10 Portland-Made Cleansers for Naturally Clean Skin

Local skin-care companies have plenty of gentle options for cleansing, whether you're into oils, wipes, or traditional solutions.

By Allison Jones October 20, 2015

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Image: Allison Jones

According to local skin care expert Heather Wade Mills—who just started offering facials at Loyly’s Northeast location—aggressive facial cleansing "is the number one way people mess with the balance of their skin. Over cleansing and exfoliating disrupts the natural balance of your acid mantle—a protective layer supplied by a combination of water and oil that your skin produces—which is your immune system’s first line of defense. Unless you work in a coal mine, you do not need to be power washing your skin! If your skin feels squeaky clean, tight, and in need of moisturizer immediately after washing, you’re doing too much. Stick to gentle plant milk cleansers or cleansing oils to gently emulsify residue and flush the pores without stripping the acid mantle.” If her advice has you on the hunt for gentle cleansers, search no more—these 9 local brands have you covered.

Okamura Farmacopia's Balance Cleanse ($14) and Facial Tonic Oil ($29): Okamura's unisex formulas are organically preserved, full of antioxidants, and moisturizing so they won't dry out your skin. Bonus? Owner and maker Sherry Okamura says the Balance Cleanse "smells like the inside of a cream filled doughnut." Sign us up.

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Portland Apothecary's body-cleansing Sea Soap ($9): The face isn't the only part of your body that could use some hydration, exfoliation, and invigoration! Skip the drying drugstore soap in favor of this handmade cleansing bar powered by sea salt, seaweed, and eucalyptus.

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Urban Oreganics Bare Cleansing Grains ($22): An unscented mix of kaolin clay and gluten-free oats offers a mild, anti-inflammatory cleansing alternative for folks who want to stay soap-free. Simply add water for a daily cleanser or mash with avocado for a soothing, gently exfoliating mask.  

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Image: Pacifica

Pacifica's new Kale Detox Deep Cleaning Face Wash ($10) and Instant Karma Facial Cleansing Oil ($16): Kale to the rescue (again!) This tingly cleanser uses green phytonutrients like kale, seaweed, and blue seakale along with mangosteen and coconut water to gently deep clean without the use of silicone, animal ingredients, petroleum, parabens, or phthalates. Want to try the oil cleansing method? Pacifica's blend of sunflower, avocado, jojoba, aran, olive, and sweet almond oil will nourish and clean your skin without harming its natural barrier. 

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The Portland Girl's Green Goddess Cleanser ($26): This signature cleanser from NE Portland's sugaring studio is a creamy blend of ingredients like chamomile, green tea, and lavender that help to feed and nourish the skin as opposed to strip it. Owner and skin care expert Anna Long explains why a gentle cleanser is always a good choice: "People often associate 'squeaky clean' with a good cleanser, however most cleansers use harsh surfactants to strip the skin of natural oils that help the skin to maintain its natural pH balance. When the skin gets stripped, it creates more oil to make up for what it lost causing people to get in a frustrating cycle of over-cleaning and then seeing even more oil production because of it!"

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Dzialo Skin Care's Clara Cleanser ($28): While much of the skin care world pushes fruit acid peels, gritty exfoliants, lasers, and drying cleansers, Dzialo’s skin gospel is simple but revolutionary: Never rub the skin on your face. According to Dzialo, friction and heat are some of the major causes of acne, rosacea, and early aging—and they can be avoided. 26 years of hands on research went into the creation of this cleanser that's hydrating, soothing, and meant to be gently moved around your skin without any friction. It may sound strange, but the results are worth it.

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Image: Olo

Olo's Cleansing Oil ($45): Known for their perfumes and fragrances, Olo recently expanded their offerings with a new line of soaps, incense, and oils—like this blend of jojoba, rosehip, apricot, and castor oils spiked with seabuckthorn and essential oils. Perfect for normal to dry skin, the oil cleanser is available at Olo's flagship store, Milk Milk Lemonade.
Kensington Apothecary's new Acne Defense Cleanser ($28) and Fresh Lemons Cold Cream ($28): These two new products—boasting blemish-busting willow bark extract and lemons, respectively—are just a few of the fresh additions to Kensington's 100% natural skincare line (from the makers of Valentina’s Home Brewed). The old world-inspired line of facial cleansers, oils, tonics, and serums harnesses the power of organic, raw, and wild-crafted materials, and some of the prettiest packaging around.
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Image: Josh Partee

Spruce Apothecary in Union Way: Although they don't make their own products, this expertly curated collection of high-quality health goods is a must-shop for anyone with a penchant for a pretty (and effective) collection of facial and body care. We tapped Spruce's Silvia Tobler to share three of her favorites:
  • Malin+Goetz Grapefruit Face Cleanser ($32): "A foaming cleanser with grapefruit extract that cleanses and gently purifies. Great for all skin types and both men and women."
  • REN Evercalm Cleansing Milk ($28): "Ideal for dry, sensitive skin, with anti-aging omega oils, and calendula oil (which helps soothe skin). Also does a great job of removing makeup!"
  • Binchotan Facial Cleansing Mask ($48): "This charcoal cleanser can be used as a mask or daily cleanser. It contains Binchotan charcoal powder that releases infrared rays which gently heat the skin, relaxing the skin and opening the pores for a nice, deep cleanse."
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