How Much Should You Spend for a Good Face Wash?

Woman washing her face
kizzzbeth / Flickr / (CC BY 2.0)

A friend of mine asked me recently if she should buy an expensive face wash from Kiehls.

Honestly, I told her, you can get a good basic cleanser at the drugstore for under $10 (see my list of the Best Affordable Facial Cleansers: 13 Under $10). If you want to save money, save on your cleansers and splurge for a high-quality foundation or even moisturizer. Why? Anything that stays on your face for just a couple minutes before it's washed down the drain is not worth spending too much money on.

Plus, drugstore versions like Purpose, Pond's, Dove, Eucerin and Neutrogena are excellent. Why splurge when you don't have to?

That said, when you fall in love with a product, it's hard to let go despite the price tag. I'm currently obsessed with Tracie Martyn Amla Purifying Cleanser, which costs more than $60. It does last a long time, however, and my skin has never looked better. So if you love something, go for it.

In the beauty world, there are products worth splurging on. Certainly, in skin care, you should spend money on pimple medication, soothing masks and prescription creams, such as Retin-A micro. But when it comes to cleansers, a basic drugstore buy for under $10 will get the job done — this means it removes dirt and makeup without stripping skin too much of its natural oils.

The secret to purchasing a good cleanser is to buy for your skin type. If you have dry or combination skin, stick to a creamy, milky formulation or an oil cleanser (my current obsession).

Ingredients to look for include glycerin, cetyl alcohol or stearyl alcohol, according to O, the Oprah Magazine. I list my favorite cleansers for dry skin in The Best Cleansers for Dry Skin.

For oily skin, look for a clear, gel formula.

Check out my list of the Best Cleansers for Every Skin Type.

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