What Makes The Best Men's Face Wash?

A great face wash is an essential product for all men, but where do you start when deciding what men's face wash to buy? With so many options available what do you need to look to for in the best face wash for men? Read on for our guide to help answer these questions and point you in the right direction.

Ingredients For The Best Men's Face Wash

The foundation of a great men's skin product is great ingredients and so the ingredients should be your starting point when trying to understand if a face wash is worth investing in.

Treat all the elaborate marketing messages on the packaging with suspicion until you understand whether the ingredients that make up the product are actually capable of delivering all the claimed benefits.

So what ingredients should you look for in the best men's face wash and what should you avoid? Let's start with a list of ingredients that can really benefit your skin depending on your needs and circumstances:

  • Activated charcoal - works like a magnet to attract and draw out all the deep dirt and impurities from your skin and pores. Helps control excess oil.
  • Licorice Root - helps reduce dark spots, acts as an antioxidant and fortifies your skin's defences.
  • Salicylic Acid - penetrates deeper in your skin to exfoliate your pores. Helps reduce redness, inflammation, and fight acne.
  • Glycolic Acid - gently lifts off dead skin cells to reveal smoother skin and help stimulate collagen production for firmer and younger skin.
  • Lactic Acid - gently lifts off dead skin cells and hydrates your skin. Can help to improve skin firmness.
  • Sulfur - anti-fungal, anti-bacterial. Good at fighting acne and rosacea but can smell unpleasant. 
  • Benzoyl Peroxide - a great ingredient at fighting acne, particularly the inflammatory kind. Can dry out your skin and bleach your clothes so not necessary if you're not suffering from acne.
  • Retinol - a derivative of vitamin A and a proven anti-aging ingredient that fight wrinkles and give you smoother, firmer skin.
  • Niacinamide - also known as vitamin B3, it's anti-aging, fades dark spots, helps strengthen your skin barrier and improves hydration.
  • Vitamin C - brightens skin, fades pigmentation, protects against sun damage and boosts collagen production.
  • Vitamin E - a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that fights free radicals, moisturizes, heals and strengthens your skin.
  • Glycerin - a popular ingredient across many types of skin products, it's a safe and proven moisturizer that is also found naturally in your skin.
  • Green Tea - a great antioxidant, helps protect against UV rays, and has anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic and antimicrobial properties. Can vary significantly in quality across different products. 

So which ones should you look for? Well it depends on a few factors including:

  1. The specific benefits you are looking for
  2. Your personal preferences
  3. Your skin type

Below are a few examples when certain ingredients are particularly effective.

Best Men's Face Wash For Oily Skin

If you have oily skin look for a men's face wash with:

  • Salicylic acid
  • Glycolic acid
  • Niacinamide
  • Activated charcoal
  • Vitamins & Antioxidants

Oily skin can be frustrating, but it can be effectively managed with the right products and routine. 

Wash your skin twice a day - in the morning and again in the evening before bed. Make sure to moisturize regularly (yes oily skin needs to be moisturized) otherwise your skin will feel dehydrated and produce more oil. And protect it throughout the day with sunscreen.

Best Men's Face Wash For Dry Skin

If you have dry skin look for a men's face wash with:

  • Glycolic acid
  • Lactic acid
  • Aloe Vera
  • Glycerin
  • Vitamins & Antioxidants

Dry skin still needs to be cleansed daily, but you may be better off sticking to once a day with the face wash - in the evening. If your face still feels clean in the morning then give it a gently once over with water and save the face wash for the evening. 

The key is then ingredients and products that keep your skin hydrated. You can't moisturize dry skin enough and like for all skin types you need to protect it from UV rays with sunscreen.

Best Men's Face Wash For Acne

If you're suffering from acne then you have to use a face wash that contains an active ingredient that can actually do something about it. Without a key active the face wash will be limited help.

You need one of these key ingredients to help combat acne:

  • Retinol (or retinoids)
  • Salicylic acid - for blackheads and whiteheads
  • Benzoyl peroxide - for inflammatory acne
  • Sulfur - for inflammatory acne

A great combination is using a face wash with either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide in the morning, and then a product with retinol or retinoid in the evening. Spacing the actives out this way will help to reduce the risk of irritation.

Again regular moisturizing and sunscreen will help to prevent your skin getting too dried out or irritated whilst the acne fighting ingredients do their thing.

Ingredients To Avoid

By excluding certain ingredients you are going to further limit the risk of irritation or any longer term problems. We have put together a list of ingredients that we feel it may be in your best interest to consider avoiding in skin care products. The performance and experience of a good skin care product can also still be just as good without these ingredients:

  • Sulfates
  • Silicones
  • Phthalates
  • Parabens
  • Drying alcohols
  • TEA (Triethanolamine) 
  • DEA (diethanolamine)
  • Oxybenzone

Other Things To Bear In Mind

The ingredients give you a good indication of whether the product has any real potential, but it still needs to be formulated in the right way to be safe and effective.

Good ingredients work at their best when well formulated in the right combinations and at the optimal concentrations. Too much and it can irritate your skin, too little and it's impact will be greatly reduced.

The best way to understand if the product can deliver for your skin is to test it out for yourself. Great reviews are a good sign, but everyone's skin is different and then only way you're going to know for sure is to start using it once you have done enough research to know that it has potential.

Another consideration is the experience. Many men are put off having a skin care routine because of the female orientated experience or the complexities of using the products. Luckily this has changed in recent times with more great products being made available that are tailored for men.

The Unknown Charcoal Face Wash For Men

The Unknown Men's Charcoal Face Wash is a leading example. It combines a luxury, masculine experience with outstanding ingredients list that include key actives, vitamins and antioxidants - optimized for men's skin.

It deep cleanses and exfoliates with a formulation suitable for all skin types so you don't have to worry about understanding whether it's suitable for you or not. It even excludes the full list of questionable ingredients mentioned earlier and it's cruelty free, gluten free and vegan.


Not all men's face washes are created equally. If you do your research you will notice a clear gulf in quality when it comes to things like ingredients and formulation.

So if you're looking to buy the best men's face wash then use our guide to help you understand which products are likely to be a good investment and which feel more like marketing promises than real substance. And make sure you do invest - a good face wash is a key part of having and maintaining healthy, clear skin.



Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published