Cleansers for me, are one of the more complex areas of any skincare routine. On the surface they sound pretty simple, they just cleanse your face. Wrong, there are so many formulations out there that it can be a battlefield. For years, I used a cheap face wash and wipes, they never damaged my skin but they didn't do much good either. Now I've become pretty familiar with the plethora of formulations out there, I thought I would share a run down of my favourites from each category.
These waters have been used by makeup artists for years. They're now dominating the high street making them a lot more accessible than they once were. Even though they're marketed as a cleanser that's not something I personally use them for. As awesome as they are, I don't think they're suitable for being your only form of cleansing. I do think they're perfect for makeup removal though. They remove the bulk of whatever makeup look you might be wearing with ease. You don't have to pull at your skin, just simply wipe away with a cotton pad. My favourite is the Garnier Micellar Water, I think it's almost identical to the classic Bioderma.
When I first divulged into the world of skincare, I went for a cream cleanser. Like many I purchased the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish. I'm currently reliving those days by using the limited edition Cleanse & Polish with Jasmine & Osmanthus*. I think creams are perfect for those who have combination skin, they don't aggravate oils, yet they comfort dry dehydrated complexions. When my skin is having a complete hissy fit, this is what I always return to, as they're so good at tackling a multitude of issues. There are so many available, at all price points, which makes them perfect for those of us who aren't quite clued up on skincare.
For years, I ignored gel cleansers because of the horror stories that I read online. I always thought that they were the devils of the cleansing world. I think it's safe to say that you shouldn't always believe what you hear. Of course, there are some terrible gel formulations out there that do reek havoc on the skin, but others can be amazing for those of us with a more oily complexion. My first foray into the world of gels was the Claudia Louch Chamomille Facial Wash*. One of the more expensive cleansers that I own but this isn't even half finished and I've been using it for 18 months. This is incredibly gentle on the skin & eyes yet it's great for tackling breakouts and inflamed areas, so it's what I tend to use when I'm looking a little more spotty.
A category that is used strictly for my AM cleanse only is something of the lotion variety. They are not items that are amazing for removing remnants of makeup and a whole day of grime. When you've only had your skincare treatments on from the night before and have been asleep, then they're ideal as they're so gentle. The Body Shop Aloe Calming Facial Cleanser* is my favourite. Although kind to the skin, it's amazing at calming redness so again great for breakouts. I find when I use something heavier like a balm in the morning, I tend to breakout as it's just a little too much for my skin.
I was never quite sure about cleansing balms, I just didn't understand how they worked. 90% of them are a thick solid balm consistency and melt into an oil once you start massaging it into your skin. When my skin is behaving in a relatively normal fashion, this is what formula I tend to reach for. They're such a treat to the skin as the oil is so hydrating and luxe, perfect for those evenings that you really treating your skin. The balance Me Cleanse and Smooth Face Balm* won my heart earlier in the year. It contains small exfoliating particles that are perfect for those of us who like a little bit of an exfoliation throw in with our cleansing routine. Although it exfoliates, it's still gentle to the skin but beware of over-use and breaking those capillaries around your nose. Balms aren't a formula for everybody, some people find them far too heavy for their skin. It's all trial and error with skincare, so what works for me might not work for you.