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19 Best Face Washes & Cleansers for African-American Skin: Reviews & Buying Guide

by  Doris Harris -  Last Updated On 30th December 2020
Face Wash & Cleanser for African-American Skin

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Which is the best face wash and cleanser for African-American skin?

Should African Americans have a different skincare regimen?

The answers might surprise you.

The best facial cleanser for black skin isn’t any different than that for other skin tones.

What matters is not the color but the type.

If you have naturally dry skin, you need a moisturizing face wash.

Or, if you have oily, acne-prone skin, get a cleanser that mattifies and reduces blemishes.

What makes black skin unique

Although the way you wash your face depends on your type, not your tone, there are some crucial things to consider.

For example, African Americans may experience more hyperpigmentation resulting from acne or dermatitis (1).

That’s all the more reason to take good care of your face with the right skincare products.

It’s essential to use non-comedogenic products that won’t clog pores.

And it’s smart to avoid artificial fragrances and harsh ingredients that could cause an allergic reaction.

If your skin is will-moisturized, it’s less likely to look ashy, too.

How to avoid hyperpigmentation, or dark spots, on black skin

You may have heard that you should avoid benzoyl peroxide if you have a darker skin tone (2).

That’s not true as long as you don’t abuse the product.

It’s an excellent acne-fighter that kills pimples causing bacteria.

Also, salicylic acid is ideal for keeping pores clear. It exfoliates and removes excess oil to clear up blackheads and breakouts.

If you prevent acne in the first place, you won’t have to deal with hyperpigmentation.

Then, Vitamin C helps fade the discoloration caused by inflammation.

Let’s discover the best face washes for black skin now.

Top Face Wash & Cleanser For Dry & Sensitive Skin

We’ll begin the reviews with cleansers for dry skin and sensitive faces.

These avoid problematic ingredients like sulfates, drying alcohols, dyes, and artificial fragrances.

If you aren’t sure what skin type you have, wash your face with the product you’ve been using lately. Don’t put on moisturizer yet. Wait ten minutes and look in the mirror.

If your skin feels dry or looks red, the products below will benefit you.

1. SIMPLE FACE Simple Water Boost Micellar Gel Wash

Don’t you hate it when you wash your face, and your skin feels tight?

Or when you put on makeup and your cheeks are flaky?

Simple’s gel cleanser will fix the problem.

The formula is free of drying alcohols, fragrances, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and artificial dyes. It’s as gentle as can be.

Its goal is to leave your skin comfortable and soft after you wash. In fact, it moisturizes as it cleans.

For even better results, follow up with a non-comedogenic moisturizer.

2. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser

Here’s a creamy cleanser that’s been tested to be free of common allergens. It doesn’t have soap, sulfates, oil, fragrances, or parabens, either.

The base ingredient is prebiotic thermal water from hot springs. The minerals from it nourish and hydrate the skin.

Next, glycerin helps your skin retain moisture. And ceramides fortify the skin’s natural barrier against infection.

Finally, niacinamide reduces discoloration.

3. Christina Moss Naturals Facial Cleanser Made With Organic & Natural Ingredients

Here’s a natural face cleanser for black skin. It’s excellent for women or men.

It also works well with a Clarisonic cleansing brush.

This is another product that’s free of harsh ingredients. That’s right, no sulfates, parabens, dyes, perfumes, or even propylene glycol.

Instead, it relies on aloe, rosemary, olive fruit, and coconut oil to rejuvenate the complexion.

It’s concentrated so that you only need a drop to wash your face.

Plus, it comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

4. InstaNatural Vitamin C Facial Cleanser

If you’d like to fade blemishes like acne scars, use Vitamin C.

This potent antioxidant promotes healing and reverses premature aging. It helps reverse the effects of sun exposure and breakouts.

Vitamin C also brightens skin tone, tightens pores, and softens texture.

The formula is certified cruelty-free and does not contain artificial dyes and parabens.

5. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Gel Cleanser

The magic ingredient here is hyaluronic acid. It’s an excellent moisturizer for dry skin.

Hyaluronic acid attracts and holds up to 1,000 times its weight in water. It’s ultra-lightweight–the only way you know you’ve used it is because your skin is smoother and softer.

In reality, it’s a natural component of healthy tissue. The problem is that there’s less of it as we age.

But moisturizing with it boosts hydration. Even washing with it helps.

This gel cleanser won’t clog pores or leave a residue. It doesn’t contain oils, soap, or parabens. Even though there are no sulfates, it makes a pleasant lather.

6. Honest Beauty Gentle Gel Cleanser

You’ve heard of Jessica Alba. She founded the Honest Company that makes natural and cruelty-free skincare products like this face wash.

The gel formula feels cool and soothing on the skin. It contains calendula and chamomile to calm irritation.

It removes makeup and oil without causing dryness.

Plus, it’s made to guard sensitive skin. It’s free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, dyes, and perfumes.

7. CeraVe Hydrating Face Wash

Dermatologists recommend the CeraVe brand to patients because their products contain ceramides.

Ceramides are essential components of healthy skin but are often lacking in damaged tissue. Without enough of them, the skin is dehydrated and prone to infection.

Also, this face wash hydrates with hyaluronic acid. Your skin shouldn’t feel tight after using it.

Happily, it’s non-comedogenic to prevent acne and free of artificial fragrances, parabens.

8. Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser and Makeup Remover

How do you remove your makeup?

If your current method is aggravating your complexion, try this product instead.

Aveeno’s foaming cleanser is intended for sensitive, dry skin. It has calming feverfew, an ingredient related to chamomile.

It reduces redness and diminishes inflammation.

Wash with it both morning and night. It won’t clog pores, and it’s free of artificial fragrances and sulfates.

Unfortunately, it contains parabens. But since it’s a product that doesn’t stay on the skin for long, that’s probably not a concern for most people.

9. Free & Clear Liquid Cleanser

Also known as Vanicream, Free & Clear is a well-known brand for people with sensitive skin.

If everything irritates your skin, this is one product that should be safe.

This cleanser is made for the face and the body. It has few ingredients, none of which are harmful or toxic.

That’s right; it doesn’t have sulfates, dyes, fragrances, masking fragrances, formaldehyde releasers, or even betaine or gluten.

It doesn’t strip moisture or leave a scent behind.

10. Eve Hansen Vitamin C Face Wash

If you have hyperpigmentation, try Vitamin C. It’s a gentle way to fade discoloration. It also helps to clear up acne breakouts and tighten pores.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that reverses damage from sun exposure, too.

Of course, using a serum or moisturizer of vitamin C works better because it stays on the skin. But washing with it at least provides a dose morning and night.

This face wash is free of sulfates, phthalates, parabens, and silicone. It’s vegan and cruelty-free.

Fans say that they notice a positive difference in their complexion after only a few days of using it.

Top Face Wash & Cleanser For Combination & Oily Skin

Combination skin requires a balancing act. Chances are your T-zone is too oily, and your cheeks are too dry. The right face wash is crucial in this situation.

Next, oily skin presents its own challenges. You might be tempted to treat it harshly and try to control it by drying it out. Don’t do that as you’re likely to cause bigger problems.

In both cases, you need a moisturizing face wash that keeps your pores clear. Here are my top suggestions below.

11. Bioderma Sebium Foaming Gel Facial Cleanser for Combination to Oily Skin

Bioderma’s gel cleanser has a unique component called Fluidactiv Sebo-Correcting Complex. It’s a patented solution that balances sebum production.

In other words, it keeps the skin from overproducing oil throughout the day.

It contains zinc and copper sulfate, two purifying agents that remove impurities and prevent pores from clogging. (These are not related to the sulfate detergents that everyone is warning you about.)

12. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser for Oily Skin

Here’s another gel cleanser that balances oil production.

It’s infused with zinc pidolate to absorb excess oil and purify the skin. Plus, it’s free of oils, parabens, alcohol, and soap.

It respects the skin’s natural pH balance to prevent it from drying out and becoming irritated. (Compare that to regular bath soap that’s very alkaline and dehydrating to the skin.)

Those with sensitive skin should take note that there is an artificial fragrance and sodium laureth sulfate in the formula.

13. Ambi Even and Clear Foaming Cleanser

Ambi’s been in business for over five decades. They specialize in products for women of color.

This face cleanser has three main benefits for normal, combination, and oily skin.

First, it prevents breakouts and clears up blemishes with salicylic acid.

Second, it corrects hyperpigmentation with Vitamin C.

And third, it repairs damage at a cellular level with Vitamin E.

It also has soy extract to improve skin tone and texture. Be careful using soy on your skin if you’re pregnant, though.

14. Shea Moisture Clarifying Facial Wash & Scrub

Shea Moisture’s face wash doubles as a scrub. Most likely, you won’t want to use it every day, but rather once or twice a week.

It features African Black Soap with tamarind extract. The latter is an astringent that tightens pores and exfoliates.

Moreover, it has tea tree oil to purify the complexion and mattify it.

Happily, there are no sulfates, phthalates, or parabens in the bottle.

15. Bioré Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser

Bioré makes more than one kind of foaming cleanser for combination and oily skin. There’s this one, with charcoal, and others with baking soda rose quartz and witch hazel.

Each one has specific benefits besides the obvious.

For example, the black charcoal cleanser looks like dirt, but it foams white as it removes impurities from the pores.

It absorbs excess oil and cleans out pores while leaving the skin tingly fresh.

Skip it if you have sensitive skin as it has menthol, an artificial fragrance, sulfates. Otherwise, enjoy the refreshment.

16. Neutrogena Rapid Clear Oil-Eliminating Foaming Facial Cleanser

Neutrogena makes more than one type of face cleanser. This one is perfect for acne-prone skin.

It’s been tested in clinical trials and proven to be effective.

The creamy formula dissolves oil without dehydrating the skin.

As a result, your complexion will be clean, not shiny, for hours afterward.

Fortunately, it also removes makeup.

17. CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser for Oily Skin

CeraVe also makes a face wash for oily skin.

Like the version for dry skin, it’s fortified with hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and ceramides. These ingredients moisturize without clogging pores.

So how is it different? I think I’d need to be a chemist to explain it to you.

In any case, it’s gentle to the skin and won’t trigger breakouts.

18. Paula’s Choice CLEAR Pore Normalizing Cleanser

Paula Begoun couldn’t find the skincare products she needed, so she founded Paula’s Choice. As a rule, the company doesn’t include parabens or artificial fragrances. They also freely explain the purpose of each ingredient in each formula.

The Normalizing Cleanser is boosted with salicylic acid, the number one acne medication on the market.

The concentration is low enough that it won’t irritate or dry out sensitive skin.

If you want a salicylic acid face wash, but are afraid of redness and irritation, give it a try.

19. Acne Free Oil-Free Acne Cleanser, Benzoyl Peroxide 2.5%

Yes, African Americans can use benzoyl peroxide to fight acne.

Unlike hydroquinone (a skin lightener), benzoyl peroxide only bleaches towels and clothing, not the skin.

But it can be harsh when you’re not used to it. That’s why I’m recommending this mild cleanser with only 2.5% concentration.

Try it out once a day for a week. If your skin can handle it, try it twice a day to clear up pimples and prevent breakouts in the future.


To maintain a healthy, comfortable complexion, start with the right face wash.

Get what you need according to your skin type. Whether it’s dry, normal, oily, or sensitive, you have a lot of choices.

There’s something for every liking and budget.

If you found a new skincare product today that you love using, please tell us about it in the comments below.


1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325458 by Jayne Leonard, published June 13, 2019, accessed April 9, 2020

2. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/DIY/skin-color accessed April 9, 2020

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