Here’s some good news—and bad news—about face wash. The good first: Washing your face really is as important as you think it is. “We should definitely wash our skin morning and evening,” says Emer Gillen, ELEMIS Skincare Expert. “Cleanse in the morning to remove what the skin has expelled to the surface during the night and cleanse in the evening to remove what the skin has been exposed to during the day, makeup and SPF included.”
On to the not-so-great news: It’s shockingly easy to over-cleanse. “The surface environment of the skin (microflora/microbiome/acid mantle) is essential not just to the function of the skin, but to its integral health,” says Gillen, who describes the protective barrier as mainly “sebum, pH, bacteria, and water” working together. “Without its barrier shield, intruders in the form of germs and bacteria are more likely to get in,” she explains. “That is why when we clean our skin, we want to remove dirt, impurities, makeup, and SPF. However, we do not want to strip away the surface environment, we want to bring balance to it.”
Though it sounds tricky, there are face washes out there that walk this careful tightrope. Below, 13 powerful products that’ll cleanse and balance every skin type.
Benzoyl peroxide isn’t just for teens. CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser pairs the acne fighter with moisture-locking ceramides to cleanse without overdrying.
If you’re a one-and-done kind of cleanser, this is the face wash for you. It gently foams to remove all signs of makeup, so you can move right on to skincare and forget about double cleansing.
HoliFrog‘s expertly crafted face wash—balanced at 5 pH—is ideal for a sensitive or out-of-whack skin barrier. 14 amino acids and a boatload of vitamins will encourage skin to once again relax.
It’s hard to find a foaming cleanser that won’t irritate dry and sensitive skin, but Aveeno’s team of experts nailed this fragrance-free formula.
Salicylic acid, known for its ability to balance oil-prone skin, acts as an exfoliator for Dermalogica’s luxe face wash. Meanwhile, lactic acid and tea tree oil will keep skin glowing long after.
According to the 5,000 perfect reviews at Sephora, this soy-protein-based cleanser is well worth the buy. Better yet? It’s gentle enough to wash off mascara, too.
Consider this luxe cleanser as a face wash and an exfoliator. It’s gentle enough for everyday use, but is enriched with beta-hydroxy acids and apricot seed powder.
Like a serum masquerading as a face wash, the algae extract inside OSEA’s Ocean Cleanser protects the collagen your skin naturally produces.
A vegan, crulety-free squalane cleanser for under $10? Thanks to The Ordinary, anything is possible.
This gentle gel cleanser is perfect for acne-prone but reactive skin, thanks to the pore-refining salicylic acid.
We turn to this rich, milky cleanser time and time again because it just works—removing all traces of eye makeup and gunk in seconds.
This best-selling cleanser at Sephora gets props for the natural, soothing formula and gorgeous glass bottle.
More reactive complexions will love the creaminess of the low-lather Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser with Shea Butter.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.