If there’s one place to start when you’re on your way to detoxing your beauty cabinet it’s to choose an organic face wash. And if you can’t get it organic (which is sometimes challenging as we will discover) a natural face cleanser is an absolute must.
You wash your face everyday (or at least you should). This is just one reason why an organic face wash is a smart decision.
Since you’re exposing yourself to the ingredients in your cleanser on a regular basis, it makes sense to choose one that’s made with natural ingredients instead of the harmful toxins and chemicals that are found in pretty much all of the conventional skin care products.
Thankfully, there are many many options to choose from. Whether you’re looking for an organic face wash for acne prone skin or you just want to know what the best organic face wash is overall, this article is going to point you in the right direction.
If you’re on the fence at all about switching to natural skin care, I’d encourage you first to check out this post where I go into more detail about the toxins and chemicals that are pervasive in the personal care and beauty industry. There’s a huge case for upgrading to natural makeup and natural skin care.
Why You Should Upgrade Your Cleanser First
If switching out your beauty regimen seems overwhelming I highly recommend taking it one step at a time. Your cleanser is a great place to start for a couple of reasons:
1- Conventional cleansers in general tend to be junky products
When I’m looking for natural skin care products I can judge a brand in a few seconds by looking at what ingredients they have in their cleanser. Many companies will claim to have natural skin care products but then when I look at the ingredients they are far from pure – containing things like fragrance (hormone disrupting) or other synthetics like Polysorbate 20 or mineral oil derived ingredients that can be contaminated with other much more dangerous compounds, like carcinogens.
2- Exposure to Harmful Ingredients is Higher with Cleansers
You are more exposed to toxins and chemicals in your cleanser than probably anywhere else in your skincare routine. This is because of #1 – that cleansers tend to be more toxic products because of how they are made. And it’s also because of how often these products are used. For most people, a cleanser is used on a daily basis. This is just another reason to make this one of the first products that you upgrade as you’re making the switch to natural skin care.
One of the first things I’ll recommend is choosing an organic face wash whenever possible – and we’ll review what this means below.
What Exactly Is an Organic Face Wash?
As you may already know, the beauty industry is pretty unregulated – which means that the FDA doesn’t monitor the ingredients that are used in personal care and beauty products. Or at best they monitor them very loosely. This means that they also don’t make rules about how the term “organic” can be used for marketing personal care products – except in one specific situation which we’ll discover below. Here’s a quote taken from their fact sheet:
“FDA does not define or regulate the term “organic” as it applies to cosmetics, body care or personal care products (1).”’
They really only care about the use of the term “organic” as it pertains to agriculture – stuff that comes from animals or the Earth. When a skin care product is made with agricultural ingredients (and many natural skin care products are), it can be certified organic by the USDA – very similar to how our food is certified organic with the USDA seal. There are strict requirements involved. There are 4 ways that manufacturers can use the word “organic” on their products:
1- All in or 100% Organic
This is when all of the ingredients in the product are organic and have been certified by the USDA. In this case, the company can display the USDA certified organic seal. This is the same seal that’s used on produce and other food items in the grocery store.
2- Almost 100% Organic
This is when 95% or more of the ingredients in the product are certified by the USDA. In this case, the company can still use the USDA certified organic seal on the product.
3- Mostly Organic
When products contain 70% or more organic ingredients they can still use the term organic in their marketing, it just has to be specific. For instance, an organic face wash made with 70% organic ingredients as well as organic jojoba oil might say: “Face wash made with organic jojoba oil.” But they can’t display the USDA seal.
4- Not So Organic
Companies can’t use the word “organic” in the marketing if the product contains less than 70% of organic ingredients. No USDA seal can be displayed.
Even though there are some strict requirements in place for how the term organic is used as it pertains to agriculture (which affects many products in the natural and organic skin care industry), the FDA acknowledges that they don’t have the power to regulate the skin care and beauty industry when ingredients are not agricultural:
“USDA has no authority over the production and labeling of cosmetics, body care products, and personal care products that are not made up of agricultural ingredients, or do not make any claims to meeting USDA organic standards (1).”
Here’s the bottom line: The best way to tell if your organic face wash is truly organic is to either pick a product that has the USDA seal (that way you at least know that 95% or more of the product is organic) OR check out the ingredients list to see if a good amount of the ingredients are organic.
Tips for Choosing a Natural Face Cleanser
Now that you understand what the term “organic” means as it pertains to natural skin care products, I want to share some specific guidelines on choosing your organic face wash. It’s really important to know the Why behind the What so that you are armed with the knowledge to make your own decisions on your journey. The tips below will help you easily navigate through all of the natural skin care marketing so that you can choose a brand and product that’s right for you.
1- Choose an Organic Face Wash Whenever Possible
Choosing an USDA certified organic face wash takes any guesswork out of this process. An organic face wash with the USDA seal is guaranteed to have 95% or more organic ingredients. That’s a huge win and leaves you far less susceptible to harmful ingredients that are used in even the so-called natural face cleansers.
The challenge with this is that organic cleansers with the USDA seal are limited. USDA organic certification is expensive and not all companies can afford to go through that process – even if they make great products.
Even though you have piece of mind by purchasing products with the USDA seal, your options for a 100% organic face wash are going to be very limited.
There’s just not a ton of choice when it comes to organic face washes that have the USDA seal. This is why it may be better to take another approach. If you want an organic face wash – one made with a majority of organic ingredients and without toxins – you can still get what you want without severely limiting your choices.
Next Step: Look for brands that use the term “organic” in their marketing, but they may not have the USDA seal. Then, check out the ingredients list on the back. What you’re looking for is an ingredients list that denotes which ingredients are organic. And you’re looking for at least half of that list to be organic. You also don’t want a bunch of junky filler ingredients at the end of the ingredient list.
2- Avoid Too Many Synthetics
Synthetics are a funny business. On one hand there are synthetics that are considered safe and many natural beauty and natural skin care companies use them. In the case of organic and natural makeup, it’s very hard to make products that perform without the use of some synthetics. With natural skin care products – and even organic face wash – it’s much easier.
My biggest issue with synthetics is that we don’t always know how they are all made or where they are derived from. And it seems like there are new synthetics constantly popping up in the market.
What I do know is that synthetics are compounds made in laboratories and in the case of the harmful ones, they are sometimes contaminated with much more dangerous compounds like parabens or carcinogens. This is why I try to avoid natural skin care products that contain too many synthetics. There’s just not enough transparency there to know what exactly I’m putting on my skin.
Next Step: When choosing an organic face wash or natural cleanser, avoid brands that have too many synthetics. You’ll know synthetics by their chemical looking names. If you find a product that you really like but want to check out the safety of the synthetic ingredients, use Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database to look up the ingredient.
3- Avoid Fragrance
Fragrance is one of the most commonly used ingredients in natural skin care products and beauty products. Companies know that we women love a beautiful aroma. But fragrance as an ingredient is not what you want in your organic face wash or natural face cleanser. Fragrance is hormone disrupting which is a big problem.
Especially if you are already dealing with a hormone related issue like cystic acne, fibroids, thyroid dysfunction, infertility, PCOS, menopause challenges, painful periods, etc. you do not want to exacerbate the situation by using products with fragrance.
Yet, most women apply multiple products containing fragrance every day. Avoiding fragrance doesn’t mean your natural skin care products won’t smell lovely. The organic face wash that I use smells amazing, but those aromas come from essential oils and not from a petri dish.
Next Step: Look for the words “fragrance” or “parfum” on the ingredients list of products and avoid them.
4- When in Doubt, Oil Makes a Fantastic Organic Face Wash
Oil is one of the most basic, no-fuss cleansers that you could possibly use. When you’re using a single oil, there’s just one ingredient to deal with and it’s so easy to choose an oil that’s 100% organic (with a USDA seal). There are many benefits to cleansing your skin with oil as you’ll find out in this post. I’m a huge fan of oil cleansing and it’s highly beneficial for multiple skin types. It’s just a matter of choosing the right oil.
The Best Organic Face Wash for Your Skin Type
Now that you understand some of the basics around how to choose an organic face wash, I want to share some of my favorites based on skin type to get you started.
Best Organic Face Wash for Oily Skin and Acne Prone Skin
Eminence Organic’s Clear Skin Probiotic Cleanser, $38
Oily skin tends to be acne. Don’t I know it. That’s been the nature of my skin for years. Thankfully, the acne has not been an issue, but I feel that it’s because I’ve been using better quality products and I’ve integrated oil cleansing and essential oils into my routine which has helped to regulate my skin’s oil production.
I really like Eminence Organics’ Clear Skin Probiotic Cleanser. The notion of including probiotics in an organic face wash is pretty smart.
Our skin is a microbiome in and of itself – meaning that it’s covered in tiny microbes. This is very similar to how our digestive system functions. Including probiotics in your skin care regimen can help to balance your skin’s pH – especially if you fluctuate between “too oily” in some areas and “too dry” in others (2). This is very common with acne prone skin.
I love that this organic face wash is made with almost all organic ingredients and it’s a spa grade cleanser. So you’ll find that many spas (including the Ritz Carlton) use this line. It’s top notch and helps my skin to stay clear and blemish free.
Best Organic Face Wash for Sensitive Skin
AnnMarie Gianni’s Aloe Herb Cleanser, $29.95
If there were a “go-to” organic skin care brand that gets results without busting the budget, it’s hands down Ann Marie Gianni. She has the best all around mix of great products that are mostly organic and wild-crafted while still maintaining affordability for most people.
Her Aloe Herb Cleanser is one of my favorites. First of all, the aroma is crisp and refreshing which is what I love when I’m cleansing my skin. I also like that it’s gentle. It doesn’t strip away the skin’s natural oils which is so important for maintaining a beautiful, healthy looking complexion. And of course, she includes essential oils which I like, too. Lemon and grapefruit add a citrusy twist and help to detox the skin removing dirt and impurities.
This is a BIG winner in my book and one that Dr. Jones and I love to use. I’d say it’s the best chemical free face wash for sensitive skin.
Best Organic Face Wash for Oily Skin
Desert Essence Organic Jojoba Oil, $16
I know – using an oil for skin that’s already oily? Hear me out. If you haven’t tried oil cleansing it’s 100% worth it – especially if you already have oily skin. I go into details about why in this article, but to sum it up this strategy was key for me to get rid of my acne. Years ago my skin’s pH was all messed up and I was constantly dealing with oil slicks and dry areas. It was such a pain trying to figure out a skin care regimen.
My skin desperately needed some pH balance. The problem was that I was using products that stripped the skin of its natural oil which seemed to help with the oil slicks (temporarily), but it was also the primary cause of the dry patches too.
It was a vicious cycle of stripping my skin of oil only for it to retaliate by creating even more oil and acne right along with it.
I used the oil cleansing strategy to correct the problem. The premise of oil cleansing is that “like dissolves like” – or “oil dissolves oil.” So, with this in mind it IS possible to balance skin’s pH using oil. Jojoba oil has been the best choice for my skin. It doesn’t clog pores and is chemically very similar to the sebum or oil that our skin naturally produces. I also added a drop of Geranium Essential Oil at each cleansing session because it has powerful properties that support pH balance for the skin.
I followed up with a gentle cleanser like Ann Marie Gianni’s Aloe Herb Cleanser to remove any excess oil. This method was a big factor in why I was able to correct the terrible cycle I had gotten into with my skin. And I still use jojoba oil to this day to remove makeup. It works beautifully!
Best Organic Face Wash for Deep Cleaning and Anti-Aging
May Lindstrom, The Clean Dirt $70
Every now and then the skin needs a nice deep clean to exfoliate and remove gunk from the pores. I haven’t tried a May Lindstrom product that I haven’t absolutely LOVED and this one is no exception.
The Clean Dirt is a cleansing and exfoliating powder all in one. It’s perfectly designed to reveal a gorgeous complexion by gently exfoliating to remove dead skin cells.
This organic face wash is also boosted with vitamin C – a powerful antioxidant that kicks anti-aging into high gear. It also brightens, evening out hyperpigmentation for a gorgeous complexion that truly glows. This product is made with a variety of organic clays, flowers, herbs and spices to leave skin looking and feeling radiant.
This is not a natural face wash that I use every day (though you definitely can). This is one that I reserve for a few times a week since I don’t particularly like to exfoliate daily.
Get Even Better Results with Your Organic Face Wash
To get really great results with your organic face wash, I highly recommend investing in an electronic facial cleanser like the Clarisonic. Someone gave me the Mia 2 years ago and it’s been a game changer for smoothing and evening the texture of my skin and deep cleaning as well. I also really like that they have multiple brushes so I can choose how deep I want the cleaning to be. Investing into a product like this helps your cleanser get deep into your skin and do its work!
Now that you know my picks for best organic face wash, what are yours? Do you have brands or products that you really love? Have you tried any of the ones mentioned in the article? Please share in the comments below!