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Which type of cleanser is right for you?

By Megan Bedford

Which type of cleanser is right for you?
Choosing the right cleanser can turn an everyday habit into an enjoyable ritual and your skin will look all the better for it.

You’ll fork out big bucks on dream creams, masks and serums, but did you know the simplest step may prove the most effective? Cleansing for two minutes, twice a day, can make your skin clearer, smoother and more hydrated. It also increases the effectiveness of other products in your skincare regime. 

But which type should you choose?

Gel or foam cleanser

Try: The Ordinary Glucoside Foaming Cleanser

A classic cleansing option, they providing a satisfying squeaky-clean feel. Ideal for using first thing to freshen your complexion, particularly if you have oily skin they also provide a smooth canvas for makeup. Most have a lightweight texture that easily rinses away which is appealing to many. In the past foaming cleansers were commonly associated with being drying as often lather comes from a strong soap ingredient that can eliminate the skin’s natural oils, leading to sensitivity and blemishes. Newer versions have been reformulated to be more gentle to counteract this issue however. 

Treatment cleansers that are designed for use on skin experiencing acne are usually – but not always – a gel or foam texture.

Cream cleanser

Try: Trilogy Very Gentle Cleansing Cream

Also available in a milk or lotion form, they are soothing for sensitive, dry or dehydrated skin types. Gentle and effective, they generally getting the job done quickly with minimal fuss or excess fragrance which can be useful for those that find added scent can cause irritation.

Oils and balms

Try: Medik8 Lipid-Balance Cleansing Oil or Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm

If it seems counterintuitive to add more oil to your face to clean it, rest assured. Cleansing oils are actually incredibly effective at breaking down SPF and makeup that is designed to provide long wear on skin. They emulsify and rinse away easily with warm water. The best part is the way they leave skin feeling plump and hydrated, rather than stripped, tight or dry. The solid, or balm version, is increasingly popular as a deep cleaning option or to remove heavy or waterproof makeup. To apply, massage onto dry skin, and use warm water and a facecloth to gently wipe away. 

Oil cleansers are suitable for all skin types.

Clay cleanser

Try: Bareminerals Poreless Clay Cleanser

Known for their absorbing power, clay cleansers purify your skin by drawing out excess oil and toxins from your pores. Great for oily skin but they can be drying, so they are less commonly used.

Micellar water

Try: Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water

For touch ups, removing makeup before doing a more comprehensive cleanse or the occasional use after a late night or when travelling, micellar water works wonders. Its a favourite of makeup artists working backstage at fashion shows where colour needs to come off quickly without damaging models’ skin.  Applied with cotton pad, the waters contain one very clever ingredient, micelles, or little molecules that absorb oil and dirt without stripping your skin’s natural moisture barrier. With no need to rinse off, you can hit the hay in no time. 

Micellar water cleansers are generally useful for all skin types.

Face wipes

Try: Nivea Biodegradable Cleansing Wipes

They’re quick, they’re cheap, and they’re convenient. But beware the cleansing frenemy: Many cleansing wipes contain a lot of alcohol, which can dry the skin and in turn actually stimulate oil production. Rubbing at delicate areas like around the eyes may cause damage too. While they won’t take the places of thoroughly washing your face, they’re undoubtedly they’re still a godsend on a late night or when a bathrooms unavailable. Look for a gentle, alcohol free version.

Reusable makeup remover pads or cloths

Try: Face Halo Makeup Removers

These work in a similar manner to cleansing wipes but are more eco-friendly and reusable. Many are made of microfibre that unlike regular cotton, helps remove makeup with just water rather than the need to add additional cleanser. This is largely due to the surface area the tiny fibres provide, creating friction without tugging, that helps break down makeup.

Other reusable clothes and rounds are made of simple cotton to which you apply a makeup remover and then throw in the wash when it has been used.

Because they need to be rubbed over your face they also provide a gentle exfoliation.


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