Washing your face may seem like a no-brainer, but do you use a face wash that is specially formulated for your unique needs and skin type? It’s okay, most people don’t. But when cleaned properly, the best face washes remove dirt and oil, leaving your skin looking toned and feeling hydrated. However, the wrong face wash could dry out your skin, leave it oily or exacerbate underlying skin problems. So how do you choose the right face wash for men?
“It mostly has to do with whether your skin is oily and breakout-prone or dry,” says Suneel Chilukuri, MD, Cosmetic Dermatologist and Founder of Refresh Dermatology in Houston, Texas. “Simplicity is key when it comes to recommending a cleanser. Men should look for a face wash that is multifunctional. For example, a cleanser that also provides exfoliating benefits or a cleanser built to be used on the go and combines cleansing properties as well as antioxidants and added hydration.”
When Picking the Best Face Wash for Men, It’s All About the Ingredients
To find the best face wash for men, it starts with looking for the right ingredients. “Men should look for ingredients that will balance sebum production and cleanse the skin without over-drying or stripping the skin of its natural barrier,” advises Dr. Chilukuri. “Ingredients such as micellar water, activated charcoal and glycolic acid are good options.”
Then there are ingredients that should be avoided, such as sodium lauryl or Laureth Sulfate, as those are strong detergents that can cause irritation in many skin types. “Even for men, I recommend avoiding aggressive detergents, high levels of surfactants, drying alcohols and synthetic fragrance as they are harsh on most skin types,” Dr. Chilukuri says. “It is also important to be careful with exfoliating washes as some include ingredients that are too abrasive and can actually cause micro-tears in the skin. While men’s skin has more sebum and tends to be thicker than women’s skin, we still need to ensure the proper lipid balance to ensure a healthy barrier function.”
For optimal skin health, it’s best to wash your face twice a day, in the morning and at night.
“But if only one time per day is feasible, it is best to wash their face in the evening time before bed,” Dr. Chilukuri says. “Throughout the day we are exposed to dirt, debris and environmental pollutants that will stick to the surface of the skin. To maintain healthy skin, it is imperative to cleanse away the daily pollutants and grime the skin is exposed to daily.”
As for the proper face washing technique, Dr. Chilukuri says the ideal way to cleanse the skin is to wet your hands first and then apply a pea-size amount of face wash to the palm of the hand and create a lather. Start on the forehead and cheeks, then in circular motions work down to the jawline. Cleanse for one to two minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water. Pat dry with a towel.
Now that you know everything there is to know about washing your face, shop the best face washes for men below.
Why Trust SPY When Choosing a Men’s Face Wash?
SPY’s team of shopping writers, product reviewers and grooming experts have tested hundreds, if not thousands, of grooming products in recent years. We’re always searching for the best new products in the men’s grooming space, and we collect the best of the best in our annual men’s product awards. To help men find the best grooming and skincare products for their dollar, we regularly test and review beard oils, face wash, razors, body wash, shampoo and absolutely everything else guys need to look, smell and feel their best. All of the face wash products featured below have been tested by SPY’s editors or specifically recommended by a dermatologist. Most importantly, we would never recommend a product that we wouldn’t buy ourselves.
So whether you’re looking for an intense, acne-busting face wash or a natural cleanser that’s gentle on sensitive skin, you’ll find the right product for your skin type (and wallet) below.
1. Caldera + Lab The Clean Slate
When it comes to the best face washes, we will almost always choose a naturally-based face wash over something with too many chemicals or alcohol-infused. And out of all of the greatest natural face washes out there, Caldera + Lab’s The Clean Slate face wash is seriously hard to beat. This super gentle, highly-cleansing face wash is ideal for any skin type due to its inclusion of wild-harvested and organic ingredients. The Clean Slate uses a pretty funky ingredient that puts it above anything else, being mineral-rich glacial ocean silt extracts to cleanse that skin. We also love the subtle fragrance, which smells of minerals and freshwater.
In addition to the ocean silt, Caldera + Lab also packs in probiotics, plant extracts and hydrating amino acids to make this pH-balanced face wash one of the best you can buy.
Pros: Premium natural ingredients. Gentle and cleansing
Cons: Some options may be more economical.
2. Harry’s Face Wash
As one of the best daily face washes for men, Harry’s cleanser washes away dirt, oil and dead skin cells, which can all clog pores. Harry’s is best known as an online shave club, but the company introduced a line of new skincare products. The brand’s face cleanser doubles as a deep foaming wash and a scrub, and thanks to its exfoliating perks, it’s one of our favorite new face washes for men. It taps volcanic rock as its exfoliating ingredient, making it a sustainable choice, and also includes natural essential oils of eucalyptus and mint to leave skin feeling super fresh.
Pros: Economical three-pack option. Exfoliating formula. Good option prior to shaving.
Cons: Not many scent options.
3. King C. Gillette Beard Wash
Your beard (and the skin underneath it) needs a daily cleanse the same way the rest of your face does. You know, to keep everything fresh and hydrated. That said, the best face wash for men with beards comes from King C. Gillette because of how catered it is to beard hair. Using coconut, argan oil, avocado oil and a touch of menthol to moisturize and clean your beard, this wash also tackles the skin under your beard without stripping away any oils your facial hair produces to keep it healthy. Want to rub it on your face, too? Go for it, this beard wash does double duty as a face wash, so you can use it from forehead to neck. After testing out this two-in-one cleanser, we loved this beard wash enough to name it one of the best grooming products in our annual roundup of the best products.
Pros: Works for beards and faces. Good economical option. Natural ingredients like coconut, argan oil and avocado oil.
Cons: Some may not like the menthol sensation.
4. Huron – Men’s Daily Face Wash
This pick from Huron delivers everything we look for in the best face wash for men: It removes dirt and oil, unclogs pores and leaves skin feeling soft. Plus, it gently exfoliates with bamboo powder and superfruit enzymes to give your skin texture an overall boost. There’s a slew of other potent ingredients, including aloe to calm, cactus to hydrate and glycerin to retain moisture. The natural formula is especially effective for guys who prefer plant-based cleansers and suffer from irritated, dry or acne-prone skin.
Pros: Unique natural ingredients like bamboo and cactus. Free from parabens and sulfates. Economical option.
Cons: Some may prefer a larger tube size.
5. Brickell Men’s Purifying Charcoal Face Wash for Men
In recent years, many men have discovered the benefits of natural skincare, and there are a lot of great products featuring simple formulas that are extremely effective on most skin types. Brickell’s grooming products are popular for exactly that reason. Case in point: this Purifying Charcoal Face Wash. This men’s face wash blends activated charcoal with peppermint, eucalyptus, olive oil and aloe vera to rid pores of dirt and excess oil while simultaneously restoring your skin.
Our reviewers found that the charcoal had a subtle abrasiveness that felt comforting when rubbed gently on the face. We also loved the stimulating effects of the peppermint, which leaves skin feeling invigorated, but more importantly, refreshed.
Pros: Many of the ingredients used in the Brickell face wash are certified organic.
Cons: Some options are more economical.