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Neutrogena Natural Purifying Facial Cleanser

Is a Solution for:
Dull Skin, Oily Skin
May 22, 2011 Reviewed by MaryW 5 Comments
When I first saw a commercial for the Neutrogena Naturals line, I was excited yet skeptical. Excited because a giant well-known cosmetic brand was trying to better themselves by making a product that was free of dyes, harsh chemicals, parabens and sulfates; yet skeptical because a giant well-known cosmetic brand was trying to better themselves by jumping on the paraben-free, sulfate-free, dye-free band wagon.

All the products in this line retails at a decent price: $6-$8. I used the Neutrogena Natural Purifying Facial Cleanser. The cleansing agents listed are cocamidopropyl betaine, decyl glucoside, cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine and sodium lauryl sulfoacetate. These are all standard synthetic medium-to-gentle cleansing agents. While it didn’t cause a bad reaction to me, cocamidaopropyl betaine (which this cleanser has a high percentage of) can cause allergic reactions to people especially if you suffer from contact dermatitis. It was even  picked as Allergen of the Year in 2004 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society.

One of the big proclamations printed across the label of the cleanser it that it contains salix alba (willow) bark extract. The Neutrogena website states that willow bark is “rich in Vitamins C, B, and E. It is also a natural source of salicylic acid, known to detoxify pores.“  While this may (or may not) be true, this product is rinsed down the drain and doesn’t remain on your face long enough to be effective so it doesn’t make a difference.

The final two listed ingredients are sodium benzoate (which is a preservative) and fragrance. Both of these items have a solid amount of controversy. Fragrance can be highly irritating for your skin and can cause many allergic reactions. There is no substantial research to prove that sodium benzoate is more or less better for you compared to preservatives that you normally see like parabens or phenoxyethanol. It has been shown to severely damage DNA and be a carcinogen when mixed with vitamin C.

Some good ingredients in this cleanser are glycerin and guar hydroxypropyltrimonium. These are both conditioning/moisturizing type ingredients that are great for all types of skin types and perfect for face cleansers. Some good facts about this cosmetic line is that the folding cartons are made from 100% recycled paper with a minimum of 65% post-consumer recycled content (PCR) and the plastic bottles are 50% PCR content. These products are not tested on animals.

As far as how this product works - it works as good as any other decent facial cleanser. Although the fragrance was a little strong, I liked the scent. The cleanser completely removed my makeup and left my skin feeling soft. It did feel a little tight around my cheeks but I immediately applied lotion and the feeling went away. Will I continue using this bottle of cleanser till it is finished? Yes. Would I buy it again? No. Personally, I’d much rather use fragrance-free, moisturizing cleanser. Should you buy it? Maybe. This is an average cleanser that is a good price that would work well for someone with normal to oily skin. Skip it if you have dry or sensitive skin.


Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Decyl Glucoside, Glycerin, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Sodium Benzoate, Fragrance
  • May 3, 2017

    by Simone

    We bought this product about 3 weeks ago. I liked it because it states that it wasn't tested on animals and "natural." My 15-year old broke out after using it for about 1 week. Same reaction that has been stated above. Her face was bright red exactly and burning hot. My second daughter (17 years old) used it for about 3 weeks, but this morning she ended up having the same reaction. I will have to throw this product away. I don't understand how Neutrogena can continue to sell this!!!!

  • August 15, 2016

    by Jessica

    I have used this cleaner for 6 months to a year. Worked great helped me from breaking out quite so much. Last week I used it as I always do (about every other day) and my face burned when using the facewash I washed off the cleanser and applied lotion and now half a week later and lotion 2 times daily my face still feels like I have poison ivy rash on my face... I like it while it lasted....

  • June 21, 2016

    by Kendel

    DON'T USE THIS PRODUCT! After the first use, my daughter broke out in hives and welps and had a bright red face. She could hardly sleep because her face hurt when she was on the pillow. Be VERY careful!

  • September 21, 2013

    by Jamie

    Just used this product for the fifth day and broke out in hives as well. I've never had a reaction such as this to a facial product. 30 minutes later and my face is still bright red and on fire. Definitely done with this product.

  • March 3, 2013

    by karla

    i used neutrogena naturals for three days the third day after washing and applying moisturizer i felt my face burn and i broke out in hives whic i am now fifth day on clariton i am 43 yrs old and this has never happened before ...i should have just paid the extra and paid for the avalon products i usually use. im still itching around my mouth and ears. what a disapointment

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