14 best face washes for men to keep your skin looking its best

It might not be the most glamourous product in a man’s daily grooming routine but a decent face wash is certainly one of the most important. Get cleansing right and you create the perfect base for everything else that follows – whether that’s a moisturiser, shave cream or face mask.

The first thing you should do in the morning and the last thing at night, it’s essential for removing anything that could impair optimal skin function.

“The goal of cleansing is to gently remove skincare products, pollutants from the environment like dust, and sweat from the skin’s surface without causing irritation or excess dryness,” says Dr Natalia Spierings, consultant dermatologist and author of Skintelligent: What you really need to know to get great skin (£16.99, Waterstones.com).

Kinder and less drying than traditional soaps, face washes are designed to cleanse without stripping skin of its natural oils. “Cleansing should not remove these lipids or oils from the surface of the skin because doing so can lead to problems with irritation,” says Spierings, who suggests choosing your face wash with care and not overusing it as excessive cleansing can exacerbate skin problems like acne, rosacea, dryness and eczema. She also suggests using your cleanser with tepid rather than piping hot water as this can also remove more of the skin’s protective lipids.

You can ignore the “double cleansing” trend too. “If you’re using the correct cleanser for you it’s unnecessary,” she says. Besides, you actually never want your skin to be “squeaky” clean as this means you’ve stripped away all the oils.

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So, how do you choose the right face wash for you? We’ve narrowed the field to ten quality cleansers to suit every skin type and budget – from essentials for acne prone skin to multifunctional wonders that will allow you to dispense with face scrubs and clay masks.

How we tested

One thing was at the forefront of our mind when testing the best face washes for men: how did our skin feel afterwards? If it felt tight as a drum, we moved on to the next one. Smell was important, of course, as was texture (like Goldilocks, we were looking for something that was neither thick nor too runny but which felt “just right”). As always, we had one eye on the value for money too. These are the best of the best.

The best face washes for men for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Dermalogica special cleansing gel: £25.75, Beyondbeautiful.com
  • Best for refreshing tired skin – Harry’s exfoliating face wash: £4.99, Superdrug.com
  • Best for dry skin – CeraVe hydrating foaming oil cleanser: £12.50, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for acne prone skin – Jack Black acne remedy balancing foam cleanser: £25, Getjackblack.uk
  • Best for travel – Saunders & Long the long weekender 5-in-1 groomer: £26, Humanery.com
  • Best own brand cleaners – No 7 men energising face wash: £7.95, Boots.com
  • Best eco options – Bluebeards revenge face wash: £9.99, Bluebeards-revenge.co.uk
  • Best for oily skin – Lab Series oil control clay cleanser + mask: £23, Boots.com
  • Best affordable wash for sensitive skin – Mancave sensitive face wash: £4.46, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best premium cleanser – Pelegrims vitamin boost facial cleanser: £23, Humanery.com

Dermalogica special cleansing gel

Best: Overall 

Rating: 10/10

  • Size: 250ml
  • Fragranced? Yes

There’s a reason why Dermalogica’s special cleansing gel is the brand’s best-selling cleanser. A favourite with skincare aficionados, it’s a no-nonsense, unisex, soap-free cleanser that keeps ingredients to the minimum to ensure skin is cleansed without irritation. Only lightly fragranced (there’s a barely-there hint of lavender), it foams nicely (partly due to Quillaja Saponaria – an ingredient extracted from the “soapbark” tree), while the lavender, along with balm mint, help to calm skin.

It’s not the cheapest cleanser out there (the RRP is £35) but we loved the simplicity of it, how a little goes a long way and the way it left our skin feeling soft and supple. We can certainly see why it’s one of Dermalogica’s hero products.

Harry’s exfoliating face wash

Best: For refreshing tired skin 

Rating: 8.5/10

  • Size: 150ml
  • Fragranced? Yes

A money saving essential (it acts as a daily exfoliator as well as a face wash, thus saving you from buying a separate face scrub) this is everything you want from a good cleanser – it leaves the skin feeling clean and fresh without leaving it dry, and doesn’t break the bank in the process. Gentle enough for everyday use, it utilises finely crushed volcanic rock to help dislodge dead skin cells so you – quite literally – always look fresh faced.

What we loved most about it though (apart from the price) was the smell. Infused with eucalyptus and peppermint oils it’s wonderfully cooling and refreshing, providing a real wake up call for tired (or hungover) skin. Since it’s exfoliating, it makes a great pre-shave prep too.

CeraVe hydrating foaming oil cleanser

Best: For dry skin  

Rating: 9.5/10

  • Size: 236ml
  • Fragranced? No

In the same way Kate Bush doesn’t release bad albums, CeraVe – the creators of high-quality, fuss-free skincare – doesn’t make bad cleansers. Pretty much anything from its range will be kind to your mush but if you suffer from particularly dry skin or are prone to skin conditions like eczema, this lightly-foaming oil cleanser is the one to plump for.

Mild enough that it can even be used on babies, it’s formulated to cleanse skin as gently as possible without compromising skin function. It does this thanks to a trio of ceramides (naturally occurring lipids that help protect the skin’s natural barrier) along with skin oils squalane and triglyceride which help with moisture.

Fragrance free, it can also be used on face and body, is brilliant value for money and though an oil-based cleanser it isn’t remotely slippery or greasy.

Jack Black acne remedy balancing foam cleanser

Best: For acne prone skin 

Rating: 8.5/10

  • Size: 150ml
  • Fragranced? No

Part of the new acne remedy range from Jack Black – the bestselling men’s skincare brand in the US, not the actor – this foam cleanser features acne’s number one enemy, salicylic acid; an ingredient that helps prevent spots by helping keep pores free of grease, grime and dead skin cells. Turmeric root extract, meanwhile, helps skin fight external aggressors like pollution, lactic acid evens out skin complexion and boosts moisture levels, while aloe vera helps reduce redness. It’s also oil and colorant free as well as being free of synthetic fragrance to minimise irritation.

Unlike the other cleansers we tried it has a liquid-to-foam formulation (think foaming shave cream) delivered by pump action, which helps measure out the exact amount required (1-2 pumps is plenty) and helps prevent wastage – which also gets another thumbs up from us.

Saunders & Long the long weekender 5-in-1 groomer

Best: For travel 

Rating: 8/10

  • Size: 250ml
  • Fragranced? Yes

How’s this for a brilliant, money-saving idea? A grooming product that not only acts as a face and body wash but as a shampoo, conditioner, shave cream and a styling aid for hair too? Multifunctionalism doesn’t get more, er, multifunctional than this clever 5-in-1 groomer from British luxury brand Saunders & Long.

Enriched with vitamin B5 – an ingredient that’s as good for skin as it is for hair – it has a low-foaming, silky texture (think hair conditioner) and left skin feeling super soft and refreshed. The perfect product for travel, festivals or those dirty weekends when you still want to be clean.

No 7 men energising face wash

Best:  Own brand cleanser 

Rating: 8/10

  • Size: 150ml
  • Fragranced? Yes

A great value staple, Boots No 7 men’s energising face wash forgoes fancy ingredients to focus on a no-fuss facial cleanse. Since all skin can have its sensitive moments – especially if shaving is involved – it’s been formulated to ensure it’s hypo-allergenic and won’t cause dryness or irritation. It’s not overly frothy, has a pleasant woody/citrussy smell and is certainly refreshing, though we suspect the energising aspect of the name is more due to how clean it makes skin feel rather than anything to do with a specific ingredient.

Bluebeards Revenge face wash

Best: Eco option 

Rating: 8/10

  • Size: 100ml
  • Fragranced? Yes

If you’re looking to reduce the amount of single use plastic in your bathroom and do your bit for the environment, look no further than this refillable face wash from The Bluebeards Revenge.

At 100ml, this face wash (itself housed in a 100 per cent recycled plastic bottle) is the smallest of those we tried. But, it can be replenished using a whopping 500ml refill pouch (£29.99, Bluebeards-revenge.co.uk), reducing plastic, helping you save the planet while saving money (and face) at the same time.

Nicely formulated, it features skin-friendly hyaluronic acid, aloe vera juice and coconut oil to keep skin soft and hydrated. And it smells good too, thanks to a fragrance made up of vanilla, sandalwood and patchouli. The perfect place to start if you fancy joining the refill revolution.

Lab Series oil control clay cleanser and mask

Best: For oily skin  

Rating: 9/10

  • Size: 100ml
  • Fragranced? No

Lab Series have long been at the forefront of innovative, problem solving skincare for men. For proof you need only look at this clever oil-controlling face wash that doubles up as a detoxifying face mask. Enriched with oil-absorbing white clay and exfoliating AHA/BHA acids to help shift pore-blocking dead cells, it has a thick, creamy consistency and can be used as a normal, wash-off cleanser, or can be left on for five minutes like a mask.

The perfect cleanser for guys who suffer from oily skin and blemishes, it’s also cost effective as a tube of this little wonder basically means you can dispense with face masks and scrubs.

Mancave sensitive face wash

Best: Affordable wash for sensitive skin 

Rating: 9/10

  • Size: 125ml
  • Fragranced? Yes

Affordable, nicely packaged and super-gentle on the skin, Mancave’s sensitive face wash is designed for guys with sensitive and easily irritated skin – hence the addition of cucumber extract and aloe vera to hydrate and soothe skin and the omission of lathering sulphates, which can irritate some skins.

We loved its rich, silky texture, delicate fragrance and eco-credentials – it’s vegan friendly, made with naturally derived ingredients and the tube is made from recycled plastic. Overall, it left our skin feeling clean but still supple too.

Pelegrims vitamin boost facial cleanser

Best: Premium cleanser 

Rating: 9/10

  • Size: 100ml
  • Fragranced? Yes

If you’re looking for a brand that embodies the future of skincare look no further than Pelegrims – a Kent-based brand that puts sustainability at its heart (its products utilise products of the British wine making industry and are all about minimum intervention with nature).

Produced in small batches, this facial cleanser features a raft of natural, skin boosting-ingredients, including antioxidant rich Kent cherry extract, rosehip oil and pinot noir grape, alongside antibacterial tea tree, providing a 360 approach to cleansing. We absolutely loved the light herbal/lavender-y fragrance, and the pump dispenser reduces the chance of you using too much.

It’s a low foaming cleanser so don’t expect tons of bubbles but, having tested scores of cleansers for this round up, we’ve discovered that froth is not an indicator of how fantastic a cleanser is.

Douglas Mateo

Douglas holds a position as a content writer at Neptune Pine. His academic qualifications in journalism and home science have offered her a wide base from which to line various topics. He has a proficiency in scripting articles related to the Health industry, including new findings, disease-related, or epidemic-related news. Apart from this, Douglas writes an independent blog and assists people in living healthy life.

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