When considering your skincare routine, cleansing is not only the first step, it’s also the most important one. In general, cleansers must thoroughly cleanse the skin and not dry it out.
With all the different types of face cleansers, it can be confusing to pick the right one for your skin. Different types of cleansers work best for different skin types. Even though some cleansers are marketed for every skin type, make sure you read the ingredients and understand what’s in them. This guide will help you determine which type of cleanser is best for your skin type.
What is your skin type?
First and foremost, you need to know your skin type. Do you have normal, sensitive, dry, mature or oily / acne prone skin? There are many resources online to help with this, including our Skin Type Chart and Ayurvedic Skin Care Guide.
In addition to knowing your skin type and matching it with the correct type of cleanser, you need to be aware of the skincare product ingredients. Although some cleansers are more ‘natural‘, many contain additives that can irritate skin, especially if you have skin allergies.
What is the best cleanser for my skin type?
People with normal skin have the widest variety of choices, when it comes to choosing a facial cleanser. This can also be a curse, due to the overwhelming number of facial cleansers on the market. Normal skin is the most balanced and forgiving. But even though it’s not as sensitive, normal-skinned people shouldn’t neglect their skincare routine. Neglect can eventually lead to wrinkles or uneven tone. Good options for normal skin types are balm cleansers, milk cleansers, micellar cleansers/micellar water, gel cleansers, oil cleansers, cream cleansers and lotion cleansers. The world is your oyster….
If you have oily skin type, your skin easily gets oily after you’ve cleaned it. Acne prone skin needs to be treated and cleaned properly, in order to not exacerbate the problem. People with oily skin build up excess sebum throughout the day, especially in the T zone area. This excess oil can make your skin acne prone, as well. Oily skin can also lead to visible pores.
You may think that using a cleanser with strong ingredients is the solution, but it often is not. Even though these types of cleansers may be effective at removing makeup and dead skin cells, they may irritate and create additional issues with your skin. Oily skin types should use a cleanser, that has an astringent or toning agent (like salicylic acid) in it. This will help remove excess oils from your face without stripping away too much natural moisture.
Clay cleansers, powder cleansers and charcoal soaps are good for absorbing the excess oil and won’t leave your face feeling dry or irritated. Foam cleansers and gels are also good choices for people with oily skin. Soap and bar cleansers are another option. In fact, a new breed of bars with little to no soap are now being produced. These “soapless” bars are also a great option for people with sensitive skin.
For dry skin, it’s important to use a cleanser that doesn’t reduce moisture or strip off your skin’s natural oils. Remember, the goal of the cleanser is to clear away impurities, not produce squeaky, tight feeling skin. If your skin is dry type, you’ll want to consider oil, cream/lotion, milk or balm cleansers. Check the ingredients for any alcohol-based chemicals, as you’ll want to avoid those. Glycerin and essential oils are good ingredients to look for, if you have dry skin type. Another thing to consider for dry skin types is using a face wash with salicylic acid.
Sensitive skin types need to use products with mild ingredients. This skin type is prone to irritation and breakouts if the cleanser ingredients are too harsh. People with sensitive skin type really need to read the label. Stay away from cleansers with parabens, phthalates and fragrances, as these tend to cause an imbalance in the skin’s PH and lead to over-drying, rashes, breakouts and redness. Also stay away from products with eucalyptol and menthol, as they tend to strip skin of natural sebum, leading to dryness and irritation.
Types of cleansers that are good for sensitive skin type are micellar cleansers, gel cleansers, such as hyaluronic acid gel cleansers and products with natural ingredients. Ayurvedic cleansers or cleansers/masks are a good option also.
Combination skin types may be the most challenging when choosing a cleanser. People with this skin type tend to have both dry and oily skin. Oily skin areas are mostly concentrated in the T zone and chin areas. For combination skin types, it’s important to find a product that can effectively removes the right amount of sebum without leaving the face oily or dry. Products that have petroleum or other pore clogging agents should be avoided.
Some good options for combination skin types are bar cleansers, clay cleansers, foam cleansers and gel cleansers. Oil cleansers are another option.
Even if you’ve found the right cleanser for your skin type in your younger years, you’ll have to address your skin’s changing needs as you age. Mature skin comes with a whole new set of issues; dryness, breakouts, wrinkles, larger pores, age spots and facial hair. Mature skin sees a decrease in collagen and elastin production and if you’ve taken sun protection for granted, this production is amplified.
For mature skin types, cleansing is key and should be made a priority. By properly cleansing your skin, your anti-aging serums and moisturizers are more likely to be effective at doing their job. Look for a cleanser that contains vitamins, antioxidants and retinoids to address some of the common mature skin concerns. Avoid strong cleansers that may irritate your mature skin. There are a number of cleansing gels, foam cleansers, cream cleansers, oil cleansers and other anti-aging specific cleansers available on the market today.
No matter what skin type you have, when looking for a cleanser for the face, you’ll have many options to choose from. Just remember to choose the type of facial cleanser for YOUR skin type. Cleansing is step #1 of a good skincare routine and should not be skipped. Cleansing is a great way to remove impurities from your skin and prepare it for the rest of your skincare regimen.
Types of face cleansers
- Micellar Cleanser – Micellar Water – This is one of the lightest forms of facial cleanser and is made from almost entirely H2O. Micellar water is usually applied with a cotton pad and contains tiny oil molecules that attract dirt and grime on the surface of the skin. This type of cleanser doesn’t dry out the skin, but it also isn’t good for deep cleansing. It can, however, be used for every skin type.
- Gel Cleanser – A gel cleanser is designed for deep cleansing and is effective at decongesting clogged pores, removing excess oil and killing acne causing bacteria. Many gel cleanser formulas also contain botanical extracts and antioxidants that act as natural anti-aging ingredients. This type of cleanser is best for oily skin types, but may be too harsh on sensitive skin. Check out the Emkasa Coconut and Lime Gel Cleanser here.
- Foaming Cleanser – Foaming cleansers are good at clearing up the skin from impurities. They are able to remove oil, thick makeup and even hard to remove sunscreen. The foaming ingredient is called sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). SLS tends to dry skin out, so this type of cleanser isn’t ideal for people with dry skin type. There are some foam cleansers formulated with oils or emollients that provide a moisturizing effect.
- Cream/Lotion Cleanser – Cream or lotion cleansers have a slightly heavier consistency and may require rinsing after application. They are deeply moisturizing cleansers, which makes them a good choice for dry skin. Some cream cleansers contain petrolatum, beeswax or mineral oil and may limit the effectiveness of toners and serums.
- Oil Cleanser – These cleansers are typically used to remove makeup and are step one of double cleansing. They work by binding to oils on the skin and dissolving them. Step 2 is to use another type of cleanser, typically a foam, to soak up the remaining oil and remove anything left behind.
- Milk cleanser – This type of cleanser is thinner than a cream, but thicker than an oil. They moisturize but don’t tend to leave a creamy feel, like creams or lotions do. Milk cleansers cleanse without stripping your skin of its natural oils. They are effective at removing dirt, grime and even makeup. Milk cleansers are made from a natural emulsion of fats and water and are a great way to keep your skin balanced, hydrated and protected. Good for normal to combination skin types.
- Balm cleanser – These cleansers are more of a makeup remover than a face wash. They are nourishing and moisturizing and usually contain botanical extracts. Cleansing balms remove impurities and dirt without stripping your skin of its natural oils.
- Clay cleanser – These cleansers are formulated with a type of clay (Kaolin, Green, Rhassoul, etc.) and are designed to help remove impurities for the surface of your skin, while keeping it balanced. Clay is a detoxifier and helps rid the skin of debris and toxins by absorbing these impurities. Clay cleansers are applied and then rinsed off and are a good choice for acne prone skin.
- Powder cleansers – This type of cleanser turns creamy when combined with water. You can control the consistency of powder cleansers and they provide exfoliation and cleaning. Powder cleansers are good for removing makeup, as well as deep facial cleansing. Not recommended for dry and sensitive skin.
- Soaps and Bar cleansers – Facial soaps are not the same as body soaps, which contain harsh ingredients and typically dry the skin out. They are commonly referred to as bar cleansers and come in “soap-free” versions. These ‘no-soap soaps’ are gentle and non-drying. Because they don’t contain cleansing agents, such as SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate) they won’t leave your skin feeling tight and dry. Bar cleansers may not be ideal for dry and sensitive skin, but may be worth a try because of their convenience and price.
- Cleansing Wipes – These are convenient to use when you’re on the go. They don’t completely remove dirt and makeup or deep cleanse your skin, but can be used for a quick refresh.
Whether you have sensitive, acne prone / oily, mature or normal skin type, choosing the right cleanser is an important first step in your skincare routine.