It’s weird when you finally have to find a good face wash for your teen. It was only yesterday you were picking out *your* first facial cleanser — how did we get here?! Anyway. Being a teenager is hard enough without having problem skin to deal with. With teenage hormones come teenage breakouts, so it’s important to start a skincare routine early on in life — despite how annoying it can be to have to run through all the steps of cleansing and moisturizing (and toning, sometimes!).
At what age should teens start a skincare regime?
The sooner the better, according to Dr. Sheilagh Maguiness, a Pediatric Dermatologist and Co-founder of Stryke Club, the skincare line for teen boys. Teens have evolving skincare needs due to the onset of puberty, which is why she believes getting into a great skincare regime early will be very beneficial for teens. Many tweens and teens have started their skincare routines as early as 11 years old.
What ingredients to look for in teen face washes
“In the early teen and tween years, before hormones start increasing, I typically recommend keeping things very simple,” Dr. Maguiness says. “A gentle, non-detergent, fragrance-free, hypoallergenic cleanser used twice daily is the perfect place to start. Getting into a great skincare routine early is a wonderful idea for our teens.”
During and after puberty is when most teens struggle heavily with acne.
“When acne starts to become a concern…washing your face twice daily is really important,” Dr. Maguiness adds. “Consider a cleanser with ingredients that have proven efficacy in acne and acne-prone skin. Cleansers with benzoyl peroxide 5-10% are widely available over the counter and can be effective for acne. In addition, cleansers containing salicylic acid 1-5% are also widely available. Salicylic acts as an exfoliating agent, helping to unclog pores. Finally, cleansers containing sodium hypochlorite can also reduce bacteria on the skin and are emerging choices for acne-prone skin.”
As for ingredients to avoid, Dr. Maguiness says to stay away from parabens, phthalates, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, and preservatives that can act as formaldehyde-releasing agents (such as Bronopol, DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea, etc.)
Finding a face wash for teens, though, shouldn’t be hard, which is why we’ve done the work for you. We’ve shopped out a selection of cleansers that are made for sensitive teenage skin, many of which target breakouts specifically. And while many of these at-home skincare products are great to keep skin clean and smooth, if acne (or any other skin-related concerns) persist, it might be time to check in with a dermatologist for a more involved remedy. But for now, check out these face washes for teens.
Best Face Wash For Teens
The Natural and Organic Family Gentle Kids Foaming Face Wash is vegan and sulfate free, so it’s a good option for parents who don’t want their kids putting anything potentially toxic on their skin. It’s all natural for sensitive teenage skin and gently foams to wash away dirt. Plus, it has a delicious orange scent that will automatically brighten anyone’s day.
With the Clean & Clear Daily Acne Skincare Essentials Set, you have a whole skincare regimen. It starts with a foaming cleanser, followed by a toner and a moisturizer. While the cleanser should be fairly gentle on sensitive skin, take care with the toner (or even skip it!) as these can sometimes be a little rough on younger skin. The moisturizer, though, will round out your routine and leave skin silky smooth and clean. Plus, the moisturizer is oil-free, so it won’t add any extra weight to the skin.
For teens who love wearing makeup, this Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Facial Cleanser is a good option to wash it away and also cleanse skin in the process. It’s oil-free and alcohol- free so it’s light and gentle on skin. Bonus: This cleanser is capable of gently washing away even waterproof makeup, and we all know how tricky that can be! And best of all, it’s under $6 so it’s a real budget buy.
The IT Cosmetics Confidence in a Cleanser will cleanse teenage skin and transition with them into adulthood — it’s good for all skin types and ages. It’s made with hyaluronic acid and collagen for anti-aging, which your teen doesn’t really need, but it also doesn’t hurt! Taking care of skin from an early age will keep it healthier and more elastic for longer (they’ll thank you later). You can pair this cleanser with a gentle moisturizer to have an all-around skincare routine.
Even the worst breakouts (you know, the one that pops up the night before you’re taking the photos for your family’s holiday card) are no match for micronized benzoyl peroxide, the acne-fighting ingredient that’s proven to treat anything you’ve got (pimples, cystic acne, blackheads and whiteheads).
With Bioré Rose Quartz + Charcoal Daily Face Wash, skin gets a good (gentle) scrub. Charcoal helps cleanse skin and lift out dirt and grime. Pores will (ideally) be cleared out and minimized for smoother, clearer skin — perfect for teenagers. Bioré’s cleanser should work well on sensitive teenage skin and the rose quartz is a unique extra touch. Bonus: Bioré’s cleansers all smell fantastic (a possible selling point for your teen, if they can handle fragrances).
Best Face Wash for Teen Boys
Cetaphil is one of the most popular skincare brands, especially for young or sensitive skin. In fact, you probably used Cetaphil at some point — it’s a classic. The Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser is great for teens because it’s fragrance free and soap free and can gently wash away dirt and grime from the day. It can actually be used on the whole body, which makes it an ideal all-purpose cleanser, too. For teens who have sensitive skin, this pH balanced cleanser shouldn’t irritate it and can help target pesky breakouts.
Teenage skin is definitely prone to breakouts, but with the Kidskin – Gentle Skin Cleanser, you can keep skin extra clean and hopefully clear of spots. It’s free of parabens, sulfates, and fragrances, so it’s light on skin — but still works to keep skin clear. Kidskin was actually started by an acne-prone child and her dad who wanted a cleanser safe enough for young skin but powerful enough to get the job done.
CeraVe is another brand lauded by dermatologists. The CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser is a moisturizing face wash with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and glycerin. These popular skincare ingredients can all contribute to better skin, but for parents, it’s not a bad idea to look into them further before letting your teen put them on their skin. However, dermatologists love CeraVe for a reason — and that’s because it works hard to keep skin clean and free of breakouts.
The Differin Facial Cleanser is made to treat acne-prone sensitive skin. It has benzoyl peroxide in it, which is designed to target breakouts. This cleanser soaks into skin to absorb excess oil while leaving moisture behind. It was developed with the help of dermatologists and can be used on a daily basis. While you don’t have to pair this with a moisturizer, it can be, especially if skin is still dry after washing.
Proactiv is another of the most popular skincare brands, especially for young, acne-prone skin. The Proactiv Acne Cleanser is formulated with benzoyl peroxide to target breakouts, but is gentle for sensitive skin. This cleanser is made with beads for exfoliation, which is something to take caution with. Beads can be harmful on skin and cause microtears if you scrub too hard, so this cleanser should be used with extra gentle care so that it’s only cleaning skin rather than damaging it.
The Stryke Club skincare line is exclusivley for teenage boys. “Our cleansers at Stryke Club are gentle, hypoallergenic, and contain sodium hypochlorite which can help reduce bacteria involved in acne,” says Dr. Maguiness. Tons of Target customer agree, giving the Face First Wash a near-perfect rating.