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Non-Toxic Facial Cleanser Guide: 4 Types of Facial Cleansers

Written by Irina Webb

Facial Cleanser GuideThere are lots of different facial cleansers out there.   But how do you know which non-toxic facial cleanser will work the best for you?


Well, I think the first step is to know that there are different types and understand their differences. Then, do not be afraid to try an unfamiliar product. Ultimately, you won’t know how you like a product until you try it. And lastly, I believe that it is good to have a few different facial cleansers on hand as the needs of your skin might change, even daily; and you can adjust your cleansing routine accordingly.


My skin has improved since I switched to whole plant-based skincare. Know that some skin care companies claim that their skincare products are plant-based, without basis. This behavior tarnishes the term “plant-based” for truly plant-based products. To understand if skincare products are worth the money, I read and study ingredients against scientific databases, not taking marketing claims at face value. You can read more about my research methods here.


With that said, let’s talk about four different types of facial cleansers with my top picks in each category.


Non-Toxic Facial Cleanser #1: Cleansing Oils


These are cleansers made with a blend of different plant oils. They have no water, no soap, and no foaming agents. Obviously, cleansing oils do not foam. These safe cleansers are great for removing makeup.


To avoid using harsh cleansers (so harsh that they even remove waterproof mascara), it is good to use a double cleansing technique. The first cleansing removes the makeup, and the second cleansing removes excess sebum, and dead skin, and deep cleans your pores.


You may find, as I have, that cleansing oils works great for lifting and removing makeup. Massage oil on your face, then use a hot terry cloth wetted in hot water to wipe your face. You will feel like you have just been to a spa. After that, you can follow up with a foaming or non-foaming cleanser, or you may find that you do not need to.


If you have never tried a cleansing oil product, you may introduce it into your beauty routine by using it only in the evening or morning and alternating it with other cleansers.


Badger Argan Face Cleansing Oil, 2 oz $19.99


Ingredients: *Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, *Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, *Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil, *Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, *Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, *Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Peel Oil, *Menthol (Menthol Crystals), Tocopherol (Sunflower Vitamin E), *Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Oil, *Cananga Odorata (Ylang Ylang) Flower Oil.
 *= Certified Organic


My comments:  This cleansing oil is certified organic. There are no preservatives. It is packed in a glass bottle. Every time you use it, you will give yourself a mini spa treatment. I put 2 pumps onto my palm, massage the oil on my face until all my face is covered, use a wet, very warm terrycloth washcloth to remove the oil, dirt, and make-up. If you start with your mascara, turn the cloth over after you are done so you do not rub the mascara into your face. The warmth of your cloth will open the pores and will give you a refreshing feeling.


Where to buy: you can find it on Badger’s website or Amazon


Notice that Badger Balm carries also Damascus Rose Cleansing oil, Seabuckthorn Cleansing Oil, and Unscented Cleansing Oil with slightly different prices and skin type formulations.


Kari Gran Cleansing Oil, 100 ml (3.38 oz) $30


Ingredients: Organic Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Oil, Organic Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Organic Ricinus Communis (Castor Seed) Oil, Organic Lavandula Hybrida (Lavender) Oil, Tocopherol (Non-GMO Vitamin E from Sunflower).


My comments: I have not tried it but I will when I run out of the Badger’s cleansing oil.  According to the ingredients and Amazon reviews, it looks like a great product, similar to the Badger’s cleansing oil described above. I love that Kari Gran Cleansing Oil is packaged in tinted glass preventing possible oil oxidation.


Where to buy: Kari Gran website or Credo Beauty or Credo Beauty or Amazon


Non-Toxic Facial Cleanser #2: Non-Foaming Crème Cleansers


A non-foaming crème cleanser looks like and feels like crème or lotion. It does not foam but cleans the skin well.   They are perfect for dry skin because they are very gentle and don’t dry the skin at all.


They can be good for oily skin, too. Your goal with oily skin is to remove the excess oil but not strip your skin of its protective barrier. There is a theory that the more you strip the oily skin of its protective barrier, the more oil it will produce to compensate.


Generally, non-foaming facial cleanser won’t remove makeup well. It is best to remove makeup with cleansing oil first before using a non-foaming cleanser. With a non-foaming cleanser, you don’t need to use a toner afterward as a pH-balancing step, because it is already pH balanced.


Blissoma Fresh – Mild Rice Facial Cleanser, 4 oz $39


Ingredients: Infusion of Althea officinalis* (marshmallow), Stellaria media* (chickweed), Plantago major* (plantain), Rosa damascena*, Arthemis nobilis* (chamomile), Glycerin*, Helianthus annuus (sunflower) Oil*, Oryza sativa* (brown rice), Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Cocos nucifera (coconut) Oil*, Prunus armeniaca (apricot) kernal Oil*, Glyceryl Stearate, Salix alba* (willowbark) extract, Cannabis sativa (hemp) Oil*, Cetearyl Alcohol, Gluconolactone, Echinacea purpurea Extract*, Populus tremuloides (aspen) bark extract, Essential Oils of Lavandula angustifolia, Litsea Cubeba, Cymbopogon martini (palmarosa), Canarium luzonicum (elemi), Boswellia carterii (frankincense), Vetiveria zizandoides (vetiver), Xanthan Gum, Rosemary Oleoresin Extract, Grain Alcohol*+

essential oils in this product contain: linalool**, geraniol**, limonene**, citral**

*from Certified Organic Agriculture

**natural components of essential oils


My notes: I have been using this non-toxic facial cleanser for a while, and I like it a lot.  (In fact, I like a lot of other products by Blissoma.  You can read my review of Blissoma here.) Its composition is very similar to a lotion with water, emulsifiers, and preservatives needed. In my opinion, the formulator has chosen the safest emulsifiers and preservatives, making the product suitable for even sensitive skin.   Know that this product contains essential oils to which some people may be sensitive. (Blissoma makes a cleanser along with the whole line that is devoid of any essential oils here.) Because it is gentle, it won’t normally remove the makeup well (unless you massage and rinse for a long time). It is best to use a cleansing oil first to remove makeup.


This non-toxic facial cleanser comes in an aluminum bottle, a readily recyclable material.


Where to buy: Blissoma website


Annmarie Aloe Herb Cleanser, 50 ml (1.7 oz) $29.95


Ingredients: *Aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf juice, *Cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, [Sodium lauryl glucose carboxylate, Lauryl glucoside (saponified oils of coconut oil and plant starches/sugars)], Herb-infused aloe vera juice [*Aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf juice, *Calendula officinalis (calendula) flower extract, *Hyssopus officinalis (hyssop) extract, *Lavandula angustifolia (lavender) flower extract, *Melissa officinalis (lemon balm) leaf extract, *Helichrysum arenarium (life everlasting) flower extract, *Azadirachta indica (neem) leaf extract, *Olea europaea (olive) leaf extract], *Glycerin (vegetable derived), Populus tremuloides (aspen) bark extract, Essential oils [Citrus paradisi (ruby grapefruit), Citrus limon (lemon), Citrus reticulata (green mandarin)], Xanthan gum (wood pulp derived), CO2 extract [*Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary)].

*Organically grown or wildcrafted


My notes: This non-toxic facial cleanser does not foam and its texture is creamy. It is mild and non-drying. As for removing makeup, I found that it is best to use a makeup remover first.  Make sure to work it on your face before you rinse.  I love its fresh scent.


Where to buy: Annmarie website



Non-Toxic Facial Cleanser #3: Foaming Soap-Free Cleansers


Typically, foaming soap-free cleansers would have synthetic surfactants to produce foam. I am very careful about which synthetic surfactants I use. There is a multitude of them and while some are known to be harmful, others have little or no known health data available about them. Be wary of claims that they are “derived from plants or vegetables” as while it may be true, the derivation process can be a multi-step process with potentially harmful chemicals added along the way. For example, despite the fact that Cocamide DEA is derived from coconut, it has been added as a carcinogen to the California Proposition 65 List of Chemicals Known to the State to Cause Cancer or Reproductive Toxicity.



Blissoma Free – Rejuvenating Herbal Gel Cleanser and Makeup Remover, 4 oz $39


Ingredients: Glycerin, Infusion of Ilex paraguariensis* (yerba mate), Medicago sativa* (alfalfa), Prunella vulgaris* (self heal), Plantago major* (plantain), Rubus idaeus* (raspberry leaf), Centaurea cyanus* (cornflowers), Olea europaea* (olive leaf), and Tilia europaea* (linden), Caprylyl capryl glucoside (Ecocert vegetable source cleanser), Vitis Vinifera (grapeseed) Oil*, Helianthus annuus (sunflower) Oil*, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Quillaja saponaria* (soapbark), Cetearyl Alcohol and Cetearyl Wheatstraw Glycosides, Gluconolactone, Xanthan Gum
*from Certified Organic Agriculture


My notes: The reason this non-toxic facial cleanser foams is that it contains soap bark (the inner bark of the soap bark tree, which has natural foaming qualities) and caprylyl capryl glucoside, a mild surfactant. This surfactant belongs to a group of glucoside surfactants that don’t normally contain any contaminants. I noticed that the organic/natural skincare community uses glucosides as the go-to mild non-irritating surfactant. I see glucosides in a lot of baby shampoos as they do not irritate the eyes.


The caprylyl capryl glucoside in the Blissoma product is Ecocert-certified, meaning that it is void of petrochemicals and GMOs.


This non-toxic facial cleanser is mild and non-drying and it does remove makeup well. This is a great combination. At the moment, I would say it is my favorite facial cleanser.


Make sure if you spend enough time massaging your face with it to create a light foam.


And this facial cleanser does not contain any essential oils, so it should work well for even very sensitive and problem skin.


This non-toxic facial cleanser comes in an aluminum bottle, a readily recyclable material.


Where to buy: Blissoma website


Non-Toxic Facial Cleanser #4: Foaming Soap-Based Cleansers


Foaming soap-based facial cleansers always include saponified oils made by the process called saponification, a process in which an alkali (potassium hydroxide) is added to oil.  While an alkali is a corrosive chemical, it is safe in soap because it does not remain in the final product. It is only used to make soap. This is how soap had been made for centuries until the recent proliferation of synthetic surfactants.


Their pH is higher than the skin’s pH so they can be a little drying to the skin. However, if the formulator skillfully crafts its product and adds moisturizing oils, the drying effect can be almost unnoticeable. They clean well, normally remove makeup and are favored by people who enjoy bubbles and the feeling of very clean and fresh skin.


By Valenti Organics Bulgarian Lavender and Mandarin Foaming Cleanser, 1.7 oz $28


Ingredients: Purified Water, Saponified Organic Coconut (Cocos Nucifera) Oil, Organic Extra Virgin Olive (Olea europaea) Oil, Organic Castor (Ricinus Communis) Oil, Organic Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus) Oil, Denatured Organic Alcohol (Organic Grain Ethanol w/Organic Lavender), Organic Grapeseed (Vitis Vinifera) Oil, Organic Hemp (Cannabis Sativa) Oil, Organic Shea (Butyrospermum Parkii) Butter, Organic Cocoa (Theobroma Cacao) Butter, Organic Avocado (Persea Americana) Oil, Leucidal (Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate), Organic Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia) EO, Vegetable Glycerin, Vitamin E (Natural Mixed Plant Derived Tocopherol), Organic Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) Extract, Natapress (Glycerin, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Lonicera Japonica, Flower Extract, Lonicera Caprifolium Extract, Populus Tremuloides Bark Extract, Gluconolactone), Organic Mandarin (Citrus reticulata) EO, Organic Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) EO, Citric Acid.

EO=Essential Oil

Organic = Certified Organic


My notes: I have been using it for a while. My skin is on the dry side, and I found when I use it exclusively without alternating with non-soap cleanser, that there is a slightly drying effect right after its application, which disappears after I follow up with a moisturizer.


It is also good to use a toner with it to return the skin to a balanced pH. The formulation of By Valenti non-toxic facial cleanser is rich in plant-based ingredients that will clean the skin well and gently. Because it is a gentle product, to remove your makeup well make sure massage it onto your face for a longer period of time. For me, I found that Blissoma Rejuvenating Herbal Gel Cleanser and Makeup Remover removes the makeup better. I would use a cleansing oil first.


There is also organic grain alcohol added for deeper cleansing to remove impurities that may produce acne.


This non-toxic facial cleanser comes in a tinted glass bottle.


Where to buy: By Valenti Organics Website


Now we have looked into four types of facial cleansers: cleansing oils, non-foaming crème cleansers, foaming soap-free cleansers and foaming soap-based cleansers. Which type do you use? Which type would you like to try after reading this? Have you used any of these facial cleansers? Please let us know in the comments.


Your Superpower To Read Ingredients

Imagine looking at the ingredients of any shampoo, conditioner, lotion, or cream and in a matter of seconds being able to decide if it is safe to use!

With this easy unprecendented method, you will be able to spot potentially harmful personal care or skincare products that may cause irritation, an allergic reaction, or increase the risk of endocrine disruption or cancer.

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10 thoughts on “Non-Toxic Facial Cleanser Guide: 4 Types of Facial Cleansers”

  1. thank you for this post! as always, your research is so appreciated. have you looked at all into powder facial cleansers? they come in a powder form and you hydrate with water to make them into a paste. Feather and Bone makes tablets that are great for daily use, and SW Basics makes an aloe vera powder that can be used as a cleanser which I haven’t tired yet. I’m sure there are many others too. just wanted to mention since the lack of liquid in these products makes it so that preservatives don’t need to be used and the ingredient list can be cleaner and smaller. thanks again, would love to know your thoughts (as well as anyone else reading)! 🙂

    1. Thank you for letting me know, Lauren! I shall look into including a powder or clay-based cleanser in this Facial Cleanser Guide. ~Irina

    2. Lauren: The SW Basics aloe vera powder looks intriguing. If you try it, please let me know. It is just organic aloe vera powder that you mix with water before application. I found that Credo Beauty sells it as well. ~Irina

      1. I’ve tried S.W. Basics aloe powder, it’s a good cleanser, although it’s doesn’t remove make-up well since it doesn’t really foam.
        I typically add it to home made masks along with their hibiscus powdered mask (love it!).
        They also have a wonderful oil serum which I’ve been using daily and cannot live without!

        1. Thank you, Natalia! It is good to know. I will be looking into adding their products to the list of beauty products I recommend. ~Irina

  2. Hana Organics are fabulous, too. They never irritate my super sensitive skin. Highly committed company to transparency, sourcing, glass containers, etc. check them out

    1. Thank you, Charlie, for letting me know. At a first glance, they do look good. I will be contacting them. ~Irina

    1. Hi, Julia: no, I have not. If you do, please let us know how you like them. I can see that this post is going to have new additions soon. Thank you! ~Irina

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