It’s here! It’s here! Drugstore Cleanser-palooza!!! So, as you all know, I have super oily, acne-prone skin with large pores in t-zone, which sadly seem to be getting bigger as I get older. I buy a ton of facial cleansers out of curiosity. I do not restrict myself to using just one until I finish it. I can go weeks, or months, using the same product and then switch to something else, before I come back. All of this fickleness has netted me some interesting observations about various cleansers, such as which are best for the various stages of my oily, acne-prone skin. Not all oily skin, acne-prone cleansers are the same. There are variations, and some are better for the winter, while others are better for the summer. Enough preamble, let’s hop to this joint. One caveat. I nearly ALWAYS use a prescription retinoid which does sensitize and dry out my skin on it’s own.
1. Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask, 4.2 oz for SRP
I figured we would start with the most aggressive of the cleansers: starting with the Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask, a hybrid dual purpose skincare product with benzoyl peroxide. The benzoyl peroxide is the only reason why this product is the most aggressive of all the drugstore cleansers I have. When I was a teenager I couldn’t use benzoyl peroxide. It completely irritated and burned my skin. I stayed away from it for years until a few years back when I ventured back with PCA’s Acne Cream and 5% BPO Cleanser, both which were very gentle and treated smaller hormonal acne breakouts very well. I think the current formulations of benzoyl peroxide have gotten a lot gentler on skin without sacrificing effectiveness. However, drugstore renditions are still not the gentlest on the market. This dual cleanser/mask superficially dries out my skin, while causing brief inflammation. Forget about using it as a mask for more than a few seconds. FIYAAAAA!!! My skin burned. I don’t see myself buying this again. I will only briefly use as a cleanser, but only to use it up. It burns either way.
Ingredients: Benzoyl Peroxide 3.5%, Water, Glycerin, Kaolin, Bentonite (CI 77004), Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Titanium Dioxide, Trideceth 9, PEG 5 Ethylhexanoate, Menthol, Sodium Citrate, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Fragrance
2. Garnier Nutritioniste Nutri-Pure Daily Exfoliating Gel Cleanser, 5.0 oz for SRP
The teeny micro beads in this make it a bit more aggressive than the #3 cleanser by Phisoderm. This is a great cleanser for the summer months when it is super humid and hot. My skin is atrocious in high heat and humidity. I need serious pore degreasers. Let’s assume I am not aggressively breaking out and don’t need the assistance of Tazorac, then this is what I would use. I have purchased this cleanser twice. The fragrance sensitive may not like this though because of the strong chemically – not fresh or natural – scent of pepperment. Think floor detergent. Yeah, I went there. I don’t mind it, but others could. Obviously, this also has a ton of chemicals – naturalist’s wouldn’t dare put on their skin. That’s fair, but I find I need strong ass chemicals during the summer to control the oil in my skin. This cleanser is especially great when you just don’t feel like using the Clarisonic because of the microscrubbers. I do have a Clarisonic, but I have gotten very lazy about using it.
Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Butylene Glycol, TEA Lauryl Sulfate, Polyethylene, Sodium
Lauroyl Oat Amino Acids, Coco Glucoside, Grapefruit Extract, Jojoba Esters, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Panthenol, Salicylic Acid, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), C10 30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Steareth 20 Methacrylate Copolymer, Alcohol, Benzophenone 4, Decyl Glucoside, Disodium EDTA, Hydroxystearic Acid, Menthol, Polyethylene Glycol, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Trideceth 6, Triethanolamine, DMDM Hydantoin, Methylparaben, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Methylparaben, FD&C Blue 1 (CI 42090), CI 47005 (Yellow 10), CI 77289 (Chromium Hydroxide Green), Parfum/Fragrance, Benzyl Salicylate, Limonene, Linalool, FIL
3. Phisoderm Anti-Blemish Gel Facial Wash, 6.0 oz for SRP
I do not give up on skincare products. If I spent my money on it, I will figure out an ideal use, if I don’t succeed the first time. I will try, try, try until I do. I purchased this cleanser near the end of last winter. When I started using it, I started noticing my skin was becoming rougher, tighter, and flaking. I quickly realized this cleanser was too drying on my skin. Add in the use of a Rx retinoid and I had facial dandruff. Muy unattractivo. I was surprised by how drying this was. When I switched from Retin-A to Tazorac, the dryness and roughness of my skin became unbearable and I had to shelve this for a while. But bring it back I did – And I AM SO GLAD I DID! This is my favorite drugstore cleanser for oily, acne-prone skin when I am not blitzing my skin on retinoids on a daily basis (think every other day). It penetrates pores with salicylic acid, while exfoliating the skin with lactic acid. It is cheap and used with the right accompanying skincare – no continuous use of aggressive retinoids and use of serum oils after, this stuff is the best. My skin has dramatically cleared up over the winter. This has been excellent but I do need to butter of my skin with essential oil serums. Without it, my skin would be too dry. On the otherhand, during the summer, if I am not using Tazorac, this stuff is amazing too. Total repurchase! Hurrah!
Ingredients: 2% Salicylic Acid, Water, Sodium C14 16 Olefin Sulfonate, Lauramidopropyl Betaine, Lauryl Glucoside, Sodium Chloride, Disodium EDTA, DMDM Hydantoin, Fragrance, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Lactic Acid, Polysorbate 20, Triethanolamine
4. Neutrogena Deep Clean Long-Last Shine Control Cleanser/Mask, 6.0 oz for SRP
If you don’t have an issue with acne or it’s pretty mild, and your biggest concern is oily skin, then this is a great product. It was surprisingly effective on degreasing my skin without irritating it. The only reason why I wouldn’t purchase this again is because I have to be vigilant against acne ALL THE TIME. I am clear for a few weeks at a time these days but only because I am vigilant. I try to reduce the number of treatment products I use on my skin and this would be better with a stronger acne fighting ingredient that isn’t benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid is listed but it’s pretty low on the list.
Ingredients: Water, Cetyl Alcohol, PPG 15 Stearyl Ether, Steareth 21, Titanium Dioxide, Glycerin, Polysorbate 60, Rice Protein, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Phenoxyethanol, Salicylic Acid, Fragrance, Caprylyl Glycol, Disodium Lauroamphodiacetate, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA, Menthol, Sodium Benzotriazole Butylphenol Sulfonate, Blue 1 Lake (CI 42090), Green 5, Red 40 Lake (CI 16035)
5. Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Control Foam Wash, 8.0 oz for SRP
I actually dedicated a separate blog post to this cleanser, along with the accompanying SPF moisturizer, which I LOVE. This is great for sucking up oil and not drying out skin. It does leave an interesting filmy feeling, which is what I presume will continue to control oil production on the skin. My original review indicated that this is problematic for me because of all of the other products I use. Plus, I need active anti-acne maintenance. This is great if you only have very oily skin with mild, almost non-existent acne.
Ingredients: Water, Zinc Coceth Sulfate, Glycerin, PEG 75, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Zinc Gluconate, PEG 200 Hydrogenated Glyceryl Palmate, PEG 40 Hydrogenated Castor
Oil, PEG 7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Sodium Benzoate, Masking Fragrance (Parfum),
6. Biore Blemish Fighting Ice Cleanser, 6.77 oz for SRP
This is a pretty standard 2% salicylic acid drugstore cleanser. I don’t really see that much difference between Biore’s version and Neutrogena’s 2% versions. This is great to use during the summer because it does give a quick chill to the skin, but other than that it’s pretty average and on par with other cleansers. I am constantly swapping out 2% salicylic acid cleansers of various drugstore brands because they are so fungible. 2% salicylic acid cleansers are a great basic to have for oily, acne-prone skin and I find unless you have specialized needs (like I occasionally do) you don’t need to buy something more expensive or upscale. However, if you have sensitive, acne-prone skin, you must try the B. Kamins Acne Cleanser I posted about here. 🙂
Ingredients: Salicylic Acid 2%, Water, Glycerin, Sodium C14 16 Olefin Sulfonate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Decyl Glucoside, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Lauric Acid, Betaine, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Extract, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Extract, PEG 7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Glyceryl Oleate, Sodium Hydroxide, Polyquaternium 7, Menthol, Disodium EDTA, BHT, DMDM Hydantoin, Methylparaben, Fragrance
7. L’Oreal Youth Code Foaming Gel Cleanser, 8.0 oz for SRP
This cleanser is from L’Oreal’s Youth Code line up, which is meant for older skintypes. It utilizes lipo-hydroxy acid (LHA), or capryloyl salicylic acid, to gently exfoliate the skin. LHA offers far more refined exfoliation that is less irritating to skin than good ‘ole salicylic acid, which penetrates deeper and a tad unevenly. Individuals with more sensitive skin types can use this. I actually purchased this in the summer and did not care for it because I noticed it left my skin feeling too moisturized for my taste. My skin never felt “clean.” I stopped using it and switched to a drugstore cleanser by Phisoderm that was better suited for super oily, acne-prone skin in humid, hot and nasty environments. My pores are producing massive amounts of oil in the summer, I didn’t need a moisturized feeling. Blech. However, I pulled this bad boy out in the fall and winter, and it is SO MUCH BETTER for me in colder, drier environments. I have noticed that my skin is getting far more reactive to seasonal changes than it used to be. In the summers, my skin is beyond gross pumping oil like no one’s business. However, in the winter, when I am using my retinoids – which is almost always – I need a cleanser that is less stripping, and leaves a bit of moisture behind. This cleanser leaves my skin soft, gently moisturized, and cleansed. It is non-irritating, even when I have tazorac’d my skin. It is also a less expensive option than B. Kamins Acne Wash. However, the B. Kamins Acne Wash has more potent acne-fighters, while still being super gentle on sensitive skin.
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), PEG 8, Lauryl Betaine, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, P Anisic Acid, Capryloyl Salicylic Acid, Citric Acid, Decyl Glucoside, Hexylene Glycol, Menthol, PEG 120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Cocoamphoacetate, Sodium Hydroxide, Tetrasodium EDTA, Fragrance
I have tried tons of drugstore cleansers. This “small” collection is currently what I have in my bathroom. However, I am constantly rotating out brands that didn’t work and rotating in new ones, while repurchasing those I loved. Perhaps, by next summer there may be a whole new -palooza to blog about. 🙂