Remember when jumping in the pool counted as a shower? Or the hours spent outside shamelessly sunbathing? Then our brazen youth blossoms into a self-conscious state, and we adopt some more stringent bathing rituals (hopefully!) and line up for society’s norms. Perhaps the most unified rule of growing up is that you should be washing your face twice a day. I still remember dropping my jaw in disbelief as my college roommate told me that she only washed her face with water, no soap. Shit, I’m still in disbelief! How did she ever manage to get eye makeup off without a facial cleanser?
Your Facial Cleanser deserves the Medal of Honor
For the rest of us, your facial cleanser is arguably the most important item in your skincare arsenal. How often you decide to wash your face will depend on your skin type, but for the majority, wash at least once a day, and always after a workout. Can you imagine the germs and bacteria manifesting during a sweat sesh, likely straight from work, with some makeup on? Recipe for disaster.
The point I’m getting at—the world is dirty. Even if you made it through the entire day without sweating, touching your face or getting a smear of ketchup on your mouth, you would still need to wash your face because we don’t live in a bubble.
I’ll stay off my treehugger soapbox (har har) but research has shown that pollution is now so dense that the miniscule particles from pollutants are being lodged inside our pores, destroying our skin’s natural barrier. These free radicals are then munching on precious collagen, causing cell damage, aging, redness, oh and, these particles create their own shield on our faces to then prevent any of our (helpful) products from penetrating into pores. The audacity. According to the WHO, 80% of people living in urban areas are exposed to air quality levels that exceed the World Health Organization limits. So if you’d like to fight antigens, avoid wrinkles, and you live in the world of internet, wash your face every single night.
And if that didn’t drive it home; every single day you shed about 50 million dead skin cells. If you aren’t washing your face, that layer of dead skin will get thicker over time, creating a zombie-like field of free radicals.
How to Wash Your Face
Everyone should be washing their face with a cleanser at least once a day, preferably at night to wash away the world’s worries (literally). If you wear makeup, remove it before you wash. I love a good oil-based cleanser to dissolve and break up sunscreen, stubborn eye makeup or stickier foundation, but you can also use a traditional makeup remover or wipes. However you remove your makeup, consider this a precursor step to facial cleansing.
Wet your face. Hot water is too harsh and irritating for facial skin, something more in the lukewarm to cool range is best. Now use circular motions to wash and massage the facial cleanser. This should take around 30 seconds, but if you have any trouble spots that require extra love, like an oily t-zone, factor in some time to really get into the nitty gritty. If you are in camp acne, you’ll want to be using a specific formulation with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid on your t-zone and ensure that you’ve given the products at least a minute to work their magic.
You might also use a different cleanser for day and night. The world is your oyster. Regardless, rinse with lukewarm water and gently pat dry with a clean cotton towel.
Now, very quickly, use this precious pore-open time window to moisturize. There are 1000’s of moisturizers, but the common denominator is that all help seal in water. Therefore, it is critical to apply your moisturizer routine right after washing with water.
What to Buy From the Drugstore
For the 52 percent of consumers (66 percent of men and nearly 40 percent of women) use bath wash or hand soap to cleanse their face. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! Get your shit together man! Facial cleansers don’t need to be fancy, pricey or found in specialty shops, the local drugstore variety will do the trick. After all, you are sending these suds down the drain. Save retinols or specialty ingredients for topical application when you’re sealing in all of that clean water goodness. It’s also worth noting that a facial cleanser should be soap-free, paraben-free and fragrance-free to avoid irritation. With that… I’ve outlined the top drugstore facial cleansers that won’t break the bank and are work for various skin types.
CeraVe is one of the G.O.A.T.s of drugstore skincare — and there’s a reason for that. Their no b.s. skincare products don’t try to fool you with any fancy millennial pink packaging or false claims, they just do their job and cleanse your skin. And this O.G. cleanser is one of their biggest hits: it contains essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid to hydrate your skin while it gently cleanses away any dirt, oil, and grim sitting on top of your precious pores.
While we all like a nice blush-like flush on our cheeks, sometimes redness and inflammation can get a little too out of hand (especially when you’re dealing with acne). When your skin is starting to resemble a tomato, you should break out this cleanser from Neutrogena. This cleanser helps you battle breakouts while soothing your skin of any irritation or inflammation that could lead to redness. A fusion of aloe and chamomile will keep your skin calm and comfortable, so you can feel cleansed and confident wherever you go.
If your face tends to resemble an oil slick by the end of the day, then reach for this pro cleanser. Oil, dirt, and impurities are intensely washed away by this blast of purifying power, and even the toughest of waterproof mascaras won’t stand a chance with this formula. It’s specifically designed for those of you with acne-prone skin to keep your pores cleared and your complexion under control.
For my sensitive-skinned fellows, reach for this ultra-soothing face wash from Aveeno. It checks off everything on every sensitive skin type list: it’s non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic, and free of any oils or soaps. This cleanser is also formulated with soy extract to give dull, uneven skin a brighter and more radiant finish with a clearer complexion. Because sensitive skin types deserve a deep cleanse, too.
Ok, I know charcoal and tomatoes aren’t the sexiest combination, but hear me out. This drugstore cleanser truly provides a deep detox, getting rid of all the gunk that’s stored deep in your skin. Activated charcoal acts like a magnet, and sucks out impurities in an instant, while tomatoes provide nourishing antioxidants to give your skin a much-needed health boost. Plus, it’s cruelty-free, so you can scrub away without any guilt.
Micellar water is a must-have in French skincare for its gentler approach to washing grime away. And this cleanser from Garnier is a great way to take the French approach to skin care while you’re on a budget. This foaming cleanser is formulated with micellar water to gently remove any makeup, oil, and dirt without stripping your skin of essential hydration. So you can say “peace” to tight, dry skin and “hello” to refreshed and radiant skin.
Green tea is a necessity for all skincare junkies — because why would anyone pass on the antioxidant, antibacterial, and even anticancer properties of this hero ingredient? It’s a true gem to skin lovers, which is why I’m loving this drugstore cleanser from the fan-favorite brand, St. Ives. It helps calm down redness and gently wash away your breakouts with the power of green tea and salicylic acid, while moisturizing skin so it feels rejuvenated the minute you finish cleansing. Who knew clearer skin was just one wash away?
Soap & Glory has become a beauty household name for their best-selling lotions and moisturizers, and this cleanser proves that they are true skincare connoisseurs. This drugstore cleanser gives your pores a luxury treatment through it’s Yuzu fruit-infused formula, which powerfully smoothes, cleanses, and purifies your skin. Considering itself as a “high tech foaming facial wash” rather than your average soap, it’s formulated with complexion-friendly and non-drying components, so it’s easy to wash off and won’t leave your skin feeling tight & dry.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly anti-aging essential, then look no further than this best-selling facial wash. It’s a 2-in-1 scrub and cleanser, and works to gently exfoliate dullness and reveal your inner radiance, for a more youthful glow and refined finish. Packed with anti-aging and exfoliation hero ingredient glycolic acid, this cleanser will get rid of any underlying dirt and grime while giving your skin a rejuvenating detox.
Another great pick for sensitive skin types! This fragrance-free, ultra-gentle formula is one of the most underrated products on the drugstore beauty market. It’s a no-nonsense, straight to the point formula that does its job: cleanse your skin, without pumping it with irritating synthetics or harsh ingredients. Your delicate skin will thank you for making the switch to this mild cleanser.