How to know if your facial wash is truly "gentle" or "mild" on your skin

Have you ever stopped to think what makes a gentle face wash gentle? We read the word being thrown around by brands all the time but just how do we know for sure, beyond the product description? While the way one person reacts to any product is unique, there are a few guidelines which can help you decide on a better facial cleanser. If you happen to have sensitive skin like I do, it’ll serve your skin well to read the label and watch out for these common skincare triggers.


Aside from having no real benefits, fragrance is also one of the most common allergens that irritate sensitive skin. Depending on the concentration used and your skin’s sensitivity, fragrance has been known to cause redness, itchiness, and even breakouts. Experts agree that people suffering from skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, or acne can benefit from going fragrance-free.

One expert tip: unscented doesn’t mean fragrance-free! Most fragrance-free products may have a slight scent because of an ingredient in the formula but no additional scent was incorporated into the mix. On the other hand, unscented can also mean that an additional fragrance has been added to cancel out an unpleasant smell that a product naturally has.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Better known as SLS, it’s a cleansing agent normally found in home cleaning agents, shampoos, body wash, and yes, certain facial cleansers. It is a detergent that breaks the surface tension of your natural moisture barrier (the protective layer of your skin) so your cleanser can come in direct contact and cleanse more thoroughly. While that sounds like a great thing, you actually need your moisture barrier to stay intact for your skin’s health. This barrier keeps the bacteria and irritants out from the deeper layers of your skin while simultaneously locking the moisture in.

Bad Alcohols

It’s important to note that not all alcohols are made equal. Simple alcohols that dry out the skin like isoprophyl, methanol, denatured alcohol, and ethanol are to be avoided. While they can quickly combat oiliness and enhance the penetration of actives into your skin, they corrode your skin’s moisture barrier as well, which can be more problematic in the long run.

If you’re happy with how your current cleanser works even if it contains common irritants, just keep going for what’s best for you. We all react to products differently, and you know what’s going on with your skin more than anyone. If your skin is continuing to act up and surprise you with nasty breakouts though, you may want to consider switching. Here are a few great options to try!

CosRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser (P540 via

SLS-free and formulated at the ideal pH of 5, this gentle foaming cleanser from the cult-favorite Korean brand is particularly great for sensitive, acne-prone skin types. It also contains tea tree oil and BHA to declog your pores and keep your breakouts in check!

Celeteque DermoScience Hydration Facial Wash (P130 at supermarkets and drugstores)

Very affordable and available practically anywhere you go, this facial wash beats many others by being fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and non-comedogenic. Skin feels very clean without tightness due to getting stripped of moisture.

Physiogel Hypoallergenic Cleanser (P140 at supermarkets and drugstores)

Soap-free and formulated for sensitive skin, this dermatologist-recommended facial wash is best for dry skin types who want to achieve a deep clean while leaving the face moisturized. It’s also safe to use even for kids.

Image via

Image via

Cerave Hydrating Cleanser (new brand alert!)

You read that right! This brand will finally be available in the PH soon, and we’ve been patiently waiting for its arrival. Apart from offering a thorough yet gentle cleanse, this unique formula also contains ceramides that can actively heal a damaged moisture barrier.

Is your facial wash as gentle as it claims to be? What’s your favorite “certified gentle” facial wash?

Sources: Paula’s ChoiceTeenVogueInto The Gloss