At the end of a long day, nothing feels quite as good as cleansing your face. Removing every trace of dirt, sweat and makeup allows the skin to breathe, repair and renew itself. Having a spotless surface also helps your other skin care products to penetrate your skin more deeply and perform their tasks more efficiently. As the first step in your skin care ritual, it’s important to nail this part before even thinking about your serums and anti-ageing creams.

With so many cleansing options available, and with each one touting different benefits, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and get swayed by false marketing claims. Knowing the difference between each type allows you to filter your options and makes the hunt for the perfect cleanser a whole lot easier. If you have a normal skin type, feel free to try any type of cleanser as long as your skin tolerates it.


Gel cleansers are clear and, as the name suggests, have a gel-like consistency. Generally designed for deep cleansing, they are effective at decongesting clogged pores, removing excess oil and killing acne-causing bacteria, thanks to their antiseptic and exfoliating properties.

FOR: Oily and Combination Skin


Cream cleansers are usually thick, creamy and contain moisturising ingredients like botanical oils. They gently cleanse your skin without stripping it of its natural oils. Cream cleansers can also come in the form of “milk” or “lotion.”

FOR: Dry and Sensitive Skin


Foam cleansers are lightweight cleansers that start out as cream or gel and burst into a rich, foamy lather. This type of cleanser removes excess oil as effectively as gel cleansers.

FOR: Oily and Combination Skin


Washing your skin with oil may sound like a recipe for breakouts, especially if you have oily skin, but most experts disagree. An oil cleanser is a gentle way of removing pore-clogging debris—including waterproof makeup—without drying your skin.

FOR: Most Skin Types


Known for their absorbing power, clay cleansers purify your skin by drawing out excess oil and toxins from your pores.

FOR: Oily and Combination Skin


Originating in France, micellar waters feature “micelles”—or tiny oil molecules suspended in soft water—that attract oil, dirt and makeup. Another great thing about them: You don’t need to rinse them off with water.

FOR: Dry and Sensitive Skin


Powder cleansers are nothing new, but they certainly are having a big moment right now. These cleansers—powdery soft when dry—disintegrates into a creamy concoction upon contact with water, thoroughly cleansing your skin while providing gentle exfoliation. Unlike traditional physical exfoliants like beads and scrubs, powder cleansers glide smoothly on your skin, so you can use them every day even on sensitive skin.

FOR: Oily and Sensitive Skin


After years of staying out of the skin care spotlight, bars are slowly sneaking back in. These new breed of bars—some contain very little soap, others have none at all—are just as skin-friendly and luxurious as their liquid counterparts. They also offer more skin-friendly pH levels in addition to nutrient-rich, highly moisturising ingredients, such as glycerin and essential oils. Extra points for being a greener choice than liquid soaps because the packaging materials—primarily paper and cardboard—break down more easily in landfills than plastic packaging.

FOR: Oily and Combination Skin


There are cleansing wipes, and then there are cleansing cloths, mitts and sponges. These cleansers are made with special fibres—some are plant-derived and don’t typically require the use of any traditional cleansers—to thoroughly remove impurities while also sloughing off dead skin cells. A few examples are muslin cloths, kassa/kessa mitts and konjac sponges.

FOR: Oily and Combination Skin

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