Let’s be honest. If you’re into skincare, no matter how simple or advanced your skincare routine is, chances are that you’ve heard and even use Cetaphil.

It’s a popular brand with a prominent presence in the skincare industry.

Cetaphil is widely known for its Gentle Cleanser, which is talked about by users and dermatologists.

When I first tried the Cetaphil Gentle Cleanse I honestly thought that I’d hit the jackpot. It’s budget-friendly, simple, and works well.

However, as I started to recommend it to family and friends, I found out that it’s not that loved by everyone. There are a ton of reasons why it’s not the best product for everybody.

If you’re one of those people, I’ve prepared an article dedicated to the product, with a few useful Cetaphil alternatives that you could try.

What is Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser?

The cleanser is designed for the face and body and is marketed as a product created for sensitive and dry skin as it’s not irritating.

It doesn’t contain any fragrances or aggressive soap and it stands out with a pretty basic and minimalistic ingredient list.

It’s among the cleansers that won’t clog your pores and lead to acne breakouts. Plus, a huge selling point is that it’s recommended by dermatologists.

In fact, this is America’s top-selling facial cleanser!

Although it’s mostly recommended for people with sensitive and dry skin, it’s suitable for all skin types.

As mentioned, it only contains a few ingredients, which instantly separates it from other similar products on the market.

INCI list:
Water, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Panthenol, Niacinamide, Pantolactone, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid.

Why do dermatologists like Cetaphil?

Dermatologists actively promote and recommend Cetaphil.

But why is that?

One of the main reasons is that the product is extremely gentle due to the few ingredients as opposed to a rich ingredient list, like most other cleansers. This makes it very suitable for people whose skin gets easily irritated and shows reactions to different substances or ingredients.

Here, there are no excess extracts or essential oils, which may offer some benefits, but could also trigger side effects and undesired consequences.

Instead, the Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser is basic, straightforward, and easy to use. It will soothe the skin and help restore the damaged moisture barrier.

When it comes to ingredients, here are the ones that stand out:

  • Niacinamide – is a powerful anti-aging ingredient that can reduce wrinkles and fine lines. Niacinamide also helps brighten the skin and fades brown spots, enhances ceramide synthesis leading to a restored skin barrier, moisturizes, and helps with the treatment of rosacea, acne, and atopic dermatitis.
  • Panthenol – is an ingredient that moisturizes the skin and helps it retain water. Panthenol also helps with the proper function of the skin barrier and calms and soothes the skin.
  • Glycerin – another moisturizing agent, glycerin keeps the lipids between the skin cells healthy and prevents irritation. Glycerin is an ideal ingredient for super dry skin.
  • Citric Acid – is an exfoliating agent that cleans the skin of dead skin cells and bacteria, leaving behind a clean surface.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate – works toward moisturizing the skin and reviving the skin’s condition.

All of this sounds great. But let’s sum up the main reasons why Cetaphil is among the top recommendations provided by dermatologists:

  • Gentle formula – the lack of extracts, essential oils, fragrances, and heavy ingredients makes the formula perfect for any skin type and especially appropriate for dry and sensitive skin.
  • Balances the skin – as part of a gentle skincare routine, Cetaphil can balance the skin and regulate excess oil production.
  • Balanced skin pH – the product is also recommended for skin that is recovering from invasive skin treatments as it can restore the pH balance.

Why you should not use Cetaphil?

I’m here to discuss both sides of the coin.

Regardless of the benefits that Cetaphil can offer, there are also several drawbacks and risks that I want to address.

Cetaphil is not always the best cleansing solution.

Here’s why.

Problematic ingredients

Remember how Cetaphil’s Gentle Cleanser only comes with a few ingredients?

Well, they’re not all roses.

Here are some of the “controversial” ingredients in the formula which may concern some users:

  • Parabens – as you are probably aware, parabens don’t have a positive reputation. They’re often associated with breast cancer and can act as estrogen. However, there is also plenty of research suggesting that these theories are nothing but myths as studies conducted could not hold parabens entirely responsible for such conditions. Regardless, there are still a lot of people who prefer to stay away from parabens just in case.
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) – SLS is also a paraben and some people who have used products containing the ingredient have reported breakouts. Of course, this does not apply to every person and depends on the skin type and skin condition. If you’ve noticed that your skin reacts badly to SLS in skincare, it’s only natural to avoid it.
  • Propylene glycol – another paraben linked to higher chemical penetration into the skin and irritation. Again, avoided by some users for the same reasons as above.

Price point

Although Cetaphil is an affordable brand, a lot of users share concerns about the price point of this specific product, considering its size.

The product costs around $16 for a bottle of 20 fl oz, which is more expensive than a lot of other face cleansers.

Not good at removing makeup

If you’re looking for a product that will clean your facial oils, bacteria, and other dirt along with heavy makeup and waterproof sunscreen – this cleanser is not the most optimal choice.

The Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser won’t remove mascara and other makeup, especially if you have your full glam on. This means that you’ll need to use it in combination with other oil-based cleansers that will do the job.

As a result, it’s best used as a second-step cleanser.

What can I use instead of Cetaphil?

The good news is that there are other alternatives that you can try, which are similar to Cetaphil but better in some ways.

If you’re looking for a natural alternative to Cetaphil, here are some ideas.

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser

Cerave cleanser alternative to Cetaphil

The CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleansers is the first alternative that I’d recommend to anyone to try.

It’s fairly affordable, with a price of $1.05 per oz (or $16 for the whole bottle of 16oz).

It’s created for normal to oily skin but a lot of users with dry skin have also shared positive results. It’s great for removing excess oil, and dirt, and is also capable of getting rid of makeup.

Apart from facial use, it’s also suitable for body and hand washing.

Some of the notable ingredients of the product include:

  • Ceramides – the face cleanser is packed with three essential ceramides – 1, 3, and 6-II. Together, they work towards protecting the skin barrier and providing moisture.
  • Hyaluronic acid – helps manage fine lines and wrinkles, helps the skin retain its moisture, and makes the skin look healthier and plumper.
  • Phytosphingosine – a natural ingredient found in the external layer of the skin, which provides antimicrobial protection and cell-communicating properties. It helps with the prevention of acne.
  • Glycerin – a powerful moisturizing agent that supports the skin’s health, eliminates irritation, and protects the skin barrier.
  • Niacinamide – promotes the skin’s creation of keratin proteins, boosting skin health, retaining moisture, and protecting the barrier.

The cleanser has a nice gel-like texture and doesn’t contain any fragrance.

Once applied to the skin it turns into a gentle foam as you emulsify it on your face.

It’s suitable for all age groups and won’t make your skin feel dry or tight. This is another dermatologically tested and recommended brand, giving you extra peace of mind.

  • Paraben-free
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Non-drying
  • Non-irritating

VaniCream Gentle Facial Cleanser for Sensitive Skin

Vanicream - an alternative to Cetaphil

The VaniCream Gentle Facial Cleanser for Sensitive Skin is another product that I’d like to introduce here as an alternative to Cetaphil.

It successfully cleans makeup and sunscreen from the skin and is an ideal choice if you’re looking for a cleanser that can be used as the first and the second step.

It’s also extremely gentle on the skin and affordable, with a price of $1.05 per oz, an 8oz bottle costs about $9, which is similar to the Cetaphil price.

It doesn’t contain any chemical irritants, making it truly ideal for sensitive skin. Just like Cetaphil, its ingredient list is rather simple and basic, only containing a few ingredients. Some of the most important ones include:

  • Glycerin higher in the ingredient list, and caprylyl glycol moisturize and hydrate your skin;
  • Coco Glucoside and sodium cocoyl glycinate are the two surfactants that gently break down the dirt and debris on your skin.

When it comes to key features, there is plenty to attract and hold your attention.

The product is tested and widely recommended by dermatologists and is perfectly safe to use. It won’t clog pores and won’t make your skin feel heavy and greasy after use. It’s also:

  • Unscented
  • Betaine-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Soap-free
  • Botanical extract-free
  • Free of amines and amides
  • Doesn’t contain any sulfates, dyes, lanolin, parabens, or formaldehyde releasers.

La Roche Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Face Cleanser

La Roche Posay - Cetaphil alternative

The last recommendation from my list of Cetaphil alternatives is the La Roche Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Face Cleanser.

It’s another affordable option, which is created for normal, dry, and sensitive skin. You get a good-sized bottle – 13.52 oz – for around $17, which is awesome.

La Roche Posay products have become a staple in my skincare routine and I use this cleanser and several other products from their range daily. French folks simply know how to do effective skincare.

It’s a daily cream cleanser that helps the skin lock in its natural moisture while removing any excess oils and dirt. It balances the natural pH of the skin and helps protect the skin barrier.

I wouldn’t say this cleanser is ideal on its own, but it’s an outstanding second-step cleanser.
It’s not efficient for getting rid of makeup and sunscreen but it cleanses similarly to Cetaphil without having any irritating ingredients.

Speaking of ingredients, here are the ones you should know about:

  • Niacinamide, Glycerin, Ceramides, and Panthenol, the benefits of which we already discussed above.
  • Tocopherol – a fat-soluble antioxidant that provides photoproduction against UVB rays. Tocopherol contains Vitamin C and Vitamin E, which are amazing antioxidants for the skin.

The product will leave the skin feeling moisturized and nourished. Some of the key features include:

  • Oil-free & non-comedogenic
  • Perfect for sensitive skin
  • Soap-free
  • Sulfate-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Fragrance-free

Brands similar to Cetaphil

When talking about gentle skincare, it’s no wonder that Cetaphil comes to mind as one of the leaders in the industry.

However, they are not the only brand that offers effective yet non-irritating solutions.

If you’ve been disappointed with Cetaphil, similar brands you can try include:

  • CeraVe
  • Vanicream
  • Aveeno
  • La Roche Posay
  • Avene
  • Neutrogena

All of these have product lines very similar to what Cetaphil offers and not at that big of a price difference. It’s easy to find something to suit your specific needs.

Wrap up

You should now be feeling more comfortable on the Cetaphil topic and have a few new ideas for alternatives to try if you’ve discovered that the Gentle Cleanser isn’t your best choice.

I noticed that there are a lot of questions for Cetaphil alternatives on Reddit so I truly hope that this topic will be interesting to some of you who actively search for a solution.

If you have any comments and feedback on Cetaphil or any of the alternatives I’ve recommended, share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Tags: cetaphil
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