Face wash product images on a soapy background

If You Don’t Want to Look Old, You Should Wash Your Face (With an Actual Cleanser)

It takes the same amount of time as splashing some water on there.
By Brianna Lapolla
May 21, 2024

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There’s nothing wrong with splashing a little water on your face in the morning and going about your day. But there are many reasons to adopt a legitimate skincare routine—some of which are pure vanity, and others good hygiene. We’d like to think you have the hygiene thing down, so let’s target appearance. If you’re noticing wrinkles setting into your forehead or outer eyes (those are crow’s feet), it could just be a matter of dehydration. When your skin’s hydrated, it’ll look plumper than not. If you’re a hydration powder guy, that’s probably not the case, and adopting a simple skincare routine can help.

The basis of every skincare regimen is a clean face. Washing your mug with a specific formula meant for this purpose does two things: it strips away grime and dead skin to allow anything you put on afterward (serum, moisturizer, etc.) to sink in easier; and it balances the skin’s pH, so it’s soothed and not irritated, whether that be from shaving or environmental factors like pollution.

Skin Health

If you find a woman’s skincare cabinet way too overwhelming, just know that a good routine’s hallmark is keeping it basic. If you’re still not sold, we asked Jan Marini, skincare expert and founder of Jan Marini Skin Research, to weigh in on what men should look for in a cleansing product.

“Men should use an effective shave/cleansing product that leaves their skin clear, moist, smooth, and glowing,” says Marini. But she also notes, “Men typically don’t have acne past the age of 23, as their beard reaches the terminal beard growth stage,” so you don’t need to go nuts looking for a clarifying cleanser meant for acne, unless you notice pimples cropping up. The brand happens to carry a two-in-one cleanser and shave gel in its men’s skincare system to kill two birds with one stone.

What Kind of Face Wash Is Best for Men?

If you need a little more guidance and don’t want to scan gibberish on ingredient labels, here’s a cheat sheet on what type of cleanser to go for based on your needs.

Gel cleanser

This is probably the formula you know best. A gel cleanser looks like clear hand soap (but doesn’t dry out your skin like it) and does a great job of removing impurities and making skin feel squeaky clean. It foams up and works especially well for anyone with oily skin.

Cream cleanser

A cream cleanser has the consistency of, well, a cream. It’s just as effective at removing impurities, but it does so in a gentler way. If you’re someone who has dry skin or often feels irritated after shaving, this is a good buy. Note that it doesn’t usually foam as aggressively as a gel cleanser, but it’s still working.

Oil cleanser

Yep, you can wash your face with oil. Although this method is a little more involved (you typically rub an oil cleanser over dry skin, then add water to emulsify it, rinse it off, and then cleanse with a gel or cream cleanser afterward). BUT, oil cleansers are especially effective for anyone who has oily skin (oil dissolves oil), those with super dry skin (it’s extremely hydrating), or anyone who works with cars or machinery and needs extra help stripping off grease and oil at the end of the day.

The Best Face Wash for Men

Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser

We could stop the list here, but, options. Cetaphil has been an OG for years as the top recommended cleanser from dermatologists. It’s gentle enough for even the most sensitive skin types, and it’s hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic (meaning it won’t clog pores), and free of parabens and sulfates. It’ll never irritate your skin, and it even includes hydrating, smoothing, and balancing ingredients that provide a deep clean while targeting those fine lines and wrinkles we talked about earlier.

Ursa Major Fantastic Face Wash

We’d use this stuff daily based on scent alone—it smells exactly like running through a cedar forest and getting smacked in the face with spearmint leaves. If you care about using non-toxic products (which you should, because they won’t disrupt your hormones), then this is the face wash for you.

Kiehl’s ​​Facial Fuel Energizing Face Wash

Another pick with a minty fresh feeling, this Kiehl’s face wash was made to remove dirt, oil, and grime without drying your skin in the process. How can a face wash be energizing, you ask? Because it’s made with menthol and caffeine to cool and awaken skin on contact. You’ll still need your morning coffee, but this cleanser can jumpstart your day with a little zing.

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

Need all the hydration you can get? Let us introduce you to The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser. It’s made with an interesting texture best described as a thin balm that when emulsified and massaged into the skin, turns into an oil. This is just a fancy way to cleanse and hydrate skin simultaneously, without any extra effort on your part. It’ll dissolve whatever the day (or night) threw your way, and replenish moisture in seconds.

Huron Face Wash

Like many others on this list, Huron’s face wash is infused with mint (plus juniper and citrus) for a fresh, clean feeling. But what sets this one apart from the others, is fine bamboo powder particles that gently exfoliate to unclog pores and smooth skin. Wet your face and work it into a creamy lather to remove dirt, oil, and whatever else comes your way.

Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser

If your significant other won’t shut up about Drunk Elephant, it’s time you listen. This brand is non-toxic and free of fragrance, so it’s a good option if you tend to get irritated easily. This cleanser is no frills—it features a gel base that doesn’t smell like anything and it’s pH balanced to keep your skin happy and free from redness, dryness, or itching.

Peter Thomas Roth Acne Clearing Wash

Even though it’s less common for men to break out after the age of 23, it can still happen—especially if you’re starting testosterone replacement therapy—due to hormonal fluctuations. If you notice pimples or an oilier-than-usual face, grab this acne-clearing cleanser to help unclog pores and rebalance your skin. Made with maximum-strength 2 percent salicylic acid, it’ll stop the breakout cycle and sweep away oil and impurities without overdrying (which is key).

Paula’s Choice Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser

This cream cleanser is specially formulated to replenish the skin’s moisture content while gently and effectively cleansing. It’s free of harsh solvents, but can tackle the thickest layer of grime—reach for it after a rugby match or a particularly sweaty rowing session and it’ll rehydrate quickly. Because of the lotion-like consistency, it also won’t leave you with a tight, uncomfortable feeling after you cleanse, so it’s truly one and done (unless you want to slather on a moisturizer for extra credit).