Right this way for the cleanest skin of your life
I would go out on a limb and say that finding (and using) the best cleanser for your complexion is the most important skincare step. Washing away the day’s grime and removing make-up are both essential for healthy skin, and any products that follow need to be applied to a clean face.
Whether you prefer a cream cleanser, thick balm, lightweight gel or nourishing cleansing oil, there’s one 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 micellar water
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. Yes micellar water is wonderful stuff but please, please, please don’t use it as your sole cleanser; It’s an excellent make-up remover and first step, but should always be followed with a proper cleansing face wash unless you’re on-the-go.
Best cleanser for acne prone skin
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.
Best cleanser for oily skin
A gentle soap-free cleansing gel that works to refresh the skin and normalise oil levels, this one can be used all over the body – great if you struggle with back acne too.
Best cleanser for dry 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.
Best cleanser for combination skin
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 has just launched into its first physical store space at Space NK, so be sure to pop down and check out the products IRL.
Best cleansing oil
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.
Best cleanser for sensitive skin
Simple is a household name when it comes to products for sensitive skin. Made from 100% grape seed oil, this cleanser is gentle and nourishing; massage into dry skin, rinse with a little water and wash all impurities down the plughole. As ever there are no artificial colours or perfumes involved, so your sensitive skin is in good hands.
Best cleanser for blackheads
Mario Badescu Acne Facial Cleanser, £14, Beauty Bay
Mario Badescu is loved by many a spot-prone skin sufferer, and this cleanser is suited to anyone with oily skin that’s easily congested. It contains wonder exfoliating ingredient salicylic acid that breaks down those pesky plugs of dead skin and oil, reducing their appearance over time.
Best cleanser brush
A face cleanser brush takes your daily face wash to the next level. Using one of these in your skincare routine will leave your skin feeling smoother and will give your pores a much deeper clean than just using your hands or cotton pads. The best, like Clarisonic’s Mia 2 Cleansing System, are designed to be gentle enough for every day use, though if you have sensitive skin that’s easily irritated, it’s best to use every other day should you feel a bit wary about overdoing it with the scrubbing. The Mia 2 has two different speeds depending on your skin’s sensitivity, a pulsing timer option, and a handy travel case (we’re also big fans of it’s little sister, the Clarisonic Mia Fit Device).
Keep scrolling for more of our hero cleanser buys.
One of the US's best-loved affordable skincare brands, Cerave's hydrating cleanser, this formula is packed with hydrating hyaluronic acid and ceramides to support skin's moisture levels and minimise dryness. The pump dispenser is super handy too.
Without a doubt one of the best cleansers on the beauty market, Oskia's hero formula offers a thorough cleanse without stripping your skin dry. It really does do it all: Buffing away dead skin cells, removing make-up and environmental aggressors, improves skin's firmness and elasticity and supports the lipid barrier for your best skin ever. Just divine.
A mask and cleanser in one, Lixirskin's clever cream cleanser removes the day's grime and pollution from your face; the negatively charged formula draws positively charged toxins from the skin, minimising their damaging effects. Massage for a minute, leave on for a minute and your skin will look better after one use.
Gentle and refreshing, this purse-friendly cleanser from Neutrogena offers a hit of hydration, leaving skin clean, fresh, soft and supple.
A great melting down balm that works wonders on dissolving mascara, eyeliner, the works, and rinses away with no residue on the skin. A little tube will last you ages so it's a great investment in your bathroom cabinet.
This powerful balm deeply cleanses your skin to dissolve make-up and get rid of daily pollutants, without drying it out. So you end up with noticeably clearer skin that's also seriously moisturised. This one feels like a real treat to use.