Beauty, Fashion, Travel, Fitness, Wellness and Lifestyle Blog | Emtalks

Sunday, 27 February 2022

The Best Facial Cleansers - Which Face Cleanser Should I Buy?


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I’m so lucky that I get to meet and speak to lots of skin care professionals in my role as a content creator {Dr Sarah Tonks at The Lovely Clinic is my number 1!} and it’s a subject I’ve had a passion about for so long. When I was younger my mum had issues with her skin and therefore never indulged herself in any skin care products in the belief (wrongly I hasten to add) that they would always worsen the extreme oiliness from which her skin suffered. On the other hand my Grandma is a life long advocate of a solid skin care routine and used to regularly talk to me about the products she used and even as a little girl used to encourage me to follow a good routine too. These two extremes of opinion led me to be curious about whether there is truly any merit in following a strong skin care routine and I have to say, I too am an advocate and think I have good reason to claim that these products really are worth using. When I attend events in connection with such products I’m always blown away by the extensive research and quality ingredients that go in to facial products so today I thought I would do a blog post about my favourite / the top facial cleansers in the hopes that you find it useful. 

After numerous years of suffering, my Mum’s skin improved and in my line of work not only am I lucky enough to be able to sample some amazing products myself but I’ve also helped my Mum to develop a great skin care routine and she’s never been happier with her skin than she is now. Over the past few months, together we have been working through a number of facial cleansing products and we have reviewed some of our favourites (there are many of course) below. If you find this type of review helpful, please do let me know as I can also trial other products and bring our opinions back to you too.

Here are 3 pointers to consider before using facial cleansers:

1. While they are generally suitable for using all over the face including eyes, please make sure you use them with your eyes closed as they generally all sting if you get them in your eyes. If this happens you need to rinse your eyes with cold water promptly (talking of which have you ever had sunscreen in your eyes - terrible experience, avoid it); and

2. I do tend to go over my eyes and lips afterwards with specific spot cleansers for those areas to completely remove all traces of eye make up and lipstick. Facial cleansers are very good but some eye and lip make up is industrial strength so does need a little extra help. I just use a reusable bamboo pad with my micellar water or eye make up remover and it does the trick ensuring there are no traces left whatsoever. 

3. Like with any beauty products, they can be pricey so always shop around because there are some great deals around and believe me a good facial and skin care routine is worth the price. I have included cleansers for all price ranges below so you can decide which suits you most.

4. I always double cleanse, sometimes triple! I mix up my cleansers a lot but generally stick to two at a time and double cleanse to get extra benefits and ensure all product is removed.

5. Even on days when you haven't left the house, it's important to cleanse the skin - just general grime from the day can be on your skin! 

Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm

Here are the facial cleansing products we have tried between us and what we think of them:

CLEANSING BALMS: These are typically quite firm while in the jar and a small blob should be scooped out (preferably with a small spatula to prevent germs) and melted by rubbing in the palm of your hands or straight onto the face. Once the heat of your palms has suitably melted the balm, use it to gently massage all areas of your face, neck and décolletage for a couple of minutes. Doing so will not only loosen the grime and pollution deep down but also serves as a wonderful mini facial massage which is uplifting and relaxing at the end of a hard day. It’s then up to you how to remove the cleanser - my Mum tends to put it on in the shower and rinse with warm water whereas I prefer to wash my face in the sink and wipe off with a clean dry face cloth. Either is absolutely fine. For me, cleansing balms are just the easy, lazy girls way to remove all grime - quickly! 

Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm: The Elemis pro-collagen is a rich deep cleanser that leaves my skin with such a smooth, silky feeling and is very effective at dissolving all grime and make up with ease. I feel fully clean afterwards and when I use a cotton wool pad soaked in a toner, hardly any residue is found on my skin after using this cleanser. I also like that my skin is left feeling very moisturised but with no stickiness and is positively glowing. This can be used daily as a wash or weekly as a facial mask. I personally like to use this as a lazy girls quick make up remover, it literally melts it all.  Before using cleansing balms I was concerned that it would be cumbersome to use but it’s quite the opposite - easy and effective. It’s hard to choose between such great products so I would never say that I love one more than another but this cleansing balm is up there with the best and you will never be disappointed in it because it delivers. You can read my full review of the Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm.  Price - 100g will cost around £35 - £40 / Suitable for - all skin types. 

Buy Elemis Pro-Collagen Balm Cleanser online here (in different sizes too - great for travel or if you just want to trial it), herehere and here. 

Clinique Take Off The Day: This balm feels slightly less rich than the Elemis one but is just as effective, I would say this is such a 'take your skincare back to basics' style of cleanser. Perfect for every day use, if you just need to strip back your routine. It has a nice oiliness to it and no stickiness and leaves skin feeling perfectly fresh and not at all dry. It literally washes everything away in one go and is simple to use, again it can be used on the eyes and really does make the skin feel silky smooth. It’s a fabulous product and a very good price and I highly rate its effectiveness. Price - 125ml will cost between £20 - £23. Suitable for - all skin types. 

Buy Clinique Take Off The Day online here and here.

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Micro Cleansing Balm - How did I go so long without realising that Estée Lauder do a cleansing balm? The advanced night repair, in true Lauder fashion, is more than your average cleansing balm and not only does it melt away make up {including eye make up} but it's 
micro-purifying and micro-revitalising, it leaves the skin silky smooth. Some products from Lauder can feel a little perfumed on my skin but this has been great at melting away make up on even sensitive skin days, it doesn't sting whatsoever. RRP is £38 for 65g.

Buy Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair online here. 

Cultured Biomecare Cleansing Balm - From the founder of Ren skincare {aka one of the best sustainable skincare brands} is beauty brand Cultured Biomecare and I've already fallen in love with their cleansing balm. Whilst the new brand name takes me a while to get used to, the products are just as phenomenal as Ren. This product works with skin rather than on the skin, treating your skin like an ecosystem and encouraging stronger and healthier skin with each use. The cleansing balm uses bio-technology to tackle skin concerns in order to help the skin. This product is designed to protect against all things city life, like pollution and dust. It's designed to strength and enhance the skin and I have truly loved using it.  Great for inflamed skin or those busy city gals! RRP: 30ml for £15. 

CLEANSING GELS, JELLIES & LIQUIDS: I find jellies, gel and liquids tend to be lighter and generally less oily than rich balms. I think jellies feel luxurious but are lovely to use every morning to wake my skin up. There is a place in my daily routine for different types of cleansers depending on season / skin concern - I typically use the gels, jellies and liquids for a wash and go on a morning before then applying my make up and the more luxurious balms when I am taking off the day and pampering myself at night. It is of course entirely up to you because you can use them all to remove make up and debris but this is how these products work best for me. With gels, jellies and liquids, it's generally recommended to wet your face first with these products and then massage some of the product on to the wet face, neck and décolletage for a couple of minutes. Some produce a lather, others don’t. I find these are great to store in the shower. Again it’s then perfectly acceptable to either wipe off gently with a fresh cloth (always use a freshly washed cloth to ensure no bacteria gets on to your skin) or simply rinse with warm water. 

Skinceuticals Simply Clean Cleanser - I’ve got to say I absolutely love this brand with a passion - everything they do. Skinceuticals are backed by science, they truly are the creme de la creme of skincare with results. Their cleanser is my absolute holy grail cleanser, I find it very gentle but it encourages gentle exfoliation and it’s very soothing. I like to use this to wake up my skin but also as a second cleanse after my cleansing balm as find it gently removes last traces of make up. It’s the first step in what can only be described as a glorious range of facial products. My skin can be prone to breakouts as it is a combination of oily and dry (often changing with TOTM) and I truly believe that this product helps calm that. This is another great product for just stripping it back. I know I can use this every day without breaking out. 
Price - around £30 for 200ml. Suitable for - oily and combination skin.

Buy Skinceuticals Simple Clean Cleanser online here and here. 

Fresh Soy Cleanser - This is one of Mum and I's all time favourite daily cleansers. We are utterly in love with it and have been for years. It’s just such a pure product and when applying it you would think it will almost be too gentle but all you have to do is wet your skin massage it in for a couple of minutes and literally every single bit of dirt, debris and make up melts away in an instant. It is so effective, yet so gentle and skin never feels tight or dry afterwards. This cleanser is well balanced at it cleanser and tones and has very calming natural properties. I often use this daily for weeks on end and unlike some of the other gels, jellies and liquids I would say it’s 100% effective in removing everything all in one wash and never leaves me with anything other than perfectly balanced skin. I would absolutely recommend always double cleansing though. Read my full review of Fresh Soy CleanserPrice - 150ml will cost around £30. Suitable for - all skin types including sensitive 

Buy the Fresh Soy Cleanser online herehere and here.

REN Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Gel {14% off on Amazon right now} - I love REN products and use their face creams regularly. When I first came across this jelly I didn’t know what I would think to it as it has a funny texture - literally just like a favourite edible jelly! On massaging it in to skin though it soon begins to turn oily and then ends up looking a feeling like a really light milk based product. It leaves my skin feeling fresh and clean and wonderfully hydrated due to the oily properties in it. My skin doesn’t feel at all dry after using this product. Price - 150ml will cost around £15. Suitable for - Sensitive Skin 

Buy REN Evercalm online here and here.

REN Perfect Canvas Jelly Cleanser - This is one of the first ever cleansing jellies I used {I got it from Space NK and it's on sale right now} it's just a delicious product from start to finish. It's a three phase skincare treatment, transforming from the jelly, to an oil and then a milk so it really removes all grime but keeps the skin soft too. In true Ren style {they're incredibly sustainable} they use sunflower, grape and meadow foam seed oils to deliver antioxidant benefits. It makes my skin feel smooth and incredibly clean, almost juicy and plump. Hen have a Zero Waste pledge and this has been created from recycled plastic which I think is very cool. Price - 100ml will cost around £28.

Buy REN Perfect Canvas Jelly online here and here - also on sale here.

Plenaire Gentle Rose Cleansing Jelly - The most recent cleansing jelly I have used is by Plenaire, a beautiful, female founded brand I discovered in Space NK. Not only is their packaging to die for in my bathroom but their cleansing jelly fills me with calm the moment I smell it. It's almost like a calming meditation to start or end my day. This is designed to remove all traces of make up even though it's incredibly gentle and mild. It's got that gorgeous jelly like texture and really does remove impurities without scrubbing. It uses distilled rosewater to tone and refresh the skin whilst cleansing so it's almost like a two in one. It uses sugar based actives to condition the skin and lock moisture in. It's great even around the eyes as it's so mild. I love the uplifting rosewater in this product. 


Aveeno Calm & Restore Oat Cleanser The Aveeno Calm and Restore Oat cleanser presents as a gel and is designed for sensitive skin. It’s non-foaming and super light. I found this refreshing to use although it does leave a little bit of a residue after use (I suspect this is the oats in it!) so I do always use a toner afterwards to remove any residue. I would also say that it’s a cleanser for daily use on a morning before applying make up as it is super gentle - rather than one to use to remove make up, it's more of a gorgeous smoothie to wake you up and kick start the day. What I love about this product most is the fact that it leaves my skin feeling super soft and the price is great. Price - 200ml will cost around £8. Suitable for - Normal to dry skin 

Buy Aveeno Calm & Restore Oat Cleanser online here and here

CeraVe Cream To Foam Cleanser - On the topic of affordable cleansers, one I always grab is the CeraVe all in one cleanser. I recommend this to anyone looking to strip things back to basics and start fresh with their skincare routine. This is a one-step face wash for daily cleansing, it's gentle enough to safely remove eye make up too and comes out as a cream to transforms into a foamy lather when the water touches. For the price, the science in this is great: containing 3 essential ceramides to help protect the skins natural barrier and formulated with hyaluronic acid to retain the skins moisture. CeraVe products are great for sensitive skin because it's fragrance free and non-comedogenic so it wont make you break out or itch. This is a lovely, daily, gentle cleanser but it actually works. Price - 236ml is usually around £12 - suitable for sensitive skin and normal to dry skin. 

Buy the CeraVe Cream to Foam Cleanser online here and here.

Kiehls Ultra Facial Cleanser - It will be no surprise to those of you who follow me that I absolutely adore pretty much every single Kiehls product. Their face creams and oils are second to none and I have grown up using them. This is a gel cleanser that produces a foamy lather and is suitable for daily use. It’s laced with oils and after several days of use left my face feeling bright, fresh and clean and doesn’t dry my skin at all. It has very mild exfoliating properties and is very well balanced so my skin tolerates long use of this gel. It doesn't dry out the skin so it's perfect for daily use and is formulated with squalene, apricot kernel oil, vitamin E and avocado oil, so you can imagine how gentle and calming this product is. However as with the Aveeno cleaner I personally would use it as a cleanser first thing on a morning rather than a cleanser that gets rid of all your make up and grime in one go, it's a lovely wake-up-my-skin cleanser. Price - 100ml will be around £18. Suitable for - All skin types.

Buy Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cleanser online here and here.

Omorovicza Cleansing Foam This is a beautiful, luxury brand and the cleanser is a wonderfully creamy foaming cleanser of which I cannot speak highly enough about. If you're looking for a luxury cleanser, I love this brand so much. This product is designed to help clear congestion, get rid of dryness, firm the skin but also soothe any sensitivity. It uses a Hydro Mineral Transference system to deliver targeted minerals deep into the skin! The brand have over 2000 years of experience using cutting edge technology with Hungarian traditions plus make their products in a Nobel Prize winning lab... so yes, if you're looking for a luxurious, scientifically backed cleanser then you could say this product is epic. It’s so silky and smooth yet so effective at removing all types of dirt including makeup all in one go. My face is left feeling super hydrated after use but without residue. Even if you just try a small version of this product, do it just to get that wonderful silky feeling, it’s a lovely experience not to be missed. Price - 30ml is around £20. Suitable for - All skin types but great for congested and sensitive skin. 

Buy Omorovicza Cleansing Foam online here and here. 

L'oreal Paris Glycolic Resurfacing Gel Wash Cleanser - Another gel based product with medium foaming properties and a very gentle exfoliator built in. L'Oreal always offer a very good standard of product at a very good price point and this is no exception, in fact it feels like a much more premium product than its price tag. You cannot go wrong with L'Oreal Paris products if you're looking for cutting edge science {they're made in the top labs} but with a kinder price tag. I found this product smooth and creamy to massage and it left my skin feeling so bright and fresh without feeling dry. It made my skin feel glowing which is always what I'm looking for. This is a fabulous 'throw it in the gym bag' and take it abroad cleanser - it delivers so much at such a great price. Price - 150ml will cost around £8. Suitable for - all skin types 

Buy the L'Oreal Paris cleanser.

Garnier Micellar Gel Face Wash - This is another gel with medium foaming properties. It’s super gentle yet very effective in removing all debris and make up. My skin feels soft and hydrated after use and with no dryness or irritation on prolonged use. I absolutely love Micellar waters and use them as a first step when cleansing so it's nice to see a Micellar water in gel face wash form. This is just a simple product, great for day to day use but it’s a great price too. Price - 400ml is around £19. Suitable for - all skin types.


To conclude: there are hundreds {if not thousands} of incredible cleansers on the market and it really is difficult to choose. I switch my cleanser up up depending on season, occasion, my hormones, how much make up I have worn that day, if it's morning or night, if I want to feel calm or energised etc but I always double cleanse before bed! The brands above really are the creme de la creme when it comes to cleansers, as you can see, I have tried so many over the years and these are the ones I can always rely on. On lazy days I always go for a balm cleanser, on those luxury-spa-at-home days I go for more of a gel or, leave the jelly / balm on and have a facial experience - I do tend to mix and match my brands so I get max benefits and I don't think you can go wrong with the products above. Hopefully you will find something for every price range and skin concern. 

Lots of love, Em x

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