakouts and blackheads.

Salicylic acid exfoliates the skin’s outer layer (stratum corneum) and has comedolytic properties making it a great peeling agent for acne sufferers.[14]

Its formulation also includes grape seed extracts. The topical use of grape seed extract heals skin wounds due to the release of endothelial growth factors. Additionally, it possesses antioxidant and antibacterial properties.[15] 

The good:

  • Leaves your face feeling smooth
  • Lathers well
  • Is very gentle on mild skin

Things to think about:

  • Scent is nauseating
  • Not for dry skin

Bottom line:

This is an excellent face wash for oily and combination skin in need of minimizing pores.


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How we chose these products

When constructing our list of the best face washes for clean skin, we first looked for products that would leave you with a refreshed, clear complexion. Of the many cleansers on our list, all the formulas leave your skin hydrated and clean.

Many of the formulas work for multiple skin types. However, some are specifically for dry or oily skin. As we chose the formulas, we also looked for cleansers that had different textures.

Some cleansers are gel-based, whereas others are foam based. Some formulas have antibacterial properties and control sebum, which can prevent acne and treat existing breakouts. We also included an option that has natural salicylic acid.

For those people looking for an exfoliating face wash and for those who struggle with blemishes and ingrown hair follicles, we’ve chosen specific cleansers to suit these needs.

There are also cleansers in this list that have natural moisturizing ingredients, such as aloe vera.

We also looked for cleansers that had dual actions. Some of the formulas here can be used as toners and for the removal of makeup. A few formulas in the list also have antioxidant and anti-aging properties.

Many of the formulas on the list are cruelty-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, and are suitable for sensitive skin. We also looked at price ranges to suit the budget and needs of various people.

Through detailed research, we ensured there is something for everyone by providing plenty of variety in our choices without compromising on quality.

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

What is a face wash?

The job of any face wash is to clean your face and get rid of all the dirt, impurities, grime, and pollutants. It simply cleans your face and unclogs your pores of sebum and bacteria.

How is face wash different from a cleanser?

Face washes and cleansers perform the same action. Their job is the same; to clean your face. However, a face wash can be foaming or non-foaming. That means it can lather up or not.

However, a cleanser is different in that it does not foam or lather up. It is more oil-based and tends to dissolve grime and makeup from your skin.

What is the difference between a gel face wash and a foam face wash?

Foam-based face washes are more like soap and tend to clean by forming a lather. A gel-based face wash is more of a hydrating face wash and manages to add moisture to your skin. The oil-based gel tends to remove oil and oil-based impurities.

How do I choose the face wash based on my skin type?

Different face washes are created for different skin types. For example, face washes that have salicylic acid are suitable for oily in combination skin. At the same time, they may not be suitable for dry skin or sensitive skin.

Face washes that contain alcohol or mattify the skin are also not suitable for dry skin. In the same way, clean face washes with essential oils might not be the best choice for people with oily skin.

What should I look for in a face wash?

When you look for a face wash, first review your problem areas. Find the face wash that addresses your existing problems. There are several formulas on our list that are targeted at blemishes, photoaging, fine lines, ingrown hairs, acne, scars, and other skin problems.

Review your skin journal and skin problems and then pick a face wash suitable for your skin type and areas of concern.

How often should I wash my face every day?

How often you wash your face depends on your skin type and the conditions of your day. It is recommended to wash your face in the morning and at night.

However, if you have dry skin, you might want to be careful of your regimen. Washing your face too often can strip away the skins’ natural moisture.

For those with oily and combination skin, you may want to consider washing your face more than twice a day. If you are somebody who spends all day out in the sun, then you might need to use a face wash during the middle of the day.

If you are somebody who stays indoors with an air-conditioner, you might not need to use a face wash as often.

Will I need a moisturizer or cream after a face wash?

Dermatologists recommend that you wash, tone, and then moisturize. Irrespective of your skin type, it’s always necessary to moisturize after washing your face. This will add and lock in any moisture within your skin cells.

Are there any side effects to do using an exfoliating face wash?

An exfoliating face wash tends to strip away the upper layers of the epidermis. This can be harmful if done daily. Unless you have very oily skin, it is advised that you exfoliate once a week.

Choosing an exfoliating face wash can be detrimental for those with dry skin—exercise caution. If your skin feels too tight and peels, then moisturize and only use it a week later.

What are the signs of a reaction to a face wash?

If you develop any signs of redness, itching, swelling, pain, numbness, tingling, or weals, it would be wise to wash away the product. Use ice to reduce inflammation. If the reaction doesn’t subside in 2 hours, it would be best to see a dermatologist.

Conclusion

The best clean face wash is out there for you. Irrespective of your skin type and skin problem, there must be something on this list that suits you.

Do you have a favorite face wash that keeps your skin squeaky clean?

If yes, share the name of your formula with us, and we might consider adding it to our list!

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References

  1. Boudreau MD, Beland FA. An evaluation of the biological and toxicological properties of Aloe barbadensis (miller), Aloe vera. J Environ Sci Health C Environ Carcinog Ecotoxicol Rev. 2006;24:103–54. doi: 10.1080/10590500600614303.
  2. Malek Hosseini A, Ghaffarzadegan R, Alizadeh SA, Ghaffarzadegan R, Haji Agaei R, Ahmadlou M. Effect of aloe vera gel, compared to 1% silver sulfadiazine cream on second-degree burn wound healing. Complementary Medicine Journal of faculty of Nursing and Midwifery. 2013;3:418–28.
  3. Pazyar N, Yaghoobi R, Ghassemi MR, Kazerouni A, Rafeie E, Jamshydian N. Jojoba in dermatology: a succinct review. G Ital Dermatol Venereol. 2013;148(6):687-691.
  4. Lin TK, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;19(1):70. Published 2017 Dec 27. doi:10.3390/ijms19010070
  5. Shin JS, Han HS, Lee SB, et al. Chemical Constituents from Leaves of Hydrangea serrata and Their Anti-photoaging Effects on UVB-Irradiated Human Fibroblasts. Biol Pharm Bull. 2019;42(3):424-431. doi:10.1248/bpb.b18-00742
  6. Prasanth MI, Sivamaruthi BS, Chaiyasut C, Tencomnao T. A Review of the Role of Green Tea (Camellia sinensis) in Antiphotoaging, Stress Resistance, Neuroprotection, and Autophagy. Nutrients. 2019;11(2):474. Published 2019 Feb 23. doi:10.3390/nu11020474
  7. Schepetkin IA, Ramstead AG, Kirpotina LN, Voyich JM, Jutila MA, Quinn MT. Therapeutic Potential of Polyphenols from Epilobium Angustifolium (Fireweed). Phytother Res. 2016;30(8):1287-1297. doi:10.1002/ptr.5648
  8. Miraj S, Alesaeidi S. A systematic review study of therapeutic effects of Matricaria recuitta chamomile (chamomile). Electron Physician. 2016;8(9):3024-3031. Published 2016 Sep 20. doi:10.19082/3024
  9. Abu-Darwish MS, Cabral C, Ferreira IV, et al. Essential oil of common sage (Salvia officinalis L.) from Jordan: assessment of safety in mammalian cells and its antifungal and anti-inflammatory potential. Biomed Res Int. 2013;2013:538940. doi:10.1155/2013/538940
  10. de Oliveira JR, Camargo SEA, de Oliveira LD. Rosmarinus officinalis L. (rosemary) as therapeutic and prophylactic agent. J Biomed Sci. 2019;26(1):5. Published 2019 Jan 9. doi:10.1186/s12929-019-0499-8
  11. McLoone P, Oluwadun A, Warnock M, Fyfe L. Honey: A Therapeutic Agent for Disorders of the Skin. Cent Asian J Glob Health. 2016;5(1):241. Published 2016 Aug 4. doi:10.5195/cajgh.2016.241
  12. Davis SC, Mertz PM. Determining the effect of an oak bark formulation on methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus and wound healing in porcine wound models. Ostomy Wound Manage. 2008;54(10):16-25.
  13. McKay DL, Blumberg JB. A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of peppermint tea (Mentha piperita L.). Phytother Res. 2006;20(8):619-633. doi:10.1002/ptr.1936
  14. Arif T. Salicylic acid as a peeling agent: a comprehensive review. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2015;8:455-461. Published 2015 Aug 26. doi:10.2147/CCID.S84765
  15. Hemmati AA, Foroozan M, Houshmand G, Moosavi ZB, Bahadoram M, Maram NS. The topical effect of grape seed extract 2% cream on surgery wound healing. Glob J Health Sci. 2014;7(3):52-58. Published 2014 Oct 29. doi:10.5539/gjhs.v7n3p52

About The Author

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Doctor and Seasoned Medical Writer

Doctor of Medicine MD (Angeles University College of Medicine)

United States

Pamela Q. Fernandes is a doctor and medical writer. Born and raised in Kuwait, she graduated from Angeles University College of Medicine, Philippines in 2007. Soon after that, she started her career as a medical writer and physician. Pamela is an advocate of preventive health, rural medicine, women’s health and tele-medicine having been active in these roles for the majority of her decade long career in medicine. As a seasoned medical writer, she has worked with many medical publishing houses and doctors, as well as pharmaceuticals, hospitals and practices. She specializes in training material for doctors and patient education material. As an academic writer, she is a qualified writer of articles for medical journals, case reports and medical presentations.

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