Friday, 3 June 2016

What You Need To Know - Cleansers

As some of you may know, one of my main loves is skincare. I have really problematic skin that causes me issues on a regular basis, so I've done my research on skincare over the years to work out what best suits me. In the process, I've become fairly knowledgeable on skincare and decided that I would share some of my knowledge in a new skincare series! 

This series will be entirely focused on the basics of skincare and What You Need To Know. 
Please be aware though, I am not an industry professional, I have not had any formal training. I am just a 21 year old woman with problematic skin and an impressive hoard of skincare that needs to be somehow validated. 
This week I thought I would have a little chat about cleansers. 

Cleansers are a tricky thing to get right sometimes as often people know they should use them, but they either don't understand their skin properly or quite simply are too lazy. 

I think it's really important to get to grips with the different type of cleansers so you can start making progress with your skincare regime and learn what's best to keep your skin looking amazing. 

Cream Cleansers
My choice: Alpha H - Balancing Cleanser with Aloe Vera

Cream cleansers are what I would call the "safety net" of cleansers. The majority of cream cleansers aim to cleanse and sooth the skin thus meaning that often times these are fine for those with sensitive skin - but of course check the labels and make sure, do not assume. 

A cream cleanser is personally what I will reach for more often than not if I am feeling a little lazy with the skincare. They are one of the simplest cleansers and simply need to be applied to the face in gentle circular motions then rinsed off with a warm damp face cloth.

A good cream cleanser shouldn't form a lather. You want to avoid cream cleansers that have SLS or foaming agents in, these often dry out the skin and provide a harmful environment ideal for bacteria to grow. Avoid products with SLS or foaming agents in like the plague. 

I usually reach for a cream cleanser at night if I've had a no make-up day or if I'm just feeling a little lazy. My personal preference is the Alpha H Balancing Cleanser with Aloe Vera as it balances the oils in my skin without drying out my cheeks and exacerbating the spot prone areas. 

Hot Cloth Cleansers
My choice: Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish

Possibly one of the most popular cleansers at the moment is the hot cloth cleanser. The cleanser itself is very similar to the traditional cream cleansers, except they feel slightly thicker and are a little tougher to shift in my opinion. As with the cream cleansers these are generally most suited to those with sensitive skin. 

I really like Cleanse and Polish as it's plant-based and free from mineral oil. It's a pretty solid cleanser for all skin types and I feel like you can't really go wrong with it. It's cruelty free as well if that is a concern - however note that it isn't vegan as it contains bees wax. 

Hot cloth cleansers are usually recommended to be removed with a muslin cloth but I personally prefer a flannel due to the ease of them and I think it's much quicker and efficient to remove products with a hot flannel than a thin muslin cloth.  

Cleansing Oil 
My choice: The Body Shop - Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil

As someone with oily spot prone skin, putting an oil onto my face to cleanse seems backwards and potentially harmful, but that couldn't be any more opposite to the truth. In fact cleansing oils offer a really thorough cleanse without damaging your skins delicate oil balance that actually can help to sooth and clear acne. Be warned though to stay away from mineral oils and palm oil bases as these will only flair up acne prone skin. 

Cleansing Oils are good all rounders, a little messy perhaps but definitely worth while. Massage onto dry skin, wet your fingertips to add a little water to emulsify and then wash off thoroughly with a flannel. You want to be especially thorough removing a cleansing oil, it will not do your skin any favours if left!

Cleansing Balm 
My choice: Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm

These work similar to cleansing oils in that they provide the skin extra nourishment and effectively cleanse without stripping or drying the skin. One thing I really enjoy about the cleansing balms is that it provides all of the same benefits of an oil but is easier and cleaner to apply. 

The Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm is truthfully the only balm I have ever used however I would like to try the Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm as it has had some awesome reviews. That being said I do enjoy using the Elemis Balm, it doesn't leave my face feeling oily and doesn't result in breakouts. 
I would probably recommend cleansing balms if your skin is normal/dry, however I would always check the ingredients for palm oil and mineral oils for the same reasons as with the cleansing oil. 

Personally, I would avoid oil based cleansers if I had extremely sensitive skin as these tend to be loaded with ingredients that could potentially cause issues. If you suffer with very sensitive skin it may be wise to stick to the more soothing hot cloth or cream cleansers. 

Traditional Gel Cleanser
My choice: La Roche Posay Effaclar Foaming Cleansing Gel

Lets get straight to the point.
I would not recommend a foaming cleanser. 

However, it is impossible to avoid them as they seem to be everywhere in the skincare market and even trusted skincare brands for some unbeknown reason to me still make them. In general foaming cleansers tend to have SLS or foaming agents in them to produce that iconic lather. These ingredients will dry out your skin and are generally terrible for you. They create an inviting breeding ground for bacteria on your skin which is going to be hellish if you have acne-prone skin (or even normal skin, no one wants spots).

So rant aside, if you are looking for a foaming cleanser (I don't know why, maybe you just hate your skin) then I can sort of begrudgingly recommend the La Roche Posay Effaclar Cleansing Gel OR the Elemis Peachy Perfect Face Wash. I have used both cleansers and neither break me out or massively dehydrate my skin. 

If you are insistent on using a foaming cleanser then be VERY thorough with the removal of the cleanser. Half of the issue with these cleansers is that they are a pain to completely remove as the suds seem to keep coming back. You really need to dedicate yourself to taking this off. They are not a quick option. Once you've removed the cleanser I would recommend using a hydrating moisturiser (free from silicone!) or a good facial oil to replenish your skin as it will certainly need it. 

If you have Acne, Dry or Sensitive skin I really would avoid these like the plague. 

Alternative Natural Cleanser
My choice: Lush Dark Angels/Herbalism

Lush cleansers are my favourite thing at the moment. I am someone that really believes in holistic medicine and I am a firm believer that natural organic plant based produce is the key to sustaining and nourishing life. That includes your skin. 

Lush cleansers are free from SLS* and other nasties, vegan, cruelty free and generally just great. They have a variety of cleansers that are designed to suit various skin types and complaints and do this in a way that is healthy for your skin and the environment. If you have never thought about Lush as a skincare brand but instead only see them for their pretty bath bombs then you NEED to go and have a browse. 

For my skin I find that Herbalism or Dark Angels work the best. Herbalism is a cleanser designed for acne prone skin and it really helps to disinfect and sooth angry acne. I used this religiously when I was going through one of the worst breakouts of my life with angry cystic spots. This calmed it down and really helped to reduce the inflammation. Now that my skin has calmed down I have switched to Dark Angels which is charcoal based and aims to balance and control oil, as well as being slightly more abrasive to give you a mild scrub. 

Due to the slight exfoliation you get from these scrubs (particularly Dark Angels) I tend to use them every other day instead of daily, unless I've got a breakout. 

*None of the Lush fresh cleansers I have found have SLS in and I believe this is true of all the cleansers. However, note that this is not true of all Lush products, their shower gels and shampoos all contain SLS - something to be cautious of if you avoid SLS. 

  • Cleanse morning and night with water.
  • Micellar water is not enough to count as a cleanser. It is a make-up remover and should be followed by an actual cleanser.
  • Use flannels - they are cheaper and work better. 
  • Sensitive skin - look for cream cleansers. Read the ingredients. 
  • Dry Skin - Oil based cleansers are your friend.
  • Normal Skin - The world is your oyster, test and find out what works best for you.
  • Oily Skin - Some oil based cleansers, hot cloth cleansers and cream cleansers are your pal. Also check out Lush Dark Angels. 
  • Spot Prone - Natural cleansers with antibacterial properties or products with Salicylic acid in are your friend. 
  • Avoid foaming cleansers if you can.

So that was a lonnnnnnng post eh?!
 I hope you enjoyed this detailed post on skincare. I should reiterate that I am not an industry professional. I do not have formal training but I've had a long running obsession with skincare for years. 
If I have made any mistakes (we're all human!) please please let me know and I will amend it immediately. There is so much rubbish information on the internet right now and I really don't want to be contributing to it! 

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed it let me know what skincare you would like me to cover next!



  1. I love Cleanse & Polish so much - it has done wonders for my skin xo

    Emily |

    1. It's a fantastic cleanser! One of my favourites if my skin needs some extra moisture! Thanks for reading :) xx

  2. I'm trialing peaches and clean by soap and glory at the moment which is a cream cleanser, so far so good but defo would love to try alpha h! Great post! X

    1. Ohh I will have to check that out! I highly recommend Alpha-H it's honestly my favourite cleanser at the moment couldn't recommend it enough!! Thanks for reading! :D xx


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