Better Goods Skincare

The Best Natural Face Washes (Based on Ingredients)

Better Goods

Apr 2, 2021

When you were a kid, you might have been told to wash your face with soap and water, but that's actually not such great advice. It's far better to use a specially-formulated face wash to get the job done.

Regular soaps—whether they're bar or liquid—strip away oils from the skin, drying it out and doing more harm than good. With industrial surfactants, synthetic fragrances, harsh sulphates and more, plain soap can also damage skin microflora, impairing the skin's function.

Dry skin stripped of its natural oils is not only less healthy, but also looks worse.

Even those with the oiliest of skin shouldn't be using plain soap—stripping away the oils can stimulate the skin to produce even more oil, making the problem worse.

Not All Cleansers Are Good For Your Skin

Just because a product is labeled as a face cleanser doesn't mean it's any better than a regular soap. Like every other type of personal care product, cleansers can also have iffy ingredients.

From skin-drying alcohols and sulfates to parabens, there can be ingredients in face washes you'll want nowhere near your face.

We looked at 20+ of the most popular clean and natural face cleansers on the market

Common Ingredients of Note in Face Cleansers

Cocamidopropyl Betaine (CAPB) - This functions as both a cleanser and foaming agent. It's an organic compound derived from coconut oil, and is found in several of the natural cleansers we looked at.

CAPB is known to cause skin irritation in some users. In fact, CAPB was named The American Contact Dermatitis Society’s “Allergen of the Year” in 2004. (source),

It's not the ingredient itself that causes contact dermatitis, but the residues of other chemicals used in its production. While pure CAPB should not have the risk of causing irritation or dermatitis, it's impossible to know whether a product is using pure CAPB or not.

While we don't give a product a negative rating based on including this ingredient, we highlight all products that do so you can make a decision accordingly.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) - None of the natural face washes we looked at contained SLS, but it's a common ingredient in many cleaners you'll find at the drugstore. Its purpose is to give the foamy consistency we typically associate with cleaning. In skincare, SLS can cause skin and eye irritation, dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis, as well as increase transepidermal water loss—drying out the skin. (source)

Drying alcohols - These include ethanol, denatured alcohol, ethyl alcohol, methanol, isopropyl alcohol, SD alcohol, and benzyl alcohol (when used as a main ingredient). These alcohols will dry out the skin, causing more harm than good. This doesn't apply to fatty alcohols you'll find in some of the cleaners we looked at, including cetearyl alcohol.

Our Methodology

We looked at social media, popular online shops like Credo, Sephora, and iHerb, and reviews across the internet to find 21 of the most popular face cleansers.

We reviewed 20+ of the most popular clean and natural cleansers available. They're rated on this scale:

Best ???? – These products are the best of the best. They contain all-clean ingredients, are non-toxic and are often the best choice for our environment.

Good – These products are typically quite good, but don’t go above and beyond like our best choices.

Iffy – These products are typically okay, but have some issues that make us unable to give them a “Good” rating. Often times they contain ingredients that are questionable.

Bad – These products typically have toxic ingredients or issues that make them dangerous or unsuitable to use. These products should typically be avoided.

The Best Natural Face Washes

These natural face cleansers are the best ones we looked at. Any of these are a great choice for anyone looking for a natural, safe, and reliable face wash.

Indie Lee

Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser
Rating: Best 🌟
Price: $34 ($8.1 per oz)

It’s possible to have a face wash with the simplest of ingredients. Rich in antioxidants and plant extracts, Indie Lee’s Brightening Cleanser can also work as a makeup remover and face mask. The natural formula won’t strip the skin of natural oils, nor will it dry the face. There’s even a fruity, strawberry scent due to the inclusion of strawberry seed oil. When you’re done with this product, the bottle is fully recyclable as well.

For those who may have certain skin allergies, be aware that this product contains ethylhexylglycerin. Make sure to take extra care when applying products with this ingredient around the face, as it can be a mild skin and eye irritant.

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Decyl Glucoside,
  • Disodium Coco-Glucoside Citrate,
  • Coco-Glucoside,
  • Glyceryl Oleate,
  • Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein,
  • Xanthan Gum,
  • Strawberry Seed Oil (Fragaria Chiloensis Seed Oil),
  • Lycopene,
  • Propanediol,
  • Ethylhexylglycerin*,
  • Potassium Sorbate

Potential irritants: 1*

Herbivore

Pink Cloud Rosewater + Squalane Makeup Removing Face Wash
Rating: Best 🌟
Price: $24 ($7.06 per oz)

With absolutely no ingredients of concern, nor potential irritants, this cleanser is one of the best ones out there. This face wash will give you the crispy clean feel without leaving your skin feeling dry, thanks to the added tremella mushroom, which hydrates and maintain moisture. Organic rose water and coconut water serves as a base of this cleanser, which products its pretty cloudy pink color and pleasant rose fragrance.

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Organic Rose Flower Water (Rosa Damascena Flower Water),
  • Decyl Glucoside,
  • Organic Glycerin,
  • Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate,
  • Squalane,
  • Glyceryl Caprylate,
  • Xanthan Gum,
  • Glyceryl Stearate,
  • Snow Fungus Extract (Tremella Fuciformis Sporocarp Extract),
  • Caprylhydroxamic Acid,
  • Green or White Tea Leaf Extract (Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract),
  • Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice),
  • Citric Acid,
  • False Daisy Extract (Eclipta Prostrata Extract),
  • Sodium Hyaluronate,
  • Chinaberry/Neem Leaf Extract (Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract),
  • Moringa Seed Oil (Moringa Oleifera Seed Oil),
  • Coconut Juice (Cocos Nucifera Juice),
  • Tapioca Starch

One Love Organics

Easy Does It Foaming Cleanser
Rating: Best 🌟
Price: $25 ($3.97 per oz)

The Easy Does It Foaming Cleanser from One Love Organics is a combo of organic Chilean soap bark, cold-pressed apple oil, and vegetable glycerin. All this works to thoroughly clean the skin without stripping your skin, while providing a light, honeysuckle-like scent for an even more soothing wash. This non-drying, gentle cleanser has a clean list of ingredients with no potential irritants, and is suitable for those with sensitive skin to use twice daily. For this reason, we give it a top rating.

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Glycerin,
  • Sodium Cocoglucoside Tartrate,
  • Sodium Hydroxypropylsulfonate Laurylglucoside Crosspolymer,
  • Sodium Cocoyl Hydrolyzed Amaranth Protein,
  • Sodium Cocoamphoacetate,
  • Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine,
  • Lauryl Glucoside,
  • Apple Extract (Pyrus Malus Extract),
  • Apple Oil (Pyrus Malus Oil),
  • Soapbark Wood Extract (Quillaja Saponaria Wood Extract),
  • Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate,
  • Sodium Hydroxypropylsulfonate Decylglucoside Crosspolymer,
  • Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate,
  • Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate,
  • Honeysuckle Extract (Lonicera Caprifolium Extract),
  • Honeysuckle Flower Extract (Lonicera Japonica Flower Extract)

Tata Harper

Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser
Rating: Best 🌟
Price: $84 ($20.49 per oz)

A balanced combination of exfoliating and cleansing properties can make for a great cleanser. Tata Harper’s Regenerating Cleanser can buff and polish the skin using BHAs from white willow bark and perfectly-sized apricot microspheres that won’t scratch the skin, but are strong enough to smooth. Although on the pricier side of popular cleansers on the market, this one tops for its gentle exfoliating qualities.

A couple of ingredients in this product to be aware of are limonene and linalool. These are well-recognized consumer allergens and beware of this if you’re prone to skin reactions.

Ingredients:

  • Organic Barley Leaf Juice (Hordeum Vulgare Leaf Juice),
  • Cetearyl Alcohol,
  • Cetearyl Olivate,
  • Organic Sunflower Seed Oil (Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil),
  • Propanediol,
  • Apricot Seed Powder (Prunus Armeniaca Seed Powder),
  • Sorbitan Olivate,
  • Water,
  • Lactobacillus Ferment,
  • Lactobacillus/Punica Granatum Fruit Ferment Extract,
  • Leuconostoc Ferment Filtrate,
  • Elder Fruit Extract (Sambucus Nigra Fruit Extract),
  • Willow Bark Extract (Salix Alba Bark Extract),
  • Organic Arnica Extract (Arnica Montana Flower Extract),
  • Organic Borage Leaf Extract (Borago Officinalis Leaf Extract),
  • Organic Calendula Flower Extract (Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract),
  • Organic Alfalfa Extract (Medicago Sativa Extract),
  • Organic Meadowsweet Flower Extract (Spiraea Ulmaria Flower Extract),
  • Coco-Glucoside,
  • Cetearyl Glucoside*,
  • Organic Olive Oil (Olea Europaea Fruit Oil),
  • Kaolin Clay,
  • Sclerotium Gum,
  • Cetyl Palmitate,
  • Sorbitan Palmitate,
  • Sodium Phytate,
  • Red Iron Oxide (CI77491),
  • Fragrance (Essential Oil Blend),
  • Alcohol,
  • Citral*,
  • Limonene*,
  • Linalool*

Potential irritants: 4*

OSEA

Osea Ocean Cleanser
Rating: Best 🌟
Price: $48 ($9.6 per oz)

Apart from cleansing, this face wash from OSEA works to provide a healthier complexion using its natural ingredients, such as vegan (beet-derived) lactic acid, lime, cypress, and juniper. If the skin is looking a little dull or uneven, the Osea Ocean Cleanser will help it to look more energized. Its fresh, but not overbearing scent can also help with invigorating the skin. Although it’s one of our “best” rated cleansers, this one has a few potential irritants to watch out for in its ingredients list if you have sensitive skin.

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Organic Algae Extract (Laminaria Japonica Extract),
  • Decyl Glucoside,
  • Sodium Lauroyl Oat Amino Acids,
  • Organic Sesame Seed Oil (Sesamum Indicum Seed Oil),
  • Organic Jojoba Seed Oil (Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil),
  • Magnesium Aluminum Silicate,
  • Tocopherol,
  • Organic Lime Peel Oil (Citrus Aurantifolia Peel Oil)*,
  • Organic Orange Peel Oil (Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Peel Oil)*,
  • Organic Juniper Fruit Oil (Juniperus Communis Fruit Oil),
  • Organic Cypress Seed Oil (Cupressus Sempervirens Seed Oil),
  • Organic Jasmine Oil (Jasminum Officinale Oil)*,
  • Lactic Acid*,
  • Xanthan Gum,
  • Glycine,
  • Potassium Sorbate,
  • Chlorophyll

Potential irritants: 4*

Natural Face Washes Rated: Good

These natural cleansers are good, but have one or two ingredients that stop us from giving them a "best" rating.

The Ordinary

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser
Rating: Good
Price: $23 ($4.6 per oz)

There’s certainly nothing ordinary about this Squalane Cleanser’s ability to clean the face. The Ordinary’s cleanser is super gentle and can remove makeup effectively, leaving baby soft skin and zero residue afterwards. Its powerful cleansing ingredients make it suitable for acne-prone skin to keep the breakouts at bay.

This product does contain isoceteth-20, which can be an ingredient of concern. It can be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, which are possible human carcinogens.

Ingredients:

  • Squalane,
  • Water,
  • Coco-Caprylate/Caprate,
  • Glycerin,
  • Sucrose Stearate,
  • Ethyl Macadamiate,
  • Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride,
  • Sucrose Laurate,
  • Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate,
  • Sucrose Dilaurate,
  • Sucrose Trilaurate,
  • Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6,
  • Isoceteth-20,
  • Sodium Polyacrylate,
  • Tocopherol,
  • Hydroxymethoxyphenyl Decanone,
  • Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate,
  • Malic Acid*,
  • Ethylhexylglycerin*,
  • Chlorphenesin

Potential irritants: 2*

Moon Juice

Moon Juice Milk Cleanse Gentle Wash
Rating: Good
Price: $32 ($8 per oz)

For something a little different, Moon Juice’s Milk Cleanse Gentle Wash is made up of milky ‘bubbles’ full of cleansing goodness. Their made from unique ingredients like coconut ferment, adaptogenic reishi, and silver ear mushroom. Its formula allows for pH matching on the skin, which means it won’t mess with your skin’s natural barrier. Fragrance wise, this face wash has a mild, woodsy rose aroma using essential oils, that doesn’t smell artificial or sickly sweet.

However, this cleanser also contains an ingredient that was named The American Contact Dermatitis Society’s “Allergen of the Year” in 2004: cocamidopropyl betaine. It can be contaminated with amidoamine and 3-dimethylaminopropylamine, both of which are potential skin and eye irritants.

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Coco-Betaine*,
  • Coco-Glucoside,
  • Betaine,
  • Bentonite,
  • Lactobacillus,
  • Glycerin,
  • Coconut Alcohol,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Coconut Extract (Cocos Nucifera Extract),
  • Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice),
  • Polyglyceryl-10 Oleate,
  • Rice Bran Oil (Oryza Sativa Bran Oil),
  • Tocopherol,
  • Tocotrienols,
  • Mushroom Extract (Ganoderma Lucidum Extract),
  • Xanthan Gum,
  • Snow Fungus Extract (Tremella Fuciformis Sporocarp Extract),
  • Bergamot Peel Oil (Citrus Aurantium Bergamia Peel Oil)*,
  • Geraniol*,
  • Peppermint Oil (Mentha Piperita Oil),
  • Phenethyl Alcohol,
  • Rose Extract (Rosa Damascena Extract)*,
  • Claryl Oil (Salvia Sclarea Oil),
  • Triethyl Citrate,
  • Vetiver Root Oil (Vetiveria Zizanoides Root Oil),
  • Honeysuckle Extract (Lonicera Caprifolium Extract),
  • Honeysuckle Flower Extract (Lonicera Japonica Flower Extract)

Potential irritants: 4*

Acure

Acure Brightening Cleansing Gel
Rating: Good
Price: $9.99 ($2.5 per oz)

Good for fixing dullness and livening up uneven tones, the Brightening Cleansing Gel from Acure is definitely more than just a face wash. It cleans, hydrates, and has been said to brighten the skin in a few washes according to some users. This cleanser can feel and smell like a smoothie bowl for the face, as it’s nutrient-packed with antioxidant-rich ingredients like pomegranate, blackberry, and acai.

While it may sound like a fitting cleanser, it’s best to avoid this product if you’re prone to skin irritation or allergies, as it contains cocamidopropyl betaine.

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine*,
  • Lauryl Glucoside,
  • Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine,
  • Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate,
  • Decyl Glucoside,
  • Glycerin,
  • Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate,
  • Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate,
  • Sodium PCA,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Sodium Levulinate,
  • Orange Peel Oil (Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Peel Oil)*,
  • Lemon Peel Oil (Citrus Limon Peel Oil)*,
  • Potassium Sorbate,
  • Sea Buckthorn Oil (Hippophae Rhamnoides Oil),
  • Organic Acai Berry Fruit Extract (Euterpe Oleracea Extract),
  • Organic Blackberry Fruit Extract (Rubus Fruticosus Fruit Extract),
  • Organic Pomegranate Extract (Punica Granatum Extract),
  • Organic Rose Hip Fruit Extract (Rosa Canina Fruit Extract)*,
  • Organic Calendula Flower Extract (Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract),
  • Organic Matricaria Extract (Chamomilla Recutita Extract),
  • Organic Rooibos Extract (Aspalathus Linearis Extract),
  • Dermochlorella Algae Extract (Chlorella Vulgaris Extract)

Potential irritants: 4*

Ursa Major

Ursa Major Fantastic Face Wash
Rating: Good
Price: $30 ($3.75 per oz)

The last thing you want your cleanser to do is to strip your skin of moisture and mess with its pH balance. Ursa Major’s Fantastic Face Wash won’t dare to do that, but can still provide thorough exfoliation and cleansing. In a foaming gel form, this fresh-scented wash can clean the most stubborn of eye makeup without over-drying the skin.

Ingredients of concern include glyceryl laurate, a penetration enhancer, which can be unsafe when included with other ingredients. There’s also sodium benzoate, a chemical preservative, which can induce contact allergy for those with sensitive skin.

Ingredients:

  • Organic Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice),
  • Water,
  • Lauryl Glucoside,
  • Coco-Glucoside,
  • Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate,
  • Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside,
  • Inulin,
  • Glyceryl Laurate*,
  • Sodium Lauroamphoacetate,
  • Gluconolactone,
  • Sodium Lauroyl Glutamate,
  • Xylitylglucoside,
  • Anhydroxylitol,
  • Xylitol,
  • Organic Rice Extract (Oryza Sativa Seed Extract),
  • Organic Green or White Tea Extract (Camellia Sinensis Tea Leaf Extract),
  • Sugar Cane Extract (Saccharum Officinarum Extract),
  • Lemon Fruit Oil (Citrus Limon Fruit Oil),
  • Orange Fruit Extract (Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Fruit Extract)*,
  • Bilberry Fruit Extract (Vaccinium Myrtillus Fruit Extract),
  • Sugar Maple Extract (Acer Saccharum Extract),
  • Organic Black Spruce Leaf Oil (Picea Mariana Leaf Oil),
  • Organic Balsam Oregon Fir Branch/Leaf Oil (Pseudotsuga Menziesii Branch/Leaf Oil),
  • Rosemary Leaf Water (Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Water),
  • Lavender Flower Water (Lavandula Angustifolia Flower Water),
  • Grapefruit Peel Oil (Citrus Paradisi Peel Oil),
  • Lime Peel Oil (Citrus Aurantifolia Oil),
  • Owyhee Leaf Oil (Artemisia Ludoviciana Leaf Oil),
  • Red Cedar Wood Oil (Juniperus Virginiana Wood Oil),
  • Tansy Flower Oil (Tanacetum Annuum Flower Oil),
  • Nardostachys Jatamansi Oil,
  • Vetiver Root Oil (Vetiveria Zizanoides Root Oil),
  • Spearmint Leaf Extract (Mentha Spicata Leaf Extract),
  • Sodium Phytate,
  • PCA Glyceryl Oleate,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Calcium Gluconate,
  • Leuconostoc Ferment Filtrate,
  • Sodium Benzoate*,
  • Soybean Peroxidase (Glycine Soja Peroxidase),
  • Superoxide Dismutase,
  • Limonene*

Potential irritants: 3*

Drunk Elephant

Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser
Rating: Good
Price: $32 ($6.4 per oz)

Drunk Elephant is big on focusing on healthy pH levels and their Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser is no exception. Formulated at a non-stripping pH level of 5.5, this face wash is gentle enough to use on sensitive skin and will effortlessly lift makeup without leftover residue. Its various ingredients are mixed into what they call a ‘smoothie’, designed to support the skin’s acid mantle.

Be aware that this product contains cocamidopropyl betaine, which can potentially be skin and eye irritants if contaminated with amidoamine and 3-dimethylaminopropylamine. It also contains preservatives, sodium benzoate and phenoxyethanol – which has shown to give skin irritation in animal studies even when exposed to very low amounts.

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Glycerin,
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine*,
  • Coco-Glucoside,
  • Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate,
  • Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine,
  • Sodium Methyl Oleyl Taurate,
  • Propanediol,
  • Aloe Leaf Extract (Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract),
  • Glycolipids,
  • Linoleic Acid,
  • Linolenic Acid,
  • Lauryl Glucoside,
  • Cantaloupe Fruit Extract (Cucumis Melo Cantalupensis Fruit Extract),
  • Marula Seed Oil (Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil),
  • Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate,
  • Tocopherol,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Phenoxyethanol*,
  • Sodium Hydroxide*,
  • Sodium Benzoate*,
  • Sodium Chloride,
  • Polylysine

Potential irritants: 4*

Evolve Organic Beauty

Evolve Organic Beauty Daily Detox Facial Wash
Rating: Good
Price: $22.98 ($6.76 per oz)

Even those with oily skin can’t be fully stripped off of their natural oils. A cleanser that re-balances the oils in the face is needed and the Daily Detox Facial Wash from Evolve Organic Beauty may be the solution. This foaming facial wash has organic papaya enzymes for exfoliation, and aloe vera for softening of the skin. Its soothing and natural scent, combined with other ingredients like goji berry and moringa peptides, helps with calming the skin from environmental stressors.

Potential irritants include cocamidopropyl betaine and sodium benzoate. There’s also “natural fragrance”, which we consider an “iffy” ingredient, as it’s a blanket term for unknown fragrance ingredients. This can be a skin irritation or cause an allergic reaction if you’re prone to these issues.

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine*,
  • Sodium Coco-Sulfate,
  • Lauryl Glucoside,
  • Coco-Glucoside,
  • Glyceryl Oleate,
  • Organic Glycerin,
  • Gluconolactone,
  • Natural Fragrance*,
  • Organic Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice),
  • Organic Goji Fruit Extract (Lycium Barbarum Fruit Extract),
  • Drumstick Tree Seed Oil (Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Oil),
  • Sodium Benzoate*,
  • Calcium Gluconate,
  • Dextrin,
  • Arginine,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Hydrogenated Palm Glycerides Citrate,
  • Tocopherol,
  • Limonene*,
  • Linalool*

Potential irritants: 5*

Pacifica

Pacifica Sea Foam Complete Face Wash
Rating: Good
Price: $10 ($2 per oz)

You can turn to Pacifica for its interesting take on natural products and their Sea Foam Complete Face Wash is no different. As you can gather from its name, their cleanser uses marine phytonutrients, such as coconut water sea algae complex, and foams when applied on the skin. Even though it’s strong enough to clear waterproof eye makeup, there won’t be any feeling of tightness or itchiness post wash.

This product contains cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium benzoate, ethylhexylglycerin, and natural fragrances. Additionally, there’s also tocopheryl acetate, which is at risk of being contaminated with hydroquinone – a known human carcinogen. While we believe this risk to be small, we consider tocopheryl acetate an iffy ingredient.

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine*,
  • Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate,
  • Sodium Cocoyl Sulfoacetate,
  • Sodium Cocoamphoacetate,
  • Decyl Glucoside,
  • Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice),
  • Glycerin,
  • Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate,
  • Glycol Stearate,
  • Papaya Fruit Extract (Carica Papaya Fruit Extract),
  • Lemon Bioflavonoids,
  • Coconut Oil (Cocos Nucifera Oil),
  • Coconut Water (Cocos Nucifera Water),
  • Citric Acid,
  • Tocopheryl Acetate*,
  • Panthenol,
  • Sodium PCA,
  • Allantoin,
  • Nori Extract (Porphyra Umbilicalis Extract),
  • Mangosteen Peel Extract (Garcinia Mangostana Peel Extract),
  • Green or White Tea Leaf Extract (Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract),
  • Sea Algae Extract,
  • Sodium Benzoate*,
  • Potassium Sorbate,
  • Ethylhexylglycerin*,
  • Natural Fragrance*

Potential irritants: 5*

Andalou Naturals

1000 Roses Cleansing Foam
Rating: Good
Price: $14.99 ($2.73 per oz)

A very science-forward cleanser, Andalou Naturals’ 1000 Roses Cleansing Foam is formulated with alpine rose stem cells to help with inflammation and premature aging. Making up the base of this cleanser is organic aloe and water, while pomegranate improves tone. Foams often leave the skin feeling stripped or dry, but the inclusion of aloe vera lifts the skin’s moisture barrier. Users also praise its easily spreadable consistency.

However, be aware of a few other ingredients such as cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium benzoate, and ethylhexylglycerin.

Ingredients:

  • Organic Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice),
  • Water,
  • Organic Rose Flower Distillate (Rosa Damascena Flower Distillate),
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine*,
  • Glycerin,
  • Sorbitol,
  • Sodium Methyl 2-Sulfolaurate,
  • Disodium 2-Sulfolaurate,
  • Panthenol,
  • Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate,
  • Sucrose Cocoate,
  • Organic Rose Hip Oil (Rosa Canina Oil)*,
  • Organic Pomegranate Seed Oil (Punica Granatum Seed Oil),
  • Allantoin,
  • Plant Stem Cells (Alpine Rose, Malus Domestica, Solar Vitis),
  • BioActive Berry Complex,
  • Sodium Hyaluronate,
  • Magnolia Officinalis Bark Extract,
  • Frankincense / Boswellin Extract (Boswellia Serrata Extract),
  • Organic Green or White Tea Extract (Camellia Sinensis Tea Leaf Extract),
  • Organic Roselle Flower Extract (Hibiscus Sabdariffa Flower Extract),
  • Lactic Acid*,
  • Tocopherol,
  • Sodium Benzoate*,
  • Potassium Sorbate,
  • Ethylhexylglycerin*,
  • Rose Isolates*,
  • Vanilla Isolates,
  • Organic Geranium Flower Oil (Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil),
  • Organic Orange Peel Oil (Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Peel Oil)*

Potential irritants: 7*

Alba Botanica

Acne Dote Deep Pore Wash
Rating: Good
Price: $6.22 ($1.04 per oz)

Got problem with zits? Cleansers with salicylic acid are your best friend. Alba Botanica’s Acne Dote Deep Pore Wash is formulated with this magic ingredient, plus willow bark extract – for cooling – to unclog pores, as well as getting rid of and preventing future zits. With a few small drops daily, it can be the best treatment for acne.

This salicylic acid cleanser has mostly-clean ingredients, with a few exceptions: cocamidopropyl betaine, phenoxyethanol, and sodium benzoate.

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Coco-Betaine*,
  • Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate,
  • Sodium Chloride,
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine*,
  • Glycerin,
  • Bergamot Fruit Oil (Citrus Aurantium Bergamia Fruit Oil),
  • Orange Peel Oil (Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Peel Oil)*,
  • Peppermint Oil (Mentha Piperita Oil),
  • Organic Neem Leaf Extract (Azardirachta Indica Leaf Extract),
  • Organic Green or White Tea Extract (Camellia Sinensis Tea Leaf Extract),
  • Parsley Extract (Carum Petroselinum Extract),
  • Witch Hazel Leaf Water (Hamamelis Virginiana Leaf Water),
  • Lemon Balm Extract (Melissa Officianils Extract),
  • Organic Willow Bark Extract (Salix Alba Bark Extract),
  • Nettle Leaf Extract (Urtica Dioica Leaf Extract),
  • Organic Alcohol,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Dehydroacetic Acid,
  • Benzoic Acid,
  • Phenoxyethanol*,
  • Potassium Sorbate,
  • Sodium Benzoate*,
  • Citral*,
  • Limonene*,
  • Linalool*,
  • Salicylic Acid*

Potential irritants: 9*

Alpyn Beauty

PlantGenius Creamy Bubbling Cleanser
Rating: Good
Price: $36 ($9 per oz)

The PlantGenius Creamy Bubbling Cleanser from Alpyn Beauty contains their unique formula of botanicals that are grown in the mountains in Wyoming. Apart from cleansing and refreshing, it exfoliates using papaya and pomegranate extract, glycolic and lactic acid. It also has plenty of antioxidants, as well as a creamy consistency, making it the go-to choice for dehydrated skin. If you’re sensitive to fragrance or essential oils, this cleanser’s scent has a delicious citrus scent that is very subtle.

Only potential concerning ingredient is benzyl alcohol, which might concern you if you have sensitive skin. It’s listed by the The European Union’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) as a well-recognized consumer allergen.

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Glycerin,
  • Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate,
  • Sodium Hyaluronate,
  • Witch Hazel Extract (Hamamelis Virginiana Extract),
  • Stearic Acid,
  • Myristic Acid,
  • Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate,
  • Cetearyl Alcohol,
  • Lactobacillus/Punica Granatum Fruit Ferment Extract,
  • Polyacrylate-33,
  • Sodium Cocoyl Apple Amino Acids,
  • Dehydroacetic Acid,
  • Benzyl Alcohol*,
  • Tromethamine,
  • Papaya Fruit Extract (Carica Papaya Fruit Extract),
  • Potassium Sorbate,
  • Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia Oil),
  • Orange Peel Oil (Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Peel Oil)*,
  • False Daisy Extract (Eclipta Prostrata Extract),
  • Chinaberry/Neem Leaf Extract (Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract),
  • Drumstick Tree Seed Oil (Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Oil),
  • Glycolic Acid*,
  • Lactic Acid*,
  • Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid),
  • Linoleic Acid,
  • Jojoba Seed Oil (Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil),
  • Sage Leaf Extract (Salvia Officinalis Leaf Extract),
  • Arnica Extract (Arnica Montana Flower Extract)*,
  • Borage Flower Extract (Borago Officinalis Flower Extract),
  • Calendula (Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract),
  • Matricaria Extract (Chamomilla Recutita Extract),
  • Ceramide NG,
  • Alcohol

Potential irritants: 5*

Paula's Choice

Hydrating Gel-to-Cream Cleanser
Rating: Good
Price: $18 ($2.69 per oz)

Dry skin will rejoice when being treated to a hydrating cleanser. The Hydrating Gel-to-Cream Cleanser from Paula’s Choice gives the right amount of hydration and moisturizes sans the greasy texture. It’s lightweight and non-abrasive but works efficiently to remove dead skin layers using the exfoliators, leaving your skin soft and plump.

There are potential irritants to take note of, including cocamidopropyl betaine and the common preservatives, phenoxyethanol and sodium benzoate. Also included are ethylhexylglycerin and pentylene glycol, which can cause contact dermatitis and is considered a sensitizing ingredient.

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Sodium Cocoyl Glycinate,
  • Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine,
  • Sodium Lauroamphoacetate,
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine*,
  • Glycerin,
  • Sorbeth-230 Tetraoleate,
  • Decyl Glucoside,
  • Pentylene Glycol*,
  • Sodium Chloride,
  • Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate,
  • Lauric Acid,
  • Lactic Acid*,
  • Sodium Lauroyl Oat Amino Acids,
  • Sorbitan Laurate,
  • Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate,
  • Disodium EDTA,
  • Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice),
  • Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride,
  • Cocoyl Proline,
  • Sodium Citrate,
  • Green or White Tea Leaf Extract (Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract),
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract),
  • Sodium PCA,
  • Sodium Lactate,
  • Arginine,
  • Soybean Sterols (Glycine Soja Sterols),
  • Linoleic Acid,
  • Phospholipids,
  • Aspartic Acid,
  • PCA*,
  • Glycine,
  • Alanine,
  • Serine,
  • Valine,
  • Isoleucine,
  • Proline,
  • Threonine,
  • Potassium Citrate,
  • Lactoperoxidase,
  • Histidine,
  • Phenylalanine,
  • Glucose Oxidase,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Phenoxyethanol*,
  • Ethylhexylglycerin*,
  • Potassium Sorbate,
  • Sodium Benzoate*

Potential irritants: 7*

Natural Face Washes Rated: Iffy

These cleansers have a few ingredients that we consider iffy, making these products some we wouldn't recommend.

Glow Recipe

Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser
Rating: Iffy
Price: $34 ($6.3 per oz)

This cleanser has a clean list of ingredients until you get to the end: fragrance. The brand’s website states very little about the fragrance, saying:

“We formulate using the minimum amount of fragrance, when needed, to create a sensorial, enjoyable skincare experience. Fragrance is always less than 0.5% of our formulations, and all fragrances are vegan and free of PCM compounds, acetone, and much more.”

This implies that it’s not a natural fragrance, and therefore we cannot recommend this cleanser.

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Coco-Glucoside,
  • Seaweed Extract (Caulerpa Lentillifera Extract),
  • Sodium Hyaluronate,
  • Blueberry Fruit Extract (Vaccinium Angustifolium Fruit Extract),
  • Blueberry Fruit (Vaccinium Angustifolium Fruit),
  • Glycolic Acid*,
  • Lactic Acid*,
  • Groundcherry Fruit Extract (Physalis Peruviana Fruit Extract),
  • Raspberry Fruit Extract (Rubus Idaeus Fruit Extract),
  • Bearberry Leaf Extract (Arctostaphylos Uva Ursi Leaf Extract),
  • Mulberry Fruit Extract (Morus Nigra Fruit Extract),
  • Bilberry Fruit Extract (Vaccinium Myrtillus Fruit Extract),
  • Beta Glucan,
  • Baikal Skullcap Root Extract (Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract),
  • Peony Root Extract (Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract),
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract),
  • Betaine,
  • Sodium Chloride,
  • Fragrance

Potential irritants: 2*

Sukin

Sukin Foaming Facial Cleanser
Rating: Iffy
Price: $9.99 ($2.36 per oz)

We don’t recommend this cleanser because it contains Cocamidopropyl Betaine, which was named The American Contact Dermatitis Society’s “Allergen of the Year” in 2004.

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice),
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine*,
  • Decyl Glucoside,
  • Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate (PEG-150),
  • Matricaria Extract (Chamomilla Recutita Extract),
  • Green or White Tea Leaf Extract (Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract),
  • Witch Hazel Extract (Hamamelis Virginiana Extract),
  • Glycerin,
  • Macadamia Gympie Nut Oil (Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil),
  • Rose Hip Oil (Rosa Canina Oil)*,
  • Evening Primrose Oil (Oenothera Biennis Oil),
  • Tangerine Peel Oil (Citrus Tangerina Peel Oil)*,
  • Mandarin Peel Oil (Citrus Nobilis Peel Oil)*,
  • Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia Oil),
  • Vanillin,
  • Vanilla Extract (Vanilla Planifolia Fruit Extract),
  • Phenoxyethanol*,
  • Benzyl Alcohol*,
  • Limonene*,
  • Linalool*

Potential irritants: 8*

Youth to the People

Youth to the People Superfood Antioxidant Cleanser
Rating: Iffy
Price: $36 ($4.5 per oz)

We don’t recommend this product because it contains polysorbate-20 and chemical fragrance.

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine,
  • Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate,
  • Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice),
  • Sorbeth-230 Tetraoleate,
  • Polysorbate 20,
  • Kale Leaf Extract (Brassica Oleracea Acephala Leaf Extract),
  • Spinach Extract (Spinacia Oleracea Extract),
  • Green or White Tea Leaf Extract (Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract),
  • Alfalfa Extract (Medicago Sativa Extract),
  • Matricaria Extract (Chamomilla Recutita Extract),
  • Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate,
  • Glycerin,
  • Panthenol,
  • Tocopheryl Acetate*,
  • Decyl Glucoside,
  • Sorbitan Laurate,
  • Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate,
  • Gluconolactone,
  • Calcium Gluconate,
  • Ethylhexylglycerin*,
  • Maltodextrin,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Phenoxyethanol*,
  • Potassium Sorbate,
  • Sodium Benzoate*,
  • Chlorophyllin-Copper Complex (CI 75810),
  • Gardenia Fruit Extract (Gardenia Jasminoides Fruit Extract),
  • Fragrance

Potential irritants: 4*

Natural Face Washes Rated: Bad

For the reasons stated in our overview, we don't recommend these face washes.

Juice Beauty

Green Apple Brightening Gel Cleanser
Rating: Bad
Price: $28 ($6.22 per oz)

This cleanser has a clean list of ingredients. However, lemon juice is the second ingredient, which may be a concern for a few reasons. (source)

Lemon juice is very low pH, making it extremely sensitizing to skin. Lemon juice applied to the skin can cause photosensitivity. This means that your skin will be much more sensitive to sunlight, even if applying sunscreen. There have been reports of people going into the sun with lemon juice on their hands, resulting is horrible blisters and burns.

Lemon juice has also been linked to chemical leukoderma – uneven lightened patches of skin.

For this reason, we don’t recommend this product.

Ingredients:

  • Organic Apple Juice (Pyrus Malus Juice),
  • Organic Lemon Juice (Citrus Medica Limonum Juice)*,
  • Organic Aloe Juice (Aloe Barbadensis Juice),
  • Glycerin,
  • Coco-Glucoside,
  • Decyl Glucoside,
  • Organic White Grape Juice (Vitis Vinifera Juice),
  • Lauryl Glucoside,
  • Xanthan Gum,
  • Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside,
  • Bilberry Fruit Extract (Vaccinium Myrtillus Fruit Extract),
  • Sugar Cane Extract (Saccharum Officinarum Extract),
  • Sugar Maple Extract (Acer Saccharum Extract),
  • Orange Fruit Extract (Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Fruit Extract)*,
  • Lemon Fruit Extract (Citrus Limon Fruit Extract),
  • Dandelion Leaf Extract (Taraxacum Officinale Leaf Extract),
  • Sage Leaf Extract (Salvia Officinalis Leaf Extract),
  • Lemon Balm Extract (Melissa Officianils Extract),
  • Green or White Tea Leaf Extract (Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract),
  • Tocopherol,
  • Sodium Benzoate*,
  • Potassium Sorbate,
  • Sodium Phytate,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Beta-Sitosterol,
  • Triethyl Citrate,
  • Orange Peel Oil (Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Peel Oil)*,
  • May Chang Oil (Litsea Cubeba Oil),
  • Camphor Wood Oil (Cinnamomum Camphora Oil)

Potential irritants: 4*

CosRx

Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
Rating: Bad
Price: $14 ($2.76 per oz)

We can’t recommend this product because of its inclusion of several ingredients we don’t recommend, including cocamidopropyl betaine, polysorbate-20, and ethyl hexanediol.

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine*,
  • Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate,
  • Polysorbate 20,
  • Japanese Snowbell Extract (Styrax Japonicus Branch/Fruit/Leaf Extract),
  • Butylene Glycol,
  • Saccharomyces Ferment,
  • Sugi Leaf Extract (Cryptomeria Japonica Leaf Extract),
  • Lotus Extract (Nelumbo Nucifera Extract),
  • Longleaf Pine Extract (Pinus Palustris Extract),
  • David Elm Root Extract (Ulmus Davidiana Root Extract),
  • Evening Primrose Extract (Oenothera Biennis Extract),
  • Kudzu Root Extract (Pueraria Lobata Root Extract),
  • Tea Tree Leaf Oil (Melaleuca Alternifolia Leaf Oil)*,
  • Allantoin,
  • Caprylyl Glycol*,
  • Ethylhexylglycerin*,
  • Betaine Salicylate,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Ethyl Hexanediol*,
  • 1,2-Hexanediol,
  • Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate,
  • Sodium Benzoate*,
  • Disodium EDTA

Potential irritants: 6*

Cetaphil

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
Rating: Bad
Price: $9.59 ($0.6 per oz)

Cetaphil’s cleanser is one of the most popular cleansers on the market, but unfortunately, we can’t recommend it because it contains multiple types of parabens.

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Cetyl Alcohol,
  • Propylene Glycol*,
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate*,
  • Stearyl Alcohol,
  • Methylparaben*,
  • Propylparaben,
  • Butylparaben

Potential irritants: 2*

Conclusion

All of the products we looked at are marketed as being clean and natural. Like many other product categories, just because a product claims to be clean, it doesn't mean it actually is.

For a simple choice in a cleanser, look at any of the products we gave a rating of "best"—any of them are a great choice.

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