1. Headline
  1. Headline

Explainer: The 18 best facial cleansers

  • Totalbeauty.com
    When it comes to the art of face washing, us ladies take it pretty seriously. We carefully select our skin care products and practically give ourselves a facial in the a.m. and p.m.. But a cleanser is a cleanser, right? Don't they all do the same job? Hardly. TotalBeauty.com readers gave us their two cents about which cleansers made their faces squeaky clean — without leaving their skin feeling like the Sahara.

  • No. 18: Clinique Liquid Facial Soap, $15

    TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 8.7

    Why:  "I have tried many, many facial cleansers and now have been using this exclusively since I first tried it a couple of years ago. I have combination skin that is prone to both dry patches and blackheads/clogged pores. This is the only cleanser I have found that does a wonderful job of keeping my pores clean, but does not strip my face and leave it crepey or scaly looking. It is by far the best that I have tried. I am totally satisfied with it!" — Betty_P, TotalBeauty.com member

  • No. 17: Mary Kay Creamy Cleanser 2, $12

    TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 8.8

    Why: "Until I found Mary Kay Creamy Cleanser 2, I thought I had dry skin. My face used to feel tight after washing it, but since [I started using this], my skin is always soft and moist. In fact, I have combination skin type. I've always been very allergic so before I found Mary Kay Creamy Cleanser 2, I couldn't use anything without getting 'itchy.' I've been using it for at least 24 years now and I'm now 50 and everyone thinks my 14-year-old daughter is my sister!" — AKU075, TotalBeauty.com member

  • No. 16: Ambi Complexion Cleansing Bar, $1.99

    TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 8.9

    Why: "This cleanser leaves your face refreshed and revitalized without removing your natural moisture. An excellent product with a great fragrance also." — Shanita, TotalBeauty.com member

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  • No. 15: Philosophy Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser, $20

    TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 9.1

    Why: "The size of a dime is all you need to dispense from the bottle in order to remove every trace of makeup, dirt and the most stubborn, sometimes hard-to-remove, waterproof eye makeup. This cleanser has never failed me. It always leaves my skin feeling totally clean, fresh and not dry or stripped in any way. I try different cleansers, well, because I am a beauty blogger, but always go back to Purity. The scent is very light, and I truly look forward to using this at the end of the day to help my skin feel totally refreshed and totally clean." — MakeupSearcher, TotalBeauty.com member

  • No. 14: Dermalogica mediBac Clearing Skin Wash, $33

    TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 9.1

    Why: "After the first use I could tell a difference in my skin. It is awesome! I have extremely oily adult acne skin and after using this wash, the tone and texture of my skin was fabulous. The smell is pretty awful, but with results like these how can I hold that against the best cleanser I have ever used? And trust me I have used them all." — kt1974, TotalBeauty.com member

  • No. 13: Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar, $4.49

    TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 9.3

    Why: "I have VERY sensitive skin — prone to dermatitis, redness, dryness, etc. You'd never know it, though, because of my skin care regimen. This is the only brand that lets me keep my skin smooth and dewy every day." — RachelMoran, TotalBeauty.com member

  • No. 12: Origins Frothy Face Wash, $18.50

    TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 9.3

    Why: "I have tried every product under the sun, but nothing has worked as well as this cleanser. It feels great on your skin and rinses off completely. You feel like your face is squeaky clean without the dryness. Most cleansers I've used have left my face dry and have not prevented breakouts, but since using this I've had a massive improvement in skin clarity. I no longer get bad breakouts and my skin never feels too dry." — Elexsaria, TotalBeauty.com member

  • No. 11: Fresh Soy Face Cleanser, $38

    TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 9.3

    Why: "I love this cleanser, one of the only ones I've ever purchased repeatedly. It's very gentle, yet it removes all my makeup, including mascara, very thoroughly. [It] doesn't sting my eyes, pull my lashes out or dry my skin. My skin is dry in the winter, more oily in the summer, and [this] is great for both seasons. It only takes a small amount to do the job, so the product lasts a long time, making it an economical purchase. The tube makes it safe to use in the shower and great for traveling. I highly recommend this cleanser." — BarbBlue, TotalBeauty.com member

  • No. 10: Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser, $29.95

    TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 9.3

    Why: "This is absolutely the BEST cleanser I have EVER tried, hands down. I need something grainy to provide some scrubbing action, and this uses sugar and rice powder so it's gentle. It smells amazing and works like a charm. My skin breaks out if I don't use this weekly. Also, it minimizes pores, ladies!" — aquarianrabbit, TotalBeauty.com member

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  • No. 9: Glytone Mild Gel Wash, $28

    TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 9.3

    Why: "I know most people love this because of their acne, which this is great for, but it does so much more. The glycolic acid/AHA complex is meant to exfoliate and refresh the skin. This is great for acne because it clears the skin of clogging agents from the outside in. My acne marks fade more quickly because I am constantly sloughing off the old cells with this cleanser. This is not drying and not irritating for sensitive skin." — Rourou, TotalBeauty.com member

  • No. 8: Estee Lauder Perfectly Clean Splash Away Foaming Cleanser, $19

    TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 9.3

    Why: "Perfect for households with combination skin types. My 16-year-old daughter has oily and I've got combination, and amazingly we both have brilliant results from using this cleanser. This one product removes her excess oil while ridding her of blackheads. Meanwhile it cleanses my skin without making it feel dry or excessively sensitive. Added benefit: Your skin feels literally squeaky clean after use and responds well to whatever product you follow your cleansing with." — jentindell, TotalBeauty.com member

  • No. 7: Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser, $26

    TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 9.4

    Why: "In my quest to use natural products, Caudalie's foaming cleanser is a standout. I have combination skin that never felt completely cleansed without a toner, which then left it feeling dry. [This] cleanser is the perfect single-product solution; it leaves my skin feeling squeaky clean but not dry." — texasgal, TotalBeauty.com member

  • No. 6: Kiehl's Blue Herbal Gel Cleanser, $20.50

    TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 9.4

    Why: "I have oily skin and this is the only product that I have been able to use for years and not have my skin break out. I admit, I'm a sucker for things advertised as the new big thing, but I always find myself going back to Kiehl's." — dasschick, TotalBeauty.com member

  • No. 5: Basis Cleaner Clean Face Wash, $5.49

    TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 9.4

    Why: "I am in my early thirties and still have random minor breakouts. I can't use typical acne cleansing wash as it dries out my skin. Other more moisturizing cream washes don't do anything for my breakouts. I love how [this] leaves my skin. My skin is cleansed, but [this product] doesn't dry it out." — karbear19, TotalBeauty.com member

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  • No. 4: Aveda Tourmaline Charged Exfoliating Cleanser, $29

    TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 9.5

    Why: "This product was recommended to me by a friend who is a makeup artist. I have some red broken capillaries on my face and it dramatically reduces their appearance." — pizon23, TotalBeauty.com member

  • No. 3: DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, $25

    TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 9.5

    Why: "I was wary to try this because I have acne prone skin with [an] oily T-zone area, but this stuff is fantastic! At the end of the day, I cleanse my skin with this and it removes all my makeup in one go. It rinses off clean with no residue. I use it on weekends too when I haven't worn makeup, and it just makes my skin feel so nice. In the mornings I use my regular ProActiv regimen, and haven't had any flare-ups. Give it a try!" — saifai, TotalBeauty.com member

  • No. 2: Bioelements Flash Foam Cleanser, $33

    TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 9.5

    Why: "I love everything about this cleanser. Gentle enough with my rosacea and I use it to remove my eye makeup as well!" — NatalieKelley, TotalBeauty.com member

  • No. 1: Boscia Purifying Cleansing Gel, $26

    TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 9.6

    Why: "Deep cleans, smells great, and contains natural and organic ingredients. I love this cleanser. It is gentle, yet effective, in removing makeup and sunscreen. I highly recommend this cleanser for oily/combo and sensitive skin." -- daw825, TotalBeauty.com member

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Video: Must-have anti-aging products for 2011

  1. Transcript of: Must-have anti-aging products for 2011

    NATALIE MORALES reporting: This morning on TODAY'S BEAUTY , turning back the clock in 2011 . More than half of all women aged 25 to 34 say they use anti-aging products on their face. So which ones are really worth the money? Linda Wells is editor-in-chief of Allure magazine. Linda , good morning.

    Ms. LINDA WELLS (Editor-in-Chief, Allure Magazine): Good morning, Natalie .

    MORALES: And I think the great thing for the consumer is you're finding a lot of these at-home treatments that -- or the now treatments at home that you could only before -- you had to go to the dermatologist to get, right?

    Ms. WELLS: That's right . And a lot of them are -- they originate in the dermatologists, they're milder forms so you're not going to have the terrible reactions or have to need medical supervision to use. But it's this idea of being able to do it at home and maybe, you know, benefiting over time .

    MORALES: Right.

    Ms. WELLS: You really have to put time into these, though.

    MORALES: OK. All right, let's talk first about what you have here from Olay , and this is a cleansing system. And you're seeing a lot of these, which is sort of the exfoliating brush, right?

    Ms. WELLS: Right. Exactly. It's Olay Pro-X. And this has a -- this is a battery-powered brush. It's really light so you can take it travel...

    MORALES: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. WELLS: ...you can use it morning and night, you can use it in the shower. And it cleans and exfoliates the skin, as you say, but what it does -- and scientists have found that it actually stretches the pores just a little bit ...

    MORALES: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. WELLS: ...not too much, and a just a little bit so that when you put on the serum afterward, it goes in deeper. And the whole game in anti-aging put -- skin care is you got to have the ingredients go beneath the surface of the skin or they're not going to work.

    MORALES: Yeah, to be more effective. OK. So it makes the product much more effective.

    Ms. WELLS: Right. So this is great. And this is 29.99, which is another way of saying $30.

    MORALES: Great price point.

    Ms. WELLS: And they -- this is -- it's similar to a product that's over $200. So it's great, you get it the drugstore, and it's a terrific thing.

    MORALES: Wonderful. Now, OK, I love the sound of this next one. It's a sunscreen that actually change -- takes those UV rays and makes them into something that's actually good for your skin. How does that work?

    Ms. WELLS: Right, well, this is DERMAdoctor Photodynamic Therapy . And it sounds completely preposterous and sort of futuristic.

    MORALES: Right. It does.

    Ms. WELLS: But it's an SPF 30 sunscreen. When you're in the sun, it converts the sun rays into visible UV light . And if you've ever been to the dermatologist, they put you under these lights to stimulate collagen and elastin.

    MORALES: Uh-huh .

    Ms. WELLS: So this does it using the sun. And that sounds like it's impossible, but doctors have studied it and they say it's really promising.


    Ms. WELLS: Yeah.

    MORALES: So it's showing some good effects already then.

    Ms. WELLS: Exactly.

    MORALES: OK, now, this one, I know, has also been proven by doctors to work, too, and it's this microneedle therapy system, which you can't really see these little fine needles on these roller balls, but those are little itty bitty needles. Now, how does that work...

    Ms. WELLS: Right. And you can feel it...

    MORALES: ...on your skin?

    Ms. WELLS: There are these -- there are 200 little needles on this, which sounds like medieval torture.

    MORALES: Uh-huh. Whoa.

    Ms. WELLS: And you use it on your clean skin when it's dry, and you go over your skin, and it causes these tiny injuries, and injury in this case is good, it's not bad.

    MORALES: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. WELLS: It actually stimulates the production of collagen and elastin to compensate for the injury, and then again it opens up a little -- a little possibility of allowing these ingredients to go into the skin in a -- in a deeper way. So it comes with all these other serums and skin care products and ingredients and really penetrate.

    MORALES: This is a little more expensive.

    Ms. WELLS: It's $200.

    MORALES: Two hundred dollars, but may be worth the investment as it's really working.

    Ms. WELLS: And it's, you know, it's from the doctors. It's from two dermatologists who came up with ProActiv . So they really have proven history.

    MORALES: Rodan and Fields , right.

    Ms. WELLS: Right, yeah.

    MORALES: All right, let's move over here to makeup powder that actually protects the collagen in your skin.

    Ms. WELLS: Right.

    MORALES: How's that?

    Ms. WELLS: This is Priori . It has CoffeeBerry in it, and CoffeeBerry is one of the most potent antioxidants on the market. And what that does is it protects the skin cells from damage, from the sun, from pollution, from smoke.

    MORALES: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. WELLS: And so you're applying this, it has SPF 25, it's covering your skin...

    MORALES: Wow, that's great.

    Ms. WELLS: ...and it's also actually doing something while it covers your skin.

    MORALES: And it's all very natural ingredients , I was reading, so -- which is great.

    Ms. WELLS: It's natural, yeah. Exactly.

    MORALES: OK, wonderful. And then over here, this anti-aging serum that fights wrinkles but without some of those harsh side effects that you can get from some of the other products, right?

    Ms. WELLS: Right. The gold standard in wrinkle fighting, besides sunscreen, is retinoids.

    MORALES: Yeah.

    Ms. WELLS: And retinoids are great. But what they do is they can cause irritation and redness and flaking. And once that happens, people stop using them.

    MORALES: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. WELLS: And so once you stop using them you're not doing any good at all. So Origins has this Plantscription . It has various ingredients in it that duplicate prescription retinoids, it's 88 percent as effective.

    MORALES: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. WELLS: But it doesn't have any of the irritation, and it's also natural.

    MORALES: Very good.

    Ms. WELLS: And what's different about this, too, is natural products tend not to be studied medically, and this one has scientific studies to back it up.

    MORALES: OK. Wonderful. We like that. OK, and a lot of people, as they get older, especially women, you start -- your hair starts to thin, you start losing your luster.

    Ms. WELLS: Right. Right.

    MORALES: And this is a product that tackles that.

    Ms. WELLS: Right. This is Living Proof , it's full, it's a -- it's a thickening mousse. And what it -- it was invented by an MIT scientist, so already that sounds better than your average mousse.

    MORALES: Right.

    Ms. WELLS: And it has these -- it puts these little microdots on your hair, and it separates one hair from the next so it gives the impression of fullness, but with no stickiness, no crunchiness, no -- none of that awful, unpleasant stuff that you have with some...