Make my skin happy!
August 18, 2011 5:30 AM   Subscribe

I'm on the hunt for a new facial cleanser. I've found a fancy-dancy expensive one that I like, but before I commit to it, are there any drugstore brands worth trying out?

I've been in facial cleanser heaven since a small bottle of philosophy purity one-step facial cleanser arrived in my Birchbox in July. Unfortunately, purchasing a full-size of the cleanser is a bit of an investment. It's an investment I'm willing to make, but I'd like to exhaust my cheap, drugstore options first.

I have normal skin, and get very few breakouts. Drugstore cleansers I've already tried: Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser, Dove Foaming Facial Cleanser, Aveeno Positively Radiant Cleanser, L'Oreal Go 360 Clean Deep Facial Cleanser, and Cetaphil. I want a cleanser that will leave my skin feeling soft and tight, clean and refreshed, with absolutely no residue. The Aveeno cleanser especially left me feeling like I had a film on my face, despite rinsing thoroughly. I'd also like something that doesn't feel like it'll sting if it gets even remotely close to my eyes.

If the purity cleanser is the best option for me, I'll pony up for it, but I'd really like to know if you've had great experience with anything else. Thanks!
posted by litnerd to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (23 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I really like Burt's Bees Soap Bark and Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream. It does take a little extra effort to rinse it off because it's not a foaming cleanser, but, I have oily skin and I have found that it's the best stuff that I have ever tried! (and I've tried them all!)
posted by Hanuman1960 at 5:39 AM on August 18, 2011

Best answer: I've use Purpose Gentle Cleaning Wash for 25 years and get tons of compliments on my skin. Less than $7 at the drugstore. Normally I'm not very brand loyal, but this is one thing I won't do without.
posted by cecic at 6:07 AM on August 18, 2011 [5 favorites]

Liz Earle Hot Cloth Polishing Cleanser is hands down the best ever for that 'clean' feeling that actually benefits the skin. Actually, everything from the Liz Earle range works, so check it out if you can.

Cheap-o version = Ponds Cold Cream Cleanser massaged in for TWO minutes and a hot facecloth
posted by Chorus at 6:16 AM on August 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I've been using Neutrogena's Blackhead Eliminating Daily Scrub lately (~ $5-10). I don't really have blackheads and usually have clear skin, but I feel like it's been even clearer since I've been using it. It's kind of gritty for exfoliation and makes my skin feel fresh without leaving a residue.

Also - have you tried going over your face with a clean wet washcloth after using your cleanser to get rid of filminess (and for bonus exfoliation)?
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 6:25 AM on August 18, 2011

Best answer: a cleanser that will leave my skin feeling soft and tight, clean and refreshed, with absolutely no residue

Clean & Clear Foaming Facial Cleanser for Sensitive Skin is one I'm particularly fond of that fits this statement perfectly, IMO. I don't think it would sting eyes.
posted by cp311 at 6:30 AM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I do really enjoy the feeling/consistency/scent of Purity, but it doesn't seem to work all that much better than drugstore brands. Have you tried the Neutrogena bars? My face feels so clean after using them (but the scent is a little ... meaty).
posted by getawaysticks at 6:32 AM on August 18, 2011

Best answer: I love Paula's Choice cleansers. They're pricier than drugstore brands, but not as expensive as philosophy. I like the Skin Balancing Cleanser in the summer and the Moisture Boost Cleanser in the winter.
posted by neushoorn at 6:42 AM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I second Purpose Gentle Cleaning Wash. I've been using it for 10 years on my not-breakout prone but very sensitive, rosacea-stricken face. You can rub it all up in your eyes to remove makeup - no stinging at all.
posted by GatorX3 at 6:43 AM on August 18, 2011

Best answer: My current favorite, which in my experience meets all your criteria, is Boots Expert Sensitive Gentle Cleansing Wash. It dispenses by pump as a nice thick foam, seems to do an excellent job of cleaning, rinses off w/o residue, and is fragrance-free and very cheap. You can buy it over the counter at Target (dunno if you've got one close by).
posted by Kat Allison at 6:49 AM on August 18, 2011

Best answer: Cerave! Expensive for a drugstore brand, cheap for a premium brand, leaves your skin feeling... well... pefect! Super-clean and yet not dry and scaly. It's kind of nondescript-looking - I passed over it a billion times in Rite Aid - but I'm so glad I finally picked it up.
posted by julthumbscrew at 7:08 AM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you don't want to spring for the Paula's Choice cleansers, register for (free) and check out her top recommended cleansers, which include many drugstore brands. Of those I've tried, I've liked all of them (so far favorites are the Olay foaming facial wash for sensitive skin and the Eucerin gentle cleanser).
posted by Salamandrous at 7:09 AM on August 18, 2011

3rding purpose for what you're want.
posted by ejaned8 at 7:12 AM on August 18, 2011

Best answer: My dermatologist recommended Neutrogena's Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask. I love it, leaves my skin feeling clean and as a bonus can be used as a mask.
posted by momochan at 7:25 AM on August 18, 2011

You might find that Neutrogena Naturals gets you the Purity-esque experience for less money. One bottle lasts about 90 days, in my experience.
posted by gsh at 8:33 AM on August 18, 2011

Since I have never used a special-purpose facial cleanser feel free to tell me I don't know what I'm talking about... but I have never used anything but Dove or Caress bar soap for sensitive skin, unscented, to wash my face. No residue; I'm not sure what "tight skin" feels like. FWIW people usually think I'm much younger than I really am so I guess it works for me.
posted by evilmomlady at 8:50 AM on August 18, 2011

Best answer: I'm seconding Paula's Choice, and if you haven't read her books about makeup/skincare, you should! The first time I read Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me changed my life, and that was over 15 years ago during my senior year of high school.

It seems a little sketch that she now is selling products too, but I've tried her stuff (she has samples of everything available on her website), and I am in love with my skin's behavior. I've been using Paula's Choice complete regimen since I went off oral BC, and my skin looks way better now. (And I am in my middlish 30s, and I am constantly thought to be in my mid-20's--much to my younger sister's chagrin. Everyone thinks she's older.)
posted by Kronur at 10:06 AM on August 18, 2011

Best answer: Another vote for Cerave. Their moisturizers are amazing as well. Totally weightless and they've really improved the look of my skin.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:09 AM on August 18, 2011

I have tried all kinds, I mean ALL kinds of cleansers that are out there....ok not ALL, but A LOT. I have combination skin, used to have oily skin when younger. I tend to be oilier in the summer and dryer in the winter, but still very few breakouts if any, and fairly decent complexion. Here's my routine and the products I use:

To remove make up, I use baby wipes first, then I use Lancome Creme Douceur. I believe using the proper make up cleanser is essential when you wear make up.

After I rinse that off, I use Oringins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash. I massage that all over my face for a bit, then rinse very well.

After that, I use a spray toner and leave it for a minute or two before I put on my moisturizer.

This is at night...but in the mornings, I use my favorite face cleanser, which is Dove soap. I used to hate Dove soap cause of the distinct fragrance I remember from childhood, but I've learned to love how it makes my skin feel without drying it out. When I don't want to go through the routine, I use the wipe to remove my make up, and lather up with Dove soap very well and massage all over my face thoroughly and rinse thoroughly.

I've used all kinds of cleansers and products, and I prolly will continue to buy them and try, as long as I have disposable income, but I'll stick with my Dove soap forever. And they're cheap! compared to almost $30 dollar Lancome and Origins cleanser.

P.S. Don't use foam cleanser. It tends to dry out your skin and if you use too much oil removing cleanser, it actually makes your pores produce more oil. Natural oil is good for you, it's the dirt that you wanna stay away from.
posted by icollectpurses at 1:47 PM on August 18, 2011

Best answer: Speaking of Paula's Choice, she doesn't have a high opinion of the Philosophy cleanser; apparently it has a lot of skin-irritating plant extracts. Here's the review (if you can't see it without signing in, just sign up for a free account, as Salamandrous mentioned):

That aside, I currently use and like Neutrogena's Fresh Foaming cleanser, but I've also used Eucerin Sensitive Skin Hydrating cleanser, which I liked and would go back to using. I did find that it left less of a residue-y feel than the Neutrogena (I switched only because I like trying out different products).
posted by dynamiiiite at 1:54 PM on August 18, 2011

I also love Purpose! Been using it for over ten years!
posted by triggerfinger at 4:30 PM on August 18, 2011

Best answer: I've used Aveeno's positively radiant cleanser and also hated it. However, I am a HUGE fan of Aveeno's clear complexion foaming cleanser. I definitely think it is worth a try. No residue feeling at all, and I think it'll achieve what you're going for. Note: I don't have break-out prone skin but I feel that the cleanser helps keep my skin that much clearer.

It's funny because I am so picky about all cosmetic things. Aveeno might be the only drugstore product I use come to think of it, but I could never trade.
posted by corn_bread at 5:57 PM on August 18, 2011

Best answer: I use the Olay foaming face wash that Salamandrous mentioned. Love it!!! It's really cheap and really works (takes off makeup without stripping my skin, doesn't leave a film). Very highly recommended.
posted by imalaowai at 8:53 PM on August 18, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you all so much for your suggestions! I'm excited to have a curated list of highly-recommended cleansers to reference at the drop of a hat.

I tried Neutrogena Naturals first, and hated the smell. I tried Purpose next, and it was a winner! I'm sure many of the other cleansers listed above are fantastic too--I just don't have the patience for the many trips to Target and returns/exchanges it would take to find the very perfect one. I'm sure over the years, I'll try some of those too! Thanks again.
posted by litnerd at 5:26 AM on August 22, 2011

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