Best Face Wash to Use with Retin A: Gentle No-Drying Cleansers for Retin-A Dryness

Published Categorized as Beauty Tips

Retin A, also known as tretinoin, can do wonders to clear up really stubborn acne and other skin problems.  Retin A also delivers anti-aging benefits and can improve the look of the skin.  However, as effective as it is at getting rid of acne or delivering those highly desired anti-aging benefits, Retin A can also cause skin to become dry, irritated, or red.  Finding the best face wash to use with Retin A is essential!  Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up a list of some of the top face washes to use with Retin A, so keep reading to select the one you’d like to try.

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Table of Contents

Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Daily Facial Cleanser for Sensitive Skin, Acne, Eczema & Rosacea, Oil-Free, Soap-Free, Hypoallergenic & Non-Comedogenic Creamy Face Wash, 12 fl. oz

Best Face Wash to Use with Retin A

If you want to find the best face wash for Retin A, check out some of our top recommendations below!

  1. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser
  2. Bioderma – Sensibio H2O – Micellar Water
  3. Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser
  4. First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser
  5. CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
  6. Avalon Organics Cleansing Milk
  7. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
  8. Eau Thermale Avene Extremely Gentle Cleanser Lotion
  9. DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
  10. Neutrogena HydroBoost Facial Cleansing & Makeup Remover Wipes
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Ultimate Pick: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser, Face Wash for Normal to Dry Sensitive Skin, Oil-Free
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Face Wash Highlights

  • Suitable for use with normal to dry and sensitive skin
  • Moisturizes while cleansing skin
  • Can also be used to remove makeup
  • Maintains the natural protective barrier on skin

The La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser is one of the top recommended face washes for individuals using Retin A.  It is designed for use on individuals with normal to dry sensitive skin and helps ensure the skin stays moisturized.  The formula is infused with ingredients such as ceramides and prebiotic thermal water to deliver lasting hydration.  This is also a gentle cleanser that can be used to remove makeup and maintain an ideal pH.

Face Wash Reviews: the Pros and Cons

Individuals who have tried this face wash love that it does not dry out their face.  Rather, they have shared that it helps deliver moisture to makeup for the drying effects of using Retin A.  They also love how quickly it works to dissolve makeup and remove dirt from their face, leaving it fresh and renewed.  While most people love this face wash, a few customers with sensitive skin said they felt more of a burning sensation when using the face wash.

Bioderma – Sensibio H2O – Micellar Water

Bioderma Sensibio H2O Soothing Micellar Cleansing Water and Makeup Removing Solution for Sensitive Skin, Face and Eyes
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Face Wash Highlights

  • Oil-free formula
  • Ideal for sensitive skin
  • Dermatological micellar water to leave skin comfortable and cleansed

If you have sensitive skin or are looking for something that is sure not to irritate your skin, consider the Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water Face Cleanser.  This face wash features an advanced formula that is close to the composition of the skin to effectively cleanse skin and ensure it feels comfortable after washing.  It can remove up to 78% of heavy metals, 98% of fine particles, and 99% of makeup from the face.

Face Wash Reviews: the Pros and Cons

This is a highly popular face wash to use with Retin A.  Users swear by it and love how gently it works to cleanse their face.  They also like that it effectively removes makeup and removes a step in their routine.  However, some users shared that this face cleanser was not as effective at removing eye makeup as other cleansers they’d tried.

Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser

Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser with Pump Dispenser | Fragrance, Gluten and Sulfate Free | For Sensitive Skin | 8 Fl Oz
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Face Wash Highlights

  • Non-comedogenic and oil-free formula
  • Fragrance-, dye-, paraben-, formaldehyde-, and lanolin-free
  • Doesn’t dry the skin
  • Dermatologist-tested

The Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser is another excellent option to consider.  This face wash is non-comedogenic and oil-free, making it a great choice for individuals with acne-prone skin.  It cleans the skin without drying it out.  The dermatologist-tested formula is also free of harmful ingredients such as parabens, formaldehyde, lanolin, sulfates, betaine, and gluten.

Face Wash Reviews: the Pros and Cons

Most users are in love with this face wash.  Those with sensitive and acne-prone skin shared that it helped hydrate their skin and keep it from getting overly dry.  They have also shared that their skin is not irritated or flaking like it was before trying this face wash.  A few users did note that even though the face wash is labeled as fragrance-free, it still has a bit of an odor that they weren’t too fond of.

First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser

First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser, Sensitive Skin Cream Cleanser with Antioxidant Booster – 5 oz.
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Face Wash Highlights

  • pH-balanced formula
  • Infused with antioxidants to reduce inflammation
  • Fragrance- and sulfate-free
  • Formulated without drying ingredients

First Aid Beauty’s Pure Skin Face Cleanser is free of alcohol, parabens, phthalates, sulfates, talc, ethanol, and other harmful or drying ingredients.  The antioxidant-infused formula works to reduce inflammation and irritation to improve the look and feel of skin.  This is a very gentle face wash that doesn’t leave skin feeling tight like some other face washes do.  It can also be used to remove makeup.

Face Wash Reviews: the Pros and Cons

Users who have dealt with acne have shared that this face wash was just what they had been searching for.  They love that it helps keep their breakouts under control and doesn’t dry out their skin.  They have also noted that it helps soothe their skin and improve how it feels.  However, some users had a different experience using the face wash and said that it actually caused their skin to become more dry.

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser | Moisturizing Non-Foaming Face Wash with Hyaluronic Acid, Ceramides & Glycerin | 16 Fluid Ounce
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Face Wash Highlights

  • Formulated with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and glycerine for hydration
  • Non-greasy feel
  • Fragrance-free and non-comedogenic
  • Non-drying
  • Dermatologist-tested

This Hydrating Facial Cleanser from CeraVe is designed to leave skin feeling smooth and moisturized.  The formula includes hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and ceramides to deliver up to 24 hours of hydration.  The face wash has a smooth lotion-like consistency and is non-comedogenic, fragrance-free, and non-irritating, making it an optimal choice for Retin A users.

Face Wash Reviews: the Pros and Cons

Customers who have tried this face wash shared that after a few weeks of consistent use they were able to see visible improvement in their acne-prone skin.  They also love how smooth the cleanser feels going on and that it can also be used to remove makeup.  Some users, on the other hand, feel that the face wash is overly thick and doesn’t do the best job cleansing their skin.

Avalon Organics Cleansing Milk

Avalon Organics Cleansing Milk, Intense Defense with Vitamin C, 8.5 Oz
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Face Wash Highlights

  • Plant-based organic formula
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Infused with vitamin C
  • Paraben-, phthalate-, and sulfate-free
  • Gentle moisturizing

This lather-free face wash by Avalon Organics is a great choice for individuals using Retin A.  It is infused with vitamin C and has a natural orange fragrance.  The formula is plant-based and does not contain any parabens, phthalates, or sulfates to ensure gentle cleaning ideal for individuals with Retin A.

Face Wash Reviews: the Pros and Cons

Individuals who have tried this cleaning face wash have shared that they enjoy the light orangey smell.  They also like the lotion-like consistency.  Many share that they use this alongside other cleaning products and feel that the bottle lasts for a lot of uses.  However, some individuals with sensitive skin said that the face wash was not a good match for their skin.

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser | 20 Fl Oz | Hydrating Face Wash & Body Wash | Ideal for Sensitive, Dry Skin | Non-Irritating | Won't Clog Pores | Fragrance-Free | Soap Free | Dermatologist Recommended
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Face Wash Highlights

  • Gentle cleansing wash designed for daily use
  • Hydrates and soothes skin
  • Hypoallergenic formula for use with sensitive skin
  • pH balanced

The gentle cleansing action of Cetaphil’s skin cleanser is ideal for individuals who use Retin A.  This cleanser features a pH-balanced and hypoallergenic formula that is also suitable for use for individuals with sensitive skin.  It is gentle enough to use with or without water depending on your preferences and works to soothe and hydrate the skin.

Face Wash Reviews: the Pros and Cons

Many users rave about how wonderful this face wash for Retin A is.  They love how gentle it is on their face and have been impressed with the results they have seen.  Individuals with sensitive skin were particularly impressed with how this face wash compared to the many other products they tried on their skin that didn’t work out.  Some individuals don’t like that this is a lather-free face wash and feel like they’d get a better cleaning with a face wash they could lather up.

Eau Thermale Avene Extremely Gentle Cleanser Lotion

Eau Thermale Avene Extremely Gentle Cleanser Lotion, No Rinse Face Wash For Sensitive Skin, Fragrance, Soap, Paraben, Oil, Soy, Gluten Free, 6.76 oz.
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Face Wash Highlights

  • No-rinse cleaner
  • Plant-based formula
  • Gentle cleansing
  • Oil-free, fragrance-free, paraben-free, and colorant-free

You’ll love the way the creamy consistency of this cleaning face wash lotion from Eau Thermale Avene feels on your face.  The face wash features a plant-based formula made using minimal ingredients to make it an optimal choice for individuals with sensitive or irritated skin.  It is a no rinse cleanser to reduce further irritation from water.

Face Wash Reviews: the Pros and Cons

If you ask many customers who purchased this face wash, they would tell you it is the best face wash for Retin A on the market.  They have shared that this product has worked wonders on their dry and sensitive skin.  However, a few users said that they didn’t like the residue that was left on their face after using the face wash.

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, Facial Cleansing Oil, Makeup Remover, Cleanses without Clogging Pores, Residue-Free, Fragrance and Colorant Free, All Skin Types, 6.7 fl. oz.
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Face Wash Highlights

  • Hydrates skin
  • Antioxidant- and vitamin-rich formula
  • Water-soluble formula
  • Suitable for use with all skin types

Hydrate your skin and bring back its softness with the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil.  This face wash features a water-soluble formula that is rich in antioxidants and vitamins to nourish skin and ensure users are able to fully rinse off all of the face wash with ease.  You’ll also find that this is a very effective makeup remover face wash that will prevent you from needing to wipe and wash your face over and over to get all of your makeup off.

Face Wash Reviews: the Pros and Cons

The majority of people who have tried this face wash are very happy with it.  They have shared that it is excellent at helping remove their makeup and love how smooth it makes their skin feel.  A few users with sensitive skin shared that this face wash did not work well for them.

Neutrogena HydroBoost Facial Cleansing & Makeup Remover Wipes

Neutrogena HydroBoost Facial Cleansing & Makeup Remover Wipes with Hyaluronic Acid, Hydrating Pre-Moistened Face Towelettes to Cleanse &Remove Dirt, Makeup & Impurities, Twin Pack, 25 ct
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Face Wash Highlights

  • Work to gently cleanse the skin
  • Includes hyaluronic acid for hydration
  • Also work as makeup remover wipes
  • Suitable for sensitive skin

If you need a travel-friendly solution, try the HydroBoost Facial Cleaning & Makeup Remover Wipes from Neutrogena.  The hyaluronic acid in these wipes works to hydrate the skin as the wipes gently cleanse the face and remove impurities.  In addition to cleaning the face, they can also be used as a makeup remover wipe.

Face Wash Reviews: the Pros and Cons

Customers who use these wipes love how effective they are at removing their makeup, while also leaving their skin feeling soft and hydrated.  They also love the convenient pouch for travel.  Some individuals shared that they weren’t huge fans of these cleansing wipes because they left a sticky residue on their face.

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What face wash to use when using Retin-A?

Retin A works wonders at getting rid of acne, delivering younger and healthier-looking skin, and helping the skin in a variety of other ways, however it can also be a little tough on the skin.  Finding the right face wash to use with Retin A is essential to keep your skin looking its best.

Many individuals who use Retin A experience irritation.  They may notice that their skin is dryer or flakier than usual.  The skin may also be more red, and individuals may feel a stinging sensation more often when applying lotions or beauty products to their face.  These symptoms are especially prevalent during the first few weeks of using Retin A, but they may also stick around for longer periods of time with some users.

Because of how irritated your skin may be when using Retin A, it is important to look for a face wash that is very gentle.  You do not want to pick anything that is designed to exfoliate the skin, as it may sting or cause added irritation.

Choosing a face wash that is designed to nourish and hydrate the skin is also important.  If your skin is too dry, its barrier may be weakened, which can lead to more irritation or inflammation from other skincare products.

What not to use with Retin-A

Now that you know some of the characteristics of the best face washes to use with Retin A, want to know ingredients to avoid?

First, look for cleansers that do not include benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid (BHA), lactic acid and glycolic acid (AHA), or other drying or harsh exfoliating ingredients.  As we shared above, choosing a hydrating face wash is important to keep skin from getting too dried out, so you’ll want to avoid these drying ingredients.

While your skin is still adjusting to using Retin A, you should also avoid using any rotating brushes or other products designed to exfoliate the skin.  These can cause further irritation if your skin isn’t fully used to using Retin A.

Some other products to avoid using on the face when using Retin A include irritating hair care products, shaving cream, astringents, or other products with alcohol, skincare products that cause sun sensitivity.

Best Face Was to use with Retin A: FAQs

It is completely understanding if you still have more questions about finding the right face wash to use with Retin A.  Check out the FAQs below to see if your questions are answered.

Can I use a salicylic acid face wash with Retin-A

Dealing with drying and peeling skin after using Retin A can be frustrating.  You may be wondering whether a salicylic face wash will help your skin.  The answer is that no, you should not use a salicylic acid face wash when you’re using Retin-A.  Salicylic acid can dry out the skin and cause greater irritation.

RELATED: Best Salicylic Acid Toner

Can I use a salicylic acid cleanser with retinol?

Since salicylic acid and retinol both dry out the skin, so it isn’t a good idea to use both of them together.  Rather than choosing a salicylic acid cleanser to use with retinol, look for a hydrating and moisturizing cleanser that will work to reverse the drying effects of retinol.

Can I use benzoyl peroxide face wash with tretinoin?

No, you should not use benzoyl peroxide face wash with tretinoin.  Tretinoin will dry out your face.  Using a face wash with benzoyl peroxide will only make your face dryer and could cause more irritation, so it is not a good idea to use alongside tretinoin.  Look for a face wash with a more hydrating formula to use with tretinoin.

What to put on face after Retin-A?

Because Retin A can irritate and dry out the skin, you will want to apply a moisturizer shortly after putting the Retin A on your face.  The best moisturizers to use with Retin A will be gentle and hydrating to prevent further irritation or redness.  Some good ingredients to look for in a moisturizer to use with Retin A include ceramides, glycerin, oat kernel extract, bisabolol, and antioxidants.

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Choosing the Best Face Was to use with Retin A

Whether you’ve been using Retin A for a while now or are just getting ready to add it to your routine, you’ll want to select the right face wash.  Choosing a hydrating and gentle face wash, like the products we recommended above, will help ensure your skin doesn’t get overly dry or irritated from using the Retin A.

Check out the video below by Dr Dray to learn more about what to choose and how:

Want to learn more about Retinol and Retin A?  Read through these related posts on our blog:

Ready to make a selection? Which face wash that we shared are you ready to use alongside your Retin A?

By Ellis James

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  1. Hope you’re having a great week too, Pablo!

    We try to be as informative as we can, so happy to hear this post helped you learn about the ingredient as well as products with Retin A!

  2. Great list of options, lots of affordable ones too! I pretty much exclusively use balms and oils on my dry skin for extra comfort x

  3. Hi Ellis! I hope you’re having a nice week!

    I have heard a lot about the benefits of Retin A and I’d say it is a game changer when you add it too a routine. Actually it is good since cleansing is a step that you already do, so it is like boosting up our already made skincare routine 🙂

    I love that you posted a lot of options and many of them can be found at pharmacies at a really nice price!


  4. I use Vichy “3 in 1” cleanser and I love it, it works great with my skin. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  5. This is a wonderful list! I have used CeraVe and Cetaphil cleansers and I love them both.

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