Thursday, May 24th, 2012

The Hit List

What’s the Best Drugstore Facial Cleanser…?

What brand/products win this category? What makes it so great?

Thanks to Samantha for today’s topic!

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95 thoughts on “Hit List: Best Drugstore Facial Cleanser

  1. GUSnail

    Purpose Gentle Fase Wash! It’s inexpensive, mild, soap free and doesn’t dry my skin.

    • phattttkatttt

       I concur.  It’s nothing fancy but does the job very well.  I’ve found it to be the best drugstore cleanser.

  2. divinem1

    Olay facial cleansing cloths for sensitive skin. These aren’t the quickie wet cloths that act as a short cut for removing makeup. They look like cheese cloth. You wet one, rub the sides together until it starts to lather and begin washing your face as you would with a wash cloth. Nothing irritating in it, it has a nice lather, the cloth acts as an exfoliator and it never leaves the skin dry. $7.99 for a 30 day supply.  

    • R

       @divinem1 I’m sad I passed these up at Big Lots! They had them for about half that if anyone wants to drop by their local BL to look for them. I might go back!
        I love Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Wash because my skin hates anything more intense than that.

      • divinem1

        Oh, my! Was it recently? I wonder if mine would have them? I’ve been using them for at least 10 years. THE only facial cleanser that doesn’t cause breakouts or bumps on my super sensitive skin. I’ll give BL a look-see. Thanks!

  3. Tea

    Can’t wait for the comments, I would like to find one.

  4. moena

    Alpha Hydrox Foaming Facial Cleanser, soap-free, ph-balanced, gentle!

  5. Cali_Cat_

    I actually really like the maybeliine 24/7 superstay concealer! It works really nicely on my pimples, because most of them just rub off completely when I try to blend, but not this one, the coverage stays.

  6. Cali_Cat_

    Cetaphil when my skin is being sensitive! For something with more benefits, I really like the Aveeno clearing cleanser pads. I used them a long time ago and it really kept my breakouts at bay. 

  7. Marian57

    My favorite is Alpha Hydrox foaming face wash. It’s unscented, mild on my skin but does the job and gets everything nice and clean.

  8. Chelsea

    CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser!  Great for my hyper-sensitive, reactive, dry skin that still is prone to breakouts.

  9. iamthewalrus451

    I’ve just started using it, but Simple Refreshing Facial Wash Gel has been the best thing that’s happened to my sensitive skin. Simple is pretty new in the US from my understanding, but I’m glad I found it!

  10. LV

    st ives green tea cleanser. feels very light, has salicylic acid but is soft enough on sensitive skin, smells great, yum yum!

  11. xamyx

    Purpose Gentle Face Wash is really good for removing *all* traces of makeup, and I even use it in the eye area to remove any leftover mascara. I follow up with Desert Essence Thoroughly Clean Face Wash (with my Sephora facial brush). My skin has never looked better.

  12. Yumi

    I love Marcelle’s cleansers!


    CETAPHIL hands down! Twice a day everyday. Sometimes i throw in some st ive’s apricot scrub once a week when i need to exfoliate.


    someone also referred me to’s daily step-by-step regimen which is a great way to curb acne prone skin daily using cetaphil and BP

  15. Jenny

    Best – cerave foaming cleanser!

  16. elewis429

    I don’t know if it’s the BEST one, since I haven’t tried them all, but the Neutrogena Naturals make up removing cleanser really does get off all makeup besides really stubborn eyeliner or mascara, and it does so gently. I really like it. I also love Cetaphil for when I cleanse in the morning since I’m not taking off any makeup then.

  17. Courtney

    Any suggestions for 30 something acne prone skin? I use Dr. Brandt Pores no More and Clarins right now (brandt at night, clarins in the a.m,). I’m trying Noxema right now after not using it since I was maybe 13 because I read it helps but I’m skeptical. Cetaphil and Purpose work okay for me but aren’t strong enough to help curb my acne. Suggestions?

    • you actually don’t want a strong soap for acne prone skin- drying it out will disrupt your protective barrier and that’ll make it worse. You want a gentle cleanser and something to curb the acne-causing bacteria. Salicylic Acid is a good ingredient to look for, you can find it in plenty of cleansers (I’ve seen drug store options from Burts Bees, Neutrogena & Olay) but if you’re very acne prone, you’ll probably want to look for a leave-on treatment with it as well :)

    • Lu-Lu B

      Courtney: As soon as I turned 30, my face broke out really bad and I’ve been trying to control it ever since. It’s taken me 7 yrs, but I finally found a regime that works for me: J&J Purpose cleanser, Peter Thomas Roth Anti-aging Beads (not a drugstore brand) and Clindagel(prescribed by my regular doctor). Purpose is gentle on my skin and the beads help with my acne and Clindagel is awesome at keeping me from breaking out. (Skin type: sensitive, dry, acne prone, eczema)

  18. Mariella

    Dove bar soap – the one for sensitive or dry skin (I can’t recall now).  Used it on and off for years and still do from time to time.

  19. Cetaphil . . . Have been using it for a while and luv it . . .

  20. Lauren13

    I use the Neutrogena Grapefruit Oil Free Acne Cream Cleanser at night and the Neutrogena Grapefruit Acne Scrub in the morning.  Thanks to these products, my skin is looking great.  I use Neutrogena Oil Free Makeup Remover wipes to remove my makeup before washing my face at night.

    • SmithAaronA

       @Lauren13 Does the cream cleanser break you out? The word ‘cream’ always makes me nervous! lol

      • Lauren13

         Not at all.  I have used Neutrogena’s oil free cream cleansers (various forms) for about 15 years and I’ve never had any break-outs.  In fact, I have considerably better, clearer skin when I use the cream cleanser versus the gel.  My skin is very oily and very sensitive to oils.  The only negative with the neutrogena line (oil free) is that it doesn’t remove makeup well.  I have to use oil free makeup remover wipes before washing my face at night.

  21. madeange

    My fellow Temptalia followers with overly oily skin like me, should definitely try Neutrogena Rapid Clear Oil-Control Foaming Cleanser. Stuff is awesooome! Leaves my skin feeling nice and clean and matte. Some people that are not overly oily complain it dries them out, but those of us with an oil factory on our visages should definitely try it. I have sensitive, overly oily skin and it has never caused sensitivity issues. Only downer is that it is HARD to find it! Most drug stores carry the scrub version, but the foaming cleanser can usually only be found at select Walgreens/Walmart or online. Definitely worth the hunt tho!

  22. Stephanie

    It’s the neutrogena pink grapefruit gel cleanser! :-)

  23. NeenaJ

    I’ve used Cetaphil for years with excellent results.  But, I recently switched over to Cerave’s Hydrating Cleanser because my skin has been drier than usual and I really like it.  Very gentle and removes all traces of makeup & sunscreen.
    A couple of times a week, I switch to a mild glycolic acid cleanser after the Cerave to exfoliate (not exactly drugstore, but it’s Glyderm Gentle Cleanser if anyone’s interested.
    If it helps, I’m a DSPW according to Dr. Baumann’s book (Dry, Sensitive, Pigmented & [prone to] Wrinkle).

    • I’ve been curious about CeraVe’s cleanser- if this were a post on best drugstore skin care, I’d definitely mention their moisturizers. I’d heard they weren’t great at removing makeup (an issue I see with pretty much all non-foaming cleansers) but this gives me a little bit more confidence to try it!

  24. Greenbergl

    Cetaphil is my personal favorite.

  25. Liz

    I don’t really use drugstore cleanser.  However, if I were in a pinch, I would pick up a bar of Dove Sensitve Skin.  I think it’s technically a body soap.  However, I’ve used it in the past with little problem.  

  26. Abra

    Cerave Foaming Cleanser… It’s not the best at removing makeup but it is just amazing for my annoying combo-dry skin.

  27. angela sutherland

    Purpose by Johnson & Johnson! My term recommended it cuz i have roseaca and mild acne. It is  WONDERFUL!!!

  28. I love Clean&Clears Morning Burst cleanser in both regular and detoxifying. 

  29. Neutrogena Deep Clean face wash! liquid or cream form, they’re both great!

  30. Veronica

    I haven’t tried enough to label one the “best,” but I’ve been using a combination of Neutrogena One-Step Gentle Cleanser with Clean & Clear’s Deep Scrub Exfoliating wash.  It’s working quite well for my skin.

  31. Safyre

    I love Garnier’s 3-way cleanser (I’m not sure if that’s the right name, but the one that can also be used as a scrub or mask) – it feels nice, almost pillowy – not much of a scrub for me. It cleanses well and it also smells nice. :) It reminds me of the way pricier cleansers feel. 😛

  32. beachgal

    I don’t use any drugstore cleansers so don’t know. But if I was in a pinch away on medical travel having forgotten my cleanser, I would probably try Cetaphil as I have heard good things about it and probably could finish it up putting it in my shower when I got home.

  33. MSPMSP

    Hey ladies, any thoughts on PROACTIVE? The one “endoresed” by Katie Perry, JBiebs, etc? I’m 25 and am still prone to acne, i’ve been seeing a lot of advertisements for PROACTIVE but am still a little hesitant to tey it out. It comes with a cleanser, toner and moisturizer in one purchase, that’s why i’m still hesitant to try it out (too much commitment fr a frist try right, because they don’t sell cleanser alone, it has to be a package purchase). They guarantee clear and smooth skin in 2-4weeks, if not, they’re willing to give oru money back. Geez, that’s a mouth full. I really ya’ll could help me decide in this. Thanks ladies!

    • dsunny21

       @MSPMSP qvc offers it in separate pieces and is often on easy pay

    • kfuhrmeis

       @MSPMSP I would try out a kit from the drugstore like AcneFree that had similar ingredients to see how your skin reacts to the benzoyl peroxide. It made my skin dry out horribly, but if you have very oily skin, it may be a good choice.

    • Ms Fussy Britches

       @MSPMSP Not a huge fan.  It actually made my skin worse for the duration of the kit.  But I know people who use it.

    • SmithAaronA

       @MSPMSP Just dried my skin out horribly!

    • Jessica

      i used it for years, just stopped a few months ago. it worked really well and only stopped because i didn’t want to keep paying so much and because i’m moving to only using cruelty free products. but it worked for me.

    • Courtney

       @MSPMSP I tried it about 5 years ago but it made my skin raw. The cleanser was really gritty and too harsh for my skin. It may have changed since then though.

    • Amanda

       @MSPMSP I’ve heard (from a friend who used to work in skincare)  that it will actually make your skin sensitive.

    • nicoleg

       @MSPMSP I would highly recommend reading product reviews and skin care advice at  Paula Begoun has done a lot of research and is very knowledgeable about skin care ingredients that will help your skin.  Read her articles on acne prone skin.  I finally achieved clear, bright skin at age 33 using Paula’s Choice products, which I highly recommend over Proactiv (which I tried in the past with moderate but not great results), but she gives reviews of great products by other brands, as well.  (I was skeptical of Paula’s Choice products at first because she always gives them her top rating, but I finally tried them out and they have really helped my skin.)

    • Jilliterate

       @MSPMSP It didn’t do anything good for me.  :(

  34. kfuhrmeis

    I’ve really been liking Aveeno’s Clear Complexion Cream Cleanser lately.

  35. EnchantedDaisy

    Hands down for my dry skin both CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser and good ol’ Noxema in a tub.

  36. KarlaW07

    I use St. Ive’s Apricot scrub every two days, and use the Nutrogena makeup remover wipe at night and then rise with water and washcloth.  I’ve tried the L’oreal go 360 clean creamy cleanser with the little scrubber, and I broke out pretty badly.  Proactive dried my skin out and caused me to have the big cystic acne.  I follow a gentle routine, and have no problems or break outs.   

    • artemis

       @KarlaW07 that’s the best way, i agree :) most acne targeted drugstore products have such harsh ingredients…especially cleansers. also, have you heard of the new garnier ‘bb cream'(i could think of a mean way to say what the bb means to me in this case but whatever). it has a ton of alcohol it it :/ and it dares to claim it’s for sensitive skin too.

  37. Katt

    Cetaphil and Noxema are my faves. I use Noxema in my oily T-zone and cetaphil for the rest of my face.

  38. TeresaWest

    CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser is great for oily skin.  It’s on the pricey end of the drugstore brands but it works better for me than Philosophy and I can use my CVS extrabucks!

  39. Jackie O

    Oil of Olay Foaming Face Wash.  Love it and have been using it for 25 years. Wish it came in much bigger bottles though.  I would buy it a litre or more at a time LOL!

  40. by

    I actually really liked olay pore minimizing cleanser/scrub. Phisoderm was good for me as well. 

  41. shanghaix1943

    I love SpectroJel/SpectroDerm for general cleansing and Formula 10.0.6. Best Face Forward foaming cleanser/Aveeno Positively Radiant cleanser for getting off makeup at night!

  42. blauriche

    I like some cleansers from Alba or Avalon Organics, but I usually use my Paula’s Choice products.

  43. Samantha

    the one that got rid of my acne is the neutrogena oil free acne wash (the original orange kind). love that stuff <33

  44. aditi

    aveeno smart essentials pore purifying wash & yes to tomatoes acne wash

  45. Rachel

    Cetaphil gentle skin cleanser is fantastic for my skin right now. I also use Dove soap with the recommendation of my dermatologist. 

    • artemis

      dove isn’t good for the skin(especially acne prone one…maybe your isn’t) because it dries it out like any other soap and plus, it leaves residue on the skin.

  46. Rachel Saphirer Hoffman

    st ives green tea has been one for me. it was great for my sensitive skin

  47. Kimberly Sharelle Fabian-Smith

    St ives green tea scrub and sea breeze naturals which I can hardly find online

  48. Natalia Prickett

    St. Ives Apricot Scrub. After using it now breaking out is rare and I also use cetaphil. It’s a miracle combination for me. But I’ve got pretty good skin so I can’t really say if it would work well for anyone else.

  49. Natalia Prickett

    St. Ives Apricot Scrub. After using it now breaking out is rare and I also use cetaphil. It’s a miracle combination for me. But I’ve got pretty good skin so I can’t really say if it would work well for anyone else.

  50. Ava Isais

    Burt’s bees deep cleansing cream and I agree w apricot scrub for exfoliator.

  51. Ava Isais

    Burt’s bees deep cleansing cream and I agree w apricot scrub for exfoliator.

  52. Sarah Crandall

    The Neutrogena Naturals Face Cleanser and Make Up Remover. Takes one pump to remove make up and clean my face, nice smell, not harsh, doesn’t strip my skin excessively, and hasn’t caused irritation or a breakout. I’m hooked.

  53. Sarah Crandall

    The Neutrogena Naturals Face Cleanser and Make Up Remover. Takes one pump to remove make up and clean my face, nice smell, not harsh, doesn’t strip my skin excessively, and hasn’t caused irritation or a breakout. I’m hooked.

  54. Jennifer McQ

    St ives Apricot Scrub and Pond’s cold cream. I’ve been using apricot scrub since I was 14. Cleared my skin right up. Pond’s cold cream will remove ANY makeup (including waterproof) and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

  55. Jennifer McQ

    St ives Apricot Scrub and Pond’s cold cream. I’ve been using apricot scrub since I was 14. Cleared my skin right up. Pond’s cold cream will remove ANY makeup (including waterproof) and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

  56. Nancy Yanez

    neutogena foaming face wash

  57. Nancy Yanez

    neutogena foaming face wash

  58. blueraccoon

    The dermatologist I just saw today (first time visit) recommended CeraVe, Cetaphil, or Aveeno, and since he had the CeraVe there, I bought it :) Haven’t washed my face yet but I’m hopeful I’ll like it! 

    • EnchantedDaisy

       @blueraccoon I just started using CeraVe recently and I love it. It is so gentle but removes all my makeup and feels very hydrating. My face truly feels pampered and clean. No wonder it has won so many awards. I will be a lifetime user! Hard to believe it is a “drugstore” brand.

  59. Diane

    Clean and Clear Facial Cleanser for Sensitive Skin, the clear one that comes in a pump bottle… cheap but seriously the best stuff ever. Cleans my face thoroughly and leaves it feeling truly clean, but at the same time is not drying or irritating at all. Great for the nights where your face feels a little more grimy and you want to get it clean again. I’ve tried so many face washes, from Neutrogena to Aveeno to Cetaphil. There are a lot of great cleansers out there, but no matter what I keep on coming back to this! A true gem.

  60. We have Spectro Jel in Canada that is similar to Cetaphil. But the have a larger line to treat different skin issue. I always go back to it and it treats my skin right.

  61. Joni

    Not technically drugstore, but similarly cheap.  Water.  In the summer I might be able to use a cleanser once every week or two, in the winter it might be once every couple months.  I can’t understand people who cleanse every day or twice a day.  Even Cetaphil dried my skin out like crazy.  I just rinse with water and my skin still needs to be moisturized every few hours.

  62. realsarah

    Purpose! Or, even better, and cheaper, the CVS generic for it. It’s just as good!

  63. JoannaS

    Neutrogena Naturals Fresh Cleansing + Makeup Remover is the best I’ve found at removing eye makeup – even waterproof eye liner and mascara!

  64. cc60720a23

    I use two different ones. Clean & clear continuous control acne cleanser has 10% benzyl peroxide really work for breakouts. It also makes you face cool I guest that’s mint inside the cleanser. However it doesn’t wash away all the oil on my face, so I use L’oreal for sensitive  skin at night which also wash away makeup (except eye liner and mascara……you don’t want to use facial cleanser to wash the two) and Clean & clear in the morning. 

  65. Wendy Ervin

    Johnson & Johnson Purpose.

    • Lu-Lu B

      Love this stuff… I have eczema and this is one of the few cleansers that won’t make it flare up; super gentle.

  66. i find cetaphil to be the best that i’ve used

  67. Melody

    I’ve been using both the Neutrogena grapefruit cleansing cream and the Burt’s Bees soap bark and chamomile cream cleanser.  I prefer cream formulas because my acne products tend to dry my skin so I don’t want to use a foamy cleanser.  I’m getting iffy on the Neutrogena cleanser because I don’t think it’s all that good for my skin, but it has AHA and BHA (I think, the label is confusing) so it does help control my breakouts. 

  68. Nikki

    Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

  69. KapuccaJ

    My dermatologist recommends Cerave.

  70. diamond_8806

    Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser