6 Best Face Washes (& Cleansers) for Teens + Tweens

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6 Best Face Washes (& Cleansers) for Teens + Tweens
In a hurry? Here are our top picks:

BEST FOR SENSITIVE AND ACNE-PRONE SKIN

ZELEN Life Cleanser

BEST FOR OILY AND COMBINATION SKIN

TONYMOLY Vital Vita 12 Jelly Cleanser

Let’s face it. Teenage skin can be troublesome. So, it is important to use a face wash formulated with teenagers in mind and address the problems that plague their skin.

Hormonal acne and high sebum production are common in teen skin. To keep these problems under control, a suitable face wash or cleanser is a good starting point.

The best face wash for teens (and tweens) is out there, and the purpose of this review is to help you find yours.

Would you like to find out more?

Well, keep reading because, in this article, we have provided a detailed review of the 6 facial cleansers that made our list. We have shared each face washes’ best features, their pros and cons, and who they are most suitable for.

Before you buy, here are some useful pointers on what you should take into consideration:

Quick summary

bb2-table__imageZELEN Life Cleanser
  • Organic, gentle yet powerful formula, deep-cleansing action
  • Packed with vitamins and antioxidants
  • Suitable for sensitive and acne-prone skin, helps breakouts
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bb2-table__imageBoscia Clear Complexion Cleanser
  • Helps control blemishes
  • Gentle cleansing gel with exfoliating action
  • Unclogs pores and balances sebum
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bb2-table__imageTONYMOLY Vital Vita 12 Jelly Cleanser
  • Loaded with vitamins and odorless
  • Purifies skin, leaving a fresh look and feel
  • Great for removing makeup
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bb2-table__imageDermalogica Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash
  • Clears pores and reduces pore size
  • Helps acne breakouts
  • Lathers up nicely and leaves a smooth finish
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bb2-table__imageBioderma Sebium Foaming Gel Facial Cleanser for Combination to Oily Skin
  • Reduces sebum production on the skin
  • Hydration properties
  • Rich in antioxidants
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bb2-table__imageBilly Jealousy LiquidSand Exfoliating Facial Cleanser
  • Leaves skin moisturized and refreshed
  • Natural exfoliating formula
  • Helps eliminate blackheads
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Before you buy: 6 Things to consider when purchasing a face wash for teenage skin

Not many products are created for teen skin. Unlike adult skin, teen skin is softer and free of adult age-related issues. However, hormone production varies, so the skin undergoes many changes due to hormonal variations.

The skin is affected by these hormonal changes, such as follicle stimulation and sebum production, leading to acne breakouts. And so, teen skin requires formulas that are sensitive to these needs.

Before you decide to buy a face wash or cleanser for teenage skin, here are a few things to consider:

1. Teen skin type

Most teenagers tend to have oily or combination skin. The hormones tend to ramp up the sebum production, and the skin can become more oily or greasy. A gentle face wash or cleanser that removes the excess oil and controls sebum production can be beneficial.

For those with sensitive skin–a mild, chemical-free cleanser is more suitable. And for those with skin conditions like eczema or another dermatitis, an oil-based cleanser is more beneficial.

2. Having a skincare routine

Most teenagers are just starting their skincare journey and are yet to nail down a skincare routine. Skin preservation and the prevention of age-related issues are not high on a teenager’s priority list. They have more pressing issues to deal with.

Yet, a skincare routine with a basic cleanser and moisturizer is a must for everyone. The cell’s machinery is optimum at this age, and having a skincare routine will go a long way in preventing fine lines and wrinkles as they won’t have to play catch up as most adults do.

3. Frequency of use

Since teenagers are trying to unclog pores and stave off acne, a cleanser must be used at least twice a day for optimum results.

4. Skin problems

One of the most common problems with teenage skin is hormonal acne. And now, there are products available that can help prevent and treat acne and its scars. The days of young people putting some toothpaste on their pimples are long gone.

Several formulas are aimed at staving off bacteria through their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Various formulas will clear the pores of debris and gunk. Others will control sebum secreted by the sebaceous glands.

Some will exfoliate the skin. It all depends to what extent these issues affect the skin.

5. Budget

It is recognized that teenagers would not spend a significant amount of money on a face wash unless they recognize the value of this investment.

It’s crucial to choose products that serve their purpose while being affordable and easily available to purchase.

6. Textures

Since every teenager has different grades of combination to oily skin, you must also consider what texture of face wash you want. Do you like a gel cleanser, or will a jelly-based face wash make you squirm?

There are various textures available, and depending on personal preference, it’s important to consider the texture.

7. Foaming vs. Non-foaming

There are face washes, and there are cleansers. Even among the face washes, not all of them are foaming. Some face washes lather up while others are thin and watery with no sudsy action at all.

For those who want to remove makeup or are looking for the soapy acting, you may want to pick a foaming face wash.

The 6 best face washes and cleansers for teens and tweens

We’ve searched and found the best cleansers and face washes formulated for teenage skin. With our selections, we have ensured there is something for everyone.

Here’s our list.

1. ZELEN Life Cleanser

ZELEN Life Cleanser

Best features:

  • Gentle yet powerful cleansing action prevents breakouts
  • Organic formula provides antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Skin calming and brightening effect

The best face wash/cleanser for:

Teenage skin of all skin types, particularly those with sensitive skin or prone to hormonal acne and breakouts.

Overview:

The ZELEN Life Cleanser will provide a gentle yet powerful deep clean that works effectively for all skin types, especially teen skin. The cleanser has a natural formula packed with botanical ingredients that nourish the skin and prevent acne outbreaks. This cleanser will keep the skin free of dirt, oil, and grime.

Its organic oils penetrate the skin and give it a youthful glow. The cleanser is chemical-free, meaning it doesn’t contain parabens, sulfates, petrochemicals, synthetic colors, and fragrances.

It is suitable for teenagers as it doesn’t dry or irritate the skin. It also helps reduce that greasy look and shine. It contains vitamins, essential fatty acids, and a host of antioxidants that protect the skin and prevent any photodamage.

The key ingredients in this cleanser’s formula are aloe vera, sunflower, and jojoba. They work synergistically to unclog blocked pores, removing dirt, oil, and impurities without removing the necessary moisture and oils that keep your skin refreshed and invigorated.

While many face cleansers can dry out the skin, the ZELEN Life Cleanser boosts hydration that lasts all day.

Aloe vera helps restore the skin’s natural pH balance. It helps to reduce scarring, regenerate skin cells, and encourage cell development. Additionally, it’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, which helps fight hormonal acne (often seen on teenagers) and reduces itching.

Studies show that aloe vera includes vitamin E, vitamin C, and a lot of amino acids, which play a vital role in accelerating wound healing, by neutralizing free radicals in a wound site.[1][2]

Sunflower retains moisture, allowing the skin to stay hydrated. It absorbs easily and reduces skin sensitivity. It decreases the appearance of redness while also neutralizing free radicals and the damage they cause.

Jojoba also has many benefits, such as preventing the build-up of skin oil (sebum), speeding up the skin’s healing process, and fighting wrinkles.

This cleanser also contains vitamin C from lemon peel oil, which, in combination with other ingredients, eliminates impurities and clears clogged pores, leaving skin feeling healthy and pH-balanced. It also has anti-aging compounds that encourage an even skin tone and brightens the skin.

The good:

  • Free from harmful chemicals such as parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, petrochemicals, and silicones
  • Non-greasy, hydrated look that lasts all-day
  • Handmade with plant-based ingredients
  • Vitamin and antioxidant-rich
  • Hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic
  • Cruelty-free, vegan, and eco-friendly

Things to think about:

  • Can mattify the skin
  • Does not contain SPF

Bottom line:

This is an excellent cleanser for teenagers with sensitive skin and who are prone to breakouts. Its organic formula moisturizes as it cleanses and does not strip the skin like many chemical-based face washes.

2. Boscia Clear Complexion Cleanser

boscia Clear Complexion Cleanser

Best features:

  • Removes stubborn makeup and dirt build-up
  • Effectively exfoliates to unclog, purify pores without irritation
  • Gentle cleansing gel suitable for daily use

The best face wash/cleanser for:

Teenagers with blemish-prone skin and looking for a makeup remover.

Overview:

Boscia’s Clear Complexion Cleanser is a cleansing gel with a gentle action for blemish-prone skin. This is evident by its ingredient list.

It contains Willow Bark which works as a natural Beta Hydroxy Acid (a.k.a. Salicylic Acid). It assists in tackling blemishes on teenage skin but also minimizes dark spots from previous breakouts.

Rosemary leaf extract acts as a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient while also aiding in circulation. Studies have shown that ethanolic rosemary extract sufficiently minimizes the production and appearance of proinflammatory cytokines.[3]

Geranium Extract improves skin elasticity by increasing circulation and balancing sebum production.

All the ingredients work together to effectively exfoliate the skin, unclogging and purifying pores while also reducing acne for a clearer complexion.

Due to its natural ingredients, it is gentle enough to be used on teenagers while not stripping away the skin’s moisture.

As an added bonus, it can be used to remove makeup!

The good:

  • Contains natural BHA (salicylic acid)
  • Minimizes blemishes and dark spots
  • Balances the production of sebum
  • Improves skin elasticity

Things to think about:

  • Can dry out the skin and make it flaky

Bottom line:

This is a great face wash for those teens who have very blemish-prone skin and wish for a natural salicylic acid option.

3. TONYMOLY Vital Vita 12 Jelly Cleanser

 TONYMOLY Vital Vita 12 Jelly Cleanser

Best features:

  • Odorless and 12 vitamins rich
  • Lathers well, and a little goes a long way
  • Maintains moisture

The best face wash/cleanser for:

Teens with oily and combination skin.

Overview:

TONYMOLY’s Vital Vita 12 Jelly Cleanser has an effective formula that instantly dissolves dirt, excess surface residue, and makeup (if needed). It clears pores from any impurities without removing the skin’s natural oils, leaving skin soft and hydrated.

This cleanser contains a unique combination of chlorella and spirulina, both of which are body superfoods. Several studies have shown that marine algae extracts such as chlorella and algal carbohydrates can assist with hyperpigmentation, dry skin disorders, inflammation, and skin carcinoma.[4]

Spirulina also contains C-phycocyanin (C-PC), a major biliprotein with antioxidants and radical fighting properties.[5]

This cleanser consists of TONYMOLY’s Vita-12 multi-vitamin compound. It uses nanosome technology to combine 12 types of vitamins, namely A, B1, B3, B5, B6, B8, B12, C, E, F, H, helping this way in having healthy skin while protecting from a variety of skin issues.

The good:

  • Leaves skin feeling clean and refreshed
  • Packed with a long list of vitamins
  • Powerful action quickly dissolves impurities and removes makeup

Things to think about:

  • May cause an acne breakout
  • Has a slimy consistency

Bottom line:

This is a great face wash for those with an oily T-zone and combination skin that also wants to remove heavy makeup, fast!

4. Dermalogica Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash

Dermalogica Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash

Best features:

  • Clears out acne breakouts
  • Reduces pore size
  • Soothing effect

The best face wash/cleanser for:

Teenagers with very large pores and whiteheads.

Overview:

Dermalogica’s Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash is an acne cleanser that foams and removes dead skin cells. It also absorbs excess oils that cause future breakouts.

Salicylic acid goes deep into the pores clearing skin cells and trapped oils to wipe out existing breakouts. As said previously, it is also effective against acne-causing bacteria and hormonal acne.

Salicylic acid has been shown to minimize the number of primary acne lesions in three placebo-controlled trials and a comedolytic assay. As a result, it can lessen the severity of all acne-related lesions.[6]

Adding to that, the 8 botanicals included in this formula, such as tea tree, lavender, camellia sinensis, etc, are known to soothe and calm irritated skin.

Also, orange peel extract revitalizes, energizes, and refreshes the skin’s appearance. The citrus peel contains poly methoxy flavonoids (PMFs) as a major ingredient of anti-inflammatory activity. Orange peel extract, in particular, contains a high concentration of PMFs, which can help to prevent or mitigate UV damage.[7]

The good:

  • Lathers well and protects against UV radiation
  • Leaves skin very smooth
  • Unclogs pores

Things to think about:

  • Can increase acne in some
  • Can make the skin look greasy

Bottom line:

This is a good face wash for teens with very large visible pores.

5. Bioderma Sebium Foaming Gel Facial Cleanser for Combination to Oily Skin

Bioderma Sebium Foaming Gel Facial Cleanser for Combination to Oily Skin

Best features:

  • Reduces pore size
  • Decreases sebum production

The best face wash/cleanser for:

Teen skin of a greasy/oily appearance.

Overview:

Bioderma’s Sebium Foaming Gel Facial Cleanser is specially formulated for combination to oily skin. It contains ingredients that gently cleanse and purify your skin without overdrying it.

Bioderma’s patented D.A.F complex helps to improve the tolerance threshold of your skin. This complex contains of Ginkgo Biloba extract and fructooligosaccharides.

Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are naturally occurring oligosaccharides found in plants such as onion, chicory, garlic, asparagus, artichoke, etc. According to some studies, they can provide an increase in antioxidant defenses.[8]

Ginkgo biloba also has many antioxidant properties. Trials have shown they can halt the progression of vitiligo and hyperpigmentation disorders.[9]

Antioxidants can assist reduce the effects of many teenagers’ skin conditions such as hormonal acne, eczema, and sunburns.

The good:

  • Good for oily and combination skin
  • Hydrates the skin
  • Antioxidant-rich to delay and free radical damage

Things to think about:

  • Can cause red patches. Do a skin test first.
  • Contains sulfates

Bottom line:

This is a very good face wash for teens with oily and combination skin, especially those with excess sebum production.

6. Billy Jealousy LiquidSand Exfoliating Facial Cleanser

Billy Jealousy LiquidSand Exfoliating Facial Cleanser

Best features:

  • Exfoliating facewash with silica
  • Removes blackheads

The best face wash/cleanser for:

Men’s teenage skin with blackheads looking for natural exfoliation.

Overview:

Billy Jealousy’s LiquidSand Exfoliating Facial Cleanser is a combination of a scrub and a cleanser. It provides a more gentle action as an exfoliator but it is stronger than a regular face wash. Since dirt and oil may get stuck in pores, removing them can help to avoid acne. Exfoliating helps to clear clogged pores, improving skin’s radiance while prepping it for a less irritating shave (if needed).

Also, it doesn’t over-dry the skin. This is because of LiquiSand. LiquidSand works thanks to the alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), lactic acid. It offers great hydration locking properties while being gentle. It’s made from natural ingredients and promotes cell turnover, which helps to enhance skin tone and texture. It also helps to smooth the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.[10]

It also helps in repairing photodamage from the sun. Lactic acid both softens skin and helps prevent acne breakouts. Studies have shown that treatment with as much as 12% lactic acid causes an increased epidermal and dermal firmness and thickness.

This face wash also contains licorice root and quillaja saponaria bark extract.

Licorice root extract protects the skin from oxidative stress, speeds up wound healing, and effectively reduces atopic dermatitis symptoms.[11]

Quillaja saponaria bark extract has a wide range of uses, such as cleansing, moisturizing, skin conditioning, and reducing dandruff.[12] This is thanks to the saponins and triterpenoids it includes.

The good:

  • No plastic beads
  • Keeps the skin hydrated and supple
  • Makes the skin look luminous

Things to think about:

  • Contains parabens

Bottom line:

This is a useful face wash for teens with blackheads who are looking for a face wash with an exfoliating action.


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How we chose these products

As we searched for the best face washes and cleansers for teen skin, we considered suitable ingredients. We focused our search on formulas rich in essential oils, leaf and seed extracts, and other ingredients that especially controlled sebum production.

Some even have unusual ingredients like marine algae, chlorella, and spirulina. Most of the products on this list can unclog pores and clear dead cells since this is a common issue with teenage skin.

The products that made our list are all tried and trusted at removing impurities and ridding the skin of dirt and grime. Some even have exfoliating properties for those with uneven skin and dermal build-up. For those with blackheads and whiteheads, many of these products can help with breakouts.

In some cases, where the pores are large and visible, some formulas reduce pore size. Since acne is common in teenage skin, many of the formulas have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activity.

We did consider that some teenagers might be looking for an all-inclusive cleanser that removes makeup, and a few of our choices do dissolve makeup.

We considered a variety of textures like gel-based cleansers, foam-based cleansers, and even jelly-like consistencies.

We chose a formula for every skin type and researched each product to see how well it did on teen skin. For those with sensitive skin, several products are all-natural and made from organic ingredients.

We also chose products that have antioxidants, promote photo-protection and depigmentation activity. This is because teenagers may not be thinking about sunscreen and other moisturizers to prevent damage. And so many of these formulas are dual-acting.

Finally, we also considered the budget. We chose a range of products that won’t cause a huge dent in the pocket.

Our extensive research and selection process ensured that there is something for everyone on this list.

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

What is a face wash?

A face wash or cleanser is a formula that is meant to cleanse your skin and remove dirt, grime, makeup, epidermal build up.

What is the difference between a face wash and a cleanser?

A cleanser is more like a gel consistency. It does not have any foaming or soap action. It cleanses but also hydrates and moisturizes the skin. A face wash can be foaming or non-foaming. The foaming varieties lather and feel more like soap.

When should a teenager start using a face wash?

The earlier, the better. As soon as changes become apparent in teen skin, from normal or dry to oily and combination, a face wash is needed.

A teenager who has shown signs of a growth spurt such as change in height, facial hair, or menstrual changes, should consider starting a skincare regimen.

This will counteract any bacteria in the skin and also pre-emptively tackle any acne before it gets full-blown. If acne is already present, look for face washes specifically formulated to target acne and have antibacterial activity.

How do I use a face wash for teenagers?

Start by using it twice a day and decide if that’s enough to keep sebum production under control. Twice a day should be sufficient.

After cleansing the face, apply a suitable moisturizer depending on the skin type. Preferably, apply the moisturizer while the skin is still damp from the wash.

What if a breakout develops?

If using an exfoliating face wash, it is possible a breakout can develop in the first week of use. This is because, as the fresh skin is revealed, many underlying pores filled with bacteria and dirt will rise to the surface.

If the breakout persists after one week of use, discontinue the use of the face wash and consult a dermatologist about other options. Also, review the ingredient list to check for any allergic reactions.

What to do in case of an allergic reaction?

Halt the face wash—ice any inflamed, red patches and rashes. If itching and pain develop, seek medical help. You might need medical treatment to reduce the inflammation.

Conclusion

The best face wash for teens (and tweens) is out there. It does take some searching. And all of them tend to have many similar characteristics.

Compare the differences by taking into account the key ingredients and their benefits.

Are you a teenager, or are you a parent of a teenager? What do you think is the best face wash for teenage skin?

If it is not on our list, let us know, and we might consider adding it!

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References

  1. Kashanian M., Lakeh M. M., Ghasemi A., Noori S. Evaluation of vitamin E’s effect on pelvic pain reduction in women suffering from primary dysmenorrhea. Journal of Reproductive Medicine. 2013;58(1-2):34–38.
  2. Hajhashemi V., Ghannadi A., Heidari A. H. Anti-inflammatory and wound healing activities of Aloe littoralis in rats. Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2012;7(2):73–78.
  3. Tsai TH, Chuang LT, Lien TJ, Liing YR, Chen WY, Tsai PJ. Rosmarinus officinalis extract suppresses Propionibacterium acnes-induced inflammatory responses. J Med Food. 2013;16(4):324-333. doi:10.1089/jmf.2012.2577
  4. Kim JH, Lee JE, Kim KH, Kang NJ. Beneficial Effects of Marine Algae-Derived Carbohydrates for Skin Health. Mar Drugs. 2018;16(11):459. Published 2018 Nov 21. doi:10.3390/md16110459
  5. Karkos PD, Leong SC, Karkos CD, Sivaji N, Assimakopoulos DA. Spirulina in clinical practice: evidence-based human applications. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:531053. doi:10.1093/ecam/nen058
  6. Zander E, Weisman S. Treatment of acne vulgaris with salicylic acid pads. Clin Ther. 1992 Mar-Apr;14(2):247-53. PMID: 1535287.
  7. Yoshizaki N, Fujii T, Masaki H, Okubo T, Shimada K, Hashizume R. Orange peel extract, containing high levels of polymethoxyflavonoid, suppressed UVB-induced COX-2 expression and PGE2 production in HaCaT cells through PPAR-γ activation. Exp Dermatol. 2014 Oct;23 Suppl 1:18-22. doi: 10.1111/exd.12394. PMID: 25234831.
  8. Franco-Robles E, López MG. Implication of fructans in health: immunomodulatory and antioxidant mechanisms. ScientificWorldJournal. 2015;2015:289267. doi:10.1155/2015/289267
  9. Szczurko O, Shear N, Taddio A, Boon H. Ginkgo biloba for the treatment of vitilgo vulgaris: an open label pilot clinical trial. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011;11:21. Published 2011 Mar 15. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-21
  10. Smith WP. Epidermal and dermal effects of topical lactic acid. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1996 Sep;35(3 Pt 1):388-91. doi: 10.1016/s0190-9622(96)90602-7. PMID: 8784274.
  11. Ciganović P, Jakimiuk K, Tomczyk M, Zovko Končić M. Glycerolic Licorice Extracts as Active Cosmeceutical Ingredients: Extraction Optimization, Chemical Characterization, and Biological Activity. Antioxidants (Basel). 2019;8(10):445. Published 2019 Oct 1. doi:10.3390/antiox8100445
  12. Fleck JD, Betti AH, da Silva FP, et al. Saponins from Quillaja saponaria and Quillaja brasiliensis: Particular Chemical Characteristics and Biological Activities. Molecules. 2019;24(1):171. Published 2019 Jan 4. doi:10.3390/molecules24010171

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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