For Dummies, The Series: Face Cleanser

Once is never enough, let’s talk cleansing again!
Quick Cleansing Rules and My Top 5 Cleanser Picks

Ah face cleanser. The most important part of any skincare routine, yet until about two years ago I never gave it two thoughts. Recently however I’ve been getting questions about cleanser. I think we’ve all finally realized that without Botox, fillers, facials, or regular dermatologist appointments, starting with a clean, luminous canvas is actually the best way to combat aging skin. 


On cleanser, a few general rules to consider:
  1. Foam and gel cleansers, popular and great for deep cleansing and oily skin, are also notorious for stripping skin leaving it tight. Those out there with sensitive or dry skin might reconsider before purchasing as a daily option.
  2. Double cleanse is the way to go (EVERY NIGHT) which usually means using two different cleansers for two different purposes. Cleanse 1 is typically an oil or balm cleanser to rid your skin of makeup and sunscreen. Cleanse 2 is a milk or if appropriate for your skin type, foam or gel; cleanse 2 gives you the deep clean and clears out pores, settled dirt, etc.
  3. Your morning cleanse should be a quick option to remove any sweat or grime from sleeping. One cleanse should be fine and I would typically recommend your nightime cleanse 2 product (milk, foam, gel).
  4. Micellar water and makeup wipes are not substitutes for cleanser. In a pinch they’re okay, but as a rule of thumb ensure you’ve got an effective cleanser – oil, balm, milk, etc. – in your skincare arsenal.
  5. If when you tone your skin you find makeup and residue leftover, that’s a sign you need a better cleanser.
  6. Cleanser is personal and can even depend on the day. Dry skin needs soft, hydrating cleansers; sensitive skin should look for chamomile and avoid too many alcohol related ingredients; oily skin might need extra purification with salicylic acid and tea tree oil. And if you’re like me, normal skin with an oily T-zone, you can play with a few options. I spend a lot of time outdoors so I will use a gel option to give me that extra cleansing boost a couple times a week. On days when I’m wearing heavy makeup (albeit not often this past year) I might go in with a micellar water in between my first and second cleanse just to remove leftover product. Again, it’s all about preference and fortunately cleansers aren’t usually too pricey so if you need to try something new it won’t break the bank. 
  7. Don’t over think it. There are sooooo many cleansers out there. Find a couple that get your skin clean without irritation. If you get that part down the most critical aspect of your skincare regimen is complete! 

My Top Cleanser Picks

OIL: Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil
(my favorite for makeup removal)


Description: A lightweight makeup-removing oil cleanser that leaves skin soft and replenished.
Price: $32


FOAM: Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser
(my honeymoon cleanser)


Description: An airy, soap-free foam that cleanses and purifies with moisturizing grape extract and purifying sage.
Price: $28


BALM: Darphin Aromatic Cleansing Balm
(cult status)


Description: Indulge in a blissful, purifying spa experience with Aromatic Cleansing Balm! This opulent and fragrant balm formulated with Marula Oil, Sage, Ylang Ylang and Rosewood Essential Oils features a honey-like texture, and magically transforms with water into a silky, milk.
Price: $49


GEL: Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel
(deep clean pick)

Description: Soap-free, foaming gel cleanses all skin conditions. Refreshing lather thoroughly removes impurities, without disturbing the skin’s natural moisture balance. This iconic cleanser, which contains naturally-foaming Quillaja Saponaria, gently rinses away toxins and debris to leave skin feeling smooth and clean. Lightweight and mild enough to use every day, it also features calming Balm Mint and Lavender extracts to soothe the skin.
Price: $39


MILK: OSEA Ocean Cleansing Milk
(my new favorite)

Description: Melt away makeup and environmental debris with this fragrance free cleanser. Visibly reduces redness while restoring natural hydration to the skin. Enriched with nature’s best skin soothers, Water Lily and Rose. This pH balanced formula removes impurities without irritation.
Price: $54


Keep Calm And Cleanse On

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