Skin
April 01, 2021
by Danielle Gay

Literally Every Different Type Of Cleanser, Explained

by Danielle Gay

And yes, we’ll tell you how to find the best cleanser for your skin type.

Milk, gels, creams or balms? Oh my!

There sure are a lot of different types of cleansers. If you’ve ever found yourself staring into the cleanser abyss trying to make sense of what the different formulations can offer, then this guide is for you. And, TBH: same! It can be really hard to find the best cleanser for your skin type. That’s why we enlisted the help of Dr Cara McDonald, Dermatologist (MBBS, BMEDSCI, MPH, FACD) at Complete Skin Specialists in Melbourne. But first, let’s go back to basics.

“A cleanser is simply a product which is used on the skin to help remove the normal accumulation of old skin cells, oils, makeup, sunscreen and even pollution,” explains Dr Cara McDonald. “Most people enjoy the feeling of being clean. It’s refreshing and invigorating, and the process of cleansing can be quite enjoyable. For those of us that use sunscreen or makeup on the face, it is certainly recommended to use a cleanser to remove this at the end of the day.”

Aside from that squeaky-clean feeling, cleansing can also help prepare your skin for the following steps in your routine, allowing active skincare ingredients to absorb more efficiently. “Cleansers can also be helpful to hydrate and protect the skin, if chosen carefully and can be less harsh and drying than water alone,” says Dr McDonald.

But, plot twist: Dr McDonald also says that not all skin types will require a cleanser. “Washing the skin with water alone may suit some skin types if the water is naturally soft and pure and there is no need to remove products or significant debris on the skin. The skin will naturally adapt to the amount of cleansing to produce the correct amount of oil to protect the skin and in some cases, cleansing can cause increased dryness and breakouts rather than reduce them.”

With that in mind, it’s important to find your perfect match, so here’s your foolproof list of every type of cleanser, decoded.

How to find the right cleanser for your skin type

“Choosing the right cleanser for any given skin type should be very simple yet can seem extraordinarily complicated,” admits Dr Cara. “The difficulty is that the type of cleanser, such as gel, foam, cream or oil does not necessarily give all the information required to select the right cleanser for a specific skin type or concern.”

The good news? Most skin types will benefit from a cream cleanser, which will help to hydrate the skin while removing any general build up like leftover skincare products or debris. So, when in doubt, opt for cream. 

“Those with sensitive skin should select their cleanser carefully and avoid fragrances and other irritating ingredients that may be found in products designed for acne or oily skin,” says Dr Cara. 

“If you have quite dirty or greasy skin or use heavy makeup, SPF and skincare products, then you may need an oil-based cleanser to lift these off. This is typically followed by a lighter cream or gel cleanser to remove the remnants of the oil cleanse. This is known as double cleansing.”

As for those with super oily skin or significant congestion? “They may benefit from cleansers with active ingredients that are designed to penetrate deep into the pores thereby reducing congestion and acne. Nobody really benefits from a harsh, stripping or drying soap-based cleanser but fortunately these products are becoming uncommon on the market.” 

Most importantly, Dr Cara reminds us that cleansing should be an enjoyable process. The right cleanser shouldn’t leave your skin feeling tight or dry and it shouldn’t irritate the skin. If it’s doing that? “That’s a sign of over-cleansing or the wrong product for your skin type.”

Gel And Foam Cleansers

“Gel and foam cleanses were traditionally thought to be more drying and suitable for oily skin types, but newer foaming ingredients are gentler and won’t tend to strip the skin. It is more important to check whether the cleanser is designed for oily versus sensitive skin rather than focus specifically on whether they are foaming.”

Try this gel cleanser: Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel 30ml, $18.50

Try this foam cleanser: Clarins Gentle Foaming Soothing Cleanser, $42

 

Cream And Milk Cleansers

“Cream cleansers should be the go-to cleanser for a standard hydrating cleanse and are suitable for all skin types. A common misconception is that those with oily or acne prone skin should not use a cream cleanser, but in fact all skin needs to be protected and nourished as excessive cleansing and drying of the skin can increase inflammation and breakouts.”

Try this cream cleanser: Elemis Pro-Radiance Cream Cleanser, $75

Try this milk cleanser: Milk Makeup Vegan Milk Cleanser, $46

 

Oil Cleansers

“Oil cleansers are particularly good for breaking up and lifting of makeup and heavy skincare creams and products. They will also remove waterproof makeup without drying out the skin. In most cases people prefer to use a second lighter cream or gel-based cleanser to remove the oil cleanser left on the skin.”

Try this oil cleanser: Emma Lewisham Illuminating Oil Cleanser, $72

 

Powder Cleansers

“Powder cleanses are less common and require mixing with water to control the concentration and consistency before use. They can be used for deep cleansing and exfoliating and removing heavy products from the skin.”

Try this powder cleanser: Rodin Olio Lusso Facial Cleansing Powder, $68

 

Micellar Waters

“Micellar waters are a light facial cleanser with the consistency of water. They contain tiny micelles which are suspended, oil-based molecules that help lift and remove products and debris from the skin. They are generally used to remove remnants of makeup or refresh the skin when a full cleanse is not required.”

Try this micellar water cleanser: Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micelle Solution 500ml, $29.99 

 

Bar Cleansers

“Bar cleansers were traditionally soap bars which dissolve oil and grease effectively but have an alkaline pH and are excessively drying on the skin. Soap-free facial bar cleansers are now available and are typically used by those who find it difficult to move away from a traditional soap cleaning routine but need to avoid the dryness and skin irritation that can be associated with this.”

Try this bar cleanser: Drunk Elephant Pekee Bar, $43

There sure are a lot of different types of cleansers. If you’ve ever found yourself staring into the cleanser abyss trying to make sense of what the different formulations can offer, then this guide is for you. And, TBH: same! It can be really hard to find the best cleanser for your skin type. That’s why we enlisted the help of Dr Cara McDonald, Dermatologist (MBBS, BMEDSCI, MPH, FACD) at Complete Skin Specialists in Melbourne. But first, let’s go back to basics.

“A cleanser is simply a product which is used on the skin to help remove the normal accumulation of old skin cells, oils, makeup, sunscreen and even pollution,” explains Dr Cara McDonald. “Most people enjoy the feeling of being clean. It’s refreshing and invigorating, and the process of cleansing can be quite enjoyable. For those of us that use sunscreen or makeup on the face, it is certainly recommended to use a cleanser to remove this at the end of the day.”

Aside from that squeaky-clean feeling, cleansing can also help prepare your skin for the following steps in your routine, allowing active skincare ingredients to absorb more efficiently. “Cleansers can also be helpful to hydrate and protect the skin, if chosen carefully and can be less harsh and drying than water alone,” says Dr McDonald.

But, plot twist: Dr McDonald also says that not all skin types will require a cleanser. “Washing the skin with water alone may suit some skin types if the water is naturally soft and pure and there is no need to remove products or significant debris on the skin. The skin will naturally adapt to the amount of cleansing to produce the correct amount of oil to protect the skin and in some cases, cleansing can cause increased dryness and breakouts rather than reduce them.”

With that in mind, it’s important to find your perfect match, so here’s your foolproof list of every type of cleanser, decoded.

How to find the right cleanser for your skin type

“Choosing the right cleanser for any given skin type should be very simple yet can seem extraordinarily complicated,” admits Dr Cara. “The difficulty is that the type of cleanser, such as gel, foam, cream or oil does not necessarily give all the information required to select the right cleanser for a specific skin type or concern.”

The good news? Most skin types will benefit from a cream cleanser, which will help to hydrate the skin while removing any general build up like leftover skincare products or debris. So, when in doubt, opt for cream. 

“Those with sensitive skin should select their cleanser carefully and avoid fragrances and other irritating ingredients that may be found in products designed for acne or oily skin,” says Dr Cara. 

“If you have quite dirty or greasy skin or use heavy makeup, SPF and skincare products, then you may need an oil-based cleanser to lift these off. This is typically followed by a lighter cream or gel cleanser to remove the remnants of the oil cleanse. This is known as double cleansing.”

As for those with super oily skin or significant congestion? “They may benefit from cleansers with active ingredients that are designed to penetrate deep into the pores thereby reducing congestion and acne. Nobody really benefits from a harsh, stripping or drying soap-based cleanser but fortunately these products are becoming uncommon on the market.” 

Most importantly, Dr Cara reminds us that cleansing should be an enjoyable process. The right cleanser shouldn’t leave your skin feeling tight or dry and it shouldn’t irritate the skin. If it’s doing that? “That’s a sign of over-cleansing or the wrong product for your skin type.”

Gel And Foam Cleansers

“Gel and foam cleanses were traditionally thought to be more drying and suitable for oily skin types, but newer foaming ingredients are gentler and won’t tend to strip the skin. It is more important to check whether the cleanser is designed for oily versus sensitive skin rather than focus specifically on whether they are foaming.”

Try this gel cleanser: Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel 30ml, $18.50

Try this foam cleanser: Clarins Gentle Foaming Soothing Cleanser, $42

 

Cream And Milk Cleansers

“Cream cleansers should be the go-to cleanser for a standard hydrating cleanse and are suitable for all skin types. A common misconception is that those with oily or acne prone skin should not use a cream cleanser, but in fact all skin needs to be protected and nourished as excessive cleansing and drying of the skin can increase inflammation and breakouts.”

Try this cream cleanser: Elemis Pro-Radiance Cream Cleanser, $75

Try this milk cleanser: Milk Makeup Vegan Milk Cleanser, $46

 

Oil Cleansers

“Oil cleansers are particularly good for breaking up and lifting of makeup and heavy skincare creams and products. They will also remove waterproof makeup without drying out the skin. In most cases people prefer to use a second lighter cream or gel-based cleanser to remove the oil cleanser left on the skin.”

Try this oil cleanser: Emma Lewisham Illuminating Oil Cleanser, $72

 

Powder Cleansers

“Powder cleanses are less common and require mixing with water to control the concentration and consistency before use. They can be used for deep cleansing and exfoliating and removing heavy products from the skin.”

Try this powder cleanser: Rodin Olio Lusso Facial Cleansing Powder, $68

 

Micellar Waters

“Micellar waters are a light facial cleanser with the consistency of water. They contain tiny micelles which are suspended, oil-based molecules that help lift and remove products and debris from the skin. They are generally used to remove remnants of makeup or refresh the skin when a full cleanse is not required.”

Try this micellar water cleanser: Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micelle Solution 500ml, $29.99 

 

Bar Cleansers

“Bar cleansers were traditionally soap bars which dissolve oil and grease effectively but have an alkaline pH and are excessively drying on the skin. Soap-free facial bar cleansers are now available and are typically used by those who find it difficult to move away from a traditional soap cleaning routine but need to avoid the dryness and skin irritation that can be associated with this.”

Try this bar cleanser: Drunk Elephant Pekee Bar, $43

Comments

Linda

My go to for a very long time has been SAFFLOWER OIL. After reading this I am going to follow up with Micellar Water.

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