As sad as it may sound, I absolutely love buying skincare products, and cleansers are my go to purchase when I'm feeling the need to spend. I'm a big believer in dealing with blemishes and skin problems instead of covering them up, and I'd much rather buy a new cleanser or mask than a foundation or concealer. My skin has improved so much in the past year that I feel much more comfortable wearing makeup now, and despite having a tried and tested skincare regime I continue to try out new cleansers. Here are my trusted favourites along with a few old haunts, and some newbies I've recently welcomed to the fold.
Neutrogena 'Advanced Solutions Skin Polishing Acne Cleanser' - $19.97
I actually picked this up last time I was in the States, and despite hunting everywhere for it in the UK, have never found it. Neutrogena doesn't even hold a similar or rebranded version of this which really surprised me and I've never felt that their UK range lived up to the standard of this cleanser. I had pretty troublesome skin at this point in my life and this really helped to clear it up. However, it didn't really prevent future breakouts and I suspect was a little harsh for my sensitive skin. I occasionally use this to mix things up and would recommend it as a short-term step towards clearer skin.
L'Occitane 'Foaming Rice Cleanser' (travel edition) - £15
I love this range from L'Occitance, it smells delicious and applies beautifully. At the time I used this I think it probably wasn't strong enough for my problematic skin, but I would definitely reuse it now as it is a really gentle formula. Great for those who are recovering from problem skin and want to keep blemishes at bay.
Organic Surge 'Daily Care Face Wash' - £5.49
A bloggers favourite, I was expecting this product to be a little on the pricey side so was surprised to see that it was under £10! If you're looking to buy a high-end cleanser but don't want to break the bank then this is perfect. It's a really gentle, natural cleanser and despite that fact that the bottle emphasises it's moisturising properties, doesn't leave your skin looking or feeling oily. In terms of the scent, texture, and application this is really similar to the Neal's Yard cleanser (see below), but much cheaper!
Lush '9 to 5 Cleansing Lotion' - £9.25
9 to 5 is unique in that it is a cream cleanser so is really gentle and easy to apply and remove, making it perfect for sensitive skin and for using on the go. It is also a great makeup remover so I tend to use this in the evenings and wipe it off with a cotton pad and toner. One of my holy grail skincare products, perfect for skin that has suffered at the hands of overly harsh drugstore skincare.
Lush 'Fresh Farmacy Facial Soap' - £4.70
Another product which has reached holy grail status for me. I credit this cleanser with being one of my skin saviours and have used it religiously every morning for the past eighteen months. This is a really gentle cleanser so isn't too harsh and drying but works effectively at clearing skin and preventing breakouts. Plus it lasts for ages and is perfect for travelling. I cannot recommend it enough!
Lush 'Angels on Bare Skin Fresh Cleanser' - £6.25
Another Lush product (surprise surprise)! This is probably the most natural cleanser I have ever used, and according to Lush is based on an ancient medieval formula. It is an exfoliating scrub so as I have sensitive skin I only tend to use this two or three times a week, although it is really gentle and doesn't irritate my skin as most exfoliating cleansers do. It leaves my skin feeling really matte and smooth.
Neals Yard 'Rose Facial Wash' - £15.50
This cleanser is not targeted to a specific skin type but is a general good all-rounder. I tend to use it in the winter when my skin is in need of some moisture. It is a perfect product for those who have sensitive skin and want to use something that is moisturising but that won't leave your skin too oily. It leaves my skin feeling lovely and soft after use.
Soap & Glory 'Fab Pore Hot Cloth Cleanser' - £10
I've mentioned this product before so won't go into too much detail. I've been using this product for a couple of months and absolutely love it. I don't use it every day as it is a little drying but I love how smooth and clean this makes my face feel, and have definitely noticed the redness in my skin looking a lot less noticeable than usual.
La Roche-Posay 'Effaclar H Dermo-Soothing Deep Cleansing Foam' - £9
I'm a huge fan of La Roche-Posay skincare, and can't live without applying the famous Effaclar Duo to my face twice a day, so I thought I'd give one of their cleansers a try. This is a mousse so is easy to apply and gentle on the skin, it leaves my skin feeling well cleansed but not too dry or tight. I haven't really used this enough to see the long-term effects but would recommend it to anyone who wants a cleanser that is suited for oily skin but that isn't harsh and drying.
Clinique 'Anti-Blemish Solutions Cleansing Foam' - £14.50
I've never used this product but I've decided to include it as a kind of warning. Stay away from Clinique! Their products are incredibly harsh and drying, meaning that whilst they may clear your spots, they will leave your skin severely scarred. Clearing scars can be just as tough a problem as clearing spots, and will take a long long time. I don't know how anyone can feel comfortable applying this to their skin, stay away from products that a) foam, and b) stink of alcohol.
Kiehls 'Ultra Facial Cleanser' - £8.50
This is my most recent purchase and as I have been using it for only a few weeks, I can't comment on it's long-term effects. This is a general facial cleanser for all skin-types and so isn't aimed especially at targeting spots. However as my skin is presently clearer and more settled than it has ever been I wanted a cleanser that I could use at the times when blemish clearing isn't necessary. The product has an unusual texture, gel-like and almost sticky. A little goes a long way, a pea-sized amount creates a thick lather which covers my whole face and washes away easily. It leaves my skin feeling matte and smooth but ever so slightly too dry, so I wouldn't use this product on a day-to-day basis.
I think the biggest lesson I have learnt from looking back over my cleanser purchases is that I was a little too harsh on my skin even whilst it was at it's worst, and that in applying overly drying, harsh products I was aggravating my skin and causing yet more breakouts. Obviously stronger products are ideal for acne sufferers but if you have sensitive skin then avoid targeted spot treatments and opt for mild, gentle cleansers. It really is worth paying a little extra to avoid high street/drugstore products, which are usually really strong and full of cheap ingredients and alcohol. It's also important to remember that applying overly drying products to oily skin will in fact increase oil production, so always remember to moisturise!