Dermalogica’s Special cleanser has been described using words such as “iconic,” which is perhaps a bit exaggerated, but not too far off. When I first started trying to actually care for my skin, this was one of the products that really helped clear it up. Having a proper face wash that you can use year-round is essential, and luckily there are some alternatives that can save you some money.
The “dupe” product I’ve been using lately is “Simple Kind to Skin Moisturising Facial Wash.” I use the word dupe in quotations because this is a product from Unilever, which is hardly an unknown small brand! However, the product worked very similarly for me, which I’ve been using for a few months now.
What are these types of washes good for?
Lots of face washes can cause issues for people like me who have with sensitive skin. They can be drying, overly abrasive, or too foamy. Another issue I’ve had is that some face washes can be too gentle, where I don’t really feel clean afterward.
I prefer a facial cleanser to be:
- A gel
- Will foam a little but not too much
- Rinses away clean
Dermalogica’s is specifically recommended for people with the following skin types/issues:
- Normal, combination, and oily skin
From their site:
“Soap-free, foaming gel cleanses all skin conditions. Refreshing lather thoroughly removes impurities, without disturbing the skin’s natural moisture balance. Lightweight and mild enough to use every day, it also features calming Balm Mint and Lavender extracts to soothe the skin.”
Let’s compare the ingredients:
Dermalogica (21 total): Water/Aqua/Eau, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Quillaja Saponaria Bark Extract Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Cymbopogon Winterianus Herb Oil, Glycerin, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Coco-Betaine, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Capryloyl Glycine, Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, Methylpropanediol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, PPG-5-Ceteth-20, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA.
Special Kind to Skin (16 total): Water (Eau), Sodium Cocoyl Alaninate, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Decyl Glucoside, Glycerin, Propanediol, Glycol Distearate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Sodium Benzoate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Laureth-4, Capryloyl Glycine, Undecylenoyl Glycine, Panthenol, Polyquaternium-39, Tocopheryl Acetate.
While the makeups are mostly similar, the Dermalogica has some interesting extra ingredients, such as leaf and bark extracts for calming the skin, and fruit-derived oils instead of just citric acid. I found the Dermalogica to be a bit more refreshing, and this is probably why.
How is the Simple Kind?
I found it to be almost as good as Dermalogica, but not quite there. I didn’t have any irritation issues, but did see that some people in reviews have had these issues. It wasn’t drying for me at all, and washed away clean without leaving any residue behind. It’s lightweight and mild, making a light foam as I work it into my skin. Overall it has a nice feel to it! It’s a great pre-cursor to other products I use, such as Briotech spray/toner.
What is interesting is that there seems to have once been a different older formula that some people swear by, despite the second ingredient being Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS), a notorious detergent that can cause irritation. The older formula is still available here.
Here is how the pricing compares:
Here is how the prices match up per ounce:
- Simple: $1.46 per oz for the 5 oz. size
- Dermalogica: $7.06/oz. with the 1.7oz., $4.70/oz. with the 8.4oz., and $3.79 for the 16.9 oz.size.
While the Dermalogica is objectively more, it becomes less at the largest volume. Even at the larger volume, it still cost 2.6X as much as the Simple brand.
Worth a try since it cost so much less
This is my current facewash that I’ve been using for three plus months. It’s not quite as good, but for me is close enough to the real thing.
My skin is very sensitive, but I find this to be non-irritating and does a good job keeping my face clean and clear.
The bottle isn’t the highest quality, and can be annoying to use when it’s almost empty.
Some people with darker skin have had irritation issues, which I can’t verify myself.
- Foams but not too much
- Washes away clean
- Fragrance free
- Non irritating for me
- Packaging/bottle design
- Reviews are confusing, since there seems to be a new version and some mismatched/old reviews
More expensive and slightly better with calming ingredients
This is the facewash that showed me what a facewash can be.
It’s extra calming, and has a feel to it that nothing else quite has. This is due to the extra ingredient, which is part of why this is more expensive.
If you’ve never used it, perhaps try the smaller size first. But if you like it and want to continue, the larger size is the smart buy for saving money.
- Calming ingredients
- Great feel
- Washes away clean
- Nicer bottle
- Fragrance free
- Non irritating for most
I did find some customers to have packaging issues when buying from Amazon, such as broken seals. However, you can buy this direct from Dermalogica.
So which wins?
Since the Dermalogica is better, but more expensive, I think I have to give this one a tie. I hate ties, and also hate when the end of an articles says things such as “in the end of the day it’s up to preference.” However, on a scale not including price, the Dermalogica would win. If price is more important to you, the Simple wins.
I’m always trying to find ways to save money with skin care, as the costs can really start to add up. The Simple wash has been a good daily driver for me, but I may go back to Dermalogica at some point, or at least add it to a rotation to avoid any irritation build-up over time. If you like Dermalogica, I think the Simple Kind to Skin face wash is a dupe that’s worth trying out.