young female washing face at a sink

Foaming, gel, rinse off, wipe off, micellar and cream — cleansers come in so many guises that finding the right one for your skin type isn’t always easy. And then there’s double cleansing, muslin cloths and multi-cleansing (yes that’s really a thing, applying different textures to different areas of the face); it’s no wonder people get confused when it comes to choosing what’s right for them. “It’s vital that we cleanse daily to help remove skin-ageing pollutants which can cause pigmentation and free-radical damage,” says skincare expert Emma Hardie. Here’s all you need to know on your quest to finding your perfect cleanser…

Cleansing balms

What are they? Rich, nourishing balms that do double-duty to thoroughly clean your skin while topping up moisture levels.

Great for: Most skin types, especially dry.

You’ll either like this texture or you won’t, but they are brilliant at removing makeup at the end of the day in particular. Look for any containing citrus extracts or soothing ingredients like chamomile which will help calm skin down as you cleanse. As an added bonus, these additions will also have spa-like results on your mood. Use alone or as a second cleansing option.

Micellar waters

What are they? French pharmacies and Fashion Week put these skin saviours on the beauty map. They remove makeup and clean the skin without the need for rinsing.

Great for: Young and sensitive skin.

“These are so quick and easy to use but as you wipe and not rinse them off I would always suggest using as your first cleanse and follow with a more deeply nourishing version,” says Hardie. If you’re short on time or travelling and need a hardworking yet efficient option, micellar waters are hard to beat.

Exfoliating cleansers

What are they? 2-in-1 powerhouses that combine your cleanser with an exfoliating scrub to really lift off dead skin cells that leave your skin lacklustre.

Great for: Acne prone skin.

While you can take your pick from granular versions versus acid versions, the pros all favour the latter. “I love ingredients like glycolic and salicylic acid for clearing pores and helping to dislodge excess oil and dirt – they are superstars when it comes to clearing up acne,” says Dr Dennis Gross, Dermatologist and Founder of Dr Dennis Gross Skincare. “Follow with a product rich in ‘bisabolol’ to reduce redness and inflammation.” Use any time, but if you use in the morning follow with a broad spectrum SPF as acids can increase sensitivity to the sun.

Foaming cleansers

What are they? Whether you opt for a gel that lathers into a foam or a pump-to-foam formula, these heavy-duty cleansers provide a more intense clean.

Great for: Oily and combination skin.

According to Dr Dennis Gross, these are just brilliant for this skin type. “They remove oil and prevent the future build-up of oil and dirt, but won’t dry or strip it,” he says. “The key thing to look for is a cleanser that contains the right ingredients, like antioxidant-rich green tea extract to protect against free radicals.”

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