Cleaner Cleansers: Your Post-Cetaphil Skin-Care Regimen

It’s a buzzkill to discover that your favorite facial cleanser—and one that dermatologists love to recommend— is not so clean.

But an increasing number of natural and organic brands are vying for a chance to purify your pores. To find them, you may have to have to look just beyond your neighborhood Duane Reade or CVS. Try the Whole Body section of Whole Foods or ABC Home, a font of luxe natural beauty lines, or go online and check out Spirit Beauty Lounge or Saffron Rouge.

Here are some cleaner cleansers to choose from—all of which I’ve tested extensively and recommend wholeheartedly. Instead of water and chemicals, every one of these facial washes contains 85 percent or more plant-based ingredients, and several are organic. Also important: None contain ingredients on the Dirty Dozen list or that are considered potentially toxic.

Just like your organic tomatoes, these cleansers may cost a little more than chemical-based facial washes, but they’re no more than a couple of cocktails, and a heck of a lot better for your skin.

Acne-prone skin
Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions Purifying Gel Cleanser
It’s one of the cleanest drugstore-brand lines in the acne category. The new Acne Solutions line contains willow bark, a natural source of salicylic acid, which is a proven pore penetrator and skin calmer. $10, www.burtsbees.com

Oily skin
Dr. Bronner’s Tea Tree Liquid Soap
The closest thing to a natural Cetaphil, this liquid soap is affordable, all natural, and contains tea tree, a natural anti-bacterial. It’s gentle enough to use in conjunction with acne treatment products—and by other skin types after yoga class. $5.99, www.drbronner.com

Sensitive, all types
Living Tree Botanicals Essential Cleansing Lotion
It’s a gentle creamy cleanser with green tea, roman chamomile and honey, all of which are natural anti-inflammatories. The company is founded by a Brooklynite and all products are handmade. $20, www.livingtreebotanicals.com

Combination skin, adult acne
Amala Beauty Purifying Gel Cleanser
Blue lotus and white clay removes what you don’t want (shine, dirt of the day, etc.) but leaves your skin feeling soft and looking like you’ve just used blotting papers. Also sold at ABC Home. $48, www.amalabeauty.com

Dry, delicate, and mature skin
Red Flower Nature Lymphatic Phytopower Sea Cleanser and Masque
Organic mushrooms, algae extracts, and antioxidant berries. It’s like an all-natural protein bar for your freakout-prone skin, and doubles as a face mask (thanks to white peat) when you leave it on for five minutes. $38, www.redflower.com

And a few special cases:
Skin that feels tight after you wash it
Kahina Giving Beauty Facial Cleanser
Exfoliating papaya enzymes and omega-rich argan oil helps brighten and nourish skin that feels clean but shrink-wrapped when washed. Love the clear disclosure: “99.0% of plant ingredients are organic; 99.4% Natural” and the profit-sharing: 25 percent goes to Berber women. $46, kahina-givingbeauty.com

Skin addicted to foaming cleansers
HGO Labs Grapefruit Face Wash
How to get foam without sodium laureth sulfate? This aerating pump froths the organic deep-cleansing ingredients as they’re dispensed from the bottle. Genius. Another boon: The cleanser’s handmade every few weeks. $19, http://bit.ly/cOhAkr

More natural brands with really clean cleansers: Pangea Organics at Whole Foods, Jurlique at Spirit Beauty Lounge, Intelligent Nutrients at ABC Home, REN and Nude Skincare at Sephora, Naturopathica at Naturopathica.com

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  • Here's an easy do-it-yourself cleanser: Combine powdered organic milk (I use goat milk), almond meal, a pinch of turmeric (if you want something anti-inflammatory) and a pinch of sea salt or sugar (if you want a little exfoliant). Put in a clean glass container and make a paste with it to gently cleanse your face. You can add some dried lavender or a couple of drops of essential oil for fragrance. This is a variation of a formula from Ayurvedic practitioner Pratima Raichur's book “Absolute Beauty” http://www.amazon.com/Absolute

  • Palma

    would like to add Dr. Hauschka, Weleda and Lavera to the list all 100% free of chemicals. Dr. Hauschka has been around since the 50ties in Europe and also has bio dynamic igredients

  • Stephen

    Dr. Hauschka's products don't appear to be rated too well on the Environmental Working Group's database of cosmetics. While they don't have ratings for all of his products, the ones that are there are rated from moderate to high hazard on their scale of 1-10. Probably needs some more investigation.

  • Claire

    i was really excited about my switch to jurlique and my skin looks great… but then i typed jurlique in a search on the EWG's cosemeticdatabase.com and it didnt fare so well!?? thoughts anyone? it looked like korres could be a good alternative. i love ren too. it seems to be ok in their ratings

  • Hi Claire, Here are three really clean products that I personally use. 100% Pure also makes wonderful clean cosmetics which are more difficult to find than skin care products.
    http://www.100percentpure.com/
    http://www.pratimaskincare.com/
    http://www.khushispa.com/
    I used to use Jurlique years ago – loved the smell!

  • Natural and organic products for acne treatment is always
    good to use and safer because it has no chemical that may irritates skin or
    worsen acne condition. It’s essential to use natural and organic products for
    treating acne because it helps nurture our skin and gives nutrients to our
    skin.

  • RHSC

    also , if you have allergies like i do .. just a bit of baking soda and water is a good exfoliant and cleaner for the face .. i use dr bronner some days too , but the soap does dry out the skin a bit.

  • Desiree Brown

    Got my facial foaming cleanser from the http://thesungarden.com and I really loved it……

  • Here’s an update on that link to facial cleansers: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/browse/facial+cleanser/