13 Bomb Cleansers That Will Do Good Things To Your Skin
Cleansing is possibly the most important part of your skincare routine. No amount of great skincare products can make up for a face that has not been well cleansed! Throw out the wipes (better for your skin and the environment), and make sure you’re using one that does the most for your skin and is compatible with your skin type or skin situation.
Your Overview of Cleansers
Oils & balms: We recommend a cleansing oil or balm for everyone because they make THE best first step of your evening skincare routine. Oils are the most effective at breaking down makeup, SPF, and pollution from your skin.
Your evening oil cleanse should be followed by a water-based cleanser that suits your skin type: gel, cream, milk or foam. For your morning cleanse, no need to double cleanse; just use a gentle cleanser that works for you.
Gels: Those with dry or normal skin can look for hydrating, low-foaming formulas; otherwise opt for a more powerful blend with AHAs to deep cleanse.
Creams: These tend not to foam and are typically extremely moisturizing and nourishing. These are great for dry, sensitive, or dehydrated skin.
Foams: Great for deep cleansing, but beware as those that get very foamy can be drying. Avoid cleansers that contain SLS OR SLES, which are foaming agents that can be drying for the skin.
Milks: These are silky and hydrating and make a great option for morning cleanses no matter what your skin type.
The Best Cleansers Your Skin Will Love
Now you know a little more about the types of cleansers on offer, here are 13 of our favorite tried and tested formulas – we’ve literally tried hundreds – that will make a great addition to your skincare routine. For more guidance on choosing a cleanser and our tips for building a cleansing wardrobe, check out our cleansing guide.
Gel: Herbivore Pink Cloud Creamy Jelly Cleanser, $24
Made with rose water and coconut water, this hydrating jelly-gel cleanser is ideal for your morning and second cleanse in the evening. The sulfate-free formula works into a beautiful foam thanks to plant-based surfactants and squalene, which lift dirt and oil to thoroughly cleanse the skin without drying. Additional hydrating ingredients like rose hydrosol, tremella mushroom keep your skin feeling silky soft and soothed.
Balm: Banila Co Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm, $19
Receiving cult status thanks to its super-efficient makeup dissolving formula, this cult K-Beauty cleansing balm cleans deep into pores and makes removing SPF and makeup easy peasy! Melting into an oil-like consistency, the balm soothes with bamboo extract and restores with acerola extract, so your skin never feels dry or tight.
Lotion to oil: The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser, $10
This lotion-like formula transforms into an oily texture when it comes into contact with the skin; however, the formula is actually completely oil- and soap-free and uses gentle surfactants to hydrate and cleanse the skin without stripping. This is a great non-comedogenic formula that works well for all skin types.
Gel: HoliFrog Superior Nutritive Gel Wash, $38
One of our fave face washes, this gently foaming gel is loaded with probiotics, fatty acids, and vitamins to feed the skin and keep it from drying out, thanks to the lack of harsh soaps, suds, fragrance, and drying alcohols. This means skin that feels soft, never squeaky. The formula also boasts skin-conditioning rice extract, fatty acid-rich grapeseed oil to moisturize the skin, omega and antioxidant-loaded broccoli seed oil, nourishing camellia and sea buckthorn seed oil, and apple cider vinegar to help remove impurities.
Butter: WISHFUL Clean Genie Cleansing Butter, $35
The ultimate makeup-removing cleanser for anyone who loves to cake face, whether it’s waterproof or long-wearing – this is the hardest working cleansing butter we’ve ever used! Infused with green tea and malachite, the buttery formula changes from a balm to an oil-like texture, dissolving makeup and impurities while leaving your skin feeling soothed and hydrated. Once fully massaged into the skin, water transforms the formula into a milk that easily washes away, leaving you with fresh, clean, comfortable skin – no greasy film or dry after-feel!
Milk: HoliFrog Tashamoo Water Lily Nourishing Milky Wash, $38
This is a super gentle, skin-calming wash that hydrates and replenishes the skin, making it amazing for stressed-out, over-exfoliated skin, or dehydrated, dry and sensitive skin. The milky formula gently removes debris while leaving your natural hydration intact and adding to it with a flood of 14 amino acids, apricot oil, sunflower seed oil, vitamin E, water lily and lotus – the natural scent is incredible!
Solid Oil + Cream: Pixi X Caroline Hirons Double Cleanse, $24
Created in collaboration with skincare aficionado Caroline Hirons, this 2-in-1 cleanser features a solid cleansing oil on one side and a luxurious cleansing cream on the other for the ultimate double cleanse. As you’d expect from the skincare guru, this is a formula that works magic and boasts some of the best ingredients in the biz: The step one cleansing balm boasts vitamin E, omega-rich camellia oil to nourish and soften, and healing evening primrose oil. The step two cleansing cream is packed with collagen-promoting vitamin C, essential peptides to bolster skin health, and arginine for improved skin elasticity.
Bar: Herbivore Bamboo Charcoal Detoxifying Soap Bar, $12
Not only is this cleansing bar a great eco-friendly buy (no plastic packaging!), it’s also really great for your face and can even double up for your body. This skin-detoxing bar is best for those with oily, congested, and acne-prone skin thanks to its skin-purifying ingredients that tackle these concerns head-on.
It’s formulated with bamboo charcoal to draw out impurities and toxins from deep within your pores with its powerful absorption properties, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory tea tree oil, and skin-balancing bergamot essential oil. The result is deeply cleansed skin that is lightly exfoliated for a smoother, healthier-looking complexion. Use as the second step in your evening cleanse or in the morning.
Gel: Pholk Beauty Glow Replenishing Face Wash, $20
This gently-foaming face cleanser is made with all-natural ingredients that help to soothe, nourish and brighten the skin. It’s so gentle that it’s ideal for dry, sensitive and dehydrated skin types, and we’re obsessed with using this as our morning cleanse. The formula is packed with skin-hydrating ingredients like olive oil, glycerin, jojoba oil, brightening and antioxidant-rich rosehip seed oil, plumping Kentucky hemp seed oil, and brightening rose and rose geranium. A little goes a long way!
Gel: 111Skin Exfolactic Cleanser, $70
Ideal for congested or acne-prone skin types, this exfoliating AHA cleanser resurfaces and clarifies the skin without irritation. Despite being loaded with gently exfoliating lactic and tartaric acid and papaya enzymes, the non-foaming formula is balanced with rosemary and rosa Damascena water to soothe and calm the skin. We love that this isn’t at all harsh and helps calm and restore the skin with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory rosemary while it still targets blemishes and effectively removes impurities. We like to massage it onto dry skin and then rinse away with water for the perfect start to our morning skincare routine.
Oil: Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil, $32
Formulated with a blend of botanical oils, this makeup-removing oil cleanser efficiently removes impurities while never drying the skin. It’s packed with moisturizing squalene, hydrating evening primrose oil, soothing lavender oil and feels so luxurious when massaged into the skin – the scent is amazing for bedtime! Apply three to four pumps on dry skin and watch as it transforms into a milk with water and washes away easily. Follow with a water-based cleanser to complete your double cleanse.
Cream: Kate Somerville Goat Milk Moisturizing Cleanser, $38
If you have sensitive, dry or are prone to redness, this gentle, non-foaming cream cleanser from Kate Somerville is a cult classic. Packed with moisturizing jojoba and avocado oil, nourishing Manuka honey, and of course, goat milk, which is soothing and packed with proteins to replenish the skin, this sulfate-free cleanser relieves tight, uncomfortable and dry skin instantly.