Different Facial Cleansers Explained and Picking the Right One for You

At the end of a tiring day, nothing feels better than washing your face. Clearing away all the dirt, sweat, and makeup allows your skin to take a breath and regenerate. Plus, having a squeaky clean base helps your other skin care products to work more effectively. But with so many cleansing options out there, it can be pretty confusing trying to pick one!

If you’re feeling like you don’t know where to start when it comes to cleansing, then stick around, we’re here to help. Figuring out the differences between each type of cleanser can help you narrow down your choices and make it easier to find what you’re looking for.

To get the most out of your skincare routine, it is important to know your skin type so that your cleanser can properly prepare your skin. Using the wrong cleanser can do more harm than good and disrupt the balance of your skin’s health. 

Let’s break down the most common types of facial cleansers so that you can pick the one that works for your individual skin needs. 

Foaming Face Cleanser on male


Foaming cleansers

Foam cleansers are the way to go if you want a lightweight and foamy facial cleanser. They start out as a cream or gel but when you put it on your face, it turns into a rich, bubbly lather that’s great for deep-cleaning your skin and getting rid of any dirt or oils. It’s perfect if you have issues with breakouts because it helps clear up excess oil and sebum.  A great affordable yet effective pick is the CeraVe Foaming Cleanser.

If you‘ve got sensitive skin, you might want to be careful with foaming cleansers since some contain sodium lauryl sulfate, which can be too harsh. If you’re already using one and you’re noticing dry or irritated skin, check the ingredients to see if it’s got this little chemical.

Gel Face Cleanser texture


Gel cleansers

Gel cleansers are clear and have a gel-like texture. Perfect for a deep cleanse, these cleansers are great at unblocking pores, getting rid of excess oil, and killing acne-causing bacteria and can be a great choice for anyone with acne or oily skin.  Our pick is the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Cleanser.

Gel cleansers are known for being gentler than foam cleansers, so they’re great for anyone with sensitive skin – even if you have a few breakouts here and there. Just be aware that even though they’re mild, they can still irritate your skin if you’re particularly sensitive. Most people say they work with all skin types though, so they’re a pretty safe bet if you’re not sure what to start with.

Oil Face Cleanser


Oil cleansers

Adding more oil to oily skin may not seem like a good idea, but oil-based cleansers are actually a great way to clean your skin without stripping it. The oil in the cleanser works together with the oil in your skin to maintain balance and keep your skin feeling soft and healthy. Oil cleansers are great for removing any pore-clogging debris, even waterproof makeup, without drying out your skin. The oil helps to break up the dirt, so it’s easy to rinse away. Our splurge pick which is oh so luxurious is the Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil.

Oilbased cleansers are great for taking off makeup, dirt and dead skin cells if your skin tends to dry out after using regular cleansers. They‘re a great alternative for keeping your face clean and hydrated.

Balm Face Cleanser


Balm cleansers

Cleansing balms are a great way to gently cleanse your skin without feeling dry afterwards. They’re oil-based, so they do a great job of breaking down your makeup, while also getting rid of dirt, sunscreen and other products from your day. Not only that, but they’re formulated with nourishing emollients and waxes, making them suitable for all skin types – even oily skin! If you have dry or sensitive skin, cleansing balms are definitely worth a try. We absolutely love the Alpha H Melting Moment Cleansing Balm with wild orange leaf extract – it melts everything away and keeps your skin so hydrated.

Cream Facial Cleanser


Cream cleansers

Cream cleansers are pretty much what they sound like – creamy and luxuriously textured. They’re really gentle and super hydrating, so they’re perfect for those of us with dry or sensitive skin. They can clean your skin without stripping it of its natural oils, so you don’t have to worry about drying out. Plus, if you’re a fan of double cleansing, then these are a great choice for the second step. We love the La Roche Posay Toleriane Dermo Cleanser .

Hate when water drips down your arms?

Do you hate when water splashes around your bathroom and gets all over your arms and sleeves when cleansing? If so, these soft cleansing cuffs are the perfect solution! Not only do they keep your skincare routine mess free, but they come with a matching spa skincare headband too – winning!

Pink Spa Headband and Cleansing Cuff Wristbands
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