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Cleaner Cleansers: Your post-Cetaphil skin-care regimen

Photo: Instagram/@burtsbees

When we first broke the news that cult- and dermatologist-favorite cleanser Cetaphil was not doing your skin (or general health) any favors, we know, it was a major buzzkill.

And so we set out to create a list of better-for-you substitutes to make breaking up with it slightly easier.

Since then, more and more natural and organic brands have debuted and introduced cleaner cleansers we can get behind—and we’ve tried them all to bring you this updated list.

Instead of mostly water and a few irritating chemicals, they’re primarily made with plant-based ingredients, and several are organic. Most importantly, none contain potentially toxic beauty ingredients like those on the Dirty Dozen list.

Of course, just like your organic tomatoes, they may cost slightly more than mainstream face washes, but most on this list come in at less than $40, so you won’t get total sticker shock compared to your drugstore (or Sephora) faves.

Speaking of which, you’ll mostly have to have to look beyond your neighborhood CVS to find many of them, to stores like the Whole Body section of Whole Foods and boutique natural beauty shops or websites like Spirit Beauty Lounge  or Follain. Or, to make it super easy, you could just click through, below.

Originally posted on July 27, 2010, updated on March 31, 2016.

Here are nine cleanser cleansers to start washing up with, now.

Get Started

Photo: Burt’s Bees

1. Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions Purifying Gel Cleanser, $14

Burt’s Bees is arguably the cleanest (and most time-tested) drugstore brand out there, and this acne-preventing cleanser contains willow bark, a natural source of salicylic acid, which is a proven pore penetrator and skin calmer.


Photo: Meow Meow Tweet

2. Meow Meow Tweet Face Cleanser, $25

The light milky texture is a lot like a certain drugstore brand best-seller, but the ingredients are so much better in this indie Brooklyn brand. It’s all about super-star plant actives, such as witch hazel, tea tree, and coconut oil—ingredients that can actually do something beneficial for your skin (like prevent over-drying it or causing breakouts). Just FYI: Its light forest-fresh scent means your boyfriend might steal it, too.


Photo: One Love Organics

3. One Love Organics Easy Does It Foaming Cleanser, $30

One Love’s foaming formula—filled with organic Chilean soap bark, cold-pressed apple oil, and vegetable glycerin—feels just right for normal skin after a sweaty workout when you need a little scrubbing action on your face. And it comes with just the right amount of naturally produced bubbles (not sodium laurel sulfate), so you feel super refreshed.


Photo: S.W. Basics

4. S.W. Basics Cleanser, $22

S.W. Basics signature cleanser is the ultimate product for super sensitive skin or those who need to taper off overly active or aggressive products. Made with only three all-organic ingredients (rosewater, vegetable glycerin, and tea tree oil), you can apply it with a cotton pad and rinse for an ultra gentle clean feeling. (Although you may need something a bit stronger to get makeup off beforehand.)


Photo: Acure

5. Acure Sensitive Facial Cleanser, $15

If you’re missing the texture of your traditional drugstore cleanser, you’ll love this one. It’s a super gentle, creamy cleanser for sensitive skin, with a barely-there scent. Though its loaded with calming chamomile, superfruits, and a fermented resveratrol probiotic for good measure. It takes off makeup with ease, and the argan oil hydrates and balances your skin’s sebum (oil) production. (Oh, and it’s now available at Target!)


Photo: Intelligent Nutrients

6. Intelligent Nutrients Plant Stem Cell Science Purifying Cleansing Gel, $38

Here’s something you should know: Algae extracts, like in this certified organic soothing gel cleanser, do an amazing job of purifying and balancing your skin (especially if it’s oil-prone). And this cleanser calms sensitive skin with summer lilac plant stem cells, too.


Photo: Beauty Counter

7. Beautycounter Routine Clean Cream Cleanser, $24

This gentle cream cleanser is formulated using the safe, scientific principles the brand is known for, with skin-soothing organic coconut oil and aloe (that make it great for dry skin), healing botanical extracts, and a light-yet-refreshing citrusy scent from essential oils. And it gets your makeup off and cleans underneath in one, easy step.


Photo: Shamanuti

8. Shamanuti Activated Charcoal Cleanser, $36

Charcoal is this year’s hottest beauty ingredient, and its detoxifying properties make this cleanser perfect for acne- and freakout-prone skin. (It leaves your face feeling deeply clean after you rinse.) Other anti-inflammatory ingredients—like Roman chamomile and rooibos tea—help reduce redness, too.


Photo: Suki

9. Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser, $33

This best-selling exfoliating wash starts as a coarse sugar facial scrub but quickly transforms into an ultra-creamy citrus cleanser as it touches water and you rub it into your skin. All this multitasking leaves your skin feeling extra fresh and a little taut. It might be too harsh for every-day use, but it’s great several times a week for keeping your pores clear and skin bright.

Now that you’ve got the right cleansers, here are 11 microbead-free exfoliators to slough away your dry, winter skin.