What’s the difference between a facial cleanser for men and a facial cleanser for women? Why, marketing of course. Brands will try to sell the “manly” aspect of their products by plastering the words “For Men” or other messages of the like in an attempt to market their products to a specialized demographic. This isn’t to say that there’s anything wrong with this – the problem arises when these products include ingredients that have potential to cause irritation to the skin. This would make the cleanser counter-productive, no?
When searching for a new facial cleanser, you’ll want a checklist to refer to. This is a general checklist – everyone’s skin will react differently to different products, but if you follow these points you should be knowledgeable enough in the future to know what to look out for. At this point I should mention that, while we’re looking for “manly” cleansers, the purpose of this article is to inform readers that it doesn’t matter if your cleanser is specifically for “men”! We are in the search of a clean cleanser. What do I mean by clean, you ask? To put it simply, clean in this context means that the cleanser does not contain any ingredient that can potentially serve as an irritant to your skin. In other words, the cleanser ideally:
- Does not contain alcohol
- Does not contain any added scents/fragrance
- Does not contain a long list of ingredients (the fewer, the better!)
With that being said, let’s get right into it.
1) Olay Gentle Clean Foaming Face Cleanser for Sensitive Skin
This is a personal favourite of mine that I have been using for several years. It hits all of the points above: no alcohol, 100% fragrance free, and the ingredient list is not too excessive. It does what it advertises, and it does it well. This is perfect for those who have sensitive skin (prone to breakouts due to irritation) and is incredibly gentle on the skin. For those who struggle with oily skin, you may want to opt for the Oil Minimizing version (which I have also tried and love!)
2) Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
Cetaphil’s Gentle Skin Cleanser is a great alternative to Olay’s if you’re not fond of that one. It comes in a larger container, leaving you without the hassle of constantly having to replenish your cleanser. It’s fragrance free, non-alkaline (low pH), and gentle on the skin. Additionally, your skin will be left feeling nice and moisturized and not dry and tight after cleansing.
Here’s the catch: this cleanser contains alcohol! I realize that this contradicts point A above, but from personal experience this cleanser containing alcohol has caused no problems for my skin thus far. A reason for this could be that the list of ingredients is incredibly short – it contains only 8 ingredients. Cetaphil keeps it simple. Nonetheless, the presence of alcohol in this cleanser is important to note because if you notice your skin feeling over-dried, the alcohol could be the culprit.
3) CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
I almost hesitated in including this one, but only because it’s so similar to Cetaphil’s cleanser. It even comes in a similar pump packaging! But for the sake of completeness, and to be fair to CeraVe, I will explicitly mention that this cleanser is fragrance free (great!), moisturizing (also great!), gentle (sounds good so far), and contains Stearyl alcohol (wait, what?). Yes, that’s right, this cleanser also contains alcohol just like Cetaphil’s. This begs the question – is avoiding alcohol in a cleanser really that important? Perhaps not, but understand that it is ideal for a cleanser to not contain alcohol simply because this is an ingredient that can be potentially harsh for some skin types (especially if you have sensitive skin that is prone to acne flare-ups).
4) Lather & Wood’s Face Scrub
The final recommendation is one that is a more “niche” product. This cleanser, unlike the cleansers above, is specifically marketed to be used by men. Note that I mentioned earlier that it doesn’t matter whether or not your cleanser is “for men” – this still holds true in general, but this cleanser is just too great to pass up.
Lather & Wood’s Face Scrub is one that I have stocked in my bathroom cabinet at all times. As soon as you squeeze a dime-sized dollop into your palm, you’ll be able to immediately recognize the difference between this cleanser and the ones above. Yes, this is an exfoliating cleanser. It contains natural jojoba beads to achieve this exfoliation, helping to gently scrub off dead skin cells and dirt from the face. What does it not contain? Alcohol. Just how we like it.
It does, however, come with a nice fragrance. The absence of alcohol (and it’s harsh, over-drying properties) makes up for this added scent, as does the fact that this is an all-natural cleanser, devoid of any harsh chemicals. If you’re a sucker for “masculine” packaging or scents for your grooming products, this is the cleanser for you.
Note: This is called a “Face Scrub” because that’s what it is – a scrub/exfoliator. I would not recommended purchasing this for an everyday cleanser if you have sensitive skin as it can be rough scrubbing your face every single day. Recommended use: cleanse your face two to three times a week with this face scrub.
To all of the men out there who are unfamiliar with the world of facial cleansers – you can’t go wrong with any of the cleansers above. However, it does all come down to personal preference. Speaking from my own experience with the 4 cleansers above, I would rank them as follows:
1) Olay Gentle Clean Foaming Face Cleanser for Sensitive Skin
2) Lather & Wood’s Face Scrub
3) Tie between Cetaphil/CeraVe
Olay’s facial cleanser is simply a no-nonsense option – it’s gentle, will not dry out your skin, and leaves your face feeling fresh after cleansing. It’s my personal favourite. But again, give them all a try if you wish, but any one of them will serve you well on your journey to clear skin.
Pro-tip: It’s best to pick up small, travel sized bottles of the Cetaphil and CeraVe cleansers as testers as those are often available in your local drug store.
As always, stay tuned for more tips on maintaining clear and beautiful skin.