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How to Choose the Right Facial Cleanser for Your Skin


by Tami Brehse February 21, 2017

choosing the right cleanser

How to Choose the Right Facial Cleanser for Your Skin

From gels to foams to good old fashioned bar soap, all the different options for cleansing your face are enough to make you want to skip it altogether.

…But whatever you do, don’t do that! Dermatologists cite going to bed with an unwashed face as one of the worst habits for your complexion.

So with all the different products on the market promising to get your epidermis squeaky clean, which one should you choose? We’re breaking down the most popular facial cleansing options to help you decide.

Foam Cleanser

Often spotted in an easy-to-use pump-dispense bottle, foam cleansers are just that—a liquid or gel that turns to foam when dispensed.

Generally, foam cleansers tend to be more drying than their cream or gel counterparts, so they’re often the cleanser of choice for oily-skinned women (though it’s important to note, using a certain type of cleanser won’t change your skin type).

One great thing about foam cleansers is that a little bit goes a long way, so you’ll get more for your money than some other formulas. Ladies with skin on the dry side may prefer a gentler cream-based cleanser that isn’t too drying.

Cream cleanser

Cream Cleanser

Creamier and milder than its foam or gel counterparts, a cream cleanser is a great option for dry or sensitive skin. Cream cleansers are often emollients, designed to leave the skin softer and more pliable after use.

For some ladies, cleansing with water can be extremely drying on skin. Some types of cream cleansers, like Cetaphil, don’t require water and can simply be wiped off with a tissue or soft towel.

Women with oily skin may not enjoy the slight “residue” feeling some cream cleansers leave behind.

Bar Soap

It’s a shower standby, but using your plain old bar of soap to wash your face is generally a no-no. Bar soaps are designed to remove dirt and aren’t particularly gentle, which can be too stripping for your delicate facial skin.

There are some gentler bar soap options designed specifically for use on the face, so just be sure to check the label if you prefer a bar of soap to a foam or gel.  

Oil-based Cleansers

This brings me back to the days of watching my mom remove her makeup with Johnson’s Baby Oil! After all, like dissolves like, so in theory oil should be the perfect ingredient to strip away oily residue from your face.

There’s nothing wrong with using oil to remove your makeup (other options like cocnut oil work great too), IF it agrees with your skin. Every woman’s skin is different, and some have a strong adverse reaction to using oil as a cleansing agent.

Believe it or not, women with oily skin often find success with oil-based cleansers as it removes the need for the skin to produce so much excess oil.  

makeup wipes

Makeup Wipes

Makeup wipes are designed to do the same thing a facial cleanser does, but without the water.

They do an okay job (and are great on late nights!), but dermatologists warn they shouldn’t be a replacement for a typical facial cleanser. One reason is they contain chemicals designed to keep them fresh, and many contain harsh alcohol as well.

Your best bet is to keep a pack of wipes in your purse or bathroom cabinet to use in a pinch, but not as your everyday cleansing solution.  

Exfoliating Scrubs

Exfoliating scrubs are a slippery slope. A little exfoliation is necessary to remove dead skin cells and help your skin rejuvenate itself.

Too much, however, puts your skin into a sort of panic mode, stripping it of its outer layer and causing damaging inflammation. In fact, exfoliating too much is one of the 5 most common skincare mistakes!

Keep an exfoliating scrub in your medicine cabinet and use it once or twice per week. Instead of “scrubbing” it into your skin as its name suggests, instead, think of gently massaging it onto your face in a circular motion.

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Tami Brehse
Tami Brehse

Author