(Main Squeeze)

12 Face Washes That Leave Skin Squeaky Clean But Never Tight

Time for an upgrade.

best face wash 2024
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Join TZR editors for Main Squeeze, the series dedicated to sharing beloved beauty products — be they bold, effective, or simply fun — that make our week just a little bit better. Ahead, Team TZR spotlights their favorite face washes of the moment.

Face wash is often treated like a skin care background actor when it should play a starring role in your routine. As the first step in your regimen, properly cleansing your face helps keep your skin clean, balanced, and ready to take in the treatment products to follow, such as an exfoliating toner or firming serum. The fact that cleanser only stays on your skin for about a minute until you take it off is why it’s commonly an afterthought. In reality, you’re not rinsing your money down the drain. Using the right cleanser for your skin type will effectively get rid of the makeup, sunscreen, and debris on the surface without overly stripping or irritating your complexion. In fact, if the formula contains active ingredients, it can even help address some of your biggest skin concerns. If you’re not sure where to start in terms of upgrading your cleanser, one of the best face washes of 2024, as chosen by TZR editors, is a good place to start.

With a wide array of skin types, issues, and product preferences, this editor-approved set of cleansers includes options for everyone. Whether you love a lathering foam but need one that won’t leave your face bone dry or you’re a fan of exfoliating formulas for an instant radiance boost, your skin care routine is about to get an upgrade.

Ahead, the best face washes TZR editors swear by.

“As someone who has dealt with acne for most of their adult life (thus far), Sofie Pavitt is one of my favorite estheticians in NYC because she’s a wealth of knowledge when it comes to breakouts. Unsurprisingly, her skin care line is amazing for anyone who’s prone to acne or has super sensitive skin. I’ve all but written off gel cleansers as being too dehydrating for my dry-leaning skin, but it’s miraculously gentle, and of course, effective.” — Erin Lukas, deputy beauty editor, TZR

"I'm a die-hard Pavise fan, from the mineral sunscreen to the amino power wash. From first use, I instantly felt the luxurious serum-like texture that felt so soothing and calming on my skin. It was the perfect consistency I haven't felt in another face wash before. It never strips away or dries out my skin, but rather provides a soft, hydrated feel that leaves it feeling clean and refreshed after each use. On days when I'm wearing more makeup than usual, I double cleanse, but for my usual routine, I stick to one and find that's enough." — Kathy Lee, editor-in-chief, TZR

“This cleanser from dermatologist Dr. Blair Murphy-Rose is the perfect end to my nightly double-cleanse routine. It has a light, jelly-like texture that melts into the skin and feels so soothing and hydrating as I wash my face. The pH-balanced formula gets everything off, yet still leaves my skin feeling soft and clean.” — Faith Xue, executive beauty director, lifestyle, BDG

"I recently discovered the three-step Lancer Method, and it's become a favorite. The first step is a gentle scrub, and this cleanser is subsequently applied to help clear it — and any lingering buildup caused by sunscreen, makeup, and more — all away. Crucially, the consistency is pretty creamy, which means the formula doesn't dry out my skin or leave it feeling too taut and overworked." — Amanda Ross, beauty editor, TZR

“When I’m really in the mood to take a beat and treat my skin to a more extensive lineup of products, I start things off with this decadent cleanser by legendary makeup artist, Lisa Eldridge. The balmy consistency turns into oil upon contact with your skin, so it’s great for giving yourself a mini facial massage. When you add a bit of water it becomes a creamy milk that rinses away impurities. My skin always feels so soft and smooth — like I just applied moisturizer.” — Lukas

"This cleanser made its way to me by accident, as part of a product testing. While some formulas I try in cases like this are a one-and-done trial, I've already gone through two bottles of this cleanser. Unlike other oil-control cleansers that can strip the skin and leave it feeling tight and dry, this one is super gentle. It leaves my skin squeaky clean, blurs out pores, and mattifies my tone. It's my new staple." – Angela Melero, executive editor, TZR

“Motif’s cleanser has a creamy clay-like texture that melts into the skin and feels like a spa treatment. I love that it gets off my makeup and that the pineapple ceramides and licorice root leave my skin looking brighter over time. It also smells so soothing and delicious!” — Xue

"I've never strayed far from my trusty Cetaphil face wash, but after testing out Glow Recipe's Avocado Ceramide Moisture Barrier Cleanser, I may never go back. This formula is super gentle on my skin and always leaves my face feeling squeaky clean. Plus, I've been using it religiously for three months or so, and I'm only just starting to run out." — Kelsey Stewart, associate fashion editor, TZR

"Ah, old faithful. This is the most reliable cleanser in my collection, a foaming gel that effectively removes grime, oil, and makeup without stripping my complexion of any much-needed moisture. It's even gentle enough to (carefully) rub over my eyes. When my skin dries, it feels soft and supple, never tight. I love to experiment with different products, but I always find myself coming back to Dr. Loretta." — Ross

"I recently used a harsh product and damaged my skin barrier, which led to lots of redness and irritation. Ever since then, I've been going easy on exfoliation and focusing on gentle, hydrating products. Tata Harper's Superkind Refining Cleanser doesn't strip my skin and doesn't leave my face feeling tight and dry." — Maggie Haddad, sr strategist, social media, TZR

"Now that the weather is (finally) starting to warm up, I'm trading in my thick and creamy cleaners for a gel. This foamy but never stripping formula from La Roche-Posay is a go-to." – Alison Syrett, deputy fashion editor, TZR

“There are so many great cleansers out there, but I always find myself coming back to this one. It excels at lifting makeup, sunscreen, and grime from my skin without overly stripping it. My skin always looks just as fresh as this superfood-powered formula smells.” — Lukas