Hold Up—This Cult Drugstore Cleanser Could Be Bad News for Your Skin

Lisa Patulny


If I had a dollar for every model, celebrity or beauty editor that's named Cetaphil as their cleanser of choice over the years, I'd be writing this from a resort in the Maldives. (Sadly, I am not.) I used the fragrance-free cleanser myself for years after a dermatologist recommended it to me along with a six-month prescription for Roaccutane. At the time, I loved what Cetaphil did for my sensitised skin. Mainly because everything else I found in the drugstore felt overly harsh. In the decade that's followed I've found other face wash favourites, but many women I know still swear by Cetaphil. So, what's the deal with the growing controversy surrounding the beloved derm-approved cleanser? Well, as our knowledge around how cosmetic ingredients can affect our bodies (not just our skin) expands, natural beauty gurus are looking a little more closely at the ingredients lists of our go-to products. Unfortunately, it's starting to look like the cult drugstore buy may not be the best for your skin.

According to Well + Good, this is because 5 of Cetaphil's 8 ingredients (see: propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate, and three parabens) have a place on the list of potentially toxic cosmetic ingredients known as the dirty dozen. "Whether you think it’s keeping your skin healthy or not, it is absorbed into your bloodstream and research has proven almost all of the few ingredients in it are carcinogenic," says Spirit Demerson, who analyses skincare ingredients for natural beauty store Spirit Beauty Lounge. Freaking out? There's more. Nicole Yih, Assistant Spa Director at the Mandarin Oriental New York says Cetaphil doesn't contain a single skin-loving ingredient: "It may not irritate skin very much, but it probably won’t help it much either."  

Regardless of where you stand on parabens and other iffy additives, it's worth noting that an absence of beneficial ingredients means missing out on an opportunity to nourish your skin. Thinking of making the switch? We've pulled together 8 cleansers packed with soothing oils, calming aloe vera and comforting botanical extracts to give you maximum skin benefits for your buck.

Click through the gallery for more.

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Explore: Galderma, Cetaphil

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