Best Sulfate-Free Face Wash Cleansers
August 23, 2019

When you go shopping for beauty products and face wash cleanser, you’re generally not looking for a chemistry lesson or history lecture. But in this case, it’s worth knowing exactly what’s up with sulfates and why you might (or, since you’re here, definitely) want to invest in sulfate-free face wash cleanser, so we will make this quick and easy. Long story short, sulfates are a chemical compound that attract both oil and water, and a result, they help lift dirt and junk when you’re scrubbing, then carry it away when you rinse. They’re also responsible for creating that wonderful lather we’re now so used to seeing when we soap up — sulfates were developed in the 1930s and became regular ingredients in shampoos and face wash cleansers in the 1950s, so generations of people have grown up using them.

So, what’s the big deal? Why should you want sulfate-free face wash cleanser? Lathering and bubbles are good, right? Well, sure, they feel good, and when it comes to shampoo, some people are generally OK with sulfates as long as they’re not too concentrated. But over the years, people (and doctors) have found that sulfates tend to have some significant negative effects. They strip hair and skin of good oils in addition to the bad ones, and wash away antimicrobial peptides and proteins, too. This is particularly troublesome in body washes and face wash cleansers, because it leads to dry and irritated skin as well as the worsening of some types of acne.

The good news is that there are now a ton of sulfate-free face wash cleansers on the market. The bad news? They’re not all actually sulfate-free. Drug stores and online shops are filled with what claim to be sulfate-free face wash cleansers, but plenty of them still have chemicals that are very, very close in composition to sulfates, to the point that they cause the exact same problems. At MASSE, you’ll find a trustworthy list of the best sulfate-free face wash cleansers that don’t mess around with sulfate-like chemicals. These sulfate-free face wash cleansers are all recommended by real shoppers who have really used them, so you can be sure they actually deliver what’s being advertised, so your skin stays clean, well-hydrated, and rash-free. We don’t allow paid reviews or sponsored posts, either, so you can wash your worries away with the list below!

1
Fantastic Face Wash
$28.00
Ursa Major
2
Brightening Cleansing Gel
$9.99
Acure
3
Salicylic Acid Cleanser
$12.99
CeraVe
4
Beste No.9 Jelly Cleanser
$32.00
Drunk Elephant
5
Sleepy Face Naked Cleansing Balm
$5.95
Lush
1

Fantastic Face Wash

$28.00By: Ursa Major
Instead of sulfates, Ursa Major’s very well-named Fantastic Face Wash uses sweet, sugary-fruit based AHA hydroxyacids, which are basically much more gentle exfoliants. This sulfate-free face wash cleanser effectively cleans and gently sloughs off dead skin cells and other natural gnarly stuff without causing irritation or stripping your skin of the moisture it needs. MASSE shoppers “absolutely love this face wash,” which they say leaves them with a “smooth glowing complexion” and recommend it for all skin types.
With core ingredients that would also make for a very delicious exotic fruit salad, Acure’s Brightening Cleansing Gel is an antioxidant rich, sulfate-free face wash cleanser that gets the job done while leaving your skin “bright and fresh,” as one one MASSE shopper raved. What else would you expect from a face wash cleanser that includes pomegranate, blackberry and acai? It’s also 100% vegan, as another MASSE shopper points out, so you can feel good about looking good.
3

Salicylic Acid Cleanser

$12.99By: CeraVe
Need an extra-gentle sulfate-free face wash cleanser? CeraVe’s Saliyclic Acid Cleanser is perfect for people who have somewhat rough and bumpy skin, because it gently removes oil and other impurities while also smoothing out the surface. It exfoliates, but doesn’t have any of those rough grains or tiny plasticy pebble things that can be rough on the skin. Everything about this sulfate-free face wash cleaner is smooth!
4

Beste No.9 Jelly Cleanser

$32.00By: Drunk Elephant
You don’t see a ton of gel-based face washes, but Drunk Elephant’s Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser is an excellent sulfate-free face wash cleanser that really gets the job done. It expertly removes all traces of makeup, bad oils, and other impurities with mild, fatty acid-based cleaning agents that create a nice lather; then, it hydrates and repairs skin with glycerin (hence the jelly) and cantaloupe fruit extract that is rich in antioxidants. MASSE shoppers “swear it’s amazing” and call it a multi-tasker, and promise it’s great for combination and sensitive skin.
Lush’s Sleepy Face Naked Cleansing Balm looks and feels exactly like it sounds — it’s an adorable nude-color bar with a sleepy little face on it, and it works wonders in removing all manner of “stubborn eye makeup and lipstick,” as one MASSE user raves. It’s not so much a face wash as a soft cleansing bar you apply to your face, and paired with a damp cloth, the most difficult-to-scrub makeup and oils will come right off. Plus, it smells of gorgeous lavender!