Which cleanser is right for your skin?

Updated: Mar 31

Cleansing is a staple step in every skin care regime, however it can be confusing knowing what's the right cleanser for your skin. There are so many different types of cleanser on the market, each of varying forms and containing a multitude of different ingredients that work in different ways. To help you find the best cleanser for you, we've taken a look at a variety of types and who they will work best for, and included some of our personal favourites.

Cleansing is the first step in every skin care regime and is an easy, hassle free step to take to keep your skin in good condition.

It's important to choose the right cleanser for your skin keep it well balanced, so let's take a look at the different types available and how they work on different types of skin.

Oil based cleansers

An oil or oil based cleanser is fantastic in removing any heavy duty make-up and sunscreen. The oils work thoroughly to remove any built up surface dirt and grime to leave the skin fresh and clean.

Oil based cleansers work more effectively from the surfactants in your standard cleansers which is what makes them perfect for make-up wearers. Using an oil based cleanser works better than the harsh soaps and cleansing detergents which can strip the natural skin barrier, leaving your skin open to breakouts and irritation.

Oil based cleansers contain an emulsifying ingredient, so when mixed with water, the emulsifier is activated turning the oil into a milky emulsion, which is then really easy to remove with water or a cleansing cloth.

TOP TIP: An oil based cleanser is generally okay to use around the eyes and to remove eye make-up, just make sure you choose one that is fragrance free and always check the ingredients. A common misconception is that using an oil on oily skin will in turn create even oilier skin - but that's just not true. Oil attracts oil, and so a good oil based cleanser will attract the oil and debris sitting on your skin to unclog pores and help clarity of skin.

Our favourites

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil 200ml

justmylook.com - £19.99*

Super Facialist Vitamin C + Brightening Cleansing Oil 200ml

superfacialist.co.uk - £7.70*

Face wipes

Face wipes are the bane of a skin experts life. They do not do enough to properly remove make-up, bacteria and daily dirt from the skin, and these things, if not removed properly, mean your skin doesn't get the opportunity to regenerate as it should.

Long story short….. Use something else.

TOP TIP: If you use face wipes due to having little time for skin care, choose a micellar water cleanser instead. Grab a sealable container and some big cotton pads. Dampen the pads, then add some micellar and pop in the container and seal. When you need to reach for the face wipe, grab a pre-made micellar pad instead.

Micellar water cleansers

Micellar water cleansers burst onto the skincare scene some years ago now and are a great quick cleanse for those who have little time or want to initially remove make-up before using a more luxurious cleanser.

Based on micellar technology, micellar cleansers work by encapsulating the dirt and make-up so when you remove it there is no trace left, meaning any further products get the chance to work better on the skin.

Micellar cleansers are great at clearing out pores and help to keep skin hydrated and free from irritation.

TOP TIP: Keep your micellar water in the fridge in the warmer months for a refreshing cleanse.

Our favourites

Drunk Elephant E-Rase Milki Micellar Water 100ml

spacenk.com - £12.00*

ESPA Purifying Micellar Cleanser 200ml

espaskincare.com - £27*

La Roche-Posay Micellar Water 200ml

laroche-posay.co.uk - £12.50*

Cream and milky cleansers

A good choice for mature and dry skin types, cream and milky cleansers have a softer texture and especially with creams, are thicker too. They help to keep the skin hydrated and nourished whilst cleaning the pores. They are a great choice for sensitive or sensitised skins as these cleansers do not strip the skin of it’s natural oils. By keeping the skin's barrier intact, these cleansers work to protect the skin from irritation and inflammation.

TOP TIP: Warm your cream or milky cleanser into your hands before applying to the face.

Our favourites

First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser 141.7g

feelunique.com - £16.90*

Medik8 Cream Cleanse 175ml

medik8.com - £18*

Toleriane Dermo Cleanser by La Roche-Posay 200ml

laroche-posay.co.uk - £12.50*

Cleansing balms

A good cleansing balm works well for normal, dry and very dry skin. Rich in texture, yet lightweight, cleansing balms hold similar properties to oil based cleansers but are more solidified.

The rich texture melts make-up and impurities away whilst leaving the skin hydrated, nourished and deeply cleansed. Balms are sometimes emulsified with water to create a milky texture (much like oil cleansers) and most are to be removed with a cleansing cloth.

TOP TIP: Pop the balm on and leave on for a few minutes before rinsing off for extra hydration.

Our favourites

Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm 105g

Lookfantastic.com - £44*

This Elemis cleansing balm is a fantastic product and an anti-ageing wonder. It comes in its original form (as shown above), as well as a beautiful rose version and a naked version that is fragrance-free - perfect for those with a sensitive skin!

Heimish All Clean Balm

beautyandseoul.co.uk - £15*

This cult classic is perfect for use in a double cleanse. Read our blog on double-cleansing here.

Gel cleanser

Typically a gel cleanser is a rinse off product perfect for normal, combination, oily and acne prone skin types. A gel cleanser is great for a lightweight, hydrating and deep cleansing step in your regime, leaving you feeling fresh, glowing and hydrated.

Designed for a deeper cleanse, the gel cleanser is perfect for a second or PM cleanse to remove make-up and that everyday dirt and grime our skin attracts. The great thing about a gel cleanser is that it works without stripping the skin of its natural oils.

TOP TIP: A gel cleanser is a great choice for when holidaying in warmer climates, especially if you can pop it in the fridge.

Our favourites

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser

glossier.com - £15*

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Cleansing Gel

laroche-posay.co.uk - £12.50*

Clay based cleansers

Clay is a must have skincare ingredient for those who suffer from oily skin. Clay cleansers have a mattifying effect and work hard to unclog pores, remove excess oils and toxins from the skin.

Not great for removing makeup, clay cleansers are best for that second cleanse or for those who are make-up free.

TOP TIP: There is no harm in having this as a staple item for hormonal changes to the skin. Use it when suffering from hormonal breakouts (usually on the chin area) to help clear the skin fast.

Our favourites

Botanical Lab Indian Clay Non-Foaming Anti-Blemish Cleanser 200ml

botanicallab.com - £6.99*

An absolute favourite of our Spa Director, Anne, as it helps keep her skin blemish and oil free.

Omorovicza Moor Cream Cleanser 150ml

omorovicza.co.uk - £56*

Foaming cleansers

Many people prefer a foaming cleanser as it gives that ‘squeaky clean’ feel and offers a lightweight cleanse that thoroughly cleans the skin. They can work to removing excess oils and grime from the face whilst being super hydrating and easy to use for either an AM or PM cleanse.

Foaming cleansers need to be lathered and removed with water, and are great for the second cleanse in a double cleanse routine.

TOP TIP: Foaming cleansers are a great to massage n then jump in the shower and rinse off, quick and easy.

Our favourites

Dr Barbara Sturm Enzyme Cleanser 75g

drstrum.com - £50.00*

Cerave Hydrating Facial Cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin 236ml

boots.com - £9.50*

The key to starting your skincare regime correctly is ensuring you choose the right cleanser for your skin, but remember, with seasonal changes, medication, hormonal changes, and lifestyle changes, our skin changes too, so always make sure you know what your skin needs before using the same cleanser throughout the year.

*Product pricing correct at the time our blog article was originally published on 24/03/21. Products listed are purely our recommendations and are not being promoted as part of paid advertising or affiliate marketing.

To find out more about the importance of cleansing, read our blog on double-cleansing.

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