Glowing Nest Skincare

The Best Natural Face Washes (Based on Ingredients)

Staff Guide

Apr 2, 2021

When you were a kid, you might have been told to wash your face with soap and water, but that's actually not such great advice. It's far better to use a specially-formulated face wash to get the job done.

Regular soaps—whether they're bar or liquid—strip away oils from the skin, drying it out and doing more harm than good. With industrial surfactants, synthetic fragrances, harsh sulphates and more, plain soap can also damage skin microflora, impairing the skin's function.

Dry skin stripped of its natural oils is not only less healthy, but also looks worse.

Even those with the oiliest of skin shouldn't be using plain soap—stripping away the oils can stimulate the skin to produce even more oil, making the problem worse.

Not All Cleansers Are Good For Your Skin

Just because a product is labeled as a face cleanser doesn't mean it's any better than a regular soap. Like every other type of personal care product, cleansers can also have iffy ingredients.

From skin-drying alcohols and sulfates to parabens, there can be ingredients in face washes you'll want nowhere near your face.

We looked at 20+ of the most popular clean and natural face cleansers on the market

Common Ingredients of Note in Face Cleansers

Cocamidopropyl Betaine (CAPB) - This functions as both a cleanser and foaming agent. It's an organic compound derived from coconut oil, and is found in several of the natural cleansers we looked at.

CAPB is known to cause skin irritation in some users. In fact, CAPB was named The American Contact Dermatitis Society’s “Allergen of the Year” in 2004. (source),

It's not the ingredient itself that causes contact dermatitis, but the residues of other chemicals used in its production. While pure CAPB should not have the risk of causing irritation or dermatitis, it's impossible to know whether a product is using pure CAPB or not.

While we don't give a product a negative rating based on including this ingredient, we highlight all products that do so you can make a decision accordingly.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) - None of the natural face washes we looked at contained SLS, but it's a common ingredient in many cleaners you'll find at the drugstore. Its purpose is to give the foamy consistency we typically associate with cleaning. In skincare, SLS can cause skin and eye irritation, dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis, as well as increase transepidermal water loss—drying out the skin. (source)

Drying alcohols - These include ethanol, denatured alcohol, ethyl alcohol, methanol, isopropyl alcohol, SD alcohol, and benzyl alcohol (when used as a main ingredient). These alcohols will dry out the skin, causing more harm than good. This doesn't apply to fatty alcohols you'll find in some of the cleaners we looked at, including cetearyl alcohol.

Our Methodology

We looked at social media, popular online shops like Credo, Sephora, and iHerb, and reviews across the internet to find 21 of the most popular face cleansers.

We reviewed 20+ of the most popular clean and natural cleansers available. They're rated on this scale:

Best 🌟 – These products are the best of the best. They contain all-clean ingredients, are non-toxic and are often the best choice for our environment.

Good – These products are typically quite good, but don’t go above and beyond like our best choices.

Iffy – These products are typically okay, but have some issues that make us unable to give them a “Good” rating. Often times they contain ingredients that are questionable.

Bad – These products typically have toxic ingredients or issues that make them dangerous or unsuitable to use. These products should typically be avoided.

The Best Natural Face Washes

These natural face cleansers are the best ones we looked at. Any of these are a great choice for anyone looking for a natural, safe, and reliable face wash.

Indie Lee

Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser
Rating: Best 🌟

This cleanser has a simple list of ingredients and none of them are of concern. The product is scented with strawberry seed oil—you’ll notice a strong strawberry fragrance in this product.

Ethylhexylglycerin can be a mild skin and eye irritant. Extra care should be taken when using products with this ingredient around the face. (source)

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Decyl Glucoside,
  • Disodium Coco-Glucoside Citrate,
  • Coco-Glucoside,
  • Glyceryl Oleate,
  • Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein,
  • Xanthan Gum,
  • Strawberry Seed Oil (Fragaria Chiloensis Seed Oil),
  • Lycopene,
  • Propanediol,
  • Ethylhexylglycerin*,
  • Potassium Sorbate

Potential irritants: 1*

Herbivore

Pink Cloud Rosewater + Squalane Makeup Removing Face Wash
Rating: Best 🌟

With absolutely no ingredients of concern, nor potential irritants, this cleanser is one of the best we looked at. The base is organic rose water and coconut water—the rose water giving the product a mild rose scent.

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Organic Rose Flower Water (Rosa Damascena Flower Water),
  • Decyl Glucoside,
  • Organic Glycerin,
  • Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate,
  • Squalane,
  • Glyceryl Caprylate,
  • Xanthan Gum,
  • Glyceryl Stearate,
  • Snow Fungus Extract (Tremella Fuciformis Sporocarp Extract),
  • Caprylhydroxamic Acid,
  • Green or White Tea Extract (Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract),
  • Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice),
  • Citric Acid,
  • False Daisy Extract (Eclipta Prostrata Extract),
  • Sodium Hyaluronate,
  • Chinaberry Leaf Extract (Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract),
  • Moringa Seed Oil (Moringa Oleifera Seed Oil),
  • Coconut Juice (Cocos Nucifera Juice),
  • Tapioca Starch

One Love Organics

Easy Does It Foaming Cleanser
Rating: Best 🌟

This non-drying cleanser has a clean list of ingredients, with no potential irritants. For this reason, we give it a top rating. It has a light scent that most users find pleasant, thanks to the honeysuckle extract.

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Glycerin,
  • Sodium Cocoglucoside Tartrate,
  • Sodium Hydroxypropylsulfonate Laurylglucoside Crosspolymer,
  • Sodium Cocoyl Hydrolyzed Amaranth Protein,
  • Sodium Cocoamphoacetate,
  • Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine,
  • Lauryl Glucoside,
  • Apple Extract (Pyrus Malus Extract),
  • Apple Oil (Pyrus Malus Oil),
  • Soapbark Wood Extract (Quillaja Saponaria Wood Extract),
  • Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate,
  • Sodium Hydroxypropylsulfonate Decylglucoside Crosspolymer,
  • Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate,
  • Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate,
  • Honeysuckle Extract (Lonicera Caprifolium Extract),
  • Honeysuckle Flower Extract (Lonicera Japonica Flower Extract)

Tata Harper

Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser
Rating: Best 🌟

While this cleanser has a list of clean, organic ingredients, there are a couple to be aware of. Limonene and linalool are well-recognized consumer allergens, so if you’re prone to skin reactions, just beware of this.

Other than that, this is a great (if expensive) cleanser with clean ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • Organic Barley Leaf Juice (Hordeum Vulgare Leaf Juice),
  • Cetearyl Alcohol,
  • Cetearyl Olivate,
  • Organic Sunflower Seed Oil (Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil),
  • Propanediol,
  • Apricot Seed Powder (Prunus Armeniaca Seed Powder),
  • Sorbitan Olivate,
  • Water,
  • Lactobacillus Ferment,
  • Lactobacillus/Punica Granatum Fruit Ferment Extract,
  • Leuconostoc Ferment Filtrate,
  • Elder Fruit Extract (Sambucus Nigra Fruit Extract),
  • Willow Bark Extract (Salix Alba Bark Extract),
  • Organic Arnica Extract (Arnica Montana Flower Extract),
  • Organic Borage Leaf Extract (Borago Officinalis Leaf Extract),
  • Organic Calendula Flower Extract (Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract),
  • Organic Alfalfa Extract (Medicago Sativa Extract),
  • Organic Meadowsweet Flower Extract (Spiraea Ulmaria Flower Extract),
  • Coco-Glucoside,
  • Cetearyl Glucoside*,
  • Organic Olive Oil (Olea Europaea Fruit Oil),
  • Kaolin Clay,
  • Sclerotium Gum,
  • Cetyl Palmitate,
  • Sorbitan Palmitate,
  • Sodium Phytate,
  • Red Iron Oxide (CI77491),
  • Fragrance (Essential Oil Blend),
  • Alcohol,
  • Citral*,
  • Limonene*,
  • Linalool*

Potential irritants: 4*

OSEA

Osea Ocean Cleanser
Rating: Best 🌟

With many organic ingredients and no ingredients of concern, this is one of the best cleansers we looked at. Unlike some of the others we gave a “best” rating, this one contains a few potential irritants to watch out for if you have sensitive skin.

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Organic Algae Extract (Laminaria Japonica Extract),
  • Decyl Glucoside,
  • Sodium Lauroyl Oat Amino Acids,
  • Organic Sesame Seed Oil (Sesamum Indicum Seed Oil),
  • Organic Jojoba Seed Oil (Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil),
  • Magnesium Aluminum Silicate,
  • Tocopherol,
  • Organic Lime Peel Oil (Citrus Aurantifolia Peel Oil)*,
  • Organic Orange Peel Oil (Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Peel Oil)*,
  • Organic Juniper Fruit Oil (Juniperus Communis Fruit Oil),
  • Organic Cypress Seed Oil (Cupressus Sempervirens Seed Oil),
  • Organic Jasmine Oil (Jasminum Officinale Oil)*,
  • Lactic Acid*,
  • Xanthan Gum,
  • Glycine,
  • Potassium Sorbate,
  • Chlorophyll

Potential irritants: 4*

Natural Face Washes Rated: Good

These natural cleansers are good, but have one or two ingredients that stop us from giving them a "best" rating.

The Ordinary

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser
Rating: Good

Squalane is the main ingredient in this cleanser, which has only one ingredient of concern: Isoceteth-20.

Isoceteth-20 can be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, possible human carcinogens.

Ethylhexylglycerin can be a mild skin and eye irritant. Extra care should be taken when using products with this ingredient around the face. (source)

Ingredients:

  • Squalane,
  • Water,
  • Coco-Caprylate/Caprate,
  • Glycerin,
  • Sucrose Stearate,
  • Ethyl Macadamiate,
  • Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride,
  • Sucrose Laurate,
  • Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate,
  • Sucrose Dilaurate,
  • Sucrose Trilaurate,
  • Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6,
  • Isoceteth-20,
  • Sodium Polyacrylate,
  • Tocopherol,
  • Hydroxymethoxyphenyl Decanone,
  • Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate,
  • Malic Acid*,
  • Ethylhexylglycerin*,
  • Chlorphenesin

Potential irritants: 2*

Moon Juice

Moon Juice Milk Cleanse Gentle Wash
Rating: Good

This cleanser is scented with essential oils and has no concerning ingredients besides those that can be potential irritants and/or allergens.

Coco-Betaine can be contaminated with amidoamine and 3-dimethylaminopropylamine, both of which are potential skin and eye irritants. This ingredient was named The American Contact Dermatitis Society’s “Allergen of the Year” in 2004. If you’re prone to skin irritation or allergies, you might wish to avoid this ingredient. (source)

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Coco-Betaine*,
  • Coco-Glucoside,
  • Betaine,
  • Bentonite,
  • Lactobacillus,
  • Glycerin,
  • Coconut Alcohol,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Coconut Extract (Cocos Nucifera Extract),
  • Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice),
  • Polyglyceryl-10 Oleate,
  • Rice Bran Oil (Oryza Sativa Bran Oil),
  • Tocopherol,
  • Tocotrienols,
  • Mushroom Extract (Ganoderma Lucidum Extract),
  • Xanthan Gum,
  • Snow Fungus Extract (Tremella Fuciformis Sporocarp Extract),
  • Bergamot Peel Oil (Citrus Aurantium Bergamia Peel Oil)*,
  • Geraniol*,
  • Peppermint Oil (Mentha Piperita Oil),
  • Phenethyl Alcohol,
  • Rose Extract (Rosa Damascena Extract)*,
  • Claryl Oil (Salvia Sclarea Oil),
  • Triethyl Citrate,
  • Vetiver Root Oil (Vetiveria Zizanoides Root Oil),
  • Honeysuckle Extract (Lonicera Caprifolium Extract),
  • Honeysuckle Flower Extract (Lonicera Japonica Flower Extract)

Potential irritants: 4*

Acure

Acure Brightening Cleansing Gel
Rating: Good

Cocamidopropyl Betaine can be contaminated with amidoamine and 3-dimethylaminopropylamine, both of which are potential skin and eye irritants. This ingredient was named The American Contact Dermatitis Society’s “Allergen of the Year” in 2004. If you’re prone to skin irritation or allergies, you might wish to avoid this ingredient. (source)

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine*,
  • Lauryl Glucoside,
  • Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine,
  • Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate,
  • Decyl Glucoside,
  • Glycerin,
  • Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate,
  • Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate,
  • Sodium PCA,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Sodium Levulinate,
  • Orange Peel Oil (Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Peel Oil)*,
  • Lemon Peel Oil (Citrus Limon Peel Oil)*,
  • Potassium Sorbate,
  • Sea Buckthorn Oil (Hippophae Rhamnoides Oil),
  • Organic Acai Berry Fruit Extract (Euterpe Oleracea Extract),
  • Organic Blackberry Fruit Extract (Rubus Fruticosus Fruit Extract),
  • Organic Pomegranate Extract (Punica Granatum Extract),
  • Organic Rose Hip Fruit Extract (Rosa Canina Fruit Extract)*,
  • Organic Calendula Flower Extract (Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract),
  • Organic Matricaria Extract (Chamomilla Recutita Extract),
  • Organic Rooibos Extract (Aspalathus Linearis Extract),
  • Dermochlorella Algae Extract (Chlorella Vulgaris Extract)

Potential irritants: 4*

Ursa Major

Ursa Major Fantastic Face Wash
Rating: Good

Glyceryl Laurate is a penetration enhancer, making it an ingredient of concern if included with other ingredients that may be unsafe. (source)

Sodium benzoate is a chemical preservative. Reports show that people with sensitive skin should not use products which contain sodium benzoate as it may induce contact allergy. (source)

Ingredients:

  • Organic Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice),
  • Water,
  • Lauryl Glucoside,
  • Coco-Glucoside,
  • Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate,
  • Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside,
  • Inulin,
  • Glyceryl Laurate,
  • Sodium Lauroamphoacetate,
  • Gluconolactone,
  • Sodium Lauroyl Glutamate,
  • Xylitylglucoside,
  • Anhydroxylitol,
  • Xylitol,
  • Organic Rice Extract (Oryza Sativa Seed Extract),
  • Organic Green or White Tea Extract (Camellia Sinensis Tea Leaf Extract),
  • Sugar Cane Extract (Saccharum Officinarum Extract),
  • Lemon Fruit Oil (Citrus Limon Fruit Oil),
  • Orange Fruit Extract (Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Fruit Extract)*,
  • Bilberry Fruit Extract (Vaccinium Myrtillus Fruit Extract),
  • Sugar Maple Extract (Acer Saccharum Extract),
  • Organic Black Spruce Leaf Oil (Picea Mariana Leaf Oil),
  • Organic Balsam Oregon Fir Branch/Leaf Oil (Pseudotsuga Menziesii Branch/Leaf Oil),
  • Rosemary Leaf Water (Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Water),
  • Lavender Flower Water (Lavandula Angustifolia Flower Water),
  • Grapefruit Peel Oil (Citrus Paradisi Peel Oil),
  • Lime Peel Oil (Citrus Aurantifolia Oil),
  • Owyhee Leaf Oil (Artemisia Ludoviciana Leaf Oil),
  • Red Cedar Wood Oil (Juniperus Virginiana Wood Oil),
  • Tansy Flower Oil (Tanacetum Annuum Flower Oil),
  • Nardostachys Jatamansi Oil,
  • Vetiver Root Oil (Vetiveria Zizanoides Root Oil),
  • Spearmint Leaf Extract (Mentha Spicata Leaf Extract),
  • Sodium Phytate,
  • PCA Glyceryl Oleate,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Calcium Gluconate,
  • Leuconostoc Ferment Filtrate,
  • Sodium Benzoate*,
  • Soybean Peroxidase (Glycine Soja Peroxidase),
  • Superoxide Dismutase,
  • Limonene*

Potential irritants: 3*

Drunk Elephant

Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser
Rating: Good

Cocamidopropyl Betaine can be contaminated with amidoamine and 3-dimethylaminopropylamine, both of which are potential skin and eye irritants. This ingredient was named The American Contact Dermatitis Society’s “Allergen of the Year” in 2004. If you’re prone to skin irritation or allergies, you might wish to avoid this ingredient. (source)

Phenoxyethanol is a common preservative. Typically, this ingredient is considered safe in products not meant for babies. An EU study found skin irritation in animal studies even when exposed to very low amounts. (source)

Sodium benzoate is a chemical preservative. Reports show that people with sensitive skin should not use products which contain sodium benzoate as it may induce contact allergy. (source)

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Glycerin,
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine*,
  • Coco-Glucoside,
  • Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate,
  • Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine,
  • Sodium Methyl Oleyl Taurate,
  • Propanediol,
  • Aloe Leaf Extract (Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract),
  • Glycolipids,
  • Linoleic Acid,
  • Linolenic Acid,
  • Lauryl Glucoside,
  • Cantaloupe Fruit Extract (Cucumis Melo Cantalupensis Fruit Extract),
  • Marula Seed Oil (Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil),
  • Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate,
  • Tocopherol,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Phenoxyethanol*,
  • Sodium Hydroxide*,
  • Sodium Benzoate*,
  • Sodium Chloride,
  • Polylysine

Potential irritants: 4*

Evolve Organic Beauty

Evolve Organic Beauty Daily Detox Facial Wash
Rating: Good

Cocamidopropyl Betaine can be contaminated with amidoamine and 3-dimethylaminopropylamine, both of which are potential skin and eye irritants. This ingredient was named The American Contact Dermatitis Society’s “Allergen of the Year” in 2004. If you’re prone to skin irritation or allergies, you might wish to avoid this ingredient. (source)

We consider “natural fragrance” to be an “Iffy” ingredient simply because it is a blanket term for unknown fragrance ingredients. Because these are natural fragrances, the main concern is skin irritation or allergic reaction, but this shouldn’t be a concern if you aren’t prone to these issues.

Sodium benzoate is a chemical preservative. Reports show that people with sensitive skin should not use products which contain sodium benzoate as it may induce contact allergy. (source)

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine*,
  • Sodium Coco-Sulfate,
  • Lauryl Glucoside,
  • Coco-Glucoside,
  • Glyceryl Oleate,
  • Organic Glycerin,
  • Gluconolactone,
  • Natural Fragrance*,
  • Organic Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice),
  • Organic Goji Fruit Extract (Lycium Barbarum Fruit Extract),
  • Drumstick Tree Seed Oil (Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Oil),
  • Sodium Benzoate*,
  • Calcium Gluconate,
  • Dextrin,
  • Arginine,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Hydrogenated Palm Glycerides Citrate,
  • Tocopherol,
  • Limonene*,
  • Linalool*

Potential irritants: 5*

Pacifica

Pacifica Sea Foam Complete Face Wash
Rating: Good

Cocamidopropyl Betaine can be contaminated with amidoamine and 3-dimethylaminopropylamine, both of which are potential skin and eye irritants. This ingredient was named The American Contact Dermatitis Society’s “Allergen of the Year” in 2004. If you’re prone to skin irritation or allergies, you might wish to avoid this ingredient. (source)

There is some concern that tocopheryl acetate is at risk of being contaminated with hydroquinone, a known human carcinogen. While we believe this risk to be small, we consider tocopheryl acetate an iffy ingredient. (source)

Sodium benzoate is a chemical preservative. Reports show that people with sensitive skin should not use products which contain sodium benzoate as it may induce contact allergy. (source)

Ethylhexylglycerin can be a mild skin and eye irritant. Extra care should be taken when using products with this ingredient around the face. (source)

We consider “natural fragrance” to be an “Iffy” ingredient simply because it is a blanket term for unknown fragrance ingredients. Because these are natural fragrances, the main concern is skin irritation or allergic reaction, but this shouldn’t be a concern if you aren’t prone to these issues.

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine*,
  • Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate,
  • Sodium Cocoyl Sulfoacetate,
  • Sodium Cocoamphoacetate,
  • Decyl Glucoside,
  • Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice),
  • Glycerin,
  • Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate,
  • Glycol Stearate,
  • Papaya Fruit Extract (Carica Papaya Fruit Extract),
  • Lemon Bioflavonoids,
  • Coconut Oil (Cocos Nucifera Oil),
  • Coconut Water (Cocos Nucifera Water),
  • Citric Acid,
  • Tocopheryl Acetate*,
  • Panthenol,
  • Sodium PCA,
  • Allantoin,
  • Nori Extract (Porphyra Umbilicalis Extract),
  • Mangosteen Peel Extract (Garcinia Mangostana Peel Extract),
  • Green or White Tea Extract (Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract),
  • Sea Algae Extract,
  • Sodium Benzoate*,
  • Potassium Sorbate,
  • Ethylhexylglycerin*,
  • Natural Fragrance*

Potential irritants: 5*

Andalou Naturals

1000 Roses Cleansing Foam
Rating: Good

Organic aloe and water make up the base of this cleanser which is scented with essential oils.

There are a few ingredients to be aware of in this product, none of which make it a product to avoid, however.

Cocamidopropyl Betaine can be contaminated with amidoamine and 3-dimethylaminopropylamine, both of which are potential skin and eye irritants. This ingredient was named The American Contact Dermatitis Society’s “Allergen of the Year” in 2004. If you’re prone to skin irritation or allergies, you might wish to avoid this ingredient. (source)

Sodium benzoate is a chemical preservative. Reports show that people with sensitive skin should not use products which contain sodium benzoate as it may induce contact allergy. (source)

Ethylhexylglycerin can be a mild skin and eye irritant. Extra care should be taken when using products with this ingredient around the face. (source)

Ingredients:

  • Organic Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice),
  • Water,
  • Organic Rose Flower Distillate (Rosa Damascena Flower Distillate),
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine*,
  • Glycerin,
  • Sorbitol,
  • Sodium Methyl 2-Sulfolaurate,
  • Disodium 2-Sulfolaurate,
  • Panthenol,
  • Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate,
  • Sucrose Cocoate,
  • Organic Rose Hip Oil (Rosa Canina Oil)*,
  • Organic Pomegranate Seed Oil (Punica Granatum Seed Oil),
  • Allantoin,
  • Plant Stem Cells (Alpine Rose, Malus Domestica, Solar Vitis),
  • BioActive Berry Complex,
  • Sodium Hyaluronate,
  • Magnolia Officinalis Bark Extract,
  • Frankincense / Boswellin Extract (Boswellia Serrata Extract),
  • Organic Green or White Tea Extract (Camellia Sinensis Tea Leaf Extract),
  • Organic Roselle Flower Extract (Hibiscus Sabdariffa Flower Extract),
  • Lactic Acid*,
  • Tocopherol,
  • Sodium Benzoate*,
  • Potassium Sorbate,
  • Ethylhexylglycerin*,
  • Rose Isolates*,
  • Vanilla Isolates,
  • Organic Geranium Flower Oil (Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil),
  • Organic Orange Peel Oil (Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Peel Oil)*

Potential irritants: 7*

Alba Botanica

Acne Dote Deep Pore Wash
Rating: Good

This salicylic acid cleanser has a mostly-clean list of ingredients, which the exception of a few which some users might wish to avoid.

Coco-Betaine can be contaminated with amidoamine and 3-dimethylaminopropylamine, both of which are potential skin and eye irritants. This ingredient was named The American Contact Dermatitis Society’s “Allergen of the Year” in 2004. If you’re prone to skin irritation or allergies, you might wish to avoid this ingredient. (source)

Cocamidopropyl Betaine can be contaminated with amidoamine and 3-dimethylaminopropylamine, both of which are potential skin and eye irritants. This ingredient was named The American Contact Dermatitis Society’s “Allergen of the Year” in 2004. If you’re prone to skin irritation or allergies, you might wish to avoid this ingredient. (source)

Phenoxyethanol is a common preservative. Typically, this ingredient is considered safe in products not meant for babies. An EU study found skin irritation in animal studies even when exposed to very low amounts. (source)

Sodium benzoate is a chemical preservative. Reports show that people with sensitive skin should not use products which contain sodium benzoate as it may induce contact allergy. (source)

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Coco-Betaine*,
  • Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate,
  • Sodium Chloride,
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine*,
  • Glycerin,
  • Bergamot Fruit Oil (Citrus Aurantium Bergamia Fruit Oil),
  • Orange Peel Oil (Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Peel Oil)*,
  • Peppermint Oil (Mentha Piperita Oil),
  • Organic Neem Leaf Extract (Azardirachta Indica Leaf Extract),
  • Organic Green or White Tea Extract (Camellia Sinensis Tea Leaf Extract),
  • Parsley Extract (Carum Petroselinum Extract),
  • Witch Hazel Leaf Water (Hamamelis Virginiana Leaf Water),
  • Lemon Balm Extract (Melissa Officianils Extract),
  • Organic Willow Bark Extract (Salix Alba Bark Extract),
  • Nettle Leaf Extract (Urtica Dioica Leaf Extract),
  • Organic Alcohol,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Dehydroacetic Acid,
  • Benzoic Acid,
  • Phenoxyethanol*,
  • Potassium Sorbate,
  • Sodium Benzoate*,
  • Citral*,
  • Limonene*,
  • Linalool*,
  • Salicylic Acid*

Potential irritants: 9*

Paula's Choice

Hydrating Gel-to-Cream Cleanser
Rating: Good

Cocamidopropyl Betaine can be contaminated with amidoamine and 3-dimethylaminopropylamine, both of which are potential skin and eye irritants. This ingredient was named The American Contact Dermatitis Society’s “Allergen of the Year” in 2004. If you’re prone to skin irritation or allergies, you might wish to avoid this ingredient. (source)

Pentylene glycol has shown evidence of being an irritant. Studies show that it can cause contact dermatitis, which indicates that Pentylene Glycol is a sensitizing ingredient and can be considered as an allergen. (source)

Phenoxyethanol is a common preservative. Typically, this ingredient is considered safe in products not meant for babies. An EU study found skin irritation in animal studies even when exposed to very low amounts. (source)

Ethylhexylglycerin can be a mild skin and eye irritant. Extra care should be taken when using products with this ingredient around the face. (source)

Sodium benzoate is a chemical preservative. Reports show that people with sensitive skin should not use products which contain sodium benzoate as it may induce contact allergy. (source)

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Sodium Cocoyl Glycinate,
  • Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine,
  • Sodium Lauroamphoacetate,
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine*,
  • Glycerin,
  • Sorbeth-230 Tetraoleate,
  • Decyl Glucoside,
  • Pentylene Glycol*,
  • Sodium Chloride,
  • Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate,
  • Lauric Acid,
  • Lactic Acid*,
  • Sodium Lauroyl Oat Amino Acids,
  • Sorbitan Laurate,
  • Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate,
  • Disodium EDTA,
  • Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice),
  • Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride,
  • Cocoyl Proline,
  • Sodium Citrate,
  • Green or White Tea Extract (Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract),
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract),
  • Sodium PCA,
  • Sodium Lactate,
  • Arginine,
  • Soybean Sterols (Glycine Soja Sterols),
  • Linoleic Acid,
  • Phospholipids,
  • Aspartic Acid,
  • PCA*,
  • Glycine,
  • Alanine,
  • Serine,
  • Valine,
  • Isoleucine,
  • Proline,
  • Threonine,
  • Potassium Citrate,
  • Lactoperoxidase,
  • Histidine,
  • Phenylalanine,
  • Glucose Oxidase,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Phenoxyethanol*,
  • Ethylhexylglycerin*,
  • Potassium Sorbate,
  • Sodium Benzoate*

Potential irritants: 7*

Alpyn Beauty

PlantGenius Creamy Bubbling Cleanser
Rating: Good

This natural cleanser has a clean list of ingredients with none that are concerning. Benzyl alcohol is included, which is the only ingredient that might concern you if you have sensitive skin.

Benzyl alcohol is listed by the The European Union’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) as a well-recognized consumer allergen. (source)

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Glycerin,
  • Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate,
  • Sodium Hyaluronate,
  • Witch Hazel Extract (Hamamelis Virginiana Extract),
  • Stearic Acid,
  • Myristic Acid,
  • Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate,
  • Cetearyl Alcohol,
  • Lactobacillus/Punica Granatum Fruit Ferment Extract,
  • Polyacrylate-33,
  • Sodium Cocoyl Apple Amino Acids,
  • Dehydroacetic Acid,
  • Benzyl Alcohol*,
  • Tromethamine,
  • Papaya Fruit Extract (Carica Papaya Fruit Extract),
  • Potassium Sorbate,
  • Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia Oil),
  • Orange Peel Oil (Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Peel Oil)*,
  • False Daisy Extract (Eclipta Prostrata Extract),
  • Chinaberry Leaf Extract (Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract),
  • Drumstick Tree Seed Oil (Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Oil),
  • Glycolic Acid*,
  • Lactic Acid*,
  • Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid),
  • Linoleic Acid,
  • Jojoba Seed Oil (Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil),
  • Sage Leaf Extract (Salvia Officinalis Leaf Extract),
  • Arnica Extract (Arnica Montana Flower Extract)*,
  • Borage Flower Extract (Borago Officinalis Flower Extract),
  • Calendula (Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract),
  • Matricaria Extract (Chamomilla Recutita Extract),
  • Ceramide NG,
  • Alcohol

Potential irritants: 5*

Natural Face Washes Rated: Iffy

These cleansers have a few ingredients that we consider iffy, making these products some we wouldn't recommend.

Glow Recipe

Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser
Rating: Iffy

The ingredient “fragrance” means that there is a mixture of several essential oils or synthetic or natural chemicals that makeup the scent of the product. According to European and US legislation, the ingredients of the fragrance do not have to be revealed on the product’s ingredients list. Because these ingredients are not disclosed, we always consider this a “bad” ingredient.

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Coco-Glucoside,
  • Seaweed Extract (Caulerpa Lentillifera Extract),
  • Sodium Hyaluronate,
  • Blueberry Fruit Extract (Vaccinium Angustifolium Fruit Extract),
  • Blueberry Fruit (Vaccinium Angustifolium Fruit),
  • Glycolic Acid*,
  • Lactic Acid*,
  • Groundcherry Fruit Extract (Physalis Peruviana Fruit Extract),
  • Raspberry Fruit Extract (Rubus Idaeus Fruit Extract),
  • Bearberry Leaf Extract (Arctostaphylos Uva Ursi Leaf Extract),
  • Mulberry Fruit Extract (Morus Nigra Fruit Extract),
  • Bilberry Fruit Extract (Vaccinium Myrtillus Fruit Extract),
  • Beta Glucan,
  • Baikal Skullcap Root Extract (Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract),
  • Peony Root Extract (Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract),
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract),
  • Betaine,
  • Sodium Chloride,
  • Fragrance

Potential irritants: 2*

Sukin

Sukin Foaming Facial Cleanser
Rating: Iffy

Cocamidopropyl Betaine can be contaminated with amidoamine and 3-dimethylaminopropylamine, both of which are potential skin and eye irritants. This ingredient was named The American Contact Dermatitis Society’s “Allergen of the Year” in 2004. If you’re prone to skin irritation or allergies, you might wish to avoid this ingredient. (source)

Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate (PEG-150) can be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, human carcinogens.

Phenoxyethanol is a common preservative. Typically, this ingredient is considered safe in products not meant for babies. An EU study found skin irritation in animal studies even when exposed to very low amounts. (source)

Benzyl alcohol is listed by the The European Union’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) as a well-recognized consumer allergen. (source)

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice),
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine*,
  • Decyl Glucoside,
  • Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate (PEG-150),
  • Matricaria Extract (Chamomilla Recutita Extract),
  • Green or White Tea Extract (Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract),
  • Witch Hazel Extract (Hamamelis Virginiana Extract),
  • Glycerin,
  • Macadamia Gympie Nut Oil (Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil),
  • Rose Hip Oil (Rosa Canina Oil)*,
  • Evening Primrose Oil (Oenothera Biennis Oil),
  • Tangerine Peel Oil (Citrus Tangerina Peel Oil)*,
  • Mandarin Peel Oil (Citrus Nobilis Peel Oil)*,
  • Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia Oil),
  • Vanillin,
  • Vanilla Extract (Vanilla Planifolia Fruit Extract),
  • Phenoxyethanol*,
  • Benzyl Alcohol*,
  • Limonene*,
  • Linalool*

Potential irritants: 8*

Youth to the People

Youth to the People Superfood Antioxidant Cleanser
Rating: Iffy

For the following reasons, we can’t recommend this cleanser.

Polysorbate 20 can be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, possible human carcinogens.

There is some concern that tocopheryl acetate is at risk of being contaminated with hydroquinone, a known human carcinogen. While we believe this risk to be small, we consider tocopheryl acetate an iffy ingredient. (source)

Ethylhexylglycerin can be a mild skin and eye irritant. Extra care should be taken when using products with this ingredient around the face. (source)

Phenoxyethanol is a common preservative. Typically, this ingredient is considered safe in products not meant for babies. An EU study found skin irritation in animal studies even when exposed to very low amounts. (source)

Sodium benzoate is a chemical preservative. Reports show that people with sensitive skin should not use products which contain sodium benzoate as it may induce contact allergy. (source)

The ingredient “fragrance” means that there is a mixture of several essential oils or synthetic or natural chemicals that makeup the scent of the product. According to European and US legislation, the ingredients of the fragrance do not have to be revealed on the product’s ingredients list. Because these ingredients are not disclosed, we always consider this a “bad” ingredient.

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine,
  • Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate,
  • Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice),
  • Sorbeth-230 Tetraoleate,
  • Polysorbate 20,
  • Kale Leaf Extract (Brassica Oleracea Acephala Leaf Extract),
  • Spinach Extract (Spinacia Oleracea Extract),
  • Green or White Tea Extract (Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract),
  • Alfalfa Extract (Medicago Sativa Extract),
  • Matricaria Extract (Chamomilla Recutita Extract),
  • Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate,
  • Glycerin,
  • Panthenol,
  • Tocopheryl Acetate*,
  • Decyl Glucoside,
  • Sorbitan Laurate,
  • Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate,
  • Gluconolactone,
  • Calcium Gluconate,
  • Ethylhexylglycerin*,
  • Maltodextrin,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Phenoxyethanol*,
  • Potassium Sorbate,
  • Sodium Benzoate*,
  • Chlorophyllin-Copper Complex (CI 75810),
  • Gardenia Fruit Extract (Gardenia Jasminoides Fruit Extract),
  • Fragrance

Potential irritants: 4*

Natural Face Washes Rated: Bad

For the reasons stated in our overview, we don't recommend these face washes.

Juice Beauty

Green Apple Brightening Gel Cleanser
Rating: Bad

This cleanser has a clean list of ingredients. However, lemon juice is the second ingredient, which may be a concern for a few reasons. (source)

Lemon juice is very low pH, making it extremely sensitizing to skin. Lemon juice applied to the skin can cause photosensitivity. This means that your skin will be much more sensitive to sunlight, even if applying sunscreen. There have been reports of people going into the sun with lemon juice on their hands, resulting is horrible blisters and burns.

Lemon juice has also been linked to chemical leukoderma – uneven lightened patches of skin.

For this reason, we don’t recommend this product.

Sodium benzoate is a chemical preservative. Reports show that people with sensitive skin should not use products which contain sodium benzoate as it may induce contact allergy. (source)

Ingredients:

  • Organic Apple Juice (Pyrus Malus Juice),
  • Organic Lemon Juice (Citrus Medica Limonum Juice)*,
  • Organic Aloe Juice (Aloe Barbadensis Juice),
  • Glycerin,
  • Coco-Glucoside,
  • Decyl Glucoside,
  • Organic White Grape Juice (Vitis Vinifera Juice),
  • Lauryl Glucoside,
  • Xanthan Gum,
  • Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside,
  • Bilberry Fruit Extract (Vaccinium Myrtillus Fruit Extract),
  • Sugar Cane Extract (Saccharum Officinarum Extract),
  • Sugar Maple Extract (Acer Saccharum Extract),
  • Orange Fruit Extract (Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Fruit Extract)*,
  • Lemon Fruit Extract (Citrus Limon Fruit Extract),
  • Dandelion Leaf Extract (Taraxacum Officinale Leaf Extract),
  • Sage Leaf Extract (Salvia Officinalis Leaf Extract),
  • Lemon Balm Extract (Melissa Officianils Extract),
  • Green or White Tea Extract (Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract),
  • Tocopherol,
  • Sodium Benzoate*,
  • Potassium Sorbate,
  • Sodium Phytate,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Beta-Sitosterol,
  • Triethyl Citrate,
  • Orange Peel Oil (Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Peel Oil)*,
  • May Chang Oil (Litsea Cubeba Oil),
  • Camphor Wood Oil (Cinnamomum Camphora Oil)

Potential irritants: 4*

CosRx

Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
Rating: Bad

Cocamidopropyl Betaine can be contaminated with amidoamine and 3-dimethylaminopropylamine, both of which are potential skin and eye irritants. This ingredient was named The American Contact Dermatitis Society’s “Allergen of the Year” in 2004. If you’re prone to skin irritation or allergies, you might wish to avoid this ingredient. (source)

Polysorbate 20 can be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, possible human carcinogens.

Tea tree oil can act as a sensitizer, meaning it can enhance effect of other ingredients in a product. This is only an issue if you’re sensitive to any of the other ingredients, or if any of the other ingredients are of concern. (source)

Ethylhexylglycerin can be a mild skin and eye irritant. Extra care should be taken when using products with this ingredient around the face. (source)

Sodium benzoate is a chemical preservative. Reports show that people with sensitive skin should not use products which contain sodium benzoate as it may induce contact allergy. (source)

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine*,
  • Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate,
  • Polysorbate 20,
  • Japanese Snowbell Extract (Styrax Japonicus Branch/Fruit/Leaf Extract),
  • Butylene Glycol,
  • Saccharomyces Ferment,
  • Sugi Leaf Extract (Cryptomeria Japonica Leaf Extract),
  • Lotus Extract (Nelumbo Nucifera Extract),
  • Longleaf Pine Extract (Pinus Palustris Extract),
  • David Elm Root Extract (Ulmus Davidiana Root Extract),
  • Evening Primrose Extract (Oenothera Biennis Extract),
  • Kudzu Root Extract (Pueraria Lobata Root Extract),
  • Tea Tree Leaf Oil (Melaleuca Alternifolia Leaf Oil)*,
  • Allantoin,
  • Caprylyl Glycol*,
  • Ethylhexylglycerin*,
  • Betaine Salicylate,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Ethyl Hexanediol*,
  • 1,2-Hexanediol,
  • Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate,
  • Sodium Benzoate*,
  • Disodium EDTA

Potential irritants: 6*

Cetaphil

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
Rating: Bad

Cetaphil’s cleanser is one of the most popular cleansers on the market, but unfortunately, we can’t recommend it.

Propylene glycol acts as a penetration enhancer, increasing skin absorbtion of other ingredients in a product. When none of the other ingredients in a product is potentially dangerous, this isn’t a concern. (source)

This product contains one or more parabens. These are preservative linked to endocrine disruption and is associated with the proliferation of breast cancer cells. (link)

Ingredients:

  • Water,
  • Cetyl Alcohol,
  • Propylene Glycol*,
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate,
  • Stearyl Alcohol,
  • Methylparaben*,
  • Propylparaben,
  • Butylparaben

Potential irritants: 2*

Conclusion

All of the products we looked at are marketed as being clean and natural. Like many other product categories, just because a product claims to be clean, it doesn't mean it actually is.

For a simple choice in a cleanser, look at any of the products we gave a rating of "best"—any of them are a great choice.

Glowing Nest

Building the best resource for those looking for the best in non-toxic, safe and organic products for you, your family and your home.

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