The Best Cleanser for Every Skin Type

Written by Katelyn Woolridge, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist on April 3, 2020 No Comments

best cleansers

Daily skin cleansing is probably one of the most important skin care practices to ensure healthy skin. As discussed in this previous blog post, washing your face is extremely important. Proper skin cleansing removes impurities (i.e. dirt, pollutants, bacteria, dead skin cells, etc.), boosts skin hydration, and helps the pores stay unobstructed. It also enhances the skin’s ability to absorb any topical skin care product you apply after cleansing.

There are literally 1,000’s of skin cleansers on the market today, many of whom have labels filled with skin care jargon promising excellent results. With so many options available it can be difficult for individuals to choose the best skin cleanser for their individual needs.

One of the most important factors in this decision is choosing a cleansing product that is made for your skin type. Here’s the ideal cleanser for each major skin type:

Note: Not sure what is your skin type? See this blog post. As always, we encourage readers to discuss cleansers with their skin care provider after reading this post! 

Normal Skin

Normal skin types have skin that produces a moderate level of oil (sebum) in all areas of the face. This skin type should choose a simple “middle of the road” cleanser with a formula that is doesn’t contain overly intensive concentrations of moisturizing or exfoliating ingredients.

Dry Skin

Individuals with dry skin should stay away from harsh cleansers (specifically foaming cleansers) with a high alcohol content as these products often strip away natural oil resulting in additional dryness and irritation. Instead, choose a rich lotion or cream cleanser with a formula that contains hydrating ingredients like ceramides, lipids, shea butter, glycerin, or hyaluronic acid.

Oily Skin

Oily skin types often need a more intense cleansing to remove excess oil from the pores. A gel or foaming cleanser with a low PH formula containing exfoliating ingredients like salicylic acid or lactic acid is a great choice. During cleansing, the cleanser should be left on the skin for a 2-3 minutes before being rinsed off to ensure full cleansing.

Combination Skin

Individuals with combination skin need a cleanser that provides a balance between being gentle on dry patches while being powerful enough to address shiny, oily spots. A non-foaming gel cleanser with natural exfoliating ingredients is ideal.

Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin types need to be very careful when choosing their cleanser. They should look for a product that will not keep the skin’s natural moisture barrier intact.  It’s often best to avoid foaming cleansers as they tend to remove natural moisture. The best choice is often a gentle cleanser that is free of additives like fragrance and sulfates while also containing natural protective ingredients like aloe or avocado oil.

Acne-Prone Skin

Patients who struggle with acne often require a similar cleanser to oily skin types: a more intensive cleanser containing exfoliating ingredients like salicylic acid, benzol peroxide, or glycolic acid. It’s also good to avoid cleansers with added oils or lipids as they can encourage clogged pores.


Katelyn Woolridge, MD

Katelyn Fusilier Woolridge, M.D. is a board certified dermatologist specializing in medical, pediatric, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology. She graduated summa cum laude from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge in 2010 and obtained a doctorate of medicine from Louisiana State University in New Orleans in 2015. Dr. Woolridge is a member of various medical organizations, including the American Academy of Dermatology, Texas Dermatological Society, Texas Medical Association, and Houston Dermatological Society.


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