Fresh and lovely woman washing her face

There are a lot of different types of face cleansers and it can be tough knowing what one is best for your skin. Let us help.

There are a lot of different types of cleansers to pick and choose from. There are foaming ones, gels, and creamy cleansers. You can get a cleansing balm, or if you’re an oil lover, you can get an oil cleanser instead of more traditional formulas. You can even get a solid cleanser if you feel so inclined. With so many options lining the drugstore shelves, how do you know what one is the best for your skin type? We asked Beauty Expert and Founder of Indie Lee Beauty And Skin Care Products Indie Lee, Chief Scientific Officer of Clarity MD Dr. Felipe Jimenez, and Cosmedicine Director of Education and Training Michele Racioppi what formulas are best for which skin types.

Here’s your guide on the best type of cleanser for your skin type:

Regardless of the specific type of cleanser you use, Lee says that you should always be inspecting the ingredient list. She states, “You don’t need harsh chemicals to wash your face! It’s best to avoid cleansers with sulfates and parabens, and when in doubt, choose all-natural products.”  Dr. Jimenez points out that you should also consider your skin’s sensitivity when narrowing down your cleanser.

Foam Cleansers:

Foam cleansers are usually water-based and use ingredients like castile soap, coco betaine, and decyl glucoside to make them foam up. If you have dry skin, it’s best to avoid foam cleansers, according to Lee. Because water is usually the first ingredient, they are the most drying. Water isn’t the only ingredient to watch out for—Racioppi also notes that they can contain harsh detergents that can irritate and strip the skin of its natural oils. Dr. Jimenez says that they are ideal for younger teen skin or overly oily skin types because they have a very light feel and tend to remove more oils from the skin.

Try: Foaming Cleanser

Cream cleansers:

Even if you don’t add water, you can immediately tell the difference between a foam and a cream cleanser. Cream cleansers are thicker with a more condensed formula. All experts recommend cream cleansers for dry and sensitive skin. Dr. Jimenez notes that they are great for mature skin and “those who need constant moisture yet deep cleansing capabilities, particularly to remove foundation and eye-makeup.” Racioppi cautions that some cream cleansers can be comedogenic (block pores and cause blackheads) on certain skin types, so check the ingredient list before you purchase one.

Try: Total Effects Nourishing Cream Cleanser

Gel Cleansers:

Gel cleansers are a favorite choice for both Lee and Dr. Jimenez. They’re thick enough that they won’t run down your face. Lee explains that their gumminess gives them two-for-one benefits, as they can be used as gentle mask treatments. For a deeper clean, she advises you to leave it on for at least five minutes before rinsing off. This makes them great for those with acne-prone skin. Dr. Jimenez says the soothe and hydrate the face without removing excess oils. This also makes gel cleansers a good choice for those with combination skin. If you find that your gel cleanser is making your face feel tight, it is too strong for your skin, notes Racioppi. They should not dry out your face so look for a gentler formula.

Try: Purity Made Simple Gel Cleanser


A lot of people still think that you shouldn’t be using an oil cleanser if you have oily skin, but Lee stresses that it’s about what type of oil you’re using. Dry oils have the same anti-bacterial properties as cream or gel cleansers and get your skin just as clean. “Like attracts like, so use good oils (non-clogging) to remove the bad oils, dirt, and impurities from your pores while moisturizing at the same time,” she explains. Most oils cleanse skin without drying out your face. Racioppi states this makes oil cleansers great for most skin types.

Try: Argan Cleansing Oil

Cleansing Balms:

Cleansing balms are a close cousin to oil cleansers. Lee states that they are typically made with plant-based oils or butter mixed with wax to achieve their thicker consistency. Most are applied to the face with little to no water as part of the cleansing process, and a muslin cloth is often used to remove them. Their rich formula makes them great for those with combination to very dry skin, but Racioppi explains that when used with a cleansing cloth, they can help to exfoliate, tone, and improve circulation to show visible benefits. Remember this formula when winter comes.

Try: Rosa Centifolia No.1 Purity Cleansing Balm

(Photo: iStock)


1 Comment

  1. Zachary Tomlinson on

    I want to help my best friend with her plan of making her love interest fall for her. I never knew that investing in cream cleansers could help boost the appeal of dry and sensitive skin. Maybe we should look around for a store that sells them to try them out.

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