Written by Grove Collaborative

5 best natural face wash products

Last Updated: January 27, 2021

Discover our top 5 all-natural face wash products, why natural face wash is preferable to conventional, and what to look for in natural face wash ingredients.

Let’s—ahem—face it: The beauty industry is a billion-dollar business, and its products are not necessarily good for you. In fact, when it comes to conventional face washes, the list of ingredients that can be harmful to your skin, your body, and the earth is downright frightening.


That’s why we're here to talk about how to best clean your face naturally — and why you should. We’ll clue you in to harmful conventional face wash ingredients to watch out for — and reveal our customer and staff top-five favorite natural face wash products. Informed decisions are more important than ever — especially when it comes to the ingredients you’re putting on your face!




Here at Grove Collaborative, we’re big believers in the power of natural products — both for ourselves and for the planet. But we know making the switch can be daunting, especially if you’re accustomed to conventional products and are new to the world of natural, eco-friendly alternatives. That’s why we’ve created Beginner’s Guides to Natural. Each week, we’ll give you a primer on the ins and outs of transitioning to a natural version of a common household item, plus a few of our favorite brands for making the switch. Let’s get to swapping!

How can I clean my face naturally?

First things first: knowing the most effective ways to naturally clean your face will help you determine what products you need. Here’s a standard order of steps for washing—and caring for—your face.


  1. Remove makeup.

    To truly remove all traces of makeup, an oil is the way to go. Natural oils such as jojoba, coconut, sweet almond, and olive oil safely remove even waterproof makeup. Smooth the oil on your face, and gently wipe it off with a soft towel.

  2. Apply a gentle, natural cleanser.

    Face wash products generally fall into two types: those that foam, and those that don’t — such as micellar water, creams, or cleansing oils.

  • If the cleanser works with water:

    Use a warm — not hot — washcloth. (Hot water strips your skin of its natural oils, leaving it dull and dry.) Gently apply face wash in a circular motion with a soft washcloth, squeezing it out and rewetting it until traces of makeup and dirt no longer appear on the cloth.

  • If the cleanser works without water:

    With clean hands, use gentle circular motions to apply and work the cleanser into the skin. Gently wipe the cleanser from your face with a soft, clean cloth.

GROVE BEAUTY TIP

Don’t forget the next steps!

Cleansing is only the first step to healthy, radiant skin. Follow your cleansing routine with a natural toner to balance skin’s pH (acid/alkaline) level, then slather on a natural moisturizer according to your skin type. Twice a week, exfoliate to remove dead skin cells.

Benefits of using natural face wash

Think about it: Whatever you put on your skin is partially absorbed into your body and bloodstream. In addition, the personal care/beauty/cosmetics industry is wildly unregulated. Brands can list the word "fragrance," and more than 3,000 chemicals can hide under that heading. With barely any pre-approval process, products enter the retail market like the running of the bulls every day. That’s why we’re ever so vigilant about natural skincare products — and here’s why we love them:

They’re effective

Natural cleansers are just as effective as conventional cleansers, and they’re available for every skin type. We promise you don’t need harsh chemicals to break up and remove dirt and makeup from your skin.

They’re pure

Your skin absorbs what you put on it — including the harmful chemicals you find in most conventional skincare products. There’s simply no reason to slather on a huge list of terrible ingredients that will end up inside your body when you can get the same results from natural products.

They’re sustainable

Mindfulness is everything when it comes to treating your body and the environment right — and that extends to choosing skincare products. The companies that are committed to healthy bodies and skin are the ones that are also committed to a healthy planet — sustainable practices usually accompany our favorite natural skincare brands.

What ingredients to watch out for in face cleansers

Beware these top offenders in conventional skincare products like face wash. These have been linked to adverse health effects.


Parabens

These were developed to kill mold and bacteria, but they've been linked to breast cancer due to their estrogen-mimicking properties.


Phthalates

Often, phthalates aren't listed among ingredients because legally, they don't have to be. They soften plastics and have been linked to disrupting endocrine and reproductive systems. Low levels? Yes. But chronic low levels. Yikes.


Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)

These are surfactants, which means they're responsible for sudsing and foaming. SLS and SLES are widely known to irritate skin and lungs as well as interact poorly with other chemicals.


Propylene glycol

A skin-softening agent, propylene glycol is an alcohol that can cause dermatitis and allergic reactions in skin.


Triclosan

Although the FDA regulates some products that contain triclosan, it's still very much a free-for-all when it comes to this chemical. It's used for its antimicrobial properties but has been linked to thyroid problems in animals.


DEA, MEA, & TEA

Diethanolamine, monoethanolamine, and triethanolamine — alone and when interacting with other chemicals — are linked to cancer, bioethical concerns, and organ toxicity and buildup.


Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing ingredients are banned in toiletries in some countries, but not in the U.S. It's considered a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Carcinogens, which is quite reason enough for us to avoid it.


Toluene

Though it sounds like a ski resort, toluene is no vacation. It's generally not used for cleansing, but do beware of its presence — often listed as "benzene" or "methylbenzene"—because it's derived from petroleum and has been linked to immune system toxicity and reproductive damage.


Synthetic dyes

Watch out for the letters "F" or "D&C" related to color — that means it's a synthetic derivation and a known skin irritant, as well as a possible carcinogen.


Fragrance

Ah, the umbrella of unctuousness, under which all sorts of nastiness is sheltered. The word "fragrance" is unregulated by the FDA, so practically any toxic chemical can go unlisted within fragrance — and do they ever, including some of the worst offenders of all. We think that stinks.


Sunscreen chemicals

While you won't find sunscreens in face washes, we're including their chemical components, which you may find in the lengthy ingredients list of conventional cleansers. Look out for benzophenone, PABA, avobenzone, homosalate, and methoxycinnamate — all of which are linked to disrupting the endocrine system.

What to look for when choosing a natural face wash

We'd argue the question is where to look for natural face washes, and we'd answer Grove Beauty, where we relentlessly source the very best in natural products. You'll find these proven green-light ingredients when shopping for natural face wash products.

Natural oils (olive, coconut, sunflower, avocado, sweet almond, jojoba)

What's to love: plant- and flower-derived oils have amazing cleansing, anti-microbial, antioxidant, and skin-softening properties all at once!

Tea tree oil

This oil gets its own listing because it's so awesome. In addition to antimicrobial properties, tea tree oil is a great component of natural face wash for acne, viral infections, and inflammation.

Witch hazel

It's magic, you know. Or at least it seems like it, because witch hazel treats so many skin issues, from acne to inflammation, and even protects against damage, thanks to its tannins and antioxidants.

Fruit and flower essences

Natural face wash products often contain oils and extracts from vitamin-rich fruits like oranges, lemons, and blackberries, plus soothing flower essences such as water lily, chamomile, rosehip, jasmine, and more.

Best natural face wash products: Our top 5

Osea Cleansing Milk

Why we love it: Soooo soothing! With safflower and sunflower oils, plus white water lily, chamomile, and witch hazel, this super gentle face wash restores balance to your skin morning and night.


Terra Beauty Bars Marble Activated Charcoal Facial Bar

Why we love it: The coconut-shell charcoal, along with Brazilian yellow clay and rich coconut and avocado oils draw out impurities from the skin, leaving skin bright and super fresh.


Burt's Bees Skin Nourishment Gentle Foaming Cleanser

Why we love it: Burt's Bees cleanser is a favorite among customers, who swear by its gentle cleansing action and ingredients like Royal Jelly, which contains vitamins A, B2, and E. Honeysuckle flower extract abounds in this face wash.


Acure Resurfacing Glycolic & Unicorn Root Cleanser

Why we love it: We once thought the name "unicorn" just meant hair dye and glitter, but unicorn root is a thing! It's used to improve moisture in the skin, and this ingredient, along with shea butter, fruit and flower extracts, plus hemp seed oil makes this quite a unique face wash.


Superbloom Daily Dew Cleansing Oil

Why we love it: We're here for face oils, and Superbloom's lovely cleansing oil is a real treat for your skin. Infused with cactus flower, it encourages cell renewal and gives skin a more fresh, radiant appearance - not to mention keeps skin hydrated long after cleansing. This delicate yet effective oil lifts away dirt, makeup and impurities.

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Looking for more sustainable skin care swaps and other eco-friendly switches you can make at home? Grove has you covered. From timely topics such as our handwashing and hand sanitizer breakdown to evergreen primers like our simple ways to reduce your plastic use at home, our handy guides are here to answer your most pressing questions. And let us know how if you have any menstrual cup questions (or share your own tips for making the switch using #grovehome) by following Grove Collaborative on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

If you're ready to make the switch to natural face wash or other eco- and body-friendly products, explore Grove Collaborative's skin care selection.

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