The best cleanser that’ll make you look forward to washing your face

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  • Right this way for the cleanest skin of your life

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that using the best cleanser for your complexion is the most important skincare step. (Alright, it’s in a tie with the best sun cream.)

    Either way, washing away the day’s grime and removing make-up are both essential for maintaining healthy skin. In order to be effective, any products that follow in your skincare routine must be applied to a clean face.

    That said, with the thousands to choose from on the market right now, you’re probably wondering where on earth to start – but that’s where we come in. Keep reading for everything you need to know to choose the best cleanser.

    How do I choose a cleanser?

    best face cleanser

    ‘If you are looking for a deep clean then a double-cleanse could be the answer,’ explains Consultant Dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto. ‘It involves using a cleansing oil, balm or micellar water to break down make-up, SPF and sebum on the surface of your skin first, then following it with a deeper water-based cleanse. This removes sweat, bacteria and old skin cells. A second round of cleansing will clean much deeper into the pores to remove any impurities.’

    The number one rule is to think about your skin concerns and to choose your skin ingredients accordingly. Salicylic acid is a great deep exfoliant for oily skin, while thicker, rich cleansers are suited to dry skins. ‘I believe less is more; there is definitely such a thing as too many active ingredients,’ says Dr Anjali. ‘Applying a large number of active ingredients onto the skin can trigger allergy, sensitivity or irritation.

    best face cleanser

    ‘It is much better to identify one or two skincare concerns and then use ingredients that are multi-purpose to address these. Just because there are 50 different ingredients on the market, it doesn’t mean we need to use all 50 of them. I think it’s about picking ingredients wisely that have multipurpose functions.’

    So, whether you prefer a cream cleanser, thick balm, lightweight gel or nourishing cleansing oil, there’s one out there to suit your skin’s needs (and those of your bank balance, too). Armed with a hot flannel and these bad boys and we defy you not to look forward to washing your face…

    Best cleanser for acne prone skin

    La Roche-Posay Effaclar H Hydrating Cleansing Cream, £12.50, Lookfantastic

    best cleanser La Roche Posay

    This particular cleanser is very gentle and soothing on the skin, with clever anti-friction technology so as not to further irritate skin that’s already a bit unhappy, which makes it a good starting place for blemish or acne-prone skin. Dr Justine Kluk often recommends this cleanser to acne patients in her clinic, so you know it’s a good’un.

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    Best oil cleanser

    Shiseido Perfect Cleansing Oil, £28.95, All Beauty

    best cleanser oil Shiseido

    Cleansing oils are a favourite among many however, I don’t like to use oils or oil cleansers on acne-prone skin,’ warns Dr Anjali. ‘They can be highly comedogenic, so I’d avoid it if you’re prone to breakouts and blackheads.’

    This oil is seriously lightweight and dissolves make-up SO easily, rinsing away as a milk upon contact with warm water. But perhaps even better is that it doesn’t leave you with blurry eyes after you’ve used it, something that’s common with an oil cleanser.

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    Best cleanser for oily skin

    Skingredients Sally Cleanse, £24,

    best cleanser Skingredients Sally Cleanse

    The brain child of beauty genius The Skin Nerd, aka Jennifer Rock, Skingredients is all about feeding, protecting and respecting your skin with a focus on ingredients. It’s just launched on UK soil and we couldn’t be more excited. Sally Cleanse, featuring pore-declogging ingredient salicylic acid, can be used every three days to tackle excess oil, blackheads and blemishes. It can also be used as a ‘micro mask’ to zap pesky spots, and on your body to help with keratosis pilaris.

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    Best cleanser for dry skin

    Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm, £25, Lookfantastic

    best cleanser for dry skin Clinique

    ‘Cleansing balms, such as Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm, are great for dry skin types,’ advises Anjali. ‘Once massaged into the skin, they work to dislodge any make-up, pollution or sunscreen that is left on the skin.’

    This deliciously thick balm does exactly what it says on the tub, taking the day’s make-up, SPF and oil off in a few easy sweeps, turning into an oil upon massaging that then rinses off easily with warm water. It’s a reliable cult favourite cleanser for good reason, and won’t strip your already dry skin of all its moisture. We love it.

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    Best micellar water

    Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water, £4.99, Lookfantastic

    best cleanser micellar water Garnier

    Of all of the micellar waters out there (and boy, are there a lot of ’em), Garnier’s is both exceptional and insanely good value. It’s free of alcohol and perfume, making it a great choice for even sensitive skin, and makes light work of lifting away your best mascara and long-wearing eyeliner. Piece of cake. Micellar water is wonderful stuff but please, please, please don’t use it as your only cleanser; It’s an excellent make-up remover, but should be followed with another proper cleanse to remove things like excess make-up, dirt, pollution and SPF.

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    Best cleanser for combination skin

    Kate Somerville Exfolikate Cleanser, from £16, Cult Beauty

    best cleanser for combination skin Kate Somerville

    ExfoliKate is particularly effective here as it tackles both characteristics of combination skin – the AHAs, lactic and glycolic acid, break down dead and dry skin cells while also removing excess oil for a softer, more radiant complexion. The brand now stocks in Space NK as well as online retailers, so be sure to pop down and check out the products IRL.

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    Keep scrolling for more of our hero cleanser buys.

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