Discover the best natural face cleansers for your personal preferences, skin type and stage of life. Includes foaming cleansers, cleansing milks, exfoliating cleansers, cleansing oils, cleansing balms, facial bar soaps and more.
As much as I love to give recommendations for my favorite natural, non-toxic products, I know that the products I’m crazy about, won’t always work for YOU. Whether it’s shampoo or period products or reusable lunch containers, we all have our own personal needs and preferences, so we’re not going to be interested in the exact same things.
This is especially true when it comes to facial care products, because we all have different skin care types, stages and preferences – but one thing I hope we can all agree on is choosing the safest and most eco-friendly facial care products possible.
Let’s take a look at the first step in your facial care routine – the cleansing step – and find some safe and natural alternatives to the conventional facial cleansers you may be currently using.
What’s Wrong with Conventional Facial Cleansers?
From the inexpensive facial cleansers found at drugstores, to the higher-end varieties found at beauty counters, there is no shortage of options for ways to wash your face. The problem with most of these products is that they are made with chemicals that could irritate your skin or cause harm to your body in the long run.
Some of the unhealthy ingredients in facial cleansing products include:
- Harsh foaming cleansers like sodium lauryl and laureth sulfate
- PEG compounds and other ethoxylated ingredients, that can become contaminated with 1,4-dioxane
- Formaldehyde-releasing ingredients (quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea)
- Ethanolamines (MEA/DEA/TEA) that can react with other chemicals to form carcinogenic nitrosamines
- Artificial fragrances – Can be a mix of 100s of undisclosed chemicals including endocrine disrupting phthalates and other ingredients that may cause allergic reactions
- Paraben preservatives (propylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, methylparaben)
- Petroleum based ingredients that come from non-renewable resources and are not environmentally friendly
- Read more about ingredients to avoid in skin care products here
What to Look for in Natural Face Cleansers
A high quality face cleanser should NOT be made with harsh ingredients that strip your face of its beneficial natural oils or any of the harmful ingredients we talked about above. Ingredients in a natural face cleanser should clean your skin and remove makeup gently, while adding soothing and moisturizing nutrients to your face as well.
- Minimally processed, plant based ingredients
- Scents from essential oils or other natural ingredients – with ALL fragrance components listed
- High percentage of organic ingredients
- Trusted certifications such as EWG Verified, MADE SAFE or USDA Organic
MORE FACIAL CARE POSTS YOU’LL LOVE:
Where to Find Natural Face Cleansers
I may receive commissions from purchases made through links in this article. Full Disclosure
Luckily, face cleansers made with clean, plant-based ingredients are not hard to find these days. Check out local stores like food co-ops, natural products stores and even places like Target and CVS for popular natural skin care brands. If you can’t find what you want locally, you can find many products online:
- Amazon (Some of my favorite personal care brands are listed in my Amazon store)
- The Detox Market
- Credo Beauty
- Thrive Market
Best Natural Face Cleansers
Depending on your preferences, there are so many great cleansing options – foaming cleansers, creamy cleansers, oil-based cleansers, cleansing balms, exfoliating cleansers, facial bar soaps and even DIY facial cleanser options. Within the mix, there are cleansers for different skin types and stages of life, including dry skin, oily or blemish prone skin and aging/mature skin.
Even though your needs are different than mine, the products and brands I’m mentioning here are a combination of things I’ve used myself, or that have come highly recommended by others.
Foaming Facial Cleansers
Just because a product is naturally based, doesn’t mean it can’t foam up a bit! If you’re the type that prefers a bit of lather to feel clean, I’ve got you covered with these excellent products!
The Nourish Organic cleanser is probably the most moisturizing of the bunch, and if you’re looking for certified organic, then check out the Juice Beauty facial wash. The MyChelle cleanser has fruit enzymes for super gentle exfoliation.
Creamy Facial Cleansers
For dry skin, a creamy cleanser may be more your thing. My skin loves these gentle, moisturizing cleansers, especially during the winter months. Acure is a great budget option, Juice Beauty is the one I buy most often, and if I had to choose a favorite, it’s probably the Evan Healy Rose Cleansing Milk – so lovely!
Lately, I’ve been pretty obsessed with cleansing oils! Not only are they a great way to remove makeup and grime, but they leave your skin incredibly moisturized – even before you use your moisture cream. Cleansing oils are rubbed into dry skin and then rinsed off lightly with warm water.
Pleni Naturals and One Love both contain fruit enzymes that provide a mild exfoliation and can even be used as a facial mask. The Beautycounter product is made with a plant-derived Retinatural Complex that is comparable to retinol — but without the harmful side effects. Bonus: All 3 come in glass bottles and Pleni Naturals is MADE SAFE certified!
If you haven’t tried a cleansing balm yet, I highly recommend you start! A cleansing balm is an oil based product that comes in a solid state (as opposed to liquid) and is used for cleansing and makeup removal. The beauty of a cleansing balm is that it works for any skin type – dry skin, oily or acne-prone skin, sensitive skin, young skin or mature skin.
Similar to a cleansing oil, you rub the balm into dry skin and then use warm water and a muslin cloth to gently wipe away excess oil from skin. The Beautycounter Cleansing Balm is the BOMB but if you can’t swing the price, the less expensive options are really nice too.
Facial Bar Soaps
Into minimizing waste as much as possible? You’ll appreciate these plastic-free facial bar soaps. Thumbs up to the Beautycounter Charcoal Cleansing Bar – it is awesome! If you are looking for a budget option, the Seaweed Bath Co bar comes highly recommended.
Cleansers for Acne/Oily Skin
Those of you with oily or blemish-prone skin may benefit from a cleanser specifically formulated for your skin type. Luckily there are quite a few naturally-derived formulas that are far better for your skin than traditional acne cleansers.
Sometimes a little scrubbing along with the cleansing is just what you need for clean, invigorated skin. These exfoliating cleansers are super gentle and can be used for all skin types.
DIY Facial Cleansers
Whether you want to save money or you just love making your own homemade skin care products, sometimes DIY is the way to go! I’ve included my homemade cleansing balm as well as a couple other unique DIY cleanser ideas.
Do you have a favorite natural face cleanser? Let me know in the comments!