The Best Cleansers for Mature Skin, According to Dermatologists

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Keeping your skin clean is imperative for keeping it healthy. “The longer we live, the extrinsic, outside factors such as sun and pollution, and intrinsic factors like hormones and aging, change our skin’s ability to restore and renew itself,” says Fresno, CA dermatologist Kathleen L. Behr, MD. “Cleansing is one of the fundamentals of skin care. Patients with mature skin come to see me to address concerns such as dryness and sensitivity, which are often associated with a compromised barrier.” A good cleanser and cleansing routine can not only “take the day away,” but also help fortify the skin barrier and nourish aging skin.

Why Cleansing Is Critical for Mature Skin

Cleansing your skin sets the stage for everything else you apply next. If you’re a fan of fancy serums, but you don’t properly cleanse your skin, they probably aren’t working to their full potential (or at all). Makeup and daily grime create a film on the skin that prevent other products from penetrating effectively.

Additionally, Delray Beach, FL dermatologist Dr. Janet Allenby says, “Mature skin—those age 50 and up—on the face tends to be more fragile and dry. The goal is not to degrease the skin because there are rarely acne issues, but rather to remove makeup without being too aggressive with the skin barrier.”

Germantown, TN dermatologist Purvisha Patel, MD adds that as we get older and lose estrogen, we also lose some of our lipid barrier. “This can make some people develop sensitive skin over time. It is important to see what changes are happening to your skin as it ages, and then the appropriate skin care can be used.”

What Should You Look for in a Cleanser for Mature Skin?

When it comes to choosing the best cleanser for aging skin, hydration is a major part of the equation. “As we age, our sebaceous glands produce less oil, which leads to drier skin,” explains Dallas dermatologist Rebecca Marcus, MD. “In addition, cell turnover in the skin slows down, and collagen and elastin are less plentiful. For aging skin, it’s helpful to look for a product that hydrates, promotes collagen production and encourages brightening.” Miami dermatologist Anna Chacon, MD agrees. “I recommend using a cleanser that hydrates, lightly exfoliates and brightens. “This is because, over time, the skin becomes thinner with less collagen and elasticity, and increased wrinkles and dryness.”

For the exfoliation component, Dr. Patel says to look for a cleanser with alphahydroxy acids (AHAs), such as glycolic acid and lactic acid. “This will help to remove dead skin cells, improve skin texture, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” she explains. Omaha, NE dermatologist Joel Schlessinger, MD prefers face washes with ingredients that leave out synthetic fragrances and harsh chemicals. “This is the most important concept in my mind. Simple is better.”

Creams, Gels or Oils? Which Texture Is Best for a Cleanser for Mature Skin

When it comes to the ideal texture of the cleanser, personal preference is usually the deciding factor. At the end of the day, if you like the way the product feels on your skin, you’re more likely to use it. However, Dallas dermatologist Elizabeth Bahar Houshmand, MD recommends mild, cream-based cleansers versus foams and gels. “Cream cleansers are more hydrating and less drying. They can help to remove makeup without upsetting the skin’s delicate moisture balance. This makes them ideal for dry or sensitive skin.”

Oil-based products like cleansing oils and balms can be beneficial, too. “I am a dermatologist with 25 plus years of experience treating mature skin, and taking care of my own mature skin,” says Danbury, CT dermatologist Alicia Zalka, MD. “I have found that it is best to shift away from soap-based face cleansing and opt for oil-based products. The goal is a deep clean without giving up precious hydration. This is particularly true for the delicate skin around the eye area.”

The Best Cleansers for Aging Skin, According to Top Dermatologists

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Colorescience Barrier Pro 1-Step Cleanser ($46)

“For my mature skin patients, I recommend this Colorescience Cleanser. This unique formulation removes dirt, oil, pollution, makeup, and mineral sunscreens in a single cleanse without stripping the skin. It contains a probiotic-like ingredient to promote a balanced skin microbiome, which supports a healthy skin barrier. It also includes prickly pear cactus extract to hydrate the skin and deliver antioxidants, polysaccharides, vitamins and minerals, while the pink pomelo extract encourages a gentle sloughing of dead skin cells. I not only recommend this cleanser for my patients, but I use it myself too.” —Dr. Behr

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2 / 25

UMA Oils Absolute Anti Aging Regenerative Oil Cleanser ($54) 

“Mature skin benefits from gentle cleansing without ingredients that strip away desired moisture or leave skin parched and irritable. This cleansing oil ever so gently offers a friction-free and moisture-laden way to cleanse. It also contains antioxidants and smoothing ingredients that not only cleanse, but also nourish skin.” —Dr. Zalka

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3 / 25

La Roche Posay Toleriane Purifying Foaming Cleanser ($18)

“I like balancing the use of both hydrating/moisturizing cleansers and enzymatic cleansers. This is because the overuse of enzymatic and treatment cleansers can dry out the skin, resulting in the appearance of more wrinkles. This is a gentle foaming and moisturizing cleanser that helps remove makeup and grime from the day. It’s a great way to clean off the day’s activities. This one from La Roche-Posay is my go-to.” —New York dermatologist Nicole Lee, MD

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4 / 25

Visha Skincare Advanced Purifying Cleanser ($30)

“This is great for mature skin that is thicker or has a history of acne. It contains glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, zinc, and tea tree oil to clean the skin, exfoliate and shrink the appearance of pores.” —Dr. Patel

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5 / 25

Mary Kay TimeWise 4-in-1 Cleanser ($26)

“For those with mature skin, I favor cleansers that are gentle and remove environmental debris, which can age the skin and result in a sallow appearance. This cleanser is wonderful for mature skin, as it helps to gently cleanse the skin to remove any complexion-dulling impurities. It leaves the skin feeling refreshed and conditioned, while simultaneously improving texture. The multitasking, gentle formula includes Mary Kay’s patented TimeWise 3D Complex, which provides three critical dimensions of skin support, including antioxidants, brightening and collagen. This provides advanced environmental protection from skin-damaging free radicals, while also helping to support skin’s natural collagen and elastin. It also promotes a more even skin tone.” —New York dermatologist Jared Jagdeo, MD

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6 / 25

SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser ($48)

“I recommend looking for a treatment cleanser, ideally one with ingredients such as alphahydroxy acids and betahydroxy acids, as these ingredients promote skin turnover and exfoliation. This results in tighter pores, smoother skin and brightening. SkinMedica is one of my favorite treatment cleansers. It combines both the physical and chemical exfoliants for a clean treatment wash. I recommend using it two to three times a week, depending on the skin’s condition.” —Dr. Lee

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7 / 25

GlyDerm Gentle Face Cleanser ($30)

“For 26 years, I have highly recommended this face cleanser. This is a great cleanser for all ages with a glycolic acid base for the gentle exfoliation of dead, dull skin cells. I recommend it to patients at least five times today. It’s a nonirritating formula that also works for those with sensitive skin, and it works to promote skin radiance, too. It’s a wonderful addition to any skincare routine.” —Monroe, LA dermatologist Janine Hopkins, MD

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8 / 25

NeoStrata Repair Exfoliating Wash ($40)

“Alphahydroxy acid exfoliation is helpful when using retinoids on the face at night, and still appropriate as the skin ages and becomes drier. I like and recommend this face wash for aging skin for that reason.” —Nanuet, NY dermatologist Heidi Waldorf, MD

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9 / 25

Avène Tolérance Lotion Extremely Gentle Cleanser ($27)

The skin should be washed gently with either using water or a wipe on/off-type cleanser with no water. Avène’s Gentle Cleanser is my over-50 go-to product that works on the face and eyes.” —Dr. Allenby

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10 / 25

LovelySkin Luxe Gentle Cream Cleanser ($16)

“This is my favorite cleanser for mature skin. It contains meadowfoam seed oil and olive oil extract, as well as 3 percent afaLUXE. This is an ingredient that helps to exfoliate gently, while also improving clarity of the skin. Most cleansers that are aimed at the older population give up exfoliation for gentle cleansing, which ends up leaving a dull or tired look to the skin. It’s important to address both of these, while also providing a cleanser that won’t harm the more fragile skin as we age.” —Dr. Schlessinger

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Prequel Gleanser for Face and Body ($18)

“Prequel’s Gleanser—short for glycerin-based cleanser—is particularly good for mature skin, which tends to be more dry and sensitive. The high concentration of glycerin not only hydrates the skin, but also protects the skin’s natural and essential lipids. Aside from being hydrating and gentle, the unique gel-to-foam texture offers a luxurious and a satisfying cleansing experience.” —Danville, CA dermatologist Sam Ellis, MD

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12 / 25

U Beauty The MANTLE Skin Conditioning Wash ($78)

“Mature skin needs a cleanser with effective ingredients that doesn’t disrupt the skin barrier. Our skin’s acid mantle refers to the acidity of the epidermis. When it is balanced, the microbiome of the skin is healthy. This cleanser optimizes it. Additionally, products that use encapsulation, like this face cleanser, allow for active ingredients to stay protected so they can penetrate the skin effectively and without irritation. I’ve never seen a cleanser that works like this. I think it’s a really innovative technology.” —New York dermatologist Dan Belkin, MD

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13 / 25

Motif Abundance Plumping PhytoCeramide Cleanser ($65)

“The pineapple phytoceramides in this cleanser provide a moisturization boost, which is great for skin over 50. This is because as we get older, our production of Natural Moisturization Factor (NMF) decreases. It declines even more so for those on medications such as statins (for hypercholesterolemia) and diuretics (for hypertension), as these drugs can contribute to additional skin dryness. Bromelain also reduces bruising in the skin. Aging skin (50-plus) can experience a decrease in collagen around the blood vessels and increased senile purpura. This cleanser also contains niacinamide, white orchid and licorice extracts, which have been clinically found to prevent further oxidative damage in aging and aged skin, and reduce skin darkening from lentigines.” —Tucson, AZ dermatologist Indy Chabra, MD

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14 / 25

ALASTIN Skincare Gentle Cleanser ($52)

“In general, gentle cleansers that cleanse the skin without overdrying it are my favorites for skin over 50, or aging skin. Overdrying the skin emphasizes pore size, lines and wrinkles, while hydrated skin with a ‘dewy’ appearance is more forgiving and more youthful. Mature skin also tends to be more sensitive, so these gentle face cleansers that protect and cleanse the skin without irritation are essential. Alastin’s Gentle Cleanser does this beautifully.” —Houston dermatologist Jennifer Segal, MD  

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15 / 25

DefenAge 1-Step Multi-Cleanse ($62)

“This hydrating face cleanser contains natural prebiotics and helps to support the skin barrier, making it good for those with mature skin. It works to enhance the DefenAge core defensin technology while helping to dissolve makeup and lift away dirt and debris.” —New York dermatologist Marisa Garshick, MD

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16 / 25

Revision Skincare Gentle Cleansing Lotion ($44)

“This is a creamy cleanser that is free of fragrance and artificial colorants. It helps aging skin with marine-derived red and brown algae, and has an antioxidant-rich apple amino acid.” —Dr. Houshmand

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17 / 25

Caudalie Vinoclean Micellar Cleansing Water ($30)

“I also highly recommend this face cleanser for aging skin. This is always in my travel bag and on my vanity table. This cleanser gently cleanses while also hydrating and soothing skin. It works on all skin types, and you can use it on your face and eyes. Soap- and water-free, it’s all in one.” —Dr. Hopkins

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18 / 25

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin ($18)

“This cleanser effectively gets rid of dirt and buildup without leaving the skin feeling dry. It contains hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin, as well as ceramides to support and strengthen the skin barrier. It is a great cleanser for all skin types, including those with sensitive skin, as it is fragrance-free.” —Dr. Garshick

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19 / 25

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser ($16)

“This is an excellent gentle cleanser for dry and sensitive skin. It’s fragrance-free, soap-free and sulfate-free, and contains brightening niacinamide and skin barrier–boosting ceramides.” —Dr. Marcus

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20 / 25

Bliss Mighty Biome Pre/Post Biotics + Barrier Aid Deep Cleansing Balm ($18)

“As a deep cleansing balm, this helps to dissolve makeup, sunscreen and impurities, while also hydrating the skin. It contains prebiotic beta glucan to attract water to the skin and postbiotic Lactococcus Ferment Lysate to help stimulate skin cell renewal and support aging skin. It also contains a Barrier Aid Complex with beta carotene, ceramide NP and squalane, which helps soften and smooth the skin, while also protecting it from free-radical damage.” —Dr. Garshick

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21 / 25

CLn Moisture Balancing Facial Cleanser ($35)

“I also frequently recommend this dermatologist-tested cleanser for my patients who are active in tennis or at the gym and may need a stronger antimicrobial cleanser that is still gentle to the skin on the face. It’s also a good option for those with skin that’s prone to acne, rosacea or eczema.” —Dr. Segal

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22 / 25

Charlotte Tilbury Multi-Miracle Glow ($62)

“This is a versatile product that functions as a remarkably hydrating cleansing balm and removes makeup, oil and debris while intensely moisturizing the skin. The cleanser doubles as an overnight hydrating mask, it contains hydrating glycerin, as well as nourishing, skin-smoothing oils: camellia, rose hip and arctic cloudberry. Vitamin A encourages cell turnover to keep skin fresh, while vitamin C provides an antioxidant boost and brightens the complexion. Vitamin E functions as a soothing, hydrating emollient, which aging skin needs.” —Dr. Marcus

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23 / 25

Dove Original Beauty Bar ($5 for two)

“For those who prefer a bar, I recommend this cleanser from Dove, as it effectively cleanses and washes away dirt without drying out the skin. It helps to replenish lost moisture, unlike ordinary soaps that can strip the skin of its natural oils. This makes it a great multipurpose cleanser, as it can be used for the face, body and hands. It is formulated with one-fourth moisturizing cream, which helps to leave skin feeling soft and nourished. It is easy to use and can be used by all skin types, including aging skin.” —Dr. Garshick

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24 / 25

iS Clinical Cream Cleanser ($48)

“This face cleanser is gentle and hydrating for dry, extra-sensitive, and delicate skin. Gycerin, squalane, coconut oil, and safflower oil work together to deeply hydrate and protect the skin barrier while also providing a thorough cleanse that effectively removes makeup and sunscreen. It can be used with or without water, which is a bonus for those with very dry skin who may better tolerate a waterless cleanse.” —Dr. Marcus

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25 / 25

Andalou Naturals Deep Hydration Nourishing Cleansing Balm ($16)

“Formulated with bio-designed collagen and hyaluronic acid, this is a great cleanser for aging skin as part of a double cleanse or on its own. The cleansing balm helps to lift excess oil, makeup and debris off of the skin, while also nourishing the skin. And, it doesn’t leave the skin feeling dry or greasy.” —Dr. Garshick

BUY NOW – $16

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