If You’re Using Retinol, These Are The Cleansers to Wash Your Face With

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Best Cleanser to Use with Retinol

First of all, congratulations on your new journey with retinol. Also, congratulations on being very responsible and realizing that your regular cleanser may not be the best one to use with retinol. Because when you’re using topical vitamin A, whether it’s an over-the-counter retinol cream or serum or prescription tretinoin or retinoic acid or Retin-A, your skin is sensitive to pretty much anything you put on it. That includes cleansers and face washes too. But the best cleansers to use with retinol are non-irritating formulations that won’t aggravate that sensitivity.

Any form of vitamin A, including topical prescription retinoids as well as over-the-counter retinol, do the same thing. Retinol works by regulating the cell turnover rate.

The top layer of your skin, which consists of dead skin cells, is constantly renewed by new, healthier skin cells. As a result, skin concerns like acne, hyperpigmentation, large pores, and fine lines are diminished in the process.

Whichever form you’re using, retinol is perfect for reducing acne as well as signs of aging. However, this skin renewal process carries a few so-called side effects that might be hard to manage at first. The most common of them are dryness and irritation.

What this means is that your skin is generally sensitive, like all day every day. This interferes with your daily skincare routine because your skin gets irritated during cleansing as well. That’s why it’s important to find a proper cleanser to use with retinol.

How to Choose a Cleanser to Use With Retinol?

If you’re using retinol, your daily cleanser should be gentle, meaning that it should be free of common irritants like SLS, soap, fragrance, and active ingredients. The form of your cleanser also matters. Ideally, it should be in cream/lotion form and it shouldn’t foam.

When you think about it, cleansing as a skincare step removes dirt from the skin as well as a certain amount of lipids. These lipids are essential for a healthy skin barrier. Normal skin can easily bounce back from cleansing.

However, when you’re using retinol, your skin barrier is somewhat compromised, and you can’t afford to remove oils that are necessary for your skin. So it doesn’t matter if you have oily or dry skin.

Avoid cleansers that are exfoliating or mattifying. Your cleanser should simply cleanse. Your retinol takes care of the rest. You don’t need to use a “balancing cleanser” to reduce excess oil. Retinol does that.

You don’t need a “brightening cleanser” to reduce spots and scars. Retinol does that. So, pay attention to your cleanser when you’re using retinol and make sure it’s minimal.

You may be dealing with flakiness or peeling. And there are gentle exfoliators to use with retinol. But cleansing is a daily thing. So it can be too irritating to exfoliate with a cleanser on a daily basis.

The Best Cleansers to Use With Retinol

Fragrance-free, non-drying, and non-irritating, below are the best cleansers to use with retinol.

1. La Roche Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Facial Cleanser

La Roche Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Facial Cleanser - Best Cleansers to Use With Retinol

No matter your skin type or your vitamin A product preference, this is one of the best cleansers to use with retinol. It’s a cream cleanser and does not foam. It’s fragrance-free, oil-free, soap-free, and SLS-free. It does not contain anything that might cause irritation, sensitivity, or redness.

But it does contain ceramides, which are lipids that reinforce the skin barrier. And it has niacinamide, which also supports the skin barrier and reduces inflammation. And lastly, it has vitamin B5 to soothe and hydrate. The cleanser washes off any dirt on the skin but doesn’t leave it dry or tight.

2. CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

Similarly, this one also has a light, creamy texture that cleanses the skin without stripping it. It’s also fragrance-free and formulated with barrier-restoring ceramides.

Combining that with hyaluronic acid as well as other lipids, the cleanser gives you a super gentle, non-drying, and non-stripping experience to avoid aggravating sensitivity. It leaves the skin pure and soft. It’s budget-friendly and an effective daily cleanser to use with retinol.

3. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Cleansing Lotion

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Cleansing Lotion - Best Cleansers to Use With Retinol

If you’re familiar with the collection, this is the lotion form of Hydro Boost Gel Cleanser. The difference between the two is their texture and the fragrance component. If your skin isn’t overly sensitive and you don’t have any problem with the fragrance, you can absolutely use the gel formula.

Because that one is gentle too. If not, this is the next best thing. The lotion form is super gentle on the skin and contains hyaluronic acid. It removes any oil, dirt, and makeup on the skin and leaves the skin unbothered.

4. Avene Tolerance Extremely Gentle Cleanser Lotion

Avene Tolerance Extremely Gentle Cleanser Lotion

This one is so gentle and so simple that it makes you wonder how on earth it’s able to clean your face so well with its minimal formulation. The lotion form of the cleanser is super skin-friendly. It feels like you’re simply moisturizing your skin. It’s formulated without soap or fragrance and it doesn’t foam, which tends to be drying for the skin.

If you’re purging from retinol or dealing with redness or even rosacea flares, this one is incredibly gentle on the skin. As it doesn’t take away necessary oils from the skin, the cleanser contributes to the skin’s healing process in repairing the damaged skin barrier.

5. The Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm

The Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm - Best Cleansers to Use With Retinol

Wearing makeup is difficult when you’re using retinol. Especially in the beginning, it’s really hard to apply foundation on dry, flaky skin. So most people either don’t even bother with wearing makeup while using retinol or simply focus on eye makeup. Either way, double cleansing is still the best way to remove makeup even if you’re using retinol.

Double cleansing requires a preliminary cleanser in oil or balm form. Even though most oil cleansers are made with non-fragrance botanical oils, they can contain essential oils as well. You don’t want that when you’re using retinol.

This one is made with oat kernel oil as well as oatmeal to dissolve makeup on the face and the eye area and soothe the skin at the same time. It does not contain essential oils or any other artificial fragrances. It’s vegan, cruelty-free, and the most gentle cleansing balm you can safely use with retinol.

Tips For Facial Cleansing When Using Retinol

  • Use warm water to wash your face. Both hot and cold temperatures can be irritating even for normal skin. Pay attention to the water temperature during cleansing when you’re using retinol products.
  • If you don’t wear makeup, you can try washing your face once a day to avoid unnecessary stripping of the skin.
  • If you do wear makeup, consider double cleansing with an oil cleanser.
  • Massage your cleanser into the skin for about 60 seconds before rinsing. Be gentle and avoid too much rubbing of the skin.
  • Moisturize your skin right after cleansing when it’s damp. It’ll lock moisture in and will help a lot with retinol dryness and flakiness.

This completes our list of the best face washes and cleansers to use with retinol. As a person who’s tried tons of retinol serums and creams and currently using a prescription retinoid, I’d like to chime in here and give my two cents.

First of all, if you’re using prescription retinol, always follow the instructions of your doctor. What I did was I went ahead and assumed that my skin was tolerant enough to start using my cream every night in the beginning. Big mistake! I was using the La Roche cleanser.

But my skin was so sensitive that it even hurt when I washed my face with water let alone with the cleanser. My point is if you’re not doing right by your retinol cream, nothing’s going to help. If you’re using over-the-counter retinol, we have a full guide on how to properly use it. Make sure to check it out.

Read Next: The Best Moisturizers To Use With Retinol

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