Drugstore Cleanser Shopping Guide

Shop drugstore cleansers in my guide below. 

Mash Elle beauty | affordable drugstore cleansers | drugstore makeup | walgreens | cvs | Ponds | St. Ives

Drugstore skincare: where to begin? Sometimes I find myself looking up and down the skincare isles at Walgreens with a blank stare. We’ve all been there. So many options – how do I choose? While I’d love to create an entire drugstore skincare shopping guide in one sitting – I would a) run out of coffee (I’m nearing the last of my coffee beans and too lazy to leave the house) b) fall asleep on the job (it would likely take me all day). So, instead, I’m going to create an ongoing series (yay!) and dedicate this post to a drugstore cleanser shopping guide. Let’s begin!



The great thing about living in 2018 is there is a cleanser for everyone. The first step in shopping for drugstore cleansers is to determine your skin type. I’ve given a quick definition of each skin type below to help you out. Next, make sure you stick with brands you love and trust. For example, brands like St. Ives, Simple and Pond’s are known to be gentle on skin and leave your skin feeling refreshed. Don’t forget to keep a journal on your skin progress. Jot down notes on how your skin is feeling 2 days, 7 days and 14 days after using each product.

Dry Skin: 

How do I know If I have dry skin?

If you have dry skin, you’ll notice your skin immediately begs for a moisturizer after cleansing. Your skin may peel or flake and it can have redness due to irritation. If you like in a cool climate, your skin may become dry for a season. There are many causes of dry skin, including the use of harsh soaps and cleansers, hot showers, medications you take etc. You may find you don’t have dry skin at all, rather you’re using the wrong cleanser!

What should I be looking for in a cleanser? 

The most important thing you need to look for in a cleanser is hydration. You need all the moisture you can get! You’ll also need to look for a cleanser that is gentle and won’t strip oil from your skin. Make sure to avoid moisturizers created for “all skin types” as they may be too harsh on your skin. Keywords to look for: moisturizing, hydrating, dry skin and fragrance-free.

Examples of cleansers for dry skin:

Pond’s Cold Cream CleanserThis cleanser has a moisturizer integrated into the formula, allowing the cleanser to hydrate your skin the moment it touches your face. The creamy formula is gentle on your skin, it removes makeup and dirt, but doesn’t strip it from its natural oils.

St. Ives Cactus Water & Hibiscus Cleansing StickThis cleansing stick hydrates your skin with a fun application process. You simply run the cleansing stick over your face and it begins lathering for the perfect wash! It smells like a summer dream and is aluminum-free, dye-free and paraben-free leaving your skin happy! 

Oily Skin:

How do I know If I have oily skin?

Your skin often feels tacky or wet and appears shiny. You find yourself having to dab off oil from your face throughout the day. Your makeup may leak or melt off during the day. Your pores are typically enlarged and you may or may not have blackheads or pimples. Your skin may change into oily skin during the hot summer season.

What should I be looking for in a cleanser? 

You should be looking for a cleanser that helps minimize oil buildup. Too much oil buildup can lead to nasty breakouts. Make sure to avoid moisturizers created for “all skin types” as they may not remove the oil buildup on your skin. Keywords to look for: oil-free, light and mattifying.

Examples of cleansers for oily skin:

St. Ives Cleansing Stick Apricot & Manuka HoneyThis cleansing stick is meant for normal to oily skin and is focused on targeting oil buildup. It smells amazing and feels like a refreshing wave that washes away all the dirt, makeup, and buildup. It is non-comedogenic, paraben-free, dye-free and aluminum-free so it is gentle on your face! 

Sensitive Skin:

How do I know If I have dry skin?

Your skin is as high maintenance as they come. When you try new products, your skin may become inflamed and red. You may have allergies/sensitivities to common ingredients within skincare products. Your skin may often feel itchy, tight and all around uncomfortable.

What should I be looking for in a cleanser? 

If you have sensitive skin, you need to look for cleansers built for just that – sensitive skin. Look for terms such as sensitive skin, gentle, natural, hypo allergenic and avoid products with common allergens such as sulfates, paragons, synthetic colors, fragrance and phthalates. In summary: the fewer ingredients, the better. Keywords to look for: sensitive skin, gentle, hypo-allergenic.

Example of cleanser for sensitive skin:

Simple Moisturizing Facial Wash: This is the cleanser I am currently using and I love it! The formula is super smooth and gentle on my skin. It leaves my skin feeling fresh and clean, without stripping my face of natural oils. My skin doesn’t turn red after use! It is free of dyes, artificial perfumes, and harsh chemicals.

Simple Micellar Cleansing Water: If your skin is so sensitive you don’t wear makeup, this cleansing water is for you! It is the ultimate gentle cleanser with skin-loving vitamin-rich ingredients and a light formula. It is made with triple purified water and using molecular balls to entrap and dissolve dirt. It is free of artificial perfumes, harsh chemicals, and dyes.

Acne Prone Skin:

How do I know If I have acne prone skin?

Your skin is incredibly oily and your main concern is the pesky pimples that pop up far too often. Your pores may be enlarged and you may not be stranger to blackheads. You want your acne gone – now!

What should I be looking for in a cleanser? 

You need to look for cleansers created specifically for acne prone skin. It should be created to remove dirt, oil and impurities. You’ll need to be on the lookout for key acne fighting ingredients such as salicylic acid, retinol, and benzoyl peroxide. These ingredients help to penetrate pores and fight off excess oil and bacteria – which cause acne. Key words to look for: acne fighting, blemish, acne treatment, salicylic acid.

Example of cleansers for acne prone skin:

Simple Kind to Skin Foaming Facial Cleanser Facial Care: This foaming cleanser helps to clean pores and remove excess oil while maintaining the skin’s natural moisture balance. It is gentle on the skin and is non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic and contains no artificial perfume, dyes or parabens.

Let me know in the comments below what cleaners you love and use!

Thanks to Mirum for sponsoring today’s post. As usual, all opinions are mine alone. 

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