13 Best Facial Cleansers For African American Skin

A subtle cleanser that doesn't leave a white tint behind for radiant and glowy skin.

By Shiboli ChakrabortiShiboli Chakraborti, Certified Skin Care Coach  • 
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African American skin has different skin care needs due to its high eumelanin content. So, we have curated a list of the best cleansers for African American skin. These products are specifically formulated for this skin type which is usually acne-prone and susceptible to inflammation and hyperpigmentation. They are gentle on the skin, so they help you remove dirt, sweat, grime, and other impurities without aggravating the skin further. They are non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic, and fragrance-free to avoid irritating this particular skin type. Scroll down to pick your favorite facial cleanser for healthy, refreshed, and glowing skin.

Top Picks
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Best Fragrance-Free: CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser
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Best Dermatologist-Tested: Cetaphil Facial Cleanser
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Best Non-Comedogenic: VANICREAM Gentle Facial Cleanser
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Best Gluten-Free: Sebamed Clear Face Cleansing Foam
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Best SLS-Free: philosophy Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser
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Best Vegan: MARIO BADESCU Glycolic Foaming Cleanser
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Best pH-Balanced: First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser
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Best For Oil-control: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser
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Most Gentle: Differin Daily Deep Cleanser
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Best For Deep Cleansing Action: Proactiv Green Tea Foaming Cleanser
Price on Amazon

13 Best Facial Cleansers For African American Skin

1. Best Fragrance-Free: CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser

4.7

The facial cleanser from CeraVe works up a good foamy lather when massaged onto your skin. It effectively cleans your face of dirt, oil, grime, dead skin buildup, and makeup. The formula is perfect for oily, acne-prone, and sensitive skin types. It does not make your facial skin feel dry, tight, or stripped of moisture and nutrients.

This cleanser is enriched with essential ceramides naturally present in the skin, along with niacinamide and hyaluronic acid. The ceramides restore the skin’s natural lipid barrier, while hyaluronic acid hydrates the skin and locks in moisture. Niacinamide repairs the skin barrier and improves the skin texture. This cleanser from CeraVe can truly work wonders on oily skin. You can take a look at a review of the product if you require more convincing.

Pros

  •  Fragrance-free
  •  Non-comedogenic
  •  Non-drying
  •  Non-irritating
  •  Dermatologist recommended

Cons

  •  May cause redness.
Quick Tip
After cleansing your face, apply the Cerave AM Face Moisturizer to plump and nourish your skin.
Price at the time of publication: $33.23

2. Best Dermatologist-Tested: Cetaphil Facial Cleanser

4.6
Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser Image: Cetaphil

The Cetaphil Facial Cleanser is formulated by experts to remove excess oil and deeply cleanse the layers of the skin, including the pores. This facial cleanser is suitable for oily skin types and provides the best skin care for black women. It lathers up to remove dirt, surface oils, residue buildup, and makeup.

Pros 

  •  Hypoallergenic
  •  Dermatologist-tested
  •  Non-comedogenic
  •  Cruelty-free

Cons

  • Contains sulfates
  •  May dry the skin out.
Price at the time of publication: $13.69

3. Best Non-Comedogenic: VANICREAM Gentle Facial Cleanser

4.6
Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser Image: Vanicream

The facial cleanser from VANICREAM is safe to use on your facial skin as it does not contain chemical irritants and harsh cleansing agents. It is one of the best facial cleansers for oily skin. The cleanser washes off makeup, dirt, and excess sebum from the pores without drying the skin out. Instead, it leaves the skin feeling soft and clean. This facial cleanser is recommended by dermatologists and approved by the National Eczema Association. You can check this elaborate YouTube video for more information on this facial cleanser for sensitive skin.

Pros 

  •  Suitable for all age groups
  •  Dermatologist-tested
  •  Non-comedogenic
  •  Soap-free
  •  Oil-free
  •  Sulfate-free
  •  Betaine-free
  •  Gluten-free

Cons

  •  Feels greasy
Did You Know?
The VANICREAM Gentle Facial Cleanser was awarded the Seal of Acceptance from the National Eczema Association.
Price at the time of publication: $8.86

4. Best Gluten-Free: Sebamed Clear Face Cleansing Foam

4.3
Sebamed Clear Face Cleansing Foam Image: Sebamed

This cleanser from Sebamed forms a foamy rich lather that washes away germs, dirt, residue, and oil from your face. It contains Montaline C40 that penetrates deep into the skin pores and cleanses them from within. The formula also contains panthenol to soothe the skin and reduce irritation and inflammation. This cleanser has a pH of 5.5, which helps maintain the skin’s acid mantle and discourages the growth of acne-causing bacteria. The product comes in a handy pump bottle.

Pros

  • pH-balanced
  •  Soap-free
  •  Gluten-free
  •  Dermatologically tested
  •  Paraben-free
  •  Phthalate-free
  •  Propylene glycol-free
  •  Paraffin-free

Cons

  •  Contains fragrance
Price at the time of publication: $14.95

5. Best SLS-Free: philosophy Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser

4.6
philosophy purity made simple one-step facial cleanser Image: Philosophy

The One-Step Facial Cleanser from philosophy contains eco-consciously harvested meadowfoam seed oil that conditions your skin and keeps it youthful and glowing. The botanical ingredients used are sourced directly from producers cultivating organic and non-GMO crops. The facial cleanser has a 3-in-1 action – it deeply cleanses the pores, melts away makeup, oil, and dirt, and lightly hydrates and tones the skin. It is formulated for normal to dry skin types and

Pros

  •  Non-drying
  •  Paraben-free
  •  Phthalate-free
  •  Formaldehyde-free
  •  SLS-free
  •  SLES-free
  •  Cruelty-free

Cons

  • Overpowering fragrance
Price at the time of publication: $51

6. Best Vegan: MARIO BADESCU Glycolic Foaming Cleanser

4.5
MARIO BADESCU Glycolic Foaming Cleanser Image: Marioba Descu

The main ingredient used in the MARIO BADESCU facial cleanser is glycolic acid. It dissolves dead skin cells and exfoliates the skin, leaving it clean and refreshed. It helps rinse off excess sebum buildup, dirt, oil, and dead skin. This cleanser is enriched with chamomile, yarrow, marshmallow, sage, and St John’s wort. While chamomile and St John’s wort have calming benefits, marshmallows, and sage condition and smoothen the skin. Yarrow makes your skin look healthy, youthful, and radiant. This cleanser is perfect for normal, dry, sensitive, combination, and oily skin types. You can also check this review to understand more about the final results after using this cleanser from Mario Badescu.

Pros

  •  Dermatologically tested
  •  Formulated with herbal extracts
  •  Smells good
  •  Gluten-free
  •  Phthalate-free
  •  Vegan
  •  Cruelty-free

Cons

  •  Triggers allergic reaction in some.
Quick Tip
You can also use this cleanser to decrease breakouts and uneven skin on your back and chest. Apply the cleanser with a gentle sponge during showers 2-3 times a week.
Price at the time of publication: $16.0

7. Best pH-Balanced: First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser

4.6
First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser, Sensitive Skin Cream Cleanser with Antioxidant Booster, 5 oz. 5 Ounce (Pack of 1) Image: First Aid Beauty

The facial cleanser from First Aid Beauty is also an antioxidant booster. It effectively removes surface oils, makeup, dirt, and grime. The ingredients balance the skin’s natural acidity, preventing flare-ups, acne, and pimples. Aloe vera and allantoin soothe, calm, moisturize, and nourish the skin, while glycerin is a natural humectant. The licorice root, feverfew, and white tea extracts in the formula fight against environmental aggressors.

Pros

  •  pH-balanced
  •  Dermatologist-tested
  •  Allergy-friendly
  •  100% vegan
  •  Cruelty-free
  •  Fragrance-free
  •  Sulfate-free
  •  Gluten-free
  •  Nut-free
  •  Mineral oil-free
  •  Talc-free
  •  Soy-free

Cons

  •  Does not remove eye makeup.
Price at the time of publication: $12.0

8. Best For Oil-control: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser

4.5
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser Image: Laroche Posay

The La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser is the perfect choice for people with acne. It contains 2% salicylic acid and lipo-hydroxy acid that reduce impurities while providing healthy, hydrated, and supple skin. This facial cleanser removes excess sebum up to 47% from your face. It does not contain toxic chemicals like parabens or mineral oils.

Pros

  • Oil-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Alcohol-free
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Fragrance-free
  • Best for oily and acne-prone skin
  • Dermatologically tested

Cons

None

Price at the time of publication: $14.99

9. Most Gentle: Differin Daily Deep Cleanser

4.4
Acne Face Wash with Benzoyl Peroxide by the makers of Differin Gel, Daily Deep Cleanser, Gentle Skin Care for Acne Prone Sensitive Skin, 4 oz Face Wash w/Benzoyl Peroxide Image: Differin

The Differin Daily Deep Cleanser is specially formulated for sensitive skin. It contains 5% benzoyl peroxide that treats acne without stripping the skin of its natural nutrients. The active ingredients instantly kill bacteria that cause breakouts and acne due to residue of sebum, dirt, and dead skin. The deeply penetrating formula reduces inflammation, itchiness, and redness considerably.

Pros

  •  Gentle
  •  Smells good
  •  Non-comedogenic
  •  Dermatologist trusted

Cons

  •  Non-foaming
Price at the time of publication: $8.99

10. Best For Deep Cleansing Action: Proactiv Green Tea Foaming Cleanser

4.1
Proactiv Green Tea Foaming Cleanser Image: Proactiv

This powerful, effective formula contains three indigenous Australian berries that help replenish the skin’s natural moisture and soothe it. Kakadu plum and green tea extracts fight free radicals and make the skin even-toned. The gentle formula is long-lasting, suitable for all skin types, and removes makeup and dirt easily.

Pros

  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Gentle formula
  • Smells good
  • Long-lasting

Cons

  • Expensive
Price at the time of publication: $35.32

11. Best Non-Drying: Fresh Soy Face Cleanser

4.5

The Fresh Soy Face Cleanser is enriched with soy, cucumber extracts, rose water, and amino acids that effectively cleanse your skin and restore the lost nutrients. The cucumber extracts and rose water keep your face relaxed, smooth, and soothed.

The formula comes in a gel form that spreads well across the face and covers all areas for effective cleansing. It washes away everyday impurities, dirt, and bacteria without stripping the skin of its natural moisture. It is also effective in cleaning away everyday makeup and mascara, giving you a fresh face each day. The facial cleanser is suitable for all skin types. It gently cleanses the face and eyes and comes in an easy-to-apply squeeze tube.

Pros

  •  Extra gentle
  •  Non-drying
  •  Light fragrance
  •  A little goes a long way

Cons

  •  Expensive
Price at the time of publication: $19.99

12. Best Glow: Boscia Facial Cleanser

4.6
boscia Detoxifying Black Charcoal Cleanser Image: Boscia

The facial cleanser from Boscia contains detoxifying black activated charcoal and vitamin C to cleanse your face deeply. It also contains rose geranium oil, artichoke leaf extract, vitamin P, and licorice root. The activated charcoal absorbs all the excess oil from your face and blocks out unwanted pollutants in the environment.

This cleanser is infused with a fragrance of rose and geranium and is suitable for all skin types – oily, sensitive, dry, normal, and combination. It unclogs and minimizes pores and makes your skin clearer, brighter, and clarified. The gel-like consistency has a warming effect that kills impurities while being gentle on your skin.

Pros

  •  Smells good
  •  Imparts glow
  •  Cruelty-free
  •  100% vegan
  •  Artificial fragrance-free
  •  Chemical preservative-free

Cons

  •  May dry the skin out.
Price at the time of publication: $34.0

13. Best Non-Drying: PCA SKIN BPO 5% Cleanser

4.6
PCA SKIN BPO 5% Cleanser Image: Pcaskin

The PAC SKIN BPO 5% Cleanser removes dirt, debris, and germs that cause acne. While 5% benzoyl peroxide removes impurities from pores, soothing herbs help minimize redness and irritation. Gluconolactone and phytic acid work together as a gentle exfoliator, which helps reduce future breakouts. This cleanser comes with SPF 45, which protects the skin from the harmful effects of sunlight.

Pros

  • Paraben-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Suitable for acne-prone skin
  • Long-lasting
  • Value for money

Cons

None

Price at the time of publication: $40.0

In the next section, let’s look at the points to keep in mind while purchasing a cleanser.

What To Consider Before Buying A Cleanser For African American Skin

  •  Ingredients

African American skin is more sensitive and prone to acne, pimples, and allergic breakouts. Hence, it is wise to choose a face wash with natural ingredients. Formulas with plant-based ingredients work well on all skin types, whether oily, sensitive, dry, combination, or normal. Also, make sure the product has a mild fragrance or no fragrance to avoid irritation.

  • Skin Type

When buying a face cleanser, consider your skin type. If you have sensitive skin, a mild and gentle formula works best. For dry skin, a highly hydrating face wash is ideal. Avoid products containing alcohol, as it may further dry out the skin. For oily skin, choose water or gel-based facial cleanser that gets rid of the excess sebum.

  •  Purpose

If you want a facial cleanser that not only cleanses but also hydrates and treats your skin, check if it has ingredients like aloe vera or hyaluronic acid. If you only wish to wash off your daily makeup, dirt, dust, and pollution, a good exfoliating facial cleanser will do the trick. There are also other facial cleansers that scrub, exfoliate, hydrate, moisturize, and nourish your skin at the same time. Choose one, depending on your needs.

Infographic: Key Ingredients To Look In Facial Cleansers For African American Skin

African American skin requires unique skin care due to its high eumelanin level. Therefore, the cleansers are carefully formulated to eliminate dirt, sweat, dust, and other pollutants without damaging the skin. However, verifying the ingredients before purchasing a product for this skin type is essential to prevent acne, skin irritations, and hyperpigmentation. Check out the below infographic to determine the key ingredients while selecting a face cleanser for African American skin. Scroll down.

Key Ingredients To Look In Facial Cleansers For African American Skin[infographic]

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Facial cleansers must be able to remove sweat, dirt, grime, and other impurities that can aggravate the skin. African-American people need facial cleansers that can also reduce inflammation and hyperpigmentation while rejuvenating the skin cells. Many people have sensitive skin that requires special care and attention. You should choose facial cleansers that can hydrate the skin and lock in moisture to renew skin cells. However, steer clear of products that can cause unnecessary irritation and dry the skin out.

Why Trust Stylecraze

The author of this article, Shiboli Chakraborti, is a certified skin care coach who loves reviewing different beauty products. She has curated this list of the best facial cleansers for African-American skin after carefully researching them, checking reviews online, and going through multiple forums for user feedback. She picked only the top-rated products that are gentle and can help you get rid of sweat, grime, and dirt.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should African Americans wash their face?

Milk-based and cream-based cleansers are good for African American skin as they are gentle and effective in removing oil and dirt. However, over-cleansing or frequent face washing can damage your skin and strip its natural moisture.

Is Neutrogena cleanser good for black skin?

Yes. Neutrogena is the best cleanser for black skin as it is ultra gentle, dye-free, and hypoallergenic.

Does black skin need a different face wash?

No. Black skin is a special color caused due to increased doses of melanin. Ingredients and types of skin care products needed to address skin concerns are the same irrespective of skin color.

Is rose water a cleanser for natural skin?

Yes. Rose water is the best cleanser for natural skin. It restores the skin’s pH balance and effectively removes oil and dirt from the pores to restore a natural glow.

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