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Our top pick? Caudalie's Instant Foaming Cleanser

Beginning your skincare routine with a high-quality face wash is critical to both the pursuit and maintenance of a Parisienne-esque flawless complexion. Without a daily cleanse, the buildup of dirt, grime and dead skin cells accumulated during the day clogs your pores, resulting in potentially serious skin concerns such as acne, irritation, and inflammation. Furthermore, the daily buildup can also prevent your favourite skincare products from adequately penetrating the skin, thus severely mitigating their positive effects.

However, there is a catch to cleansing; it is *very* possible to over-cleanse. If you're experiencing any tightness after cleansing, it's a solid indication that you have compromised your skin's moisture barrier, and your cleanser isn't as well suited to you as you thought. Ideally, you should be using a gentle cleanser specifically formulated for your skin type (oily, dry, sensitive or combination) so as not to disturb the moisture barrier's natural function. French face wash products are the best in this regard due to their no-nonsense, simple, gentle formulations that specifically support your moisture barrier. After all, having a healthy moisture barrier is synonymous with having radiant, glowy skin.

To help you find the perfect face wash for your skincare routine, the FEMMENORDIC team has curated a comparison list for you of 17 of the best French face washes currently available in 2021, organised by rating, affordability, efficacy and skin type compatibility.

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Instant Foaming Cleanser by Caudalie, one of the best French cleansers for all skin types and one of the most quintessentially French pharmacy products.

#1 — Instant Foaming Cleanser by Caudalie

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

A soap-free foaming cleanser.

What makes it special? This hidden gem of a face wash is far more than meets the eye. Highly natural, vegan, soap-free, mineral-oil-free, sulfate-free and packed with antioxidants hardly scratches the surface of how pure it is. If you're looking for soothed, refreshed, radiant, clarified and soft skin, look no further; this is the one. Follow with the best French moisturizer for the best results!

Which skin type? Amazing for *all* skin types!

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Eau Thermale Cleanance Cleanser by Avene, one of the best French cleansers for oily and problematic skin.

#2 — Eau Thermale Cleanance Cleanser by Avene

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

A soap-free & alcohol-free cleansing gel.

What makes it special? An absolute godsend for those with problematic skin, this soap-free face wash gently cleanses & removes makeup whilst simultaneously reducing excess sebum. It also contains a high concentration of soothing and softening Avene Thermal Spring Water - the primary reason for their spot in our Best French Skincare Brands post.

Which skin type? Perfect for oily, problematic, and acne-prone skin types.

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Galateis Douceur Gentle Cleanser by Lancome, the best French cleanser for normal to combination skin.

#3 — Galateis Douceur Gentle Cleanser by Lancome

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

A gentle face wash in the form of an ultra-light cleansing fluid.

What makes it special? Enriched with papaya and pineapple extract, this luxurious product leaves skin feeling refreshingly hydrated, soft and supple. The lovely, light, milky formula removes foundation, blusher, eye makeup and all other impurities with incredible efficacy and gentleness, even around the delicate eye area. We *love* it.

Which skin type? Normal to combination skin.

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Hydra-Mineral Cleanser Toning Mousse by Biotherm, the best French face wash for normal to combination skin types.

#4 — Hydra-Mineral Cleansing Mousse by Biotherm

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Our rating: ★★★★

Price: $$$$

A cleansing and toning mousse.

What makes it special? After just seven days of consistent use, your skin appears healthy, and your complexion is radiant. Immediately after cleansing, your skin feels thoroughly cleansed and comfortable. It contains a complex of 70 minerals and balancing zinc to cleanse and soften normal to combination skin without drying it or stripping the moisture barrier.

Which skin type? Normal to combination skin.

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Sebium Purifying Foaming Gel by Bioderma, one of the best French cleansers for oily to combination skin.

#5 — Sebium Purifying Foaming Gel by Bioderma

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Our rating: ★★★★

Price: $$$$

A gel foaming cleanser.

What makes it special? Whilst on the much more affordable end of the spectrum, this cult-favourite achieves very high efficacy for its intended purpose: shine control and purification. With a soap-free cleansing base that mitigates pore-clogging and a sebum secretion limiting formula, you really can't go wrong with this product if you have problematic skin. With that having been said, it is one of the rare few French skincare products that aren't necessarily suitable for sensitive skin, so please be wary.

Which skin type? For oily to combination & acne-prone skin.

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Aqua Reotier Water Gel Cleanser by L'Occitane, one of the best French cleansers for all skin types.

#6 — Aqua Reotier Water Cleanser by L'Occitane

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

A gentle daily gel cleanser.

What makes it special? Enriched with L'Occitane's naturally sourced spring water, it glides under your fingertips and turns into a supple, delicate lather when it touches your skin. With a surge of freshness, it removes impurities built up throughout the day without stripping your skin, leaving it soft and comfortable. It is enriched with calcium-rich Reotier water and removes impurities while leaving skin with a fresh and luminous tone.

Which skin type? It works wonders on all complexions and skin types.

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Purete Thermale Fresh Cleansing Gel by Vichy, one of the best French face washes for all skin types.

#7 — Purete Thermale Fresh Cleansing Gel by Vichy

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

A rich lathering gel cleanser, and the author's 'best French face wash'.

What makes it special? Luxuriously dense, it leaves your complexion feeling extraordinarily refreshed and softened after rinsing - your skin feels velvety and smooth to the touch, without any stickiness or tightness. You would have a hard time convincing me that this isn't a miracle, as even from the first use, it reveals healthier, brighter-looking skin.

Which skin type? More than suitable for sensitive skin, and an absolute delight for normal to combination skin.

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Gentle Milk Cleanser by Avene, one of the best French cleansers for sensitive skin.

#8 — Gentle Milk Cleanser by Avene

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

A creamy, no-rinse milky French face wash.

What makes it special? We chose this product as our preference for the Best French Skincare Routine. The same principles that earned its spot there, of course, apply here too. To summarise, it contains super mild cleansing agents to avoid irritation and cleanses without altering the skin's natural protective barrier. It also contains the previously-mentioned Avene Thermal Spring Water that inimitably soothes and softens skin.

Which skin type? It is a dream come true for those with sensitive skin.

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Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel by La Roche-Posay, one of the best French cleansers for oily skin.

#9 — Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel by La Roche-Posay

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Our rating: ★★★★

Price: $$$$

A purifying foaming gel cleanser.

What makes it special? La Roche-Posay is the #1 acne skincare brand in Europe, so it should come as no surprise that they offer a fantastic cleanser for oily skin. Oil-free, soap-free, paraben-free, alcohol-free, value-sized and dermatologist recommended; yet another amazing product with an incredibly inviting résumé!

Every amazing face wash deserves to be partnered with an equally amazing body wash, look no further than the best French body wash!

Which skin type? For oily skin.

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Water Comfort One-Step Cleanser by Clarins, one of the best French cleansers for dry skin.

#10 — Water Comfort One-Step Cleanser by Clarins

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Our rating: ★★★★

Price: $$$$

A gloriously gentle cleansing water.

What makes it special? In one easy step, this cleansing water gently removes light makeup and impurities without any lather. Remember, no lather implies no soap, which is phenomenal news for your moisture barrier. Our only reservations with this product lie in the fact that it is fragranced; however, this is heavily offset by peach's natural softening and soothing properties.

Which skin type? Dry skin types will fall in love with this.

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Hydra Vegetal Refreshing Gel Cleanser by Yves Rocher, one of the best French cleansers for dehydrated skin.

#11 — Hydra Vegetal Cleanser by Yves Rocher

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Our rating: ★★★★

Price: $$$$

A hydrating, foaming gel cleanser.

What makes it special? Quintessentially French and botanically inspired, this cute little affordable cleanser's primary focus is hydration. Its exclusive extract, Edulis Cellular Water, helps store water in all layers of the skin. It does contain sulfates to provide its sensorial texture, though, so be sure to limit your usage of this product to just once a day to ensure that you aren't stripping your protective barrier.

Which skin type? If your skin is dehydrated you need this in your life.

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Cleansing Almond Milk by Caudalie, one of the best French pharmacy face washes for normal to dry skin and possibly one of the best face cleansers of all time.

#12 — Cleansing Almond Milk by Caudalie

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

A super gentle milk cleanser - possibly one of the best face cleansers of all time.

What makes it special? The texture of this is what makes it such a delight to use. The creamy milk formula is lightweight, so it never feels clogging and it is still extremely effective at breaking down makeup if you want to use it as a first cleanse.

Which skin type? Normal to dry skin types.

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Face Cleansing and Makeup Removing Gel by Nuxe, one of the best French cleansers for sensitive skin.

#13 — Face Cleansing & Makeup Removing Gel by Nuxe

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

A sensorial gel cleanser with a divine scent of honey.

What makes it special? Rêve de Miel Makeup Removing Gel provides a gentle soap-free cleansing delightful experience for your skin, leaving it perfectly free of makeup and any dirt particle. The luxurious texture and wonderful honey scent make it a soothing moment you will indulge into.

Which skin type? Your sensitive skin will love you for this if you are a makeup wearer!

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Sensibio H2O Micellar Water by Bioderma, one of the best French face cleansers for sensitive skin.

#14 — Sensibio H2O Micellar Water by Bioderma

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Our rating: ★★★★

Price: $$$$

A value micellar water cleanser.

What makes it special? Often tossed aside and labelled as just a makeup remover, micellar water is underappreciated as a face wash, but we believe Bioderma's Sensibio H2O might change your view on this. It is absolutely lovely to use throughout a sunny day as a refresher. Of course, it is also the supreme - and cult-favourite - French makeup remover too.

Which skin type? Ideal for sensitive skin.

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One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser by Clarins, one of the best French face washes for exfoliating all skin types.

#15 — Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser by Clarins

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

A scrub and a cleanser in one.

What makes it special? The microbeads are cellulose/organic and environmentally safe. This lovely cleanser/scrub combo is far from being drying to the skin with the addition of shea and orange. This is an excellent product that we cannot recommend enough, but please be conscious of your moisture barrier when massaging the product into your skin - be gentle!

Which skin type? Perfect for all skin types, even the most sensitive, and gentle enough to use every day.

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Eau Thermale XeraCalm Cleansing Oil by Avene, one of the best French skincare cleansers for sensitive skin types.

#16 — XeraCalm Cleansing Oil by Avene

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

A hyper-gentle cleansing oil for extremely sensitive skin.

What makes it special? Cleansing product with intense lipid-replenishing power that gently cleanses and soothes dry skin prone to atopic eczema and itching. The Lipid-replenishing oil leaves skin soft and comfortable – does not sting eyes; can be used during flare-ups; and very good cutaneous, ocular and gynaecological tolerance.

Which skin type? Extremely sensitive, eczema and atopic dermatitis prone skin.

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Purete Thermale One-Step Facial Cleanser by Vichy, the best French face wash for combination skin.

#17 — Purete Thermale One-Step Facial Cleanser by Vichy

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

A 3-in-1 facial cleanser.

What makes it special? Purete Thermale 3-in-1 perfectly cleanses and removes all traces of makeup, dirt and pollution in one simple step. Combines the efficacy of a milk + a toner + an eye make-up remover in a single step. Perfect in the evening, ideal for a busy lifestyle. Leaves skin feeling fresh, soft and soothed.

Which skin type? Combination, sensitive and normal.

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