14 best face washes for men to keep your skin looking its best

·12 min read
Old-school types might rely on soap and water, but a good face wash will bring that extra polish (iStock/The Independent)
Old-school types might rely on soap and water, but a good face wash will bring that extra polish (iStock/The Independent)

No matter how hard you try to resist, there’s no denying that a great face wash is the foundation of any skincare routine. Moisturising, we know, is the key to a healthy epidermis, but if you lay the groundwork with a foaming wash that kicks a serious punch, the facial glow for a summer-ready mug is near guaranteed.

Yes, old school types might say that soap and water will do the trick (note, it will dry your skin out) but a good face wash will bring that extra dose of polish and protection to your daily grooming regimen.

What’s so special about them? Well, any decent face wash will help to exfoliate the skin and remove excess dirt and oils to keep it looking its best. Plus, for those with allergen-sensitive skin, some will even help to alleviate inflammation without irritating your most sensitive spots. In short, it’s worth investing in something that’s decent to keep you looking good, as well as healthy.

Dry, oily or combination: our pick of the best face wash for men will keep your mug clean and properly primed all day long.

We tested each product for a few days in a row, and generally saw results within two or three days.

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You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

The best men’s face washes 2021 are:

  • Best overall – La Roche-Posay toleriane foaming gel cleanser: £12.50, Laroche-posay.co.uk

  • Best for skin types prone to more sebum – Horace purifying face cleanser: £11, Horace.co

  • Best for a deep cleanse – Chanel le gel: £36, Harveynichols.com

  • Best for a vintage fragrance – Acqua di Parma barbiere face wash: £28, Acquadiparma.com

  • Best for an all-round cleanser – L’Officine Universelle Buly 1803 lait nettoyant: £34.53, Buly1803.com

  • Best for oily and normal skin types –Kiehl’s calendula deep cleansing foaming face wash: £26.50, Kiehls.co.uk

  • Best for a deep cleanse on the nose – Adam Grooming Atelier charcoal facial wash: £25, Adamgroomingatelier.com

  • Best for seriously oily skin – ultra facial oil-free cleanser: £18, Kiehls.co.uk

  • Best for those looking for daily perfection – Sturm cleanser: £39.43, Drsturm.com

  • Best sustainable and gender-neutral option – gentle foaming cleanser: £22, Sbtrct.co.uk

  • Best for getting bang for your buck – Vitruvian man anti-pollution cleanser and toner: £32, Vitruvian-man.com

  • Best for men with a lacklustre epidermis – 111Skin vitamin c cleanser: £55, 111skin.co.uk

  • Best for those in skin-stripping city environments – parsley seed facial cleanser: £27, Aesop.com

  • Best for botanical ingredients – Heath face wash: £10, heathlondon.co.uk

La Roche-Posay toleriane foaming gel cleanser

Best: Overall

If you’ve been to France, chances are you have come across La Roche-Posay in a Parisian pharmacy. But the brand has gained cult status in the UK too. It has a no-nonsense approach, geared towards results-driven skincare regimes – getting to the point, in other words. The foaming gel is also totally free of nasties (no parabens, no preservatives, no fragrance) and is a great choice for those prone to allergic reactions. Another bonus is that it’s also enriched with La Roche-Posay’s signature thermal spring water (pH5.5) – which helps to soothe inflammation – and glycerine. To our knowledge, it is the only cleanser that has been granted Allergy UK’s seal of approval. Impressed? You should be.

Buy now £12.50, Laroche-posay.co.uk

Horace purifying face cleanser

Best: For skin types prone to more sebum

Another no-fuss, ingredients-driven brand, this budget-friendly face wash is a bestseller, and for good reason. Formulated with 99 per cent natural ingredients, including Japanese charcoal, aloe vera, zinc PCA and plant-derived glycerine, the face wash purifies skin and is sebo-regulating, which means it’s a godsend if your epidermis is on the oilier side. Suitable for all skin types, it will keep you feeling fresh all day long – it smells lovely, too.

Buy now £11.00, Horace.co

Chanel le gel

Best: For a deep cleanse

If it’s from Chanel, you know it screams excellence. Extremely gentle and suitable for all skin types, this precisely developed formulation (hey, it’s from Paris after all) effectively cleans and helps to preserve hydration, while supporting the skin’s barrier function to ensure protection that lasts. Particularly good for combination skin and skin that is more on the oily side, le gel is enriched with two detoxifying and powerful marine extracts: blue micro-algae, to protect from pollution, and marine Salicornia extract, which helps to hydrate and strengthens the skin’s capacity to self-regulate water retention. Summed up, your skin will be left looking healthy and polished.

Buy now £36.00, Harveynichols.com

Acqua di Parma barbiere face wash

Best: For a vintage fragrance

This refreshing wash is one of two new additions to Acqua di Parma’s comprehensive barbiere line of face, shave, beard and hair care products: a swish collection designed for men inspired by the grand traditions of Italian barbering. Suitable for all skin types, the gentle daily-use formula efficiently gets to work on clearing away impurities, pollution and grime without stripping or dehydrating the skin. As it’s scented with the brand’s signature Colonia fragrance, you can take our word for it that it smells pretty darn fabulous.

Buy now £28.00, Acquadiparma.com

L’Officine universelle buly 1803 lait nettoyant

Best: For for an all-round cleanser

It’s French, so naturally, this face wash oozes quality and character. If your skin is easily irritated, this skincare lotion from Buly will become your new everything: on top of its calming and hydrating properties, aloe vera is combined with skin-soothing mirabilis extract, and astringent cornflower floral water alleviates redness and wards off the rings under your eyes. In terms of using it, the process is a little OTT: to cleanse, use precisely a teaspoon’s worth of formula between your hands and massage over the whole face from the centre outwards. Rinse with clear, clean water or run a wet cotton pad over your face to complete the cleansing process. The bottle, we think you’ll agree, is also super Insta-friendly.

Buy now £34.53, Buly1803.com

Kiehl’s calendula deep cleansing foaming face wash

Best: For oily and normal skin types

If your skin needs a hydration overload, buy this – and now. Infused with calendula, a herbaceous marigold-like flower found throughout the Mediterranean, this very effective foaming cleanser that actively replenishes and soothes without stripping away the skin’s essential oils. That said, it’s safe to use on sensitive skin, but after trying it out, we think it’s better suited to oily and normal skin types in need of a little love. Once used, skin instantly looks refreshed, revitalised and like you’ve had the best night’s sleep ever.

Buy now £26.50, Kiehls.co.uk

Adam grooming atelier charcoal facial wash

Best: For a deep cleanse on the nose

Charcoal is a magic ingredient, especially if you are prone to pesky black- and whiteheads on your nose. Adam Grooming Atelier, founded by Esat Kolege and Oytun Pakcan, uses sustainable essential oils and botanicals designed to promote a sense of wellbeing.

Bottled in a no-fuss 300ml-sized pump dispenser, the range’s gentle face wash is mild enough for daily use but digs deep into pores, powered by its infusion of blemish-busting charcoal. The vegan-friendly wash is also packed with the natural goodness of rosemary and thyme, both anti-inflammatories that help to reduce puffiness. Heck, if that doesn’t already persuade you to buy it, the formula is even silicone and paraben-free, too.

Buy now £25.00, Adamgroomingatelier.com

Kiehl’s ultra facial oil-free cleanser

Best: For seriously oily skin

If you, like the packaging suggests, suffer from ultra-oily skin, then this is a face wash worthy of your hard-earned cash. Specifically designed to meet the challenges posed by excess sebum production, the gel works by cleaning dirt and impurities without stripping the epidermis of all its essential oily building blocks. The quick-foam formula is loaded with desert plant extract (packed with hydrating potassium) and lemon extract (known for its astringent properties); spreads easily, and, unlike many other cleansers out there, is super-fast drying. If your sebum is out of control, use it morning and night to make sure your face looks refreshed and balanced all day long.

Buy now £18.00, kiehls.co.uk

Barbara Sturm cleanser

Best: For those looking for daily perfection

Simple yet utterly luxurious, Dr Barbara Sturm’s molecular-based creams, serums, and cleansers all aim to strengthen and soothe all skin types while delivering serious results. Although there is a dedicated men’s skincare range, the entire line is predominantly unisex and applicable for different skin tones. Yes, it is pricey, which is why the cleanser is a good place to start, as it’s one of the cheaper options on offer from the skincare guru. The gentle foam-based solution removes impurities and prepares your skin for moisturiser or serum, without disturbing the delicate pH balance or skin barrier function. It contains natural functional ingredients: purslane calms, soothes and moisturises, while aloe vera helps to repair and rejuvenate the skin. Spoiler: you will notice the glow.

Buy now £39.43, Drsturm.com

Sbtrct gentle foaming cleanser

Best: For sustainable and gender-neutral option

Say hello to Sbtrct, the new gender-neutral brand that specialises in solid formulations that deliver not just on aesthetics, but also ethics and efficacy. Founded by Ben Grace (previously of Bulldog Skincare) and using potent concentrations of fewer active ingredients, the range currently features two daily essentials, a moisturising solid balm, made from squalene, rose oil and shea butter and this gentle, light and refreshing solid bar face wash. Vegan-ready and dermatologically tested, it’s the perfect choice for normal to sensitive skin types, and thanks to the bar’s all-natural ingredient philosophy, leaves your face feeling soft, nourished and purified.

Buy now £22.00, Sbtrct.co.uk

Vitruvian man anti-pollution cleanser and toner

Best: For getting bang for your buck

Somewhat of a newbie to the scene, the British brand has garnered a loyal following for its ultra-specific approach to male skincare concerns. Vegan-friendly, cruelty-free and dermatologically tested, all of its solutions make use of scientifically proven, ethically and sustainably sourced active ingredients that come with a minimal carbon footprint. Its must buy? The two-in-one cleanser. Offering a deep clean, the tube packs in a formula suitable for all skin types, and thanks to its low-foaming gel texture, also helps to soften beard bristles for a comfortable pre-shave prep treatment.

Buy now £32.00, Vitruvian-man.com

111Skin vitamin C cleanser

Best: For men with a lacklustre epidermis

Bursting with vitamins, 111Skin is the science-led, results-driven luxury skincare line to know. Mixed to brighten dull and lacklustre complexions, the entire line is the brainchild of renowned cosmetic surgeon Yannis Alexandrides whose powerful creations scuff away dead skin cells and remove all the other usual daily nasties from your pores. Those who splash their cash on this will see skin transform almost instantly: vitamin C ensures a collagen plump; microalgae reduces pigmentation; and the glucoside complex calms flushed, red skin. In a nutshell, using this cleanser is like having a facelift without actually having one – you get the picture.

Buy now £55.00, 111skin.co.uk

Aesop parsley seed facial cleanser

Best: For those in skin-stripping city environments

Yes, of course, Australia nails the face wash scene, and no more so than with this skin-purifying beauty. Designed for city types faced with polluted air, Aesop’s parsley seed-infused family of formulas is supercharged with all sorts of skin-healing antioxidants. Suited to normal, combination and troubled skin, its natural formula (aside from the vitamin-rich parsley seed) contains liquorice root, an anti-inflammatory that helps to even out skin tone, and blackcurrant seed oil, known for its deeply hydrating qualities. Even after a few uses, skin is left looking deliciously supple.

Buy now £27.00, Aesop.com

Heath face wash

Best: For botanical ingredients

London-based grooming brand Heath is all about pocket-friendly anti-pollution skin solutions for men. Artisan-inspired, the entire line is cruelty-free and vegan-friendly with formulations powered with high-potency ingredients and new-generation actives that champion botanically sourced extracts. The best part is that the signature face wash doubles up as an exfoliator, which means you can use it daily like any other regular cleanser (you’ll save some pennies, too). Infused with Icelandic black lava to help gently remove dead skin cells, the advanced formula’s secret ingredient comes courtesy of Brazilian papaya extract, a magical thing rich in sugars, minerals, vitamins C, B1, B2 and B3. The result? An unparalleled deep clean and round-the-clock antioxidant protection.

Buy now £10.00, Boots.co.uk

The verdict: Men’s face washes

As an all-rounder that cleanses, exfoliates and is totally allergen friendly, plus not too hard on the pocket, La Roche-Posay’s toleriane foaming gel cleanser gets our thumbs-up. On the luxe side, Acqua di Parma’s Barbiere range is a winner (for the smell alone) and for those wanting to upgrade their grooming routine, a punt on the mammoth range from Dr Barbara Sturm is the way forward.

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