A product is known as a “Holy Grail” when it embodies all the glorious beautifying qualities a consumer has long been searching for. It is often elusive, and has always been yearned for. Everyone’s Holy Grail is different.
It can be hard to choose the right face wash for you. After all, there’s so much to get right. Here’s my checklist of qualities to look for in a good cleanser:
- Dermatologist-recommended: Self-explanatory.
- Hypoallergenic: It does not contain ingredients that can cause an allergic reaction. Unfortunately, many “natural” or “green” skincare products contain essential oils and plant extracts that can cause allergic reactions in unsuspecting users. Keep this in mind when opting for “organic” skincare. A safe bet is to choose “oil-free” cleansers.
- Suitable for sensitive skin: Same idea as above. I like to look for skincare and haircare products that advertise that they are “gentle as water” or are safe for babies and children. Means it’s going to be safe for me and you too!
- Non-comedogenic: This one’s an important one for those who are acne-prone. This simply means that the product will NOT clog your pores. Clogged pores can lead to pimples (blackheads and whiteheads).
- Fragrance-free and dye-free: Fragrances (perfumes, often listed as “parfum” on ingredient lists) and dyes are typically chemically-derived and have no place in cleansers; why expose your skin to unnecessary chemicals? But because these two are nearly impossible to escape in beauty products, it’s forgivable…
- Paraben-free: Parabens are preservatives that have been shown to have estrogenic effects on girls and women; there is controversy around their usage, with cosmetic safety advocates pointing to studies showing parabens being found in breast cancer tissue; parabens may also be linked to early onset puberty in girls. While there is not enough known yet about these concerns for parabens to have been eliminated from beauty products, it’s worth being cognizant of them.
- Soap-free: An ingredient in bar soaps that make them “soap” is actually comedogenic (clogs pores), and can dry your skin out immensely. I promise “using soap” is not a synonym for “cleaning”– soap-free cleansers will clean your skin as well or better!
- Gimmick-free: Try to resist the temptation to fall for bells and whistles– unnecessary ingredients in your face wash, like salicylic acid (you’re washing it off right away anyway!). Special ingredients should be reserved for toners, serums, and/or moisturizers– products that will be on your skin for longer than a minute.
- It has to be able to remove dirt, oil and makeup from your skin: It has to do the job you bought it to do, right? And if it can function as a sunscreen and makeup remover while it’s at it… super!
- It should leave your skin feeling fresh
Whew! That’s a lot to ask for. Luckily I’ve found a cleanser that fits my criteria: Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash (available for less than $10 at your local drugstore). I found Purpose after cruising MakeupAlley.com, a product review website which you MUST visit if you haven’t already– I use MakeupAlley.com before buying any beauty product (they have reviews for just about every product, makeup, haircare and skincare, that you could think of). Purpose is one of the highest-rated and most-reviewed products under Cleansers on MakeupAlley, with 900 reviews and a 4.1/5 rating. I knew I had to check it out!
I have tried every type of cleanser, from bar soaps (including Dove) to schmancy cream cleansers from Sephora, to Shu Uemura cleansing oils, to Cetaphil (which I didn’t like at all, by the way– it now functions only as an in-shower shaving cream). Go for whatever type works best for you and leaves you feeling the most clean. I personally prefer that squeaky-clean feeling– and Purpose gives you that.
Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash comes in a very hygienic pump bottle; it’s a liquid-y gel that foams when you lather it between your hands. All you need to do is wet your face, lather, massage it in, and rinse thoroughly! I’ve found, to my surprise, that Purpose is able to remove my zinc oxide sunscreen, eye-makeup, and foundation without a struggle. If you need more hard-core sunblock/makeup removal, I recommend starting with an oil cleanser like MAC Cleanse Off Oil then following it up with Purpose (this is called the double-cleanse method, which I talk more about here).
I use Purpose morning and night. It hasn’t dried out my typically crocodile winter skin, nor has it caused me to break out. If you’re shopping for a no-fuss, do-no-harm face wash, this might be the one for you! Let me know what you think!