8 Best Gentle Face Wash to Use with Retinol in 2024

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By Wildr Editor

Brought to you by biöm, but all opinions are our own.

Girl with freckles and clear, radiant skin after using gentle face wash with retinol.

Are you using retinol in your skincare routine and finding that not all face washes play nice with this powerful ingredient?

You're not alone.

Many of us ride the retinol wave to achieve that dreamy, youthful skin but stumble when it comes to choosing a cleanser that doesn't cause irritation or diminish the effects of our favorite vitamin A ingredient.

Dermatologists suggest opting for gentle face washes that soothe and maintain skin harmony while using retinol-based products.

This article is your treasure map to discovering the top 8 mild yet effective cleansers in 2024, each one perfect for pairing with your beloved retinol regime.

We've done our homework, so you don't have to worry about redness or tightness after cleansing—just pure, glowing results.

Key Takeaways

  • Gentle face washes are best when using retinol to avoid irritation.
  • Look for cleansers with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid or calming ones like niacinamide.
  • Sustainable beauty choices can benefit your skin and the environment.
  • There are options available across different price ranges, from budget-friendly Cetaphil to luxury Tata Harper.
  • Cleansers come in various forms suitable for different skin types, including dry, sensitive, combination, and oily.

How to Select the Perfect Face Wash for Use with Retinol

Overlay of beauty products on bathroom countertop, featuring gentle face washes.

Choosing the right face wash to pair with your retinol regimen isn't just about feeling fresh—it's a crucial step that can enhance the efficacy of retinol and maintain your skin's delicate balance.

You want something that cleanses effectively without over-stripping your skin, ensuring nothing stands in the way of that glow-getting retinol doing its magic.

Understanding your skin type

Knowing your skin type is key. It helps you find a gentle cleanser that won't irritate or dry out your skin while using retinol. There are four main types: oily, dry, combination, and sensitive.

If your face often shines with oil, you likely have oily skin. Dry skin may flake or feel tight. Combination skin features both oily and dry areas.

Sensitive skin can sting or burn after product use and needs extra care when pairing with retinoids to avoid reactions.

Look for hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid if you're on the drier side or salicylic acid for controlling excess oil (but friendly reminder: salicylic acid can also increase dryness and irritation, so use it slowly or don’t use at all if you have sensitive skin).

Importance of ingredient compatibility with Retinol

Choosing the right cleanser to use with retinol is like picking a dance partner—it needs to match your steps perfectly.

Retinol, known for boosting collagen production and speeding up skin cell turnover, can be pretty demanding.

It makes your skin sensitive and calls for ingredients that respect and support this delicate state. Look for gentle heroes like glycerin, niacinamide, and vitamin B5 in a face wash.

They hydrate your skin and strengthen its barrier without causing drama.

Harsh additives are big no-nos when you're on the retinol journey. Alcohol, fragrances, or parabens just don't play well with it; they could leave your skin feeling upset—think irritation or dryness!

How sustainable beauty affects your health

Sustainable beauty products cut down on the nasty stuff like synthetic fragrances and harsh chemicals that can trigger irritation or allergies.

When you use high-quality ingredients from sustainable brands, you're not only making choices that feel good, but you're also looking after your well-being in the long haul.

Picking better products kinder to the planet helps keep your body free from unwanted chemical exposure.

Choosing ethical brands also supports practices that respect Mother Earth and ourselves. You reduce your carbon footprint while taking great care of your skin.

It's a win-win: clearer conscience and happier, healthier skin without all those unnecessary additives messing with your glow or the planet.

And of course, don’t forget your sunscreen to protect that newly washed, refreshed face!

With that, we’ve curated the best 8 sustainable facial cleansers to use with retinol — updated for 2024.

1. Best for Daily Cleansing: biöm H2.O Facial Cleanser

biom's H2.O facial cleanser
Photo Cred: biöm

Features & Description (biöm H2.O Facial Cleanser)

For those committed to their daily skincare ritual, the biöm H2.O Facial Cleanser emerges as a standout choice!

Its gentle formula purifies without stripping skin of its natural moisture—ideal for seamless integration into your retinol regimen.

Its unique formula is cruelty-free and vegan, great for even sensitive skin, packed with calming botanical extracts that soothe as they cleanse. It’s free of synthetic fragrance, alcohol, and sulfates which can irritate your skin.

Acetamidoethoxyethanol, the hero ingredient in biöm's H2.O Facial Cleanser, dives deep into the skin for unparalleled hydration, while also fortifying the skin's barrier against environmental stressors.

The molecule ensures optimal moisture retention and protection, making this innovative face wash a solid choice for daily cleansing.

Use it twice a day to keep your complexion looking its best. It’s great for removing makeup too, and you’ll feel refreshed and hydrated after each wash without the tightness. It maintains your skin barrier and leaves it feeling supple and soft.

Pros & Cons (biöm H2.O Facial Cleanser)

Finding a face wash that compliments your use of retinol isn't always easy, but the biöm H2.O Facial Cleanser stands out for its gentle touch and skin-nurturing benefits. It's gentle and won't clog your pores, making it ideal for sensitive and acne-prone faces.

Say hello to happy, healthy-looking skin every day!


  • Enriched with hydrating Acetamidoethoxyethanol for deep moisture
  • Cruelty-free and vegan formula supports ethical beauty practices
  • Contains calming botanical extracts ideal for sensitive skin
  • Free from synthetic fragrance, alcohol, and sulfates, ensuring skin safety
  • Creamy gel-like texture offers a luxurious cleansing experience without drying
  • Sodium hyaluronate, a more potent cousin of hyaluronic acid, boosts skin barrier health and works well with retinol
  • Accessible pricing makes it a budget-friendly option for many users


  • May not offer the deep exfoliation needed for some skin types
  • Lack of foaming action might not satisfy all preferences
  • Some users may find the texture too gentle for removing heavy makeup

2. Best for Sensitive Skin: INIKA Organic Phytofuse Renew Cream Cleanser

Inika Organic Pytofuse Renew Cream Cleanser
Photo Cred: Inika Organic

Features & Description (INIKA Organic Phytofuse Renew Cream Cleanser)

The INIKA Organic Phytofuse Renew Cream Cleanser stands out as a top pick for gentle cleansing. It's specially designed for those with sensitive skin, and it includes soothing botanical extracts that calm the skin while washing away impurities.

A standout feature is its soft silicone brush head, that actively cleanses your face so that the cream can be better absorbed by your skin.

It offers a hypoallergenic formula that won't irritate or strip your skin of its natural oils. The cream cleanser works effectively to remove makeup and dirt without causing dryness or redness.

This face wash is free from harsh chemicals like synthetic fragrance, alcohol, and sulfates, making it a safe choice for delicate skin.

With its commitment to sustainable beauty, this product ensures your skincare routine is both health-conscious and eco-friendly.

Pros & Cons (INIKA Organic Phytofuse Renew Cream Cleanser)

Facing the world with a fresh complexion is a daily goal, and INIKA Organic Phytofuse Renew Cream Cleanser steps up to the challenge. Here's the lowdown on what makes it a skincare standout—or where it may fall short for some.


  • Botanical extracts like Jojoba Oil and aloe vera gently soothe the skin
  • Rose of Jericho helps to prevent damage from environmental pollution, protecting the skin's barrier and restoring while hydrating
  • Free from harsh chemicals, parabens, and synthetic fragrances, making it a safe choice for sensitive skin
  • Won 2nd Place for Face Wash in Clean Beauty Awards by CertClean
  • Positive reviews highlight its ability to remove impurities without stripping the skin's natural oils


  • Premium ingredients mean a higher price point, which isn't ideal for budget-conscious buyers
  • Some may find the cream texture less refreshing than gel or foam cleansers
  • Availability can be an issue, not always found in local drugstores or supermarkets
  • Individual skin reactions can vary; patch test recommended to ensure compatibility

3. Best for Hydration: Youth to the People Superfood Cleanser

Youth to the People's Superfood Cleanser
Photo Cred: Youth to the People

Features & Description: (Youth to the People Superfood Cleanser)

The Youth to the People Superfood Cleanser is like a green juice for your face. Loaded with antioxidants and vitamins, this gel cleanser works hard to keep your skin hydrated. It's packed with superfoods such as kale, spinach, and green tea that feed your skin from the outside in.

These ingredients help soothe your skin while washing away dirt and impurities from makeup or being outside.

Think of this cleanser as a hydrating boost for thirsty skin. Its gentle formula makes it safe for sensitive skin with calming botanical extracts of chamomile and calendula wax that reduce redness.

Their special ingredient, green tea extract, also helps protect against environmental stressors. Use it morning or night to give your complexion a clean slate without stripping away natural moisture.

Pros & Cons: (Youth to the People Superfood Cleanser)

Youth to the People Superfood Cleanser stands out as a top contender for hydrating cleansers. Its pH-balanced, non-drying formula ensures your skin remains comfortable, and the recyclable glass packaging reflects a commitment to sustainability.


  • pH-balanced to maintain skin's natural barrier
  • Rich in superfoods like kale and green tea for nourishment
  • Non-drying, ideal for use with retinol products
  • Sustainable, recyclable packaging supports environmental responsibility
  • Gentle formula recommended for sensitive skin


  • May be pricier than some drugstore options
  • Potential for natural fragrances to irritate ultra-sensitive skin types
  • Glass packaging, though sustainable, may not be as travel-friendly
  • Limited availability in certain regions
  • Some users might prefer a foaming action absent in this cleanser

4. Best for Dry Skin: Paula’s Choice Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser

Paula's Choice Optima Results Hydrating Cleanser
Photo Cred: Paula’s Choice

Features & Description (Paula’s Choice Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser)

Paula’s Choice Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser is a popular choice — for both men and women— for quenching thirsty skin. This cleanser stands out because of its ultra-hydrating mix, perfect for those struggling with dryness.

It packs a punch with ingredients like green tea and antioxidants that clean gently while giving back moisture. You won't face the tight, uncomfortable feeling after washing that some cleansers leave behind, as this one reddit user testifies.

Get ready to see your skin in a new light – softer, more radiant, and refreshed without the redness that comes with dry skin.

Without a smooth and supple canvas, all other skin-care products may irritate your skin and make it worse than better.

Pros & Cons (Paula’s Choice Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser)

This face wash is a hit for dry skin with over 1k+ reviews on this product…that’s a lot of fan favorites.

But keep the shortfalls in mind before making a purchase, and always do a patch test first to play it safe!


  • Ultra-hydrating, great for dry skin types
  • Contains soothing ingredients like green tea and chamomile
  • High number of positive reviews attest to its effectiveness
  • Gentle cleaning without causing redness or tightness
  • Can improve skin radiance and softness


  • Citric acid may irritate very sensitive skin
  • Some users reported dry patches after use
  • May not be suitable for all sensitive skin due to potential irritants

5. Best for Combination Skin: Osea Ocean Cleanser

Osea Ocean Cleanser
Photo Cred: Osea

Features & Description (Osea Ocean Cleanser)

This marine-based formula offers a balanced cleanse, refreshing your complexion while maintaining its delicate moisture barrier—making it a prime pick for those who grapple with both oily and dry patches.

The Osea Ocean Cleanser is a top pick for those with combination skin.

Made with nature’s own seaweed, this gel cleanser is rich in nourishing botanicals like chamomile and aloe vera, it protects your skin as it cleanses.

You'll love how the Undaria Seaweed, rich in amino acides and antioxidants, works to mineralize the skin. Glycerin is added to calm any redness, while an oil blend of jojoba and seasame oils help nourish your face.

This cleanser skips the harsh stuff—no synthetic fragrances, alcohol, preservatives, and sulfates that can strip your skin. Use this face wash and kickstart your routine without any worries about unwanted chemicals or irritating substances.

Pros & Cons (Osea Ocean Cleanser)

Osea Ocean Cleanser is a top pick for those with combination skin.

97-100% of the 33 women who participated in their study responded that after 1 week of using the face wash, their skin felt hydrated and refreshed, and looked healthier and radiant.


  • Balances moisture for combination skin types
  • Natural marine-based ingredients nourish the skin
  • Free from synthetic fragrances and harsh chemicals
  • Promotes hydrated, refreshed, and radiant skin


  • Some users did not appreciate the citrus scent
  • Formula changes may not be well received by all
  • Price point may be high for some budgets

6. Best for Oily Skin: KraveBeauty Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser

KraveBeauty Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser
Photo Cred: KraveBeauty

Features & Description (KraveBeauty Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser)

KraveBeauty Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser is a game-changer for oily skin. It's packed with matcha and hemp seed oil, known for their high antioxidant content.

This cleanser goes beyond just cleaning your face, it brings life back to your skin by boosting microcirculation and delivering deep hydration.

Fans of this (with new and improved formula) product love how it leaves their face feeling fresh without stripping away natural oils.

This hydrating cleanser is perfect if you're looking for something gentle yet effective. Testers from various skin types rave about its performance, noting how well it works with their unique concerns.

Whether you have combination or oily skin, this cleanser adapts to your needs, helping manage shine from the occasional pimples to full on breakouts.

With KraveBeauty's commitment to transparent sustainable beauty, you can feel good about what you're putting on your skin every day knowing that the brand is better for our planet.

Pros & Cons (KraveBeauty Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser)

The Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser packs a punch with matcha and hemp seed oil. But we also admire their vision of being B-Corp certified, sustainability goals for improving their manufacturing by reducing shipping emissions, and efforts for being an inclusive, diverse brand.


  • Antioxidant-rich ingredients balance and nourish oily skin
  • Gentle formulation complements retinol use
  • Supports the brand's sustainability and inclusivity initiatives
  • Adapts to various skin types, managing shine and breakouts
  • Leaves skin feeling fresh without stripping natural oils


  • Might not fully remove heavy makeup on its own
  • Some reviewers found the texture less appealing
  • Updated formula not favored by all users
  • Double cleansing recommended for thorough makeup removal

7. Best Budget: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

Photo Cred: Cetaphil

Features & Description (Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser)

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser is your wallet-friendly pick for keeping skin calm while using retinol. It's gentle enough for even the most sensitive skin types, and pairs well with retinol to maintain your skin's delicate balance without breaking the bank.

Like most of the high-quality products on this list, this face wash stands out because it's made for sensitive skin that needs extra care.

Their simple formula with calming ingredients like glycerin soothes the skin as it cleans.

95% of test users felt the product gently cleansed their skin.

Use Cetaphil to gently remove dirt, oil, and makeup without causing dry patches or irritation. If you’re out traveling or camping, this is a great option because you can use it without water – just wipe away with a soft cloth!

Plus, its hypoallergenic nature means fewer worries about adverse reactions.

Pros & Cons (Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser)

The Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser is a great match for all skin types. If you're looking for something mild that nurtures your skin daily without irritation—this might be the bottle to reach for!


  • Affordable, making it accessible to a wider audience
  • Hypoallergenic and gentle, suitable for sensitive skin
  • Can be used without water, ideal for travel
  • Soothes the skin with glycerin, niacinamide, and Vitamin B5
  • Creamy texture provides a soothing cleansing experience


  • Not specifically formulated for acne-prone skin
  • Might not remove heavy makeup effectively
  • Some may find it less effective in oil control
  • Limited in addressing specific skin concerns like deep pore cleansing

8. Best Luxury: Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser

Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser
Photo Cred: Tata Harper

Features & Description (Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser)

Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser stands out as a must-have for those seeking a luxurious skincare routine.

For those who indulge in the finer side of skincare, Tata Harper's Regenerating Cleanser is a best-selling lavish treat for your face.

Their cleanser includes natural ingredients like pomegranate enzymes, sunflower seed oil, pink grapefruit, and coral clay. It’s as if Mother Nature herself is cleansing your face.

Packed with natural botanical extracts, it effectively washing away makeup, dirt, and impurities with gentle exfoliation from apricot microspheres.

The creamy cleanser is free of synthetic fragrances, alcohols, harsh chemicals, preservatives, and sulfates. It's crafted to support the skin’s natural barrier and maintain its delicate balance when paired with powerful active ingredients like retinol serums or tretinoin creams.

With consistent use, this opulent face wash leaves you feeling refreshed and helps reveal smoother-looking skin without causing irritation or dryness.

Pros & Cons (Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser)

The Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser is a go-to for those who love a touch of luxury in their skincare routine. Keep these points in mind when considering this splurge-worthy face wash!


  • Natural ingredients offer a luxurious cleansing experience
  • Gentle exfoliation from apricot microspheres refreshes the skin
  • Free of synthetic fragrances, alcohols, and harsh chemicals
  • Supports the skin’s natural barrier, ideal for use with retinol
  • Leaves skin smoother and helps with the appearance of fine lines


  • High price point may not be accessible to all
  • Essential oils and fruit extracts might cause reactions in sensitive skin
  • Some users might find the exfoliation too mild for their needs
  • Not the best choice for those looking for deep pore cleansing

There You Have it: The top 8 gentle face washes to use with retinol

Picking the right face wash is key when using retinol. To keep your skin calm and happy (it’s got a mind of its own), go for options that soothe and hydrate. Check and double check the ingredients to make sure they’re compatible with retinol.

Or, subscribe to our newsletter and always be informed of the latest and best products that are sustainable for both your health and the planet.

Whether you choose a budget-friendly pick or splurge on luxury, there's something for every skin type.

Happy cleansing!

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