Thoughts on Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

I'm a total conspiracy theorist. My worldview has probably been informed more by X-Files than anything else (sorry, college education). So it follows that everytime a dermatologist suggests Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser to me, I'm convinced they have been bought out by Galderma and become secret Cetaphil missionaries.

I've had to go to a dermatologist a few times over the course of my life and whenever I ask for advice about skin cleansers they either say 1) it doesn't matter 2) use Cetaphil. I had tried Cetaphil a few years ago and was unimpressed.

Recently, after another dermatologist (I hadn't been to one in years) recommended it to me, I decided to give it an honest try. Granted, my skin is in much better shape than it was the last couple of times I tried Cetaphil, but I'm not judging on its ability to magically clear up problem skin. Most cleansers can't really do that, and I don't expect one to fix all my problems. So I'm judging this on how clean it actually seemed to make my skin and its overall texture and tone over the course of a few days.

By those criteria, this has actually been quite good to almost excellent since I started using it. The first few days, I didn't really follow the directions and lathered and rinsed with water like I do with other cleansers. However, like with a cold cream cleanser, you're supposed to smear this all over your face and wipe-off, leaving a thin, moisturizing residue.

Well, the wipe-off definitely proved that this stuff can clean as well as take off makeup. However, I didn't like leaving the residue - I just don't think skin can be clean unless it sees some water. I can do without tingly sensations, lather, and fragrance, but water is a must. So what I've been doing is just gently splashing my face with water after wiping it off with a washcloth.

Afterwards, my skin has definitely looked and felt cleaner and fresher, and has so over a few days. I also don't think that you can judge a cleanser solely based on appearance afterwards - plenty of cleansers have temporary effects post-washing and don't do much else until you use it again. But Cetaphil genuinely seems to have returned my skin's natural balance, and it is far smoother than it has ever been without overdrying or making it greasy.

In terms of actual ingredients, however, I don't know if this is actually any more gentle/skin-safe than other cleansers - the ingredient names are pretty much the same as many others. I don't know much about ingredients in facial products and my last few purchases have been "natural" products from Avalon, Burt's Bees, and Dessert Essence (read here) - although I suppose I have no way of knowing how natural and safe those are as well. But since this hasn't caused any other side effects (overdrying, oiliness, irritation, other sensitivities), I think it's as gentle as they come.

As I mentioned, I'm currently using several prescribed treatments so my skin is definitely appreciating their effects as well. But Cetaphil definitely hasn't hurt it either, and I will continue to use. Unlike other cleansers I've used before, I feel comfortable using this everyday. It's also non-comedogenic and fragrance-free so if you have sensitive skin like mine, it's a pretty safe bet. Also comes in different sizes and in generic versions - definitely worth it. $7.99 or less @ Drugstores


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