The 10 Best Face Wash For Tweens And Teens of 2022

The CeraVe Cream-to-Foam Cleanser is our top pick for nourishing young skin

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To keep skin clean and clear, a face wash is often the first product teens and tweens integrate into their skincare routine. The best face washes for tweens and teens should be gentle and effective and address the skin concerns like acne and oily skin that are common for that age group.

Reviewed & Approved

The CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser is a fragrance-free, all-in-one cleanser that hydrates any skin type without irritating the skin. For a foam-only formula, we recommend Clinique Extra Gentle Cleansing Foam.

"Kids in this age range begin to go through big physical changes and at various rates. Having them use a complex routine is also not ideal," says dermatological nurse and celebrity aesthetician Natalie Aguilar. "This is an age where face wash, moisturizer, and the importance of daily SPF should be instilled." We carefully considered ingredients, age recommendations, skin types, and value when considering products.

Here are the best face washes for tweens and teens, broken down by formula and skin concern.

Best Overall: CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser

4.9
CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser
Pros
  • Fragrance-free

  • All-in-one cleanser

Cons
  • Has not been tested in sensitive eye area

  • Does not treat acne

We named CeraVe Cream-to-Foam Cleanser our top pick because it’s specially designed for all skin types and won’t irritate the skin. The wash starts as a cream to remove dirt, oil, and makeup, and then turns into a foam as you wash. In short, it’s a one-step makeup remover and face wash that’s effective, affordable, and won’t dry out delicate skin. 

The cleanser’s active ingredients include hyaluronic acid for hydration, plus ceramides and amino acids complex to protect your skin’s moisture barrier and pH balance. It doesn’t contain soap or fragrance and is non-comedogenic. Teens, tweens, and adults alike will love it.

Best Foaming: Clinique Extra Gentle Cleansing Foam

Clinique cleansing foam

Courtesy of Clinique

Pros
  • Perfect for sensitive skin

  • No parabens/phthalates/fragrance

Cons
  • Some may not like foam texture

Foaming face washes aren’t everyone’s favorite, but they’re great for tween and teen skin because they cleanse quickly and effectively and rinse away with little effort and no leftover residue. 

Reviewers especially love Clinique’s Extra Gentle Cleansing Foam because it’s non-irritating, good for sensitive skin, and abides by the Clinique Clean Philosophy: no parabens, phthalates, or fragrance. This super-soft foam feels like velvet on your skin and is made for dry or combination skin types. For happy skin, try it with the rest of Clinique’s best-selling skincare routine.

Best for Dry Skin: Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser

4.8
Milky Jelly Cleanser

 Courtesy of Glossier

Pros
  • Safe for eye area

  • Contains five skin conditioners

Cons
  • Costly

For trendsetters and dry skin types, Glossier Milky Jelly is everything you could want in a cleanser. Part of the OG Glossier skincare line, Milky Jelly is a gentle daily cleanser that’s perfect for all skin types and contains five skin conditioners that won’t leave their skin irritated or feeling tight.

Soothing, nourishing, cruelty-free, and vegan, Milky Jelly can be used on dry skin to remove dirt and makeup or on wet skin as part of your daily routine. The best part? The brand has some serious cool-vibes. Your teen will happily show it off on their bathroom sink and actually use it instead of sleeping in their makeup.

Best For Oily Skin: Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Removing Foam Wash

Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Control Face Wash

Courtesy of Ulta

Pros
  • Removes pore-clogging oil

  • Great for acne-prone skin

Cons
  • Bottle may leak from pump

Oily skin is often the reason tweens start washing their faces in the first place. A good brand to start with to help them manage their newfound skincare routine is Cetaphil. A best-selling drugstore classic, their Pro Oil Removing Foam Wash is the perfect way to instantly wash away oil and deep clean the skin without drying it out.

Effective at removing pore-clogging oil, impurities, and makeup Cetaphil Pro Oil Removing Foam Wash’s formula has innovative zinc technology to reduce shine and is ideal for oily or combination skin—it won’t cause acne!

Best For Acne-Prone Skin: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Acne Cleanser

4.8
La Roche Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser

Courtesy of Amazon 

Pros
  • Promotes clear/smooth skin

  • Removes pore-clogging dirt/oil

Cons
  • Eye area must be avoided

While teenagers are prone to breakouts, the right medicated cleanser can help keep acne at bay. Reviewers and skincare experts love La Roche Posay Effaclar face wash because it’s tested and approved by dermatologists. 

Effaclar has 2 percent salicylic acid which targets oil, pimples, and blackheads and promotes clear smooth skin. It also has Lipo Hydroxy Acid to exfoliate the skin and remove pore-clogging dirt and oil. Best used day and night, this gel wash lathers easily and doesn’t leave your skin feeling sticky or dry once it’s rinsed away.

Best Natural: Cocokind Facial Cleansing Oil

Organic Facial Cleansing Oil
Pros
  • Contains all-natural ingredients

  • Balances dry/oily combination skin

Cons
  • Pump and cap cannot be recycled

  • Costly

Cleansing oils make great face washes for teenage skin because they won't dry out or disrupt the skin’s moisture barrier. The CocoKind Facial Cleansing Oil is a popular choice because it’s certified organic and has all-natural ingredients like avocado oil, coconut oil, and tea tree oil.

With an easy-to-use pump bottle, the CocoKind Cleansing Oil works well at removing eye makeup and moisturizes the skin while they work so that it feels soft and smooth skin even if a face wash is the only step in your skincare routine. 

Best Exfoliator: Aveeno Positively Radiant Skin Brightening Exfoliating Daily Facial Scrub

Aveeno Positively Radiant Skin Brightening Exfoliating Daily Facial Scrub
Pros
  • Budget-friendly

  • Unique formula

Cons
  • Eye area must be avoided

A physical exfoliating face wash like this one from Aveeno is great for teens because it’s gentle enough for everyday use, yet tough enough to scrub away dirt, oil, and acne-causing bacteria.

It’s made with moisture-rich soy extract, naturally derived granules, and jojoba and castor oils. It’s soap-free, hypoallergenic, and non-comedogenic, so it won't clog pores. Thousands of reviewers agree—Aveeno’s Positively Radiant Skin Brightening Scrub will reveal softer, brighter skin and won’t break the bank.

Best For Sensitive Skin: Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser

4.7
Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Daily Facial Cleanser for Sensitive Skin
Pros
  • Affordable

  • Safe for sensitive skin

Cons
  • Pump is not covered

For sensitive and reactive skin, this creamy face wash from Neutrogena is extremely mild. It’s safe for all skin types and conditions, including acne, eczema, and rosacea but still effectively removes dirt, oil, and makeup.

Developed by a dermatologist, the Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Creamy Face Wash has very minimal ingredients and has no allergens. The formula does, however, have skin-nourishing polyglycerin and glycerin.

Best Splurge: Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser

Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser

Courtesy of Sephora

Pros
  • Calms redness

  • Can be used on wet or dry skin

Cons
  • Costly

For those ready to really invest in their teen's skincare, the Dermalogica skincare line is an excellent way to get them started off on the right foot. The Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser in particular is a fan favorite. It’s a super gentle face wash that helps calm redness and soothes sensitive skin.

The gel-to-cream formula is pricey but can be used on wet or dry skin to wash away impurities and keep your skin calm and blemish-free. The ingredients include oat to calm inflammation, lavender to reduce redness, and cucumber to soothe skin. 

Best Bar: Drunk Elephant Pekee Cleansing Bar

Pekee Bar

Courtesy of Drunk Elephant

Pros
  • Easy to use during shower

  • Fragrance- and soap-free

Cons
  • Not as travel-friendly

Even though it doesn’t look like other face cleansers, the right face wash bar is easier to use in the shower for a young teenager and has all of the same benefits you’d find in a bottle. Also, it has less of an environmental impact because it doesn’t come in a single-use plastic container.

Drunk Elephant’s Pekee Bar, for example, is a popular gentle cleansing bar made with blueberry extract, honey, and marula oil. A true multi-tasking face wash, this bar moisturizes, tones, clarifies, balances the complexion, and is totally fragrance- and soap-free. The bar is formulated with clean, cruelty-free, and skin-friendly ingredients designed to cleanse and soothe the skin and last a long time.

Final Verdict

During their teen and tween years, your child is likely to be battling with their skin going through changes along with the rest of their body. To get them started caring for their skin, the Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Facial Cleanser (view on Amazon) will cleanse away dirt, make, and bacteria while being gentle on sensitive skin.

For your teen that has a set routine but needs a brightening boost, the Aveeno Positively Radiant Exfoliating Scrub (view on Amazon) is gentle enough for daily use but effective enough to reveal soft, bright skin.

What to Look for When Buying Face Wash for Tweens and Teens

Ingredients

Teens have sensitive skin that is still developing. Thanks to puberty and flowing hormones, they are likely to have oily, reactive, acne-prone skin. Choose wash with ingredients that cleanse the skin, wash away acne-causing bacteria, all without drying out your teen's face.

Dermatological nurse and celebrity aesthetician Natalie Aguilar says at this age, organic is a great way to go. "I prefer that my clients in this age group use organic skin care products," she explains. "But to be safe, I suggest they avoid ingredients such as synthetic fragrances, phthalates, parabens, sulfates, and chemical sunscreens."

Multi-Use

By their teen and tween years, your child may start wearing and experimenting with makeup. Instead of filling up their bathroom cabinet with a makeup remover, toner, and cleanser, try to consolidate the process with a multi-use cleanser that can remove makeup, dirt, and bacteria all at once.

In fact, Aguilar suggests tweens and teens start simple. "It’s important that my teen clients start simple. Practicing basic hygiene as well as cleansing their face twice daily and applying a mineral SPF daily is always a great start," Aguilar recommends. "Then, once that routine is solidified, implementing a suitable moisturizer is an absolute great addition for keeping their skin healthy. I love and trust Eminence Organic Skincare products for my teen/tween clients."

Gentle

With hormone changes and fluctuations, your teen's skin is sensitive. Cleansers that are overly drying, packed full of intense chemicals, and overall too strong can actually cause their skin to break out more. Opt for cleansers that are designed for sensitive skin and target acne by cleansing pores and washing away bacteria.

But before you head to the store to stock up on products, parents and caregivers should remember skin is something that shouldn't be shrugged off at this age. Aguilar says don't just assume your child will outgrow their acne or other skin issues.

"It’s important for a child’s parent(s), or caretakers, to remember that this age is extremely important for a child’s self-esteem, confidence, and growth. Parents should not simply disregard or ignore their child’s acne thinking they will just outgrow it soon," Aguilar tells Verywell Family. "They should be understanding, and conscientious about it and take a gentle approach when discussing their skin. The grownups should do their best to offer gentle support, about their child’s skin concerns, as children can also develop mental health issues and self-esteem issues."

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When should tweens start using a face wash?

    Because hormones are developing and fluctuating, skin becomes more sensitive around puberty or the age of 10 for both boys and girls, give or take a few years. During this time, you will notice changes to their skin, like acne or dryness, and that’s when it is time to start using a face wash. For those who wear makeup, a face wash is even more important to help any pores clogged from makeup. 

    If you've noticed your child experiencing a breakout, don't be afraid to try something new. "When kids experience a breakout, I typically suggest they apply a full-fat, plain Greek Yogurt mask," Aguilar says. "Simply apply to clean skin and leave on for 10-15 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. Followed with a suitable moisturizer. I also recommend 'teen facials' with a professional." 

  • What kind of ingredients should teens and tweens avoid?

    Just because a product is on a shelf at your favorite retailer doesn’t mean it’s safe to use, especially when it comes to products we put on our children. There are many ingredients you want your tween or teen to avoid putting on their face. 

    In addition to avoiding synthetic fragrances, phthalates, parabens, sulfates, and chemical sunscreens, Aguilar says, she also suggests avoiding Retin-A "unless prescribed by a medical professional." These ingredients can damage the skin, causing more dryness, irritation, or even break down the skin’s natural barrier.

Why Trust Verywell Family?

Deanna McCormack is a freelance writer & creative consultant based in Scottsdale, Arizona. She regularly works with skincare and beauty brands and was a commerce review for skincare at Bustle for 2 years. Along with her experience in the beauty industry, she spends much of her own time researching and testing the latest and greatest skin care products, formulas, and ingredients.

Additional reporting by Katrina Cossey

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