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Best face wash 2023: Remove every trace of makeup and dirt with our favourite washes

Looking for the best face wash? Our top picks will have your face feeling fresh in no time

When it comes to washing your face, it isn’t quite as simple as picking up a bar of soap and giving it a quick lather, particularly if you have certain skin issues. However, finding the best face wash will help you to tackle any problem areas you might have. There are different types and formulations to consider, as well as ingredients that can benefit your skin as you wash your face each day.

We’ve worked our way through a variety of different face washes in a bid to discover which work best at thoroughly cleansing the skin, regardless of your skin type or budget. Read on and you’ll find some key information on how to choose the best face wash, as well as reviews on our top picks.

Best face wash: At a glance

How to choose the best face wash for you

How often should I be washing my face?

There are conflicting recommendations when it comes to how often you should wash your face each day. The most common recommendation, which has been around for decades, advises washing your face in the morning when you wake up and then before bed. That way you can start and end the day with a clean face.

However, new schools of thought suggest you should wash your face only once a day, ideally before bed. This will allow you to remove any makeup or SPF you’ve applied, as well as any impurities that have built up during the day. Washing your face once a day could be particularly beneficial to those with dry or sensitive skin, as it saves the skin from being stripped of its natural oils twice in one day, when it may not be necessary.

Ultimately, though, it’s up to you to decide how often you think your face needs to be washed based on the type of skin you have.

What can a face wash remove?

Face washes are designed to remove dirt and impurities from the skin, as well as anything that you’ve applied to it during the day. You might also want to have a different type of face wash depending on whether you’re removing a full face of makeup or are simply cleansing bare skin.

What different types of face washes are there?

There really are endless options available to you when it comes to buying a face wash, and it will be a personal preference based on your individual needs.

Micellar waters are a good option for those who are looking to quickly cleanse bare skin. We wouldn’t recommend these as an option for anyone looking to remove a substantial amount of makeup or facial SPF.

Cleansing oils are great for removing heavy eye makeup, with the oil quickly breaking down waterproof mascaras and eyeliners.

Gel cleansers are a nice middle ground between micellar and oil, and tend to work well on most skin types to remove makeup and dirt.

Cleansing lotions and balms are more suited to those with dry or sensitive skin because of their hydrating formulas.

Foaming cleansers, which in the past have caused a bit of controversy for needlessly stripping the skin, now have much kinder and hydrating formulations and are ideal for a light cleanse.

READ NEXT: Our favourite cleansing balms

How much does my skin type matter?

When it comes to buying skincare, knowing your skin type is particularly important, as it will help you to choose products specific to your skin issues. In some cases, it can be easy to ascertain your skin type. For example, if you experience a lot of oiliness on your skin, you most likely have an oily skin type.

The same can be said for those whose skin feels tight or dry. This usually means you have dry skin, though it can also be dehydrated. If your skin ever reacts by going red, blotchy or itchy when applying skincare products, this could be a strong indicator that you have sensitive skin. If you have or see no visible issues with your skin, such as those mentioned, you may be in the lucky position of having a “normal” skin type.

Most face washes will highlight a specific skin type or types that it works best for, making it easy to choose the right one for your skin.

What ingredients should I look out for?

There are certain skincare ingredients that are advantageous to everyone, regardless of skin type. These would be ones such as hyaluronic acid, which help the skin to retain water.

Oily skin benefits from ingredients such as salicylic acid and vitamin C, to help control excess oil production and reduce blemishes. Dry and sensitive skin, meanwhile, will benefit from hydrating ingredients such as ceramides and squalane.

How much should I spend?

As you’ll see from our list below, you don’t need to spend a great deal for impressive results. The best face washes start from around the £5 mark but go up to as much as £75, depending on the brand.

If you’re on a budget, you don’t need to spend any more than £20 to £30 for a great face wash. As it’s a product that you’ll be using every day and possibly even twice a day, this price point ensures you’re getting the best value for money.

How we test face washes

At Expert Reviews, we know that hands-on testing delivers the most complete information about a product. As such, we test all the face washes we review.

We start by cleansing the face with each product in the morning to remove any impurities that might have accumulated overnight, and in the evening, too, to remove any residual makeup and SPF that was applied to the skin in the daytime. Each face wash is tested for a total of seven consecutive days to determine whether they cause any irritation or breakouts. Finally, we confirm whether or not the face washes are vegan and/or cruelty free.

READ NEXT: Best SPF moisturisers

The best face wash you can buy in 2023

1. CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin: The best all-round face wash

Price: £10 | Buy now from Boots

This hydrating cleanser from CeraVe is the cleanser we’d recommend to the majority of people as an excellent all-round wash. All of CeraVe’s face washes are impressive, but this one works for most skin types.

Fragrance-free and gentle, this non-foaming gel is designed for normal to dry skin, removing dirt, oil and makeup in seconds. With a formula that contains both hyaluronic acid and three different types of ceramides to cleanse while still maintaining the skin’s natural barrier, this is great if you struggle with really dry skin or have more of a normal skin type that could benefit from some extra moisture.

Key details – Size: 236ml; Best for: Normal to dry skin; Vegan: No; Cruelty-free: No

Buy now from Boots

2. The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser: The best budget face wash

Price: From £5.50 | Buy now from Boots

At just over £5, this face wash can’t be beaten when it comes to price and quality. You may assume that a budget face wash won’t be too spectacular but this is arguably one of the best on the market at any price point. This gentle cleanser starts off as a balm consistency, which soon melts into an oil-like, luxurious formulation when you warm it between your hands.

With hydrating ingredients such as squalane, which is beneficial for most skin types, this is a great place to start if you’re just beginning to dabble in skincare or a multi-step skincare routine. We also love the fact that it’s available in a supersized 150ml version, perfect for those of us who don’t like to run out of our favourite products.

Key details – Size: 50ml; Best for: Normal to dry skin; Vegan: Yes; Cruelty-free: Yes

Buy now from Amazon

3. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser: The best face wash for dry skin

Price: £18 | Buy now from Kiehl’s

For those with dry, very dry or dehydrated skin, this option from Kiehl’s is our top pick. Beginning as a liquid, it soon lathers to a light foam – though this isn’t the type of foaming cleanser that will make dry skin drier. Its formulation includes ingredients designed for those with dry or sensitive skin such as squalane, vitamin E and avocado oil.

A little goes a long way with this face wash, as you only need around a small pea-sized amount to leave your face feeling clean and refreshed.

Key details – Size: 150ml; Best for: Dry and dehydrated skin; Vegan: No; Cruelty-free: Yes

Buy now from Kiehl’s

4. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Cleansing Gel: The best face wash for oily skin

Price: £13 | Buy now from Look Fantastic

La Roche-Posay is well known for its excellent skincare ranges, with face washes and cleansers available for every single skin type. But when it comes to catering for those with oily or blemish prone skin, its Effaclar Purifying Cleansing Gel is easily our favourite.

The unscented gel formula helps to reduce blemishes and blackheads while simultaneously minimising shine and oiliness, all without drying out the skin. It can also be used as a body wash, which is a nice added benefit. For those who struggle with back or body acne, it’s particularly beneficial.

Key details – Size: 200ml; Best for: Oily and blemish-prone skin; Vegan: No; Cruelty-free: No

Buy now from Look Fantastic

5. Fresh Soy Face Cleanser: The best face wash for sensitive skin

Price: From £13 | Buy now from Cult Beauty

If you have sensitive skin that can become red or blotchy when using certain skincare products, Fresh’s Soy Face Cleanser might be your new favourite. Unlike some cleaners, it doesn’t sting, irritate or leave the skin feeling tight. What’s more, if your previous face washes have ever caused your eyes to water or redden, this cleanser has been ophthalmologist-tested and is even safe for contact lens wearers to use.

The cooling gel formula feels incredibly gentle on the skin. And, as the name suggests, it includes calming ingredients such as soy proteins, rosewater and cucumber extract. It does have a slight fragrance to it, which is worth bearing in mind if you prefer fragrance-free products. But we personally adore the clean, light cucumber scent.

Key details – Size: 200ml; Best for: Sensitive or irritated skin; Vegan: No; Cruelty-free: No

Buy now from Cult Beauty

6. Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser: The best face wash for all skin types

Price: £15 | Buy now from Glossier

When it comes to face washes that work for pretty much every skin type, we can’t recommend Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser enough. It uses the same, mild cleansing agent found in contact lens solution, making it a great pick for those whose eyes can sometimes get irritated when removing eye makeup.

This melts away dark eye and lip products with ease and leaves skin feeling super soft and supple. A refreshing and nourishing option, Milky Jelly Cleanser is also vegan friendly and cruelty-free.

Key details – Size: 177ml; Best for: Normal to oily skin; Vegan: Yes; Cruelty-free: Yes

Buy now from Glossier

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