The Best Face Washes Ever

My Routine

One area that I don’t branch out much, though, is with my face wash. I have sensitive skin that tends to act out if I change anything too drastically about my day-to-day. For example, if I wear more makeup than usual for a couple days in a row, if I don’t drink enough water in a day/have too much coffee, or if I touch my face more than usual, my skin tends to flip out.

Obagi365 Exfoliating Cleanser and Obagi Nu Derm Foaming Gel

My skincare routine can get a little complicated. I like to try new things and to mix up what moisturizer or serum I am using and when. Sephora has only supported this habit, and now that I have the Sephora app on my phone with push notifications about new products, well, all bets are off.

If and when that happens, I like to go back to just the basics – a good face wash, witch hazel, and a mild moisturizer. The face wash, though, is truly key. I rotate through three to four types based on different skin needs. Here’s the breakdown:

For Literally Every Day

Obagi Nu Derm Foaming Gel

Obagi NuDerm Foaming Gel Face Wash

I have been using Obagi products in some capacity since I was a teenager. I’m a big fan of their products. They’re medically backed and designed to help with things like anti-aging, hyperpigmentation, sun damage, and acne. Really, one stop shopping.

Way back when, it was pretty hard to find the cleanser independent of the big product set. The only places that really sold the line at all seemed to be doctors’ offices. The internet is a wonderful thing, though, and now it’s easier than ever to pick up a bottle or two of this awesome stuff.

A few times throughout the years, I ventured away from the Nu Derm Foaming Gel, lured by pretty bottles or ingredient lists I thought looked good. I have always gone back to this cleanser, though, for two reasons: one, it’s super gentle and, two, it’s super effective.

This cleanser removes makeup without much trouble and leaves my skin feeling clean but not dry. The only makeup I’ve had issues with is mascara and heavier liquid foundations, but a little extra cleanser tends to sort that out. I only use a tiny amount each time – seriously, less than a dime size dose – because it bubbles up and spreads out so nicely. It comes off with one or two passes of a damp wash cloth and, just like that, I’m ready to go.

For When Breakouts Need a Little Tough Love

Obagi 365 Exfoliating Cleanser

Like I said, I really like Obagi.

This Exfoliating Cleanser is great for stubborn breakouts that just won’t go away. It’s also a preventative product, which is always nice. This cleanser focuses on clearing up dull and dry skin that can lead to acne and discoloration.

Obagi365 Exfoliating Cleanser Face Wash

This cleanser exfoliates with a larger grit exfoliant that almost feels like big sugar granules. They seem to really clean without tearing up the skin. The base cleanser is heavier than the Foaming Gel, though, so it takes a bit more effort to wash off.

I would recommend using the Exfoliating Cleanser in the shower, since I find that the granules have a mind of their own and tend to get everywhere. Plus, since it does take more work to wash off, I think the shower is less harsh on my skin than basically scrubbing with a wash cloth.

A note of caution with this one – I found that using it daily really dried out my skin. The product seems to be made for daily use, but I’d recommend sticking to once or twice a week unless your skin is more forgiving than mine!

For Heavy Makeup Days

Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Cloud Cream Cleanser

First, Peter Thomas Roth’s Water Drench Moisturizer is the best thing ever. I love it so much that I was inspired to try the cleanser version.

Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Cloud Cream Cleanser and Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Cloud Cream Moisturizer

Like I mentioned before, I don’t branch out with the basics much. I’m glad I tried this one out, though, because it really fills the gaps of the first two cleansers here. Water Drench Cloud Cream Cleanser is a thicker wash, almost the consistency of a rich body wash. It has hyaluronic acid in it along with other unique ingredients, like marshmallow root extract. Not sure exactly what the marshmallow root does, but it seems to work!

This cleanser specifically says it removes makeup and, let me tell you, it sure does. It removed Milk’s Kush Mascara in no time, without getting any in my eyes in the process! It also worked well on stubborn lip gloss. Overall, I’m a big fan. Check out the moisturizer, too, while you’re at it!

For Mild Exfoliation

Dermalogica AGE Smart Multivitamin Thermafoliant

I received this exfoliant as a sample in a skincare order about a year ago and the tube is still going strong. The Dermalogica Thermafoliant is a fine-grit and mild exfoliant that – wait for it – warms up when you apply it!

I just think that’s too cool.

Dermalogica Multivitamin Thermafoliant Exfoliating Face Wash
Available at and

This exfoliant is all kinds of awesome – cruelty-free, paraben-free, no artificial colors, all that good stuff. It’s designed to polish away dulling skin “to reveal smoother, fresher skin.” According to Dermalogica, the “thermal technology drives benefits further into skin,” which is always a good thing.

The exfoliant isn’t great for getting makeup off. I wouldn’t recommend it for after a really intense workout. What it is great for, though, is when your skin just needs a little polishing and a little luxury.

A little goes a long way with this exfoliant, which is great. I love using it all over my face, jaw, neck, and chest. It’s so mild that you can use it multiple times a week without any issue at all. The Dermalogica website recommends using it on dry skin for more intense warmth, but I’ve always used it on damp skin just fine. Might have to try it on dry skin, though, now!

What is your favorite face wash? Do you stick with one kind or mix things up?

Looking for more fun skincare products?
Check out my curated Amazon list of favorites!