A Dermatologist Shares How To Pick Your Cleanser Wisely

Choosing products that fit your lifestyle can be confusing.  And in my opinion, there are several kinds of people/lifestyles in the skincare world: Minimalists, who barely make time to wash their face, Naturalists, who are looking for simpler nature-based solutions, and Revelers, those who relish in the art of caring for their skin.

There are products for all lifestyles, however, there are a few things you should know when choosing your cleanser.  Below is some advice as well as anecdotal stories of pitfalls that can afflict each type of personality when it comes to choosing a cleanser.


Minimalists love convenience. The simpler and faster, the better.  For them, convenient facial wipes have hit the market as as an on-the-go solution to facial cleansing or removing makeup.  However, within the same week, I encountered two patients with terrible facial rashes from a reaction to a leading hypoallergenic brand’s new facial wipes. The rashes were so severe that they required oral steroids to resolve the issue.  They chose these wipes because they had used the same brand’s cleanser for years without issue, thus they assumed the entire line was safe.

Certain wipes can leave a residue on the skin as opposed to being washed off.  They contain preservatives that prevent the moist toilettes from growing bacteria or mold, which again, are being left on your face rather than washed off.  For minimalists with sensitive skin, opt for creamy cleansers or a gentle non-detergent foaming cleanser.


Naturalists are gravitating towards natural homemade soaps offered at local farmers market.

They are beautiful, crafted with different fragrances and colors and wrapped in raffia ribbon.  I admit, it seems to be very appealing as a way to return back-to-nature and a simpler time.

While charming, these soaps have two quite serious flaws.  First, these soaps are true soaps, meaning they are detergents that have the incorrect pH for optimal skin functioning.  True soaps strip the skin of our essential oils, leaving it dry, cracked, itchy, and more prone to irritation. Second,  they are often concocted with fragrances, which are the most common skin allergens as well as irritants.  There is nothing beneficial about fragrance when it comes to skin functioning.  It might smell nice and lift your mood, but that great mood will soon crash once dry and itchy skin sets in!


Revelers don’t care about convenience, but instead prefer indulgence and novelty when it comes to their skincare purchases. But beware of the department store!  While there are many excellent products being sold, there are many others that come with a high price tag – not for quality ingredients, but for the designer name, pretty packaging, and a pleasing fragrance.  And as we already know, fragrance in skincare is a no-no!  While there is something indulgent about buying a pretty box that also costs a pretty penny, save your money for good serums and moisturizers!

My Recommendation

Ditch the wipes, designer names, and the natural homemade lavender soap.  A better choice for everyone is a pH balanced synthetic (gasp) gentle non-soap non-detergent cleanser which can remove makeup and environmental pollutants without removing what belongs in the skin.  As a rule, usually liquid creamy cleansers are the best for non-acne skin.  There are new “foaming” gentle cleansers that are available if you insist on getting some suds (which are not necessary and sometimes harmful for the skin!). VMV Hypoallergenics actually makes my facial cleanser, the Red Better Deeply Soothing Cleansing Cream.  It is a great choice for everyone!  And as a dermatologist, I know it is the safest recommendation for anyone, as it is purposefully formulated without 76 of the most common allergens.  Whatever your skincare philosophy, your cleanser is one of the most important parts of your routine, so choose wisely!

Reposted with permission. We publish articles by doctors who wish to provide helpful information to their patients and the public at large, or who respond to our requests to use them as professional resources. Doctors may or may not prefer to remain anonymous and we respect this preference. These resource articles do not in any way imply an endorsement by the physician of VMVinSKIN.com or VMV HYPOALLERGENICS® — they are intended for informational purposes only. While written by or with resource professionals, these articles should not be relied on for diagnostic accuracy or applicability to your particular skin, which requires an in-person ocular consultation with a qualified physician and possibly additional diagnostic tests.

dosal author

Dr. Jacquelyn Dosal is a Board-Certified Dermatologist practicing in Miami, Florida, at the world-renowned Skin Associates of South Florida (formerly Dr. Brandt Dermatology Associates), a leader in skin and aesthetics innovation. She is also on faculty at the University of Miami Department of Dermatology where she sees patients and teaches dermatology residents.

Dr. Dosal is a native New Yorker, and earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame. She graduated magna cum laude and was elected to the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha honor society at The Ohio State University, where she earned her medical degree. Dr. Dosal completed her dermatology residency at the University of Miami, where she served as chief resident. She was also awarded the Jaime Battan award for exemplary compassionate patient care, and she is the author of over 20 peer-reviewed publications in dermatology. Dr. Dosal’s special interest include general dermatology, cosmetic dermatology, skin cancer treatment and prevention, acne, rosacea, lasers, and resident education. In her spare time, she enjoys running, wine tasting, yoga, and spending time with family. 

 Follow Dr. Dosal on instagram to see her posts on skin issues, sun protection, skin cancer prevention, health, wellness, and nutrition!


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