Purify the Skin: Four Must-Try Face Washes for Winter

Key Points

  • Cleanser and face wash are interchangeable terms that define products that clean away dirt and debris.

  • The best cleanser or face wash for winter cleanses without over stripping your skin’s natural oils. 

  • Selecting the best cleanser depends on your skin type, budget, skin conditions, and product/brand preference. 

Everyone needs a face cleanser or face wash. Your body sheds thousands of skin cells daily, which build up on the skin. Pollutants, dirt, oil, and other toxins invade the face, dumping unwanted debris that leaves the skin mucky.

Removing skin impurities with a face wash leaves the skin feeling fresh and clean. Cleansing also prepares your face for your next skincare products in your beauty routine. 

What’s the Difference Between Cleanser and Face Wash?

Cleansers and face wash products remove skin impurities like dirt, oil, dead skin cells, makeup, etc. Some people refer to foamy products as face wash and non-foamy products as cleansers. Others define the difference in rinsing as cleansers generally don’t require a rinse, but face washes do. Others believe cleansers hydrate while face washes provide a deeper cleanse, but this is not always the case. 

The cleanser versus face wash debate isn’t important, as both products clean the skin. Feel free to use these terms interchangeably. What’s important is knowing how to select the best cleansing product for your skin type and needs.

Should You Use Face Wash in Winter?

Cleansing in the winter is just as important as cleansing in the summer or any other season. Dirt and dead skin cells build up on the face every day. Removing these impurities works to prevent acne and premature aging of the skin.

Your skin is prone to dehydration and flakiness in the winter if you have a dry skin type. During winter, there are harsh winds and less humidity in the air that strip moisture from the skin. Cold air strips the skin of natural oils, and the skin produces more oil to compensate for the loss of sebum.

Should You Change Your Face Wash in the Winter?

Changing your face wash in the winter is unnecessary unless you want to. To save money, use the same face wash or cleanser you already use in your daily beauty routine, but use them less frequently. 

Over-cleansing strips the skin of your natural oils, causing more dryness and irritation or more oil, which leads to breakouts. 

Instead of cleansing twice a day, try cleansing once a day to ensure you don’t strip your skin of the necessary lipids that maintain your moisture barrier. It’s best to cleanse at night to wash off all the grime, dirt, pollutants, and dead skin cells the face accumulates throughout the day.

In short, skip the morning cleanse, especially if you wake up with dry skin. However, if you wake up with excess grime and oil accumulation, it’s better not to skip that morning cleanse.

If you cleanse at night but want to refresh your skin in the morning without over stripping your natural oils, rinse your face with lukewarm water to remove drool — we all do it! — and eye crust, or residue left behind by night products. Make sure to apply your next skincare product, such as a moisturizer, immediately after cleansing to avoid excessive dryness. 

Select cleansers tailored to your skin type if you want to switch up your skincare routine for the winter. If your skin is dry and sensitive, look for a gentle and hydrating cleanser with watery, gel-like, milky, or creamy textures.

Seattle-based dermatologist Dr. Daniel Sugai says, “If you have oily skin in the colder weather, you can still do an oil-specific cleanser or [… ] a gel cleanser.” Sugai also clarifies that it’s fine to continue using your current cleansers with active ingredients that target your skin issues in the fall and winter but recommends limiting their use to every other day to prevent over-drying your skin.

Also, don’t use too much product to avoid drying out the skin. Stick to a dime-sized amount.

The Best Face Cleansers For Winter

When temperature and weather changes occur, your skin is the first to know and react to the changes. Many people’s skin becomes drier in the winter, which leads to unsightly, rough skin. 

Try the face washes listed below that protect the skin’s moisture barrier to restore hydration to your skin without drying it out. 

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water

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11/28/2023 09:43 pm GMT

The Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water is a multi-tasking face wash and makeup remover. This product gently but effectively cleans off grime, dirt, and other impurities while refreshing the skin.

This micellar water works for all skin types and is free of oil, sulfates, parabens, fragrance, and alcohol. Unlike other cleansers, this morning and night product does not contain drying ingredients. It does contain glycerin or glycerol, which helps the skin preserve moisture. 

Although it’s labeled as a “no rinse” cleanser, it might be best to rinse your face with water to remove any residue left behind by this product. 

Garnier Micellar Water’s positive reviews report the product easily and effectively removes makeup, including stubborn and waterproof makeup, without leaving their skin oily. They also say it leaves their skin feeling clean, fresh, and soft. This affordable product makes it friendly to most consumers’ skincare budgets.

Others said they struggled to remove their mascara with this product or that it left their face oily and dirty. Thus, those with waterproof makeup or oily skin types may want to try Garnier’s Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Waterproof or Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Mattifying as a great alternative.

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

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11/28/2023 12:33 pm GMT

Designed for normal to dry skin types, CeraVe’s Hydrating Facial Cleanser aims to clean the skin without removing moisture. It’s made with ceramides to replenish the skin’s protective barrier. Through the slow-release patented MVE Technology, this face wash continues delivering skin-loving ceramides for several hours to keep your skin hydrated all day. 

With the help of hyaluronic acid and glycerin, this fragrance-free cleanser preserves moisture in the skin. The National Eczema Association awarded this product the Seal of Acceptance, confirming the product doesn’t contain ingredients known to harm those with eczema and sensitive skin

Reviewers say the product is gentle on their skin and successfully removes makeup without stripping their natural moisture. Many highly recommend it for sensitive skin types. Satisfied customers find the product hydrates their skin and doesn’t trigger breakouts. Customers also point out that the product is affordable yet effective.

Other users experienced the opposite effects, stating that the product failed to remove their makeup, dried and irritated their skin, or started breakouts. Overall, this product has more positive than negative reviews. Although it won’t work for everyone’s unique skin type and needs, testing it is the only way to know if it’s worth the hype. 

Neutrogena’s Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser

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11/28/2023 12:24 pm GMT

Sensitive skin is annoying but manageable. Neutrogena’s Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser is promising for even the most delicate and fragile skin. It’s extra gentle on the skin, yet get’s the job done by removing dirt, debris, and impurities on the skin without disrupting your vital skin barrier. 

Dermatologists don’t usually recommend foaming cleansers for dry or sensitive skin, but this product may be an exception, as it doesn’t dry out the skin. Plus, it’s made with glycerin to help the skin retain moisture, boost hydration on the epidermis, and ease dry, irritated skin. Your skin may appreciate that it doesn’t contain soap or oil. 

Some users find this product refreshing and gentle on the face without stripping the skin of its necessary moisture. It has become a favorite go-to face wash in many consumers’ daily skincare routines.

Satisfied users share that this cleanser leaves their face super clean and soft without drying their skin or causing breakouts. They also love how easily it removes dirt and makeup without leaving residue. 

What some don’t like about this product is its fragrance. They claim it gives the product a strong smell that lingers on the face for hours.

CETAPHIL Gentle Skin Cleanser

A cleanser designed for dry to normal, sensitive skin is the CETAPHIL Gentle Skin Cleanser. It doesn’t contain fragrance, parabens, and oil, making it friendly to delicate and acne-prone skin types. 

It protects your skin from dryness, irritation, tightness, roughness, and a comprised skin barrier. This product contains moisturizing glycerin, niacinamide (vitamin B3), and panthenol (vitamin B5).

Satisfied customers said this face wash made their skin glow. Others like that it leaves their face soft, fresh, and clean without drying out their skin. Many with sensitive skin are happy with how gentle and non-irritating the formula is on their skin. Several Cetaphil users also said the product smells amazing. 

Others experienced bad irritation and breakouts. Several people are unhappy with the product’s new and improved formula because it burns and stings their skin. 

Start Your Skincare Routine With a Face Wash


Skin irritation sucks. No one wants dry, itchy, or inflamed skin. That’s why selecting the correct products for your skin is vital. When in doubt, ask a dermatologist about the best ingredients for your skin type. This ensures you select the right products for your skin goals and needs while minimizing the risk of irritation.

After you know which ingredients to look for, start testing out products. Have fun with it! Begin with a cleanser, as it’s the first step to skincare. If you don’t know which one to select out of the abundance of cleansers in the skincare aisle, consider the products above. They come from well-known brands and have many positive reviews. They may work wonders for your skin type.

Happy cleansing!

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