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Five best facial cleansers

Is a Solution for:
Dull Skin, Oily Skin
Reviewed by Marta May 13, 2008 32 Comments

This post has been updated: Five Best Cleansers of 2013

There is an urban myth, perpetuated by my husband, that Paul Newman's sole concession to anti-aging has been to plunge his face into ice cold water every morning. I've always found this information extremely unhelpful since, for this regimen to work, you'd need the genes of an Adonis or the hide of walrus (or perhaps both). For those of us who need a splash of warm water and a good cleanser, here are Truth In Aging's Five Best Facial Cleanser picks.

Tracie Martyn's Amla Purifying Cleanser. I've loved this since it was launched a few years ago. Cleansing but gentle and it keeps my rosacea at bay. Amla is an Indian plant rich in vitamin C. The cleansing agents are from sugar cane, papaya enzymes gently exfoliate, salycic acid stops break outs and curcumin is soothing.

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Stem Organics Gentle Cleansing Milk. This has to live up to Australia's stringent (compared to the US) organic standards. It has Stem's signature ingredients of kakadu (a fruit with a very high level of vitamin C) and Tasmanian kelp, as well as plenty of other botanicals and vitamin E. No nasty preservatives or sulfates. This cleanses gently while doing a good job of tightening pores. It can be ordered online, but be patient as it wends its way from Down Under.

Suki Cleansing Lotion. This has sage, thyme and lemon for cleansing. However, this is a good cleanser for dry and flaky days since it has plenty of grapeseed sunflower oils as well as oat milk and cocoa butter. It can alternated with Suki's Exfoliating Lemongrass Cleanser, which has rice flour, olive oil, chamomile and vitamin C.

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Dr Alkaitis Organic Purifying Facial Cleanser. There are three components: the cleanser complex with olive, shea, coconut and jojoba oils; a skin repair complex with chamomile, plantain, nettle, rosemary, seaweed and lavender; and a vitamin complex of E, A, and C. Dr Alkaitis is a plant expert whose mantra is that you shouldn't put something on your face that you wouldn't be willing to eat. Although I haven't personally tried this cleanser, I can highly recommend his shampoo.

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Dr Ci:Labo Basic Black Blemish Control Soap. I was first introduced to black charcoal cleansers by a friend who frequently travels to Tokyo. Black Charcoal is a big deal in Japan as a cleanser and purifier. It works really well, but isn't easy to come by in the US. This is one of the few that I have found. It is great for those of oily and pimply skin, or anyone desperate to close those stubbornly open nose pores.

  • February 13, 2012

    by ruth

    hope this doesn't offend, but i am again selling a brand new, never used Baby Quasar as I am now using (and liking) the Quasar MD - if some reader is interested...I use the Reluma serum with it, and will next try the YBF new oil.

  • February 13, 2012

    by Marta

    Hi Paula

    I compared them in this video <a href="http://truthinaging.com/treatments/marta-compares-the-sirius-aurora-led-light-therapy-system-to-the-baby-quasar" rel="nofollow">http://truthinaging.com/treatments/marta-compares-the-sirius-aurora-led-light-therapy-system-to-the-baby-quasar</a> But ultimately I tend to use the Sirius much more often - I like the bigger panel and the option for green as well as red light. As far as I can tell they seem to be equally effective. The only caveat I would add is that if the area around the eyes is a concern, then the Baby Q is a better option - the light is slightly recessed making it safer to use around the eye. With the Sirius, even with goggles, its hard to escape the light if you use the device up close to the eye area on, say, crows feet.

  • February 13, 2012

    by Paula Cohen

    Hello Marta

    I am curious how you view the difference in the Aurora Sirius and Baby Quasar LED. You seem to view both positively, but am interested in how effective you think each is?
    Thanks!

  • February 11, 2012

    by Marta

    Hi Terence, the Suki is the least drying of the cleansers here. I have since updated this Five Best cleanser list - here is the link: <a href="http://truthinaging.com/face/five-best-facial-cleansers-2" rel="nofollow">http://truthinaging.com/face/five-best-facial-cleansers-2</a>
    Of the ones on the new list I think that the La Vie Celeste would be the least drying. In addition, I would recommend Mad Hippie's Cream cleanser:<a href="http://truthinaging.com/face/mad-hippie-cream-cleanser" rel="nofollow"> http://truthinaging.com/face/mad-hippie-cream-cleanser</a>
    Which all points to the need for me to do a 2012 Five Best cleanser update... coming soon!

  • February 10, 2012

    by Terence

    Hi Marta, i know you've since done updates, I'm just wondering what you think is the least 'drying' cleaser of this list? I have mild atopic dermatitis and looking for something gentle and moisturizing.

    Great site btw

  • March 27, 2009

    by marta

    Hi Leanne

    First off, I can't recommend a cream with a sunscreen because you end up compromising on the high spf or on the ingredients in the cream. I did pull together some, however: http://www.truthinaging.com/2008/11/moisturizers-with-built-in-sunscreen.html
    See also the comments as readers have some good suggestions.
    Given that you are young, you don't heavy duty anti-aging stuff, so I would recommend the Juice Beauty in that post if you do want a combo product.
    Otherwise the Davitas sunscreen and will moisturize at the same time.
    Let us know what you choose and how you get on. And check back next week because we'll be picking products for 20-somethings and 30-somethings.

  • March 27, 2009

    by marta

    Hi Leanne

    First off, I can't recommend a cream with a sunscreen because you end up compromising on the high spf or on the ingredients in the cream. I did pull together some, however: http://www.truthinaging.com/2008/11/moisturizers-with-built-in-sunscreen.html
    See also the comments as readers have some good suggestions.
    Given that you are young, you don't heavy duty anti-aging stuff, so I would recommend the Juice Beauty in that post if you do want a combo product.
    Otherwise the Davines sunscreen and will moisturize at the same time.
    Let us know what you choose and how you get on. And check back next week because we'll be picking products for 20-somethings and 30-somethings.

  • March 27, 2009

    by Leanne

    Hi Marta,

    I'm 25 years old and I need to start using lotions and potions to prevent aging. The problem I have is that I still get quite frequent acne breakouts. Do you maybe have any advise on what to do? I live in a very sunny country so I do need creams with a high SPF.

    Thanks!

  • March 17, 2009

    by Dana Pond

    Gosh, I hope people read down this far!
    Right now (through the end of March 2009) Tracie Martyn is offering a FREE product if you buy 3 from them. They told me if I purchased the starter kit ($340 which includes the Amla Cleanser, Exfoliator and Serum) I could get the Toner ($50 value) free. I thought this was a good deal and wanted to share. You need to call Tracie Martyn's NYC location to get this deal.

  • February 9, 2009

    by Debi

    Dear Marta,
    I just came across your fabulous website last night and just love it. I have been prof. diagnosed with rosacea from my dermatologist 2 yrs. ago I am a 55 yr.old caucasion woman with brown eyes and brown hair and live in S.W. Fla. The prescription creams he has me on have improved my face somewhat but itch or burn for awhile. Can you reccommend something more natural and holiic for rosacea like facial cleansers, serums, moisturizers and antiaging lotions Thankyou

  • December 13, 2008

    by Michelle

    Hi Marta,

    I have been using the Tracie Martyn Amla, the Nutra-lift rejuvenating A Therapy, and the Nivea Visage Co10 Anti-wrinkle eye creme, and have noticed many positive results. The Amla cleanser leaves my skin with a soft and silky "baby-skin" consistency, but I don't know if it's doing the job of getting rid of the wrinkle line on my forehead, or if it's the Nutra-lift that is doing it. I can't tell because I use one after another. I wash my face with the amla, then apply the serum all over. I haven't really noticed the Nutra-lift working too much elsewhere unless it's doing the job on my forehead. You said the Amla with help with fine lines, so I'm even more clueless about which one is working. Also, my sister has been using the amla and noticed that it's helping to clear up her acne (with a bit of peeling). Also, I've only used the Nivea Visage two or three times, and I <i>think</i> it's helping the wrinkles around my eyes. We'll have to wait and see. If not, I think I will have to turn to you for something a littler stronger for that eye area. I should report back later, hopefully with more positive results. Thank you!

  • December 6, 2008

    by marta

    Sarah. The Arcona is really good and we really like Devita sunblock.

    We'll check into La Prairie's cleanser and Revive.

  • December 6, 2008

    by sarah

    Sorry. I didn't mean Mychelle night cream - I looked at it and worried about the Fullerenes and chose Arcona Peptide Firming Complex and Image anti - aging serum the the Image peptide cream instead. Still looking for a good night cream for 50 year old skin which is in very good shape (just puppet lines beginning to form but have fair, sensitive skin that I keep out of the sun which isn't hard in London but more difficult in Santa Barbara, Ca, where we now live). Any ideas?
    Best wishes
    Sarah

  • December 6, 2008

    by sarah

    Hi Marta
    I am now totally addicted to this website. It's fabulous to get the insider deal on all these products. Thank you so much for all the hard work.
    I was wondering if you have ever looked at La Prairie Foam Cleanser? I have been using it for about 4 years and love it but I have never looked at the ingredients and it may be as toxic as hell for all I know. I also like the Revive night and day creams but don't have a clue what is in them either.
    I have ordered Tracie Martyn's cleanser and Mychelle night Cream based on your reviews and am excitedly awaiting their arrival.
    Best wishes
    Sarah

  • November 6, 2008

    by Tamme

    <p>A dermatologist prescribed a micro retina cream for me. It brightened a bit, but it peels soooooooooo bad and the slight improvement is just not worth it. If I try to use it too long it results in skin sensitivity?????? I will try the vit C for now : )<br />
    Thanks for looking for me, my complexion is close to that of Vivica Fox</p>

  • November 6, 2008

    by Marta

    <p>Thank you for the kind words. Being fair and freckly I am a bit nervous about giving the wrong advice to an African American woman. I do have a couple of thoughts though. The Boots cream has retinol, I have read that retinol, salycilic acids and AHAs can all increase discoloration of dark skin. I would give a good vitamin C cream a try such as Skinceuticals C&E with ferulic acid. The ferulic acid improves the performance of vitamins C and E (C is good for evening out skin tone) and also offers some sun protection. You need to use a sunscreen as well (but you probably know that). I'll keep doing some research on this for you.</p>

  • November 6, 2008

    by Tamme

    <p>I too want to Thank You for putting together such a great site on skincare info. There are many out here, and I am going to stick with this one because I feel the info is legit. I am an African American female, 39 yrs old and I have started to experience very serious discoloration ( on my nose, around my eyes, upper lip and lower jawline. So I am looking desperately for something to even me back out. I also have some laugh wrinkles underneath my eyes........no where else, but as you know that makes me look older and I hate them. I have been reading the blog, but still not sure what to do. I have been thinking about the Boots no. 7 line because I can afford it and it seems like a good place to start. Thanks again.......Tamme</p>

  • October 21, 2008

    by LoriM

    <p>Good, thanks for the info! Skinstore.com has their 20% off code up right now, maybe I'll take the plunge!</p>

  • October 21, 2008

    by Marta

    <p>Is find that two pumps are more than enough - on to wet hands (your face is dry when you apply it). A bottle lasts me 6-8 months.</p>

  • October 21, 2008

    by LoriM

    <p>Marta -- how long does a bottle of the Tracie Martyn cleanser last? I see where the instructions say to use 3 pumps -- is that really necessary? I've used the La Mer cleansing gel, and you need a drop of it to get a good lather. <br />
    Thanks!</p>

  • October 20, 2008

    by Michelle

    <p>Hi Marta,</p>

    <p> Thank you for the tips; your prompt responses are nice too! I'm sure you have so many posts to read and answer, how do you have the time? <br />
    Well, I don't really have too many deep or heavy wrinkles--YET; but I guess I just want to get rid of the wrinkles I have if possible, or at least PREVENT them WAY before they even start to develop more. My mom is 48 and everyone says she looks between 25-35. With that kind of Asian background, I shouldn't have wrinkles right now, so I'm trying to prevent it before it gets any worse. I thought that using a heavy duty wrinkle reducer would do the job. Do those only work for older people though?</p>

    <p>Since you said Tracie Martyn's Amla cleanser helps with fine lines, I will try it although it seems a bit pricey for a cleanser. I will also try the Nivea eye cream and see how that works. I've already set my mind to purchasing the Folligen you recommended for hair and eyelashes. But I wanted to purchase everything together to save on shipping. <br />
    The Image Skincare Ormedic Balancing Bio-peptide Creme sounds very natural (no fillers) and impressive, but I usually try to use moisturizers with high SPFs, or even sunscreen to avoid darkening my sun spots/freckles or obtaining more spots. I'm actually trying to get rid of them-I almsot want to bleach them out while it's early. Is there SPF in the Ormedic Balancing Bio-peptide, or do you have any alternatives to recommend? THANK YOU SO MUCH AGAIN! I'M SO EXCITED!! =D </p>

  • October 18, 2008

    by Marta

    <p>We can't post live links in the comments section so you'd have to paste them into your browser. Anyway, give your relative youth, here's what you should do:</p>

    <p>Tracie Martyn's Amla cleanser<br />
    The Nivea eye cream<br />
    A nice botanical moisturizer such as Terralina's or Image Skincare Ormedic Balancing Bio-peptide Creme.</p>

    <p>I can't believe you need a heavy duty wrinkle cream yet, but if you think you do then the Nutra-Lift is very good.</p>

  • October 18, 2008

    by Michelle

    <p>Hi Marta,</p>

    <p> Thank you for the response. However, I was not able to access the webpage when clicking on the links. It kept saying "Page cannot be found." <br />
    I am so confused and indecisive about which products to buy. I've been reading through various posts in TIA about products for the face, but there are so many recommendations from so many people. Which ones are valid and reliable? I was searching for products that would GET RID of, or prevent fine lines and sun spots/freckles, and for skin lighteners/brighteners, or lifters/firmers.<br />
    It seems like products with Matrixyl 3000 are effective in reducing fine lines. However, I came across many products that claim to do these things. I listed them below. Do age and race matter for which products to use? I'm 22. I don't like putting multiple products on my face, so I usually stick to only a facial wash, and a moisturizer with spf as a pre-make base. </p>

    <p>I found these from various posts from different authors. I'm not sure which one to use or which one will really do what they say they will. I'm not sure if there are even more products. PLEASE HELP! Thank you again! </p>

    <p>Lifting: <br />
    -Nutra-Lift Rejuvenating A Therapy </p>

    <p>Wrinkle-Reducers:<br />
    -Nivea Visage Q10 Advanced Wrinkle Reducer Eye Creme <br />
    -Skinn Wrinkle Balm with Matrixyl 3000<br />
    -Tracie Martyn's Amla</p>

    <p>Brightening: <br />
    -Kose Sheikiso's facial wash <br />
    -Suki Complexion Brightening Cream</p>

    <p>And this one seems to do everything: <br />
    -MD Skincare's Lift & Lighten Eye Cream.<br />
    </p>

  • October 17, 2008

    by marta

    <p>Tracie Martyn's Amla will help with fine lines (<a href="http://www.truthinaging.com/2008/05/five-best-facia.html)" rel="nofollow">http://www.truthinaging.com/2008/05/five-best-facia.html)</a> and Kose Sheikiso's facial wash does a great job of brightening (<a href="http://www.truthinaging.com/2008/10/reviewed-and-recommended-seikisho-facial-cleansing-mousse.html)" rel="nofollow">http://www.truthinaging.com/2008/10/reviewed-and-recommended-seikisho-facial-cleansing-mousse.html)</a></p>

  • October 15, 2008

    by Michelle

    <p>Hi,</p>

    <p> I read through the posts regarding facial cleansers and was wondering if they also help get rid of fine lines or sun spots/freckles. If not, are there any products that brighten or lighten your skin, or get rid of fine lines and sun spots? please let me know. Thank you! </p>

  • July 2, 2008

    by marta

    <p>Hello, this is Marta and I am indeed the author (or culprit). Thank you for writing in and do keep reading.<br />
    Sincerely<br />
    M</p>

  • July 2, 2008

    by Julie Kay

    <p>I was quite confused and wrong addressing my introductory post to Marta. Of course it is intended for the author of this site. Do you have a name? how am I missing it. Altho embarrassing, I had to fess up to my blunder.<br />
    Julie</p>

  • July 2, 2008

    by Julie Kay

    <p>Marta!<br />
    How can I express what I'm feeling: emotional, giddy, relieved. I know I've never been alone in what seems an eternal mission to find the exact and perfectly complex set of products to nuture my skin and ward off the hordes of aging. I have spent a small fortune. Beautiful results were much easier in my 30s, and now my 50s offer true challenges! I'm thankful to have found your site (while checking Dermapril, which I wont buy, but maybe Mychelle). I will be checking here often.<br />
    Regards, Julie</p>

  • June 3, 2008

    by Marta

    <p>On balance, I would look at the Suki cleansers. One is mentioned in this post on Five Best Cleansers. I'll do a longer review later today. Good value at under $30. </p>

  • June 3, 2008

    by Marta

    <p>If you use the Celazome cleanser you probably won't need an exfoliator because it has a few 'stripping' agents in it. You'll save money right there. Might be a bit harsh though and there is nothing very special about it. I've copied the ingredients below. The algae and tea are useful. The lactic, citric and malic acids will all exfoliate. Depending on your sensitivity, this might be too much for every day. </p>

    <p>I don't like the triethanolamine (irritant and a carcinogen according to one animal study).</p>

    <p>De-ionized Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60, PEG-150 Stearate, Steareth-20, Algae Extract, Lactic Acid, Citric Acid, Malic Acid, Green Tea, Chamomile Extract, Cucumber Extract, Triethanolamine, Methyl Gluceth-20, Propylene Glycol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Propylparaben, Methylparaben, Geranium Oil, Orange Oil, Rosewood Oil, Isoceteth-20, Xanthan Gum.</p>

  • June 2, 2008

    by Marta

    <p>I love Amla too. I also use Stem Organics Gentle Cleansing Milk at $36. Stem's Exfoliator is also good at $39 (they do a nice sample pack if you want to try first). Mychelle's Cranberry Cleanser is good value at about $36 - it seems to be on offer for just under $26 on Amazon.com.</p>

    <p>More to come...</p>

  • June 2, 2008

    by Lori

    <p>I have been using Tracie Martyn's Amla Purifying Cleanser, which I love, but at a price of $65 I was in search of something a bit more affordable. Would you please look at Celazome Botanical Balancing Cleanser and Enzyme Exfolating Masque. (Again love Tracie Martyn's Exfolater but at $90 can't really justify purchasing a second jar)These both look good, but am afraid that I have not seen a complete list of ingredients. Much appriciated</p>

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