9 Drugstore Cleansers That Are Great for Your Skin
Ask any dermatologist and they'll tell you cleansing is an essential step in your skin care routine—but there's no need to splurge on a product to do the job right. Here are nine budget-friendly cleansers perfect for your skin's specific needs.
“Cleansing is an important, and non-negotiable, part of a skin care routine,” says Dr. Monica Li, a dermatologist in Vancouver. “It removes debris, excess oils, makeup and environmental pollutants from the skin to give it a clean surface for skin care products.”
But cleansers don’t need to be pricey. In fact, “skin care products, in general, do not need to be expensive,” says Li. What’s more important than the cost is that your cleanser suits your skin type and needs—which you can determine by how skin feels after cleansing.
According to Li, just-cleansed skin should feel like the pores are “open and breathing.” If skin feels tight or dry post-cleanse, that’s a sign you need to use a gentler cleanse. Look for one with moisturizing ingredients like ceramides, glycerin, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid. Not sure where to start? Li says gentle cleansers work well for most people.
Best Overall Drugstore Cleanser
This derm-touted pick is an all-around winner. Its gentle, milky formula removes makeup with limited tugging and rubbing, and it effectively rids the skin of the day’s grime. The best part: It doesn’t strip away oil, making it a go-to pick for those with dry skin (read: just about any Canadian battling the country’s icy winds).
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser, $33, shoppersdrugmart.ca
Best Drugstore Cleanser for Acne
This cleanser from Tiktok-favourite brand CeraVe is well-loved for good reason. Formulated with salicylic acid, it delivers a deep cleanse and gentle exfoliation all while targeting acne. It also includes ceramides to help restore the skin barrier, hyaluronic acid to aid in hydration and niacinamide to soothe skin.
CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser, $21, shoppersdrugmart.ca
Best Drugstore Cleanser for Oily Skin
Oily skin types should lean towards gel-based or foam formulas that can offer a deep cleanse and remove excess oil—but don’t strip the skin of all its healthy natural oil. Enter Vichy Pureté Thermale Fresh Cleansing Gel. The formula transforms from a gel to a frothy lather that removes dirt and makeup and even helps to combat the irritating effects of hard water. The result is a fresh and soft face that feels not tight and greasy but healthy and hydrated.
Vichy Pureté Thermale Fresh Cleansing Gel, $21, shoppersdrugmart.ca
Best Drugstore Cleanser for Mature Skin
While it’s best to save the task of addressing any skin concerns to serums and moisturizers, the right cleanser can help keep skin healthy and prep it to reap the benefits of powerful products. Olay Regenerist Cream Cleanser delivers gentle exfoliation to remove dry skin cells, providing the perfect blank canvas for your morning vitamin C serum and nighttime retinol.
Olay Regenerist, Regenertating Cream Cleanser, $15, shoppersdrugmart.ca
Best Drugstore Cleanser for Sensitive Skin
For sensitive skin, look for cleansers that are free of fragrance—a known skin irritator. The newest cleanser from Burt’s Bees leaves skin feeling clean and refreshed without tightness or redness, thanks to calming ingredients like rice extracts, cotton extracts and aloe.
Burt’s Bees Gentle Cream Cleanser with Aloe, $15, shoppersdrugmart.ca
Best Drugstore Cleanser for Reactive Skin
If your skin is easily irritated or you suffer from sensitivity and dryness, picking the right cleanser is particularly important. Look for one made with soothing colloidal oatmeal, like Aveeno’s Calm+Restore. It’s free from common irritants and helps skin retain moisture, all while lifting away makeup and dirt.
Aveeno Calm+Restore Nourishing Oat Cleanser, $16, shoppersdrugmart.ca
Best Drugstore Cleanser in a Double Cleanse Routine
If you’re set on double-cleansing to ensure no makeup or pollution is left on your face at the end of the day, micellar water should be one of the cleansers you choose. That’s because it can be used both before (to dissolve and remove makeup) and after (to ensure the skin is super cleansed and free of makeup and dirt), plus it pairs well with other cleansers. The most popular micellar water is by Bioderma, a brand with 25 years of cleansing experience. Its superpower is that it can cleanse without disrupting the skin barrier or stripping it of moisture—and removes eye makeup effortlessly.
Bioderma Sensibio H2O Eye, $18, shoppersdrugmart.ca
Best On-the-Go Cleanser
Cleansing cloths (instead of a cleanser) aren’t derm-recommended, but there’s certainly a time and a place when they’re useful. After the gym or on a redeye flight, they can be an easy way to cleanse skin and help prevent breakouts. Cetaphil’s gentle cleansing cloths will help remove makeup and oil without leaving skin dry. Bonus: They’re great for those with sensitive skin, too.
Cetaphil Skin Cleansing Cloth, $13.99, shoppersdrugmart.ca
Best Drugstore Cleansing Oil
This one’s a bit of a cheat because it can’t be found at all drugstores, but it can be found at online ones. (But it’s so good, we had to include it.) Cleansing oil dissolves stubborn makeup and, paradoxically, can also help lift excess oil from pores. Yet, it can be great for those with dry skin, too—this one from French brand Caudalie nourishes skin, courtesy of its plant oil-based formula. Expect cleansed skin alongside healthier eyelashes (thanks to castor oil) and a delightful aroma.
Cauldalie Vinoclean Makeup Removing Cleansing Oil, $35, shoppersdrugmart.ca