Why I would use Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser only in the morning (Review)

I bet you’ve heard of Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. It’s a classic skincare brand that has been around for ages and is highly-recommended by dermatologist worldwide. My partner has been a loyal fan of Cetaphil Cleanser and urged me to give it a try many years ago. I did but only sporadically until recently when I made myself use it on a daily basis. 

Now that I’m close to emptying the bottle, let me share my thoughts on Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. In a nut shell, my feeling towards this cleanser took me on a roller coaster ride, which I’ll elaborate in a bit. Read on and you’ll also find out if this cleanser is truly gentle on dry skin, and whether it cleans well? 

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser


What is Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser?

Cetaphil is a brand that has been around since 1947. It is well-known for its gentle formula that is said to be suitable for those with sensitive skin. In fact, it’s the #1 Dermatologist Recommended Facial Skincare Brand in the United States (and also in Singapore).

Among the products that Cetaphil carries, the most popular and oldest invention is Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. I’ve read that this cleanser still uses the same formula as the one originally created in 1947. 

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

Now, let’s see what this cleanser can do for us. According to the marketing message, Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser is described as “a mild, soup-free face and body cleanser that hydrates and soothes skin as it cleans.” Though it was formulated for dry and sensitive skin type, this cleanser is suitable for all skin types, including baby.

Sounds good so far? Let’s see how this gentle cleanser works on my age-induced dry skin.


4 Things I Love about Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser? 

1. Gentle & Soap-Free

Since struggling with recurring flaky skin, I’ve been on the look-out for gentle skincare products. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser is one of them and I bought it because it contains no soap, an ingredient known to aggravate skin dryness. On top of that, this cleanser is also pH-balanced and fragrance-free.

For those who are interested, here’s the ingredients of Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser:

Ingredients of Cetaphil Cleanser: Water, Cetyl Alcohol, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Stearyl Alcohol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben

After cleansing, my face didn’t feel uncomfortably tight like how some foaming cleansers can make us feel. However, the skin didn’t exactly feel moisturized either as I could still feel the roughness of the dry patches on my skin. But it didn’t matter to me since I always follow up my skincare routine with a moisturizer.  

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser


2. Cleanse with or without water

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser is one of the few facial cleansers around that can be used without water. Although I didn’t find the need to do so, I can see how this would be useful to people whose lifestyle requires them to clean on-the-go, such as during camping.

To clean without water, just apply the cleanser on the skin, rub gently and remove the excess with a soft cloth.

I was hesitant in trying the dry-clean method until today when I forced myself to, for the purpose of this review. To my surprise, I love the effect on my skin. As compared to rinse method, the dry-form usage gave the skin a more moisturized after-feel. Therefore, I think I’ll be using this dry method more frequently from today onwards.   

RELATED: How The Body Shop Aloe Calming Toner refreshes dry skin using gentle ingredients

Cetaphil ingredients
Directions for use & ingredients

3. Effective in removing natural face sebum

Whether it’s the rinse or dry-cleanse method, I find Cetaphil effective in removing natural skin sebum.

When I used it in the morning, it was able to remove the skin sebum and shine from my face, while leaving an invisible moisture film on the skin.

4. Cheap if you get the largest bottle

Cetaphil is not cheap for a drug-store cleanser. The smallest 125ml bottle that I got from Malaysia costs rm24 (S$8).

However, the per unit price would fall exponentially the larger the bottle you purchase. For instance, you can often find a triple-pack bundle (1L each) at about S$70 during promotion. This would reduce the price of a 125ml quantity to a mere S$3 (view latest price). 

But how long would it take to finish a 1 litre or worse 3 litres of facial wash? Gosh, I know I’ll get bored in no time. LOL! Luckily, Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser can also be used on the body although I’m not too interested as I’ve always loved a foamy and fragrant body wash. 

Now, let’s examine the cons and see why some may not appreciate Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser.


What’s not great about Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser? 

1. When to stop cleansing? 

With a foaming cleanser, it’s easy to tell when the cleansing is completed, i.e. when your face no longer feels slippery. However, with Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, the face is in almost similar state of slipperiness from start to finish. Hence, I didn’t enjoy using it initially. I also didn’t like the smooth veil of film left on the face when cleansing was done.   

However, after using the cleanser for over half a year, I’ve adapted well and no longer view this as a con.  

Cetaphil Cleanser 125ml

2. Flaky & Patchy Skin did not improve

Perhaps, I’d expected too much from a cleanser as I was hoping that Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser would cure my flaky and patchy skin. It didn’t. But the good news is that it didn’t make it worse either.

3. Can it wash off oil-based products? 

My findings aren’t conclusive. But I seemed to have gotten some pimples when I use Cetaphil as a second cleanser following the use of an oil-based makeup remover. 

As such, I’ve restricted my use of this cleanser to my AM routine where there’s only natural sebum to remove. 

4. Dull Packaging

Cetaphil’s packaging is not something that would get you excited or feeling pampered. It’s a plain plastic bottle with a retro colour palette of blue, white and green. Honestly, I think it’s not something I would categorize as pretty or stylish. :)



My feeling towards Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser went on a roller coaster ride, from feeling lukewarm initially to liking it more now. This may be due to the time needed to get used to a non-foaming cleanser. I also took time to figure out how to use Cetaphil on my pimple-prone skin, i.e. to use it only in the morning. 

If you have dry skin and are looking for a soap-free cleanser, consider testing out a small bottle of Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser and see if you like it. To those who find applying moisturizer a chore, this gentle cleanser may be a godsend as it provides cleansing and moisture protection in a single-step. No wonder my man likes it. Rating: 4/5

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Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

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