4 Best Morning Face Washes & Cleansers for Calm Skin

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4 Best Morning Face Washes & Cleansers for Calm Skin
In a hurry? Here are our top picks:

BEST FOR DRY & SENSITIVE SKIN

ZELEN Life Cleanser

BEST FOR ACNE PRONE SKIN

ELEMIS Superfood Facial Wash

Morning cleansing is just as important as nighttime cleansing. It removes the dead skin cells, toxins, and oils that have accumulated overnight.

This gives you a fresh palette to apply your morning skin products and allows better penetration of these products so they will work better.

This article is devoted to discussing what you should consider before purchasing a face wash or cleanser, the best morning face washes and cleansers, how they were chosen, and frequently asked questions about face washes and cleansers.

Quick summary

bb2-table__imageZELEN Life Cleanser
  • Handmade organic formula, contains aloe, sunflower, and jojoba
  • Boosts hydration, balances skin's pH and regulates sebum production
  • Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, helps acne breakouts and signs of aging
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bb2-table__imageElemis Superfood Facial Wash
  • Prevents acne breakouts due to the nettle extract
  • Controls oil without drying out skin, moisturizing action
  • Antioxidant-rich thanks to black seed and pumpkin seed oils
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bb2-table__imageMario Badescu Cucumber Cleansing Lotion
  • Cucumber naturally protects against UV damage from the sun
  • Leaves the skin with a cool and fresh sensation
  • Coumarin helps eliminate dead skin cells
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bb2-table__imageDermalogy by Neogen Lab Real Fresh Foam Cleanser
  • Packed with moisturizing ingredients, olive oil, glycerin and aloe
  • Green tea protects from harsh environments and sun damage
  • Anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties
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Before you buy: 3 things to consider when purchasing a morning face wash

1. Consider your skin type

Skin type is very important in determining what face wash to select. If you choose the wrong one, it not only will not help your skin, but it can hurt it. Here is a breakdown of the 5 skin types:

Dry skin

  • Flaky, dull skin
  • Feels rough or tight

Oily skin

  • Shiny skin with blackheads and acne
  • Feels greasy

Sensitive skin

  • Flaky, red skin
  • Feels itchy or burning

Normal skin

  • Not dry or shiny
  • Does not feel itchy, tight, or greasy

Combination skin

  • Oily in T zone (forehead, nose, and chin)
  • Dry on the rest of the face.

2. Select the right ingredients

The right ingredients for the right skin type can make or break your experience with any product, which is why reading the product label is so important.

Dry skin

  • Look for moisturizers, like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, almond oil, or aloe

Oily skin

  • Look for oil-controlling ingredients, like alcohol, witch hazel, or jojoba oil

Sensitive skin

  • Look for anti-inflammatory ingredients, like aloe, lavender, rose geranium, or coconut oil

Normal skin

  • You are lucky and can use anything!

Combination skin

  • Pick products for oily skin in the T zone and one for dry skin on the rest of your face

3. Avoid certain ingredients

There are some ingredients that every skin type should avoid because of potential side effects

Mineral oil and petrolatum:

  • These can clog your pores and lead to more acne breakouts on the face.

Parabens:

  • These can be irritating to some people especially those with dry or sensitive skin. Some think they could disrupt female hormones leading to an increased risk of breast cancer. Parabens can worsen UV damage as well.

Sulfates:

  • These can be irritating to some people and may even lead to acne breakouts. Some people are even allergic to these ingredients.

Silicones:

  • These can be occlusive and trap dirt and oil causing worsening of your acne. Also, they inhibit other ingredients from penetrating.

Dyes and fragrances:

  • These can be irritating to all especially if you have dry or sensitive skin types. Some may even be allergic to these ingredients. Beware of unscented products, as they have extra scents added to them to cover up the natural odors of the ingredients.

Alcohol:

  • This can be drying to your skin especially if you have dry or sensitive skin types.

The 4 best morning face washes and cleansers

1. ZELEN Life Cleanser

ZELEN Life Cleanser

Best features:

  • Great for all skin types, including sensitive skin
  • Anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial ingredients to fight acne
  • Anti-oxidants to fight premature aging
  • Packed with moisturizers to help dry skin

Best cleanser for:

This cleanser has something for every skin type. It has oil-controlling and acne-fighting ingredients. It has non-comedogenic moisturizers to hydrate dry skin. Finally, it has anti-aging ingredients which benefit everyone.

Overview:

The ZELEN Life Cleanser contains all-natural organic ingredients, the most important of which are aloe, sunflower oil, and jojoba oil. This amazing combination of ingredients in this cleanser makes it beneficial for all skin types.

Aloe has been used since ancient times for its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties (1-4). These properties make it effective at treating acne as well as eczema. It is helpful at healing wounds and balancing the pH of the skin. Also, its anti-oxidant properties make it useful for preventing premature aging.

The sunflower seed oil has a multitude of benefits and can be used on even the most delicate skin of infants. Not only is it a good moisturizer to hydrate the skin, but it also has anti-inflammatory properties to soothe the skin (5-7). It also helps protect the skin with its antioxidant capabilities.

Jojoba oil is a non-comedogenic oil that interestingly helps control oil production (1, 8, 9). Because of this, it has been used to treat acne. It also is an anti-inflammatory, which has been used to help treat eczema. Its anti-oxidant properties help protect the skin from the harsh environment that causes premature aging.

It also contains other potent antioxidants, such as lavender oil, rose oil, coconut oil, and tocopherol (vitamin E), which will help protect our skin from sun damage that causes wrinkles and skin cancers (1, 10-15).

Lavender oil, rose geranium oil, and glycerin contain anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties which help with acne (1, 10-12, 15-18). Coconut oil and almond oil are also anti-inflammatory to help calm and soothe the skin (1, 13 14, 19, 20).

Finally, glycerin and almond oil help to hydrate the skin keeping it plump and smooth without clogging your pores (1, 19, 20).

The good:

  • Handmade organic formula
  • Chemical-free – No parabens, sulfates, silicones, mineral oil, petrolatum
  • No dyes or fragrances
  • Allergy-free (hypoallergenic)
  • Cruelty-free and vegan-friendly

Things to think about:

  • Essential oils – could be irritating to some
  • Natural fragrance – could be unappealing to some
  • Vitamin C – could be irritating to some

Bottom line:

No matter what skin type you have, you can benefit from using this cleanser. It a great choice for natural skincare enthusiasts who are looking for a gentle yet powerful plant-based formula.

2. ELEMIS Superfood Facial Wash

ELEMIS Superfood Facial Wash

Best features:

  • Potent antioxidants to protect and prevent aging
  • Lightening ingredients to brighten the skin
  • Preserve the integrity of the skin’s barrier
  • Pore cleansing ingredients

Best cleanser for:

This is a great face wash for normal to oily skin. It helps control oil which prevents acne breakouts. It is also packed with antioxidants and moisturizers to help protect and hydrate the skin.

Overview:

ELEMIS Superfood Facial Wash is packed with healthy nutrients for your skin. The most important ingredients are pumpkin seed oil, black seed oil, nettle extract, avocado oil, wheatgrass extract, broccoli seed oil, and kale extract.

Pumpkin seed oil is rich in antioxidants to help protect the skin from the harsh environment that can damage skin and lead to wrinkles (21, 22). It also has fatty acids, which help repair and rebuild the skin barrier to prevent dehydration of the skin and entrance of harmful microbes.

It is also an anti-inflammatory agent which calms and soothes the skin. It has been used to help grow hair, heal wounds and even treat enlarged prostates.

Black seed oil is also rich in antioxidants which protect the skin and omega 6 helps improve the skin’s barrier capabilities to prevent unwanted microbes from entering the body and water from leaving the skin (23-25). It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, which have made it useful in treating acne, eczema, psoriasis, and vitiligo.

Nettle extract is also an excellent anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial agent to treat acne (26, 27). It is also rich in antioxidants to protect the skin and prevent premature aging. Interestingly, it is also used in the treatment of enlarged prostates.

Avocado is another potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that has helped in wound healing (28, 29). It is also a great moisturizer to hydrate and smooth the skin.

Broccoli, kale, and wheatgrass are potent anti-oxidants with chemopreventative properties which help to prevent cancer (30-32).

Other important anti-oxidants are Salvia hispanica seed oil (chia), rosemary leaf oil, vitamins C and E, and carrot seed oil (1, 33, 34). Vitamin C also helps in collagen production, which treats wrinkles, and aids in lightening of the dark spots on the skin.

The combination of vitamin C and E is a powerhouse anti-oxidant formula because they work better together than separately.

This cleanser contains moisturizers, such as Salvia hispanica seed oil and glycerin, to hydrate the skin and antimicrobial, such as rosemary leaf extract, to help treat acne (1, 33, 34).

The good:

  • Illuminating and helps even skin tone
  • Anti-aging and anti-inflammatory
  • No parabens, sulfates, silicones
  • No alcohol

Things to think about:

  • Dryness and irritation – especially if you have dry or sensitive skin
  • Fragrance – could be unappealing to some

Bottom line:

This is a great face wash for normal to oily skin with the added benefits of antioxidants for anti-aging.

3. Mario Badescu Cucumber Cleansing Lotion

Best features:

  • Fresh, clean smell
  • Cooling sensation
  • Acne fighting ingredients
  • Anti-oxidants
  • Skin lightening ingredients
  • Exfoliating

Best cleanser for:

This is a great cleanser for normal to oily, acne-prone skin that can help brighten the skin, decrease swelling and inflammation, and protect the skin from UV damage from the sun.

Overview:

Mario Badescu Cucumber Cleansing Lotion is a powerhouse cucumber cleanser that not only cleans the skin but also protects, moisturizes, and soothes the skin.

Cucumbers have been used for thousands of years as a food and medicinal crop (1, 35-37). They work well at treating swollen puffy eyes or dark circles under the eyes because of their anti-inflammatory, diuretic, and cooling properties.

They can soothe inflamed skin. Cucumbers can help lighten the dark spots caused by sun damage. They also have antioxidant properties to protect the skin from premature aging.

This cleanser also contains moisturizers, such as propylene glycol and polysorbate 20; exfoliants, such as coumarin, to help get rid of dead skin cells that clog pores; and astringents, such as alcohol, to remove dirt and oil.

The good:

  • Brightening effect
  • Calms inflammation and helps sun-damaged areas
  • No parabens sulfates, silicones
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Cruelty-free

Things to think about:

  • Alcohol – could be drying and irritating, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin
  • Fragrance – could be unappealing to some people

Bottom line:

This is a great cleanser for normal to oily acne-prone skin that delivers an amazing cooling sensation.

4. Dermalogy by Neogen Lab Real Fresh Foam Cleanser

NEOGEN Dermalogy Real Fresh Foam Cleanser (Green Tea)

Best features:

  • Lightweight cleanser
  • Oil control and acne-fighting ingredients
  • Anti-oxidants and moisturizers

Best cleanser for:

This cleanser is for normal to oily skin types that are looking for a cleanser loaded with powerful antioxidant ingredients that can also moisturize and calm the skin.

Overview:

Neogen Dermalogy’s Real Fresh Foam Cleanser is loaded with natural and powerful ingredients. The main ingredients are green tea, Saponaria officialis leaf extract, glycerin Sapindus trifoliatus fruit extract, and olive oil.

Green tea leaf is a powerful antioxidant, which protects the skin from the environment including sun damage and pollution (1, 38-42). It is a potent anti-inflammatory, which can calm and soothe the skin. Also, green tea has been shown to help prevent skin cancer formation.

Saponaria officinalis leaf extract has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties to help soothe and protect the skin (43-45).

Sapindus trifoliatus fruit extract has been used to heal wounds because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties (1, 46). This makes it a good choice for treating acne.

Glycerin, which is manufactured from fats, is a great moisturizer and helps stabilize the skin barrier function (1). This keeps the skin from dehydrating. Hydrated skin appears less wrinkled and smoother.

Olive oil, which contains alpha-lipoic acid and squalene, is a potent antioxidant (1, 28). It also has oleic acid, which makes it a good non-comedogenic moisturizer.

This cleanser is packed with antioxidants to protect the skin, such as niacinamide, soybean seed extract, grape extract, ginseng, moringa, cucumber, and castor oil to just name a few (1, 28, 47-49).

It also has anti-microbial properties to help with acne, such as castor oil, Saponaria offiicinalis leaf extract, and Saururus chinensis leaf extract, in addition to others (1, 43-45, 50-54).

This cleanser also is loaded with anti-inflammatory ingredients to calm and soothe the skin such as cucumber, witch hazel, allantoin, ginseng, black current, aloe, coconut oil, and linseed oil, as well as others (1, 28, 47-49, 55-57). Witch hazel is also an excellent astringent to remove dirt and oil.

There is no shortage of moisturizers in this cleanser, like glycerin, olive oil, coconut oil, sodium hyaluronate, aloe, and others (1, 28).

The good:

  • Powerful formula – foaming action
  • Green tea is a potent antioxidant with numerous skin benefits
  • No parabens, sulfates, silicones, alcohol
  • Hypoallergenic

Things to think about:

  • Foaming – could irritate or dehydrate skin especially people with dry or sensitive skin
  • Fragrance – could be unappealing to some people
  • Contains 99 ingredients – some are known irritants, so make sure you read all of them

Bottom line:

This cleanser is packed full of antioxidants for anti-aging, moisturizers for hydration, and acne-fighting ingredients to deliver more than just a clean face.


How we chose these products

These morning face washes and cleansers were chosen for various reasons. These are all trusted brands that deliver high-quality products by using evidence-based ingredients.

Extensive research is conducted on these ingredients and products to ensure they are top quality. Also, there are numerous good reviews on all these products.

In this group of cleansers, you can find something for every budget. They range from expensive to reasonably priced. You don’t always have to spend a lot of money to get a good product if you know what ingredients to look for.

They are all free of harsh chemicals like parabens, silicones, and sulfates. So, there is less chance of adverse reactions from using these products, such as clogging pores and worsening acne.

These cleansers all contain quality ingredients and you can find one for every skin type. Not only do they cleanse the skin, but some target oily skin to prevent acne. They all contain antioxidants to help protect the skin and prevent premature anti-aging.

Also, they have anti-inflammatory properties to help with acne and soothe sensitive skin. Finally, some have moisturizers to help hydrate the skin.

Frequently asked questions

frequently asked questions

How do I wash my face properly?

Not only is the frequency of washing essential to skin health but also the technique of washing your face. You should wash your face twice a day, morning and evening. Make sure you use lukewarm water, not hot water as that could irritate the skin.

Massage the cleanser or face wash gently into your face with clean fingers. Rinse with lukewarm water. Then pat dry with a clean towel. Do not rub or scrub as that can irritate or harm the skin.

If I have dry skin, do I need to wash my face twice a day?

Every skin type needs to wash their face twice a day with the correct products. If you have dry skin, choose a face wash that is creamy and moisturizing.

If you have sensitive skin, select one with anti-inflammatory ingredients. If you have oily skin, you can use a gel or lightweight lotion with astringents. Then apply a moisturizer.

If my skin is oily should I use a scrub brush?

No matter what skin type you have, if you scrub your skin too hard, you can cause damage. This is especially true if you have dry or sensitive skin.

All you need is to use clean fingers to massage the face wash into your skin. Scrubbing can not only damage the skin, but it can also cause an increase in oil production.

If I have oily skin, should I use bar soap?

Bar soap has high pH, meaning it is alkaline. Since the skin is slightly acidic, you want to select a slightly acidic product.

High pH products can disrupt the skin’s barrier, which can lead to the entrance of harmful microbes and dehydration of the skin.

Conclusion

Cleansing your face is a critical step in your skincare routine. It not only removes dirt, oil, makeup, and toxins that accumulate on the skin but also prepares the skin for the next products you apply.

You want a clean and healthy palette before you apply your serums and moisturizers so that they absorb well. Make sure you select the right ingredients for your skin type and for what you want to accomplish.

So, always read product labels. Also, make sure you wash twice a day to keep your skin healthy and radiant.

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About The Author

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Board-Certified Dermatologist

BS-MD (University of Miami)

United States

Dr. Trent completed a 6 year combined BS-MD at the University of Miami with an undergraduate major in biology and a minor in chemistry. She completed her internship in Internal Medicine and her residency in Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital. Dr. Trent is a world recognized dermatologist, who has published over 40 articles in peer-reviewed journals. She also co-authored a textbook on dermatologic diseases and therapy, which was published by McGraw-Hill Co, Inc. She has had the opportunity to present her clinical research several times at national medical meetings. Dr. Trent has been the recipient of several awards for research, teaching and clinical practice, including the prestigious Young Investigators award for research from the American Academy of Dermatology as well as the coveted Castle Connelly Top Doctor award.

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