In my opinion, the cornerstone of a sound skincare routine lies in the cleanser, and as a self-confessed beauty addict [and long before my musings graced this corner of the Internet] I have tried and tested many a specimen. Way back before I'd even heard of the word 'serum' [and when the idea of using moisturiser or a facial oil would have caused minor palpitations], my skincare routine consisted of just one product - a cleanser [I know, I know]. A good one will do a little bit of everything [moisturising, preventing spots, exfoliating, etc etc], so whilst I'm by no means advocating a one-stop skincare routine, if you keep your regime pared down to a minimum, then a good cleanser is essential. Likewise, if you're new to the whole skincare game, it's a good place to start.
Essentially the virtues of a good cleanser are concurrent, no matter what the category of product. An effective cleanser will leave skin soothed and refreshed whilst preserving natural oil and moisture levels, and will leave it feeling soft and smooth. It goes without saying that anything too abrasive, or anything which leaves your skin feeling tight, dry, or itchy, should probably [read : definitely] end up in the bin. Similarly, some cleansers will have a great formulation, and others will contain a really high alcohol/shea butter/mineral oil content so should also end up in the bin [saying that, mineral oil really isn't as bad as it's made out to be]. The products I have included below are all items I have used and loved myself.
CLEANSING GEL : Probably the first type to spring to mind, and undoubtedly most readily available on the high street. Gel cleansers do get a bit of stick for being drying, but personally I find the texture so refreshing that I can't stomach using anything else come bleary-eyed 6am. For this reason though, I always pick out gel cleansers aimed at dry or sensitive skin [despite the fact that my skin is on the blemish-prone/oily side of normal] as I find them much more nourishing and gentle than their oil-battling counterparts. Gel cleansers are great as you can use them in a rush - they don't need to be left on, and don't require any additional "tools" [although I find they are the best option to pair with my Clarisonic]. TGGrecommends : La Roche-Posay Physiological Cleansing Gel, Aesop Parsley Seed Facial Cleanser*, Kiehls Ultra Facial Cleanser, La Roche-Posay Effaclar Cleansing Gel*, Eucerin Cleansing Gel.
CLEANSING FOAM : Even more notoriously drying than the above, the cleansing foam is the infamous black sheep of the skincare family. I would definitely advise against using one if you have dry skin. Whilst I would avoid the majority of high-street/budget offerings, some specialist skincare brands have formulated some really lovely options. Gentle, calming, and ultimately refreshing. I have to say, come summer I'm always tempted. TGGrecommends : Jurlique Herbal Recovery Antioxidant Cleanser*, REN Centifolia Foaming Cleanser.
CLEANSING MOUSSE : Somewhere between foam, gel, and cream sits the [oft overlooked] cleansing mousse. A silky soft weightless offering which provides a really gentle [but by no means cursory] cleanse without stripping the skin. TGGrecommends : Racinne Ultimate Hydra Gentle Cleansing Mousse*, Dead Sea Spa Magik Gentle Cleansing Facial Wash, DHC Pore Face Wash*.
CLEANSING CREAM : Ideal for dry skin, for removing makeup, and for winter use - a cleansing cream is generally a gentler, more nourishing alternative to the above. Usually a fairly thick texture which you can spend time massaging into your skin, leave on for a few moments, and then remove with a warm flannel or muslin cloth. Cleansing creams can be very softening and moisturising, and are usually very effective at breaking down makeup - especially when left on for a few minutes. TGGrecommends : Jurlique Moisturising Cleanser*, Antipodes Grace Gentle Cream Cleanser*, Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish, REN Centifolia Hot Cloth Cleanser*, Soap & Glory The Ultimelt Hot Cloth Cleanser, The Body Shop Pomegranate Softening Cleanser.
CLEANSINGLOTION : A tad old-fashioned to some, I'm personally a huge huge fan of cleansing lotions and use one every night [see below, Avene]. A cleansing lotion boasts a light creamy texture [some are milkier than others], which are best removed with a cotton pad [I soak mine in toner to kill two birds with one stone]. Probably the most gentle and 'non-disturbing' of the lot - which is why I use mine before bed, after already having removed my makeup with a micellar water/cleansing balm combo some hours before. Highly effective at removing those last pesky traces of makeup, and usually gentle enough to use on your eyes if you have any lingering mascara. This is also what I reach for after a no-makeup day. TGGrecommends : Avene Extremely Gentle Cleanser, Lush 9 to 5 Cleansing Lotion, Radical Hydrating Cleanser*.
CLEANSING WATER : In my opinion, a cleansing water should be seen as a makeup remover, rather than a cleanser in it's own right. Don't get me wrong, they're fantastic, and truly remove makeup with a prowess like no other, but there's not really enough to them to warrant using only a cleansing water day and night. A few cotton pads soaked in a cleansing water is great way to remove the majority of your makeup [including eye makeup - most are super gentle], but I always follow up use with a second cleanser [usually one of the two below]. TGGrecommends : Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water, Bioderma Sensibo H20, Eucerin Micellar Cleansing Water*, L'Oreal Micellar Solution.
CLEANSING BALM : The ideal second-cleanse candidate, a cleansing balm provides a rich, nourishing cleanse without disturbing the skin's natural barrier of oil and moisture at all. You'll also find that most are rich in essential oils so inject rather than remove moisture from your skin. Most balms are near solid in form and melt into an oil upon application, making for a sensual and luxurious cleansing experience [ideal facial massage material]. TGGrecommends : RMK Cleansing Balm, No7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm, Eve Lom Cleanser*, Sarah Chapman Skinesis Ultimate Cleanse*, The Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter.
CLEANSING OIL : Essentially, the above in liquid form. Slightly messier as they do tend to be very loose and silky in consistency, but by no means less effective. TGGrecommends : The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil,DHC Pore Cleansing Oil*, Una Brennan Superfacialist Cleansing Oil.
I think that's everything covered, but if you come across a product which claims to be a "pomade", "jelly", or "butter", it's most likely one of the above.
Which types of cleanser do you prefer?