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Best cleansers and face washes in New Zealand
Our team examined hundreds of reviews and ratings to bring you the nine best cleansers and face washes available to buy online.
With so many products on the market, it can be difficult to know which skincare products are right for you. Instead of spending a ton of money trialling different brands, we’ve narrowed down some of the best cleansers and face washes for different skin types and budgets available in New Zealand. Our list is decided by trawling through hundreds of reviews on reputable sites so you can see a summary of the pros and cons in one place.
Keep scrolling to see which products made the cut and where you can buy them online.
The best cleansers and face washes in Australia
- Best overall cleanser: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
- Best oil cleanser: Hada Labo Gokujyun Cleansing Oil
- Best cleanser for acne prone skin: Neutrogena Clear & Defend Facial Wash
- Best cleanser for dry skin: CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser
- Best cleanser for oily skin: Himalaya Herbals Purifying Neem Face Wash Gel
- Best cleanser for sensitive skin: Aveeno Calm and Restore Nourishing Oat Facial Cleanser
- Best drugstore cleanser: Simple Water Boost Micellar Facial Gel Wash
- Best natural cleanser: Burt’s Bees Face Cleanser for Sensitive Skin
- Best salicylic acid cleanser: COSRX Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser
How did we pick this list?
For this list, we chose face washes and cleansers based on actual customer reviews and ratings. For every category, we carefully chose parameters based on our research and determined products with the highest review score within those parameters.
Best overall cleanser: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
Why we chose it
With a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars from more than 21,000 Amazon global reviews, we picked the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser as the best overall cleanser you can buy online.
The Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser is an award-winning face wash formulated for sensitive skin. However, it is suitable for all skin types and can be used on the face, hands and body. The cleanser is fragrance-free and won’t irritate skin or clog pores. It is hypoallergenic, dermatologist tested and clinically proven to be gentle.
It’s a great, basic daily face wash that lifts dirt and impurities from the skin. Customers said that it’s non-irritating and even soothes sensitive skin. Those with dry skin added that the cleanser is non-stripping, while others said it helps balance their oiliness. However, this product doesn’t effectively remove makeup. Reviews even suggested using a separate makeup remover. A few customers said it leaves a sticky residue, but these seem to be isolated concerns.
Best oil cleanser: Hada Labo Gokujyun Cleansing Oil
- Removes waterproof makeup
- Requires another cleanser to remove residue
- Can cause blurriness
Price (RRP): $29.99Buy at Amazon
Why we chose it
For the best oil cleanser, we picked the Hada Labo Gokujyun Cleansing Oil. It has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon US.
It contains high-quality olive oil, selected for its gentleness to the skin. It also has two types of hyaluronic acid to keep the skin hydrated and moisturised. This cleansing oil is free from colour, fragrance, mineral oil and alcohol.
Many customers praised the product for being potent enough to remove even waterproof makeup. At $29.99, you get 200ml of the oil cleanser. But you only need 2-3 pumps to remove dirt and other products on the skin. It also has a thick consistency that quickly emulsifies with water. Reviewers liked that it doesn’t have fragrance and colour as well. However, customers warned that this oil cleanser could cause temporary blurriness that goes away once rinsed. A few others also said that it leaves a residue, requiring a second foaming cleanser to remove.
Best cleanser for acne prone skin: Neutrogena Clear & Defend Facial Wash
- Contains salicylic acid
- Not suitable for dry skin
- Some experienced stinging with the cleanser
Price (RRP): $7.75Buy at Amazon
Why we chose it
For acne-prone skin, Neutrogena Clear & Defend Facial Wash is our choice for the best cleanser. On Amazon, it has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars from more than 3,000 global customer reviews.
The Neutrogena Clear & Defend Facial Wash is a daily cleanser formulated with salicylic acid to prevent breakouts. Developed with dermatologists, it also has ClearDefend technology, leaving the skin completely clean while maintaining its natural balance. This facial wash is oil-free as well.
Reviews liked that it contains salicylic acid, a well-known ingredient that helps fight acne. The cleanser also helps the skin keep its natural nutrients intact and prevent breakouts. It dries out pimples without stripping skin too. Some added that the facial wash is quite affordable, but just as effective as pricier alternatives in the market. However, this may be too drying for people with already dry skin. Several customers said the cleanser stung their face, but these seem to be isolated incidents.
Best cleanser for dry skin: CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser
- Removes light makeup
- Contains ceramide and hyaluronic acid
- Doesn’t lather
- More expensive than other facial washes
Price: $36Buy at Amazon
Why we chose it
For the best dry skin cleanser, we picked the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser. It has a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars from over 7,000 Amazon US reviews.
This hydrating cleanser helps wash out dirt and impurities without disrupting the skin’s natural protective barrier or stripping its natural moisture. Created with dermatologists, the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser features three essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid to restore the skin’s barrier, leaving it hydrated. Its MVE Delivery Technology also helps supply the skin with nourishing ingredients.
This cleanser has a non-lathering, creamy consistency that gently removes dirt without stripping the skin. Customers said it also works in removing light makeup, but not waterproof products like mascara and eyeliner. Those with sensitive skin praised the cleanser for being gentle and calming. One reviewer added that it leaves the skin feeling clean and hydrated. Despite being formulated for normal to dry skin, people with oily skin seem to enjoy this product as well. It’s more expensive than other cleansers, but you get over 400ml for the price.
Best cleanser for oily skin: Himalaya Herbals Purifying Neem Face Wash Gel
- Leaves the skin soft and refreshed
- Contains acne-fighting ingredients
- Has a strong scent
- Doesn’t produce a nice lather
Price: $8.76Buy at Bargain Chemist
Why we chose it
If you have oily skin, we recommend the Himalaya Herbals Purifying Neem Face Wash Gel as the best cleanser.
It contains neem, known for its purifying and antibacterial properties. The face wash is also formulated with turmeric that helps nourish and soften the skin. Apart from being dermatologically tested, the product is free from sodium laureth sulphate and phthalates as well.
This gel cleanser contains active herbal ingredients that help control and prevent breakouts. Customers liked that it leaves their skin balanced without stripping its natural oils. Those with sensitive and dry skin added that it helps nourish their skin while removing impurities too. Despite having a thick gel consistency, this face wash doesn’t produce a nice lather. A few reviewers also didn’t like its strong scent, adding that it smells like laundry detergent.
Best cleanser for sensitive skin: Aveeno Calm and Restore Nourishing Oat Facial Cleanser
- Gentle and soothing
- Helps calm redness
- Not suitable for oily skin
- A few customers experienced irritation with the product
Price: $8.97Buy at Amazon
Why we chose it
With a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on the Amazon US website, we picked the Aveeno Calm and Restore Nourishing Oat Facial Cleanser as the best sensitive skin cleanser.
This Aveeno cleanser is formulated with Prebiotic Triple Oat Complex, clinically shown to soothe itchy and dry skin. It also contains oat and feverfew to help nourish and calm irritation. Apart from being hydrating, the cleanser is hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic as well.
According to customers, this non-foaming cleanser is suitable for dry and irritated skin. It helps calm redness, leaving the skin soft and moisturised. A few others also liked that it doesn’t clog pores and helps maintain the skin’s natural barrier. One reviewer added that it softens and smoothes their face. However, this may not be suitable for oily skin because it doesn’t have balancing ingredients. Several customers also experienced irritation when using the product, but these seem to be isolated cases.
Best drugstore cleanser: Simple Water Boost Micellar Facial Gel Wash
- Vegan and cruelty-free
- Contains mineral and plant extracts
- Too drying according to some reviews
- Has an overpowering scent
Price: $7.90Buy at TheMarket
Why we chose it
The Simple Water Boost Micellar Facial Gel Wash is our pick for the best drugstore cleanser, which has a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon US.
The Simple Water Boost Micellar Facial Gel Wash is formulated with micellar water technology that refreshes the skin. It also contains plant-derived PENTAVITIN and plant-based prebiotic, suitable for dry and sensitive skin. According to the company, this cleanser is cruelty-free certified by PETA. It is also vegan and comes in recyclable packaging.
This cleanser is perfect for people with dehydrated and sensitive skin. It helps remove dirt and impurities without disrupting your natural oils. Customers also liked that the product doesn’t contain artificial perfume or colour. It rinses off completely, leaving the skin soft and refreshed. Despite being advertised as a hydrating cleanser, some customers still found it too drying for their liking. A few others also didn’t like that it has an overpowering scent.
Best natural cleanser: Burt's Bees Face Cleanser for Sensitive Skin
- Removes makeup
- Soothes and calms irritated skin
- Doesn’t lather
- A few customers said it burned their eyes
Price: $23.04Buy at Adore Beauty
Why we chose it
If you’re looking for the best natural cleanser you can buy right now in New Zealand, we recommend Burt’s Bees Face Cleanser for Sensitive Skin.
This natural cleanser is infused with cotton extract to soften and protect the skin from potential irritants. According to the company, it is made with 99% natural ingredients. It is also free of parabens, phthalates, SLS, soap or fragrance. The cleanser is dermatologist tested and hypoallergenic as well.
Many customers praised the product for being soothing and gentle, thanks to the inclusion of aloe. It helps calm inflammation while delivering moisture to the skin. The cleanser also effectively removes makeup without stripping the moisture barrier. Apart from being suitable for dry and sensitive skin, people with acne-prone skin enjoyed the product as well. But a few customers said that it burned their eyes despite being marketed as a gentle product.
Best salicylic acid cleanser: COSRX Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser
- Suitable for acne-prone and oily skin
- Prevents whiteheads and blackheads
- Too drying for some
- Not suitable for sensitive skin
Price: $29Buy at Adore Beauty
Why we chose it
The COSRX Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser is our pick for the best salicylic acid cleanser available online.
The COSRX Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser contains 0.5% salicylic acid and various ingredients that dissolve oil and other impurities. It is a creamy, foaming face wash that produces a thick lather to help draw out dirt from the pores. According to the company, it also gently exfoliates the skin to prevent blackheads and whiteheads from forming.
Customers liked that this salicylic cleanser is gentle enough for daily use. It works well to control sebum production, especially if you have oily skin. Those with acne-prone skin added that it effectively dries out their pimples while keeping future breakouts at bay. The cleanser rinses off cleanly, leaving the skin soft and refreshed. However, some reviews said that it’s too drying and wouldn’t recommend it for dry or sensitive skin.
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