I started taking my skincare routine a lot more seriously over the last few years and the deeper you get into the skin care world the more you learn about products and the forms they come in. Having combination skin, although a little hindering, allows me to try new products all the time.
I always used to think that cleansers were simply a form of liquid that is put onto a cotton pad used to remove dirt, debris, and make-up on the face. I only learned late in my teenage years that you’re supposed to wash cleansers off the skin after use.
I didn’t even really consider that face washes are types of cleansers too and considered them to be very separate things but that is not the case. However, I am now aware there are many ways to cleanse the skin and many types of cleansers for various skin types and skin situations.
What is a cleanser and what does it do?
Simply put, a cleanser is a skin care product that can be used to remove make-up, dirt, detritus, oils, dead skin cells and/or any other form of debris on the face. Cleansing is usually the first step within a skin care routine and also helps to unclog pores and help reduce excess sebum. Cleansers are a lot more gentle than soap and better for the skin.
Double cleansing is just cleansing twice. First with and make-up remover X oil cleanser and then removing it with warm water to emulsify the cleanser.
This should be followed by using a water-based cleanser to remove remaining impurities and residues that may have been left behind from the oil cleanse.
Types of Cleansers and the ones best for your skin type
Cream cleansers have a thick and creamy consistency with hydrating properties. As well as being hydrating, cream cleansers still remove, dirt, oils, and debris. These cleansers are also known as lotion and milk cleansers. They’re ideal for those with dry skin.
The two lotion cleansers I use are the Clarins Cleansing Milk (£21.00) for normal to dry skin and the 9 to 5 cleansing lotion (£5.50 95g/ £10.50 240g) for the same skin type from Lush. Both of these cleansers are hydrating yet light on the skin. Although they’re in lotion form, they aren’t overbearing. I only use these cleansers when the face is in need of extra hydration and as a second cleanser. Despite having to be washed off after use, I feel like I need a bit of clean canvas before I take that next step in cleansing as these leave my face feeling deeply moisturised.
Foaming cleansers are one of the first types I used when I first began learning about skin care. I liked the idea of it and it sounded interesting. Foaming cleansers are lightweight and easy to apply to the skin. They start off as a hallow cream/gel and quickly transform into a foam. Foaming cleansers are ideal for oily and combination skin.Cleansers
The first cleanser I ever used properly was the Tea Tree Skin Clearing Foaming Cleanser. (£6.00) This one has always helped me with when I have intense breakouts and deeply always manages to leave my skin feeling smoother after. Although this cleanser is targeted to those for blemished skin, it is great for reducing excess oils.
A few months ago I discovered the Drops of Youth Gentle Foaming Wash (£9.50). I love this one because it deeply cleanses my skin and contains plant stem cells which encourage cell turnover in the skin which is why it is one of the more expensive foaming washes. In comparison to the Tea Tree cleanser, this one leaves my skin feeling more hydrated. There is more about the Drops of Youth face wash in this post here. >> DROPS OF YOUTH GENTLE FOAM WASH & LIQUID PEEL REVIEW
Gel cleansers come in a see-through gel consistency and are great for deep cleansing. Gel cleansers work really well at getting rid of surface oils and eliminating any bacterias that cause acne. Gel cleansers are great at targeting impurities and preventing future breakouts because of their strong antiseptic properties. Gel cleansers are the best for oily and combination skin. I have a few gel cleansers I have tried and tested over the years and here are the ones that have worked for me.Gel cleansers
I usually use gel cleansers in the evening when I have been wearing make-up and dirt and oils have built up over the day for an extra deep clean feeling.
A recent find in boots was the Garnier SkinActive Purifying Botanical Gel Wash which does an amazing job at cleansing the skin and it’s only £1.74. It is inexpensive and effective and my skin is always free from dirt and oils after using this. This is one cleanser I like using when I have a busy day ahead of me because it’s easy to use. The pump makes it quickly accessible and aids with portion control so you’re not wasting product.
Another recent purchase is B Sparkling Water Cleanser (£6.99) which is Superdrug’s own brand. I was really curious about this one because the gel turns to liquid as soon as it makes contact with the skin. It is rather expensive for a gel cleanser and I only picked it up because it was on sale at the time. It claims to be for all skin types but I would advise against using this if you have sensitive or even dry skin. If you’re interested in this cleanser, there is a full review here. >> B SPARKLING WATER CLEANSER REVIEW
The Body Shops Seaweed Deep Cleansing Gel Wash (£8.00) is one I have had for a while. It’s the most expensive of them all but it works well for oily, blemished and combination skin. It is oil-free and rich in minerals. It has a fresh scent and is another cleanser that is great for deep cleansing without being too harsh on the skin.
I never would have dreamed of touching an oil cleanser because of my oily t-zone but then I discovered double cleansing. Oil cleansers are good for removing make-up, dirt, and debris. It is gentle on the skin and unclogs pores very well. Oil cleansers work well for most skin types. I think with this one it depends on the person and how they feel about oil cleansers. I usually just use extra-virgin olive oil because it is natural, rather inexpensive and multi-purpose.
Olive oil works well for my skin as a cleanser and I am yet to try an oil cleanser that has been produced specifically for cleansing. For example, The Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil (£12.00) which does sound wonderful but extra virgin olive can do just as good a job for me now.Camomile Cleansing Butter
This isn’t exactly an oil cleanser but it’s close. The Camomile Cleansing Butter (£10) from The Body Shop is an oily butter/balm like cleanser that is perfect for removing make-up. It is perfect for sensitive skin and is great for the first part of your double cleanse.
I wash this off with a water-based cleanser after because it still feels like there is a layer of it on when you wash it off with water alone so another cleanser is needed to make sure everything is rinsed off of the face.
I had no idea what micellar cleansers (also known as micellar water) were until I started seeing them in every drugstore in the in my city so naturally, I was curious. Micellar cleansers contain micelles (tiny oil molecules) that pick up dirt, oil, and make-up. They draw out all impurities without making the skin dry. Supposedly, you don’t have to wash micellar cleansers off. However, I use micellar waters in the first step of my cleansing routine and I like to rinse it off with a water-based cleanser. I would say it depends on what your skin has been through that day. For example, whether or not you have been wearing makeup, working out, etc. Micellar cleansers are ideal for dry, sensitive skin, normal skin.Micellar
I haven’t been using micellar cleansers long but I have been loving them so far. The first one I got my hands on was the Garnier Skin Natural Oil-Infused Cleansing Water (£3.99). It has to be shaken first to fuse the oils and water. Although I do have an oily t-zone and this is for dry and sensitive skin, I do love using for the first step of my double cleanse routine. You can feel the oil very subtly on your skin as you remove your make-up, dirt, oils etc. It works very well and my skin.
The next micellar in my cleanser collection is the B. Pure Micellar Water (£4.49). It is very simple and removes make-up just as well as the others. This is one product that is marketed for all skin types that is actually true I would say. Even on the most sensitive, dry and oily parts of my face, it doesn’t feel any different where I apply in the skin. This is one micellar water I would feel comfortable not washing it off too but only if I had not been wearing make-up.
The final cleanser of my collection is the Clarins One Step Facial Cleanser with Orange Extract. (£18.45) I find this to be one of those products that are so subtle that it feels like it’s doing nothing when it is. The scent is amazing and feels fresh. It is rich in plant extracts and your skin feels so clean after use. The best thing about this cleanser is that it protects the skin from pollution too.
And a couple more I have used
When my skin is feeling inflamed or irritated, whether it is my body or face, I will spray on some Avène Thermal Spring Water (£12.99). It is great for cooling down in summer or when on holiday as well as being good as setting spray for make-up. It’s lightweight and has many uses.
Another cleanser (well cleanser/toner) I really love is the Clarins Water Comfort One-Step Cleanser (£18.45). It is a cleanser that can be used as a toner too. It soothes and conditions the skin and is great if you’re in a rush or feeling lazy. It can be used to take off light make-up and removing excess dirt and oils. This may be my favourite by far. This is really good for those who have dry skin and have a tough time finding cleansers that don’t make their skin even drier.
And 3 more types I have never tried…
Bar cleansers are like skin friendly soaps with lower pH levels. They’re rich in nutrients and hydrating. They can be used on face and body and are ideal for oily and combination skin.
Clay cleansers are great for drawing out impurities and targeting blemishes. They deeply cleanse and unclog pores. Clay cleanses are good for oily, combination, normal skin.
I have been seeing powder cleansers a lot recently and I still waiting to find one to try. Powder cleansers are soft and turn into liquid upon contact with water. Powder cleansers also gently exfoliate and can be used every day unlike traditional exfoliators with beads. Powder cleansers are ideal for oily, sensitive skin, normal skin.
How I cleanse my skin
There are so many different skin care routines out there that work in various ways for different people. Here’s how I cleanse my skin on a general everyday level.
Step 1: Removing make – up and excess dirt
First I like to use a light oil cleanser, even if I’m not wearing make-up just to remove any dirt and debris from my face. Recently, I’ve been using Clarins One Step Facial Cleanser with Orange Extract in the morning because it is light and Garnier Skin Natural Oil-Infused Cleansing Water or olive oil in the evening because they’re heavier and better at removing makeup. Once I have finished with these products I rinse my face with lukewarm water.
Step 2 – washing the rest of your face
Next, I move onto a water-based cleanser to remove the remaining oils and dirt from my face. At the moment I use the B Sparkling Water Cleanser in the morning and evening because it seems to be working quite well as a second cleanser for me at the moment. That, and it’s easy to wash off.
Step 3 – Rise and dry
Once I have finished the cleansing part of my routine I pat my face dry and move onto the rest of my routine. (Tone > Essence > Serum > Sheet Mask > Eye Cream > Moisturise > Spf (only in the day))
There are so many cleansers out there to try that it can be a little overwhelming but it is amazing there are so many options for different skin types and forms that it can come in.