Monday, 10 September 2012

Different Cleanser Types & Their Properties

Today I thought I'd make a hopefully useful article about the different types of cleansers available and the different properties they have. I've been really wanting some Korean cosmetics at the moment and have been looking through all the different types and to be honest, it's a bit confusing! So I hope to enlighten people about the different formulations and hopefully you can choose the right cleanser for your skin! All images are from and feature cute cleansers from Korea because I'm obsessed at the moment!

Holika Holika's Egg Skin Red Clay Egg Soap

Soap & Water
Okay, first of all is the plain, basic soap and water cleansing but I don't advise this unless you have a bar of soap specifically designed for cleansing, not just any old bar of body soap like Dove or Imperial Lather. The normal soap you use in the bath dries out skin and can cause that "tight" feeling, redness, dry patches and irritation. Holika Holika have some really cute egg shaped cleanser soaps and there are all different types for different types of skin. Nature Republic also have some Natural Cleansing Bars and Missha have a great looking Black Ghassoul Foam Cleansing Bar I want to try! Soap cleansers lather up with water and actually work better with harder water! You can use a sponge, brush, loofah, cloth or your fingers to distribute the cleanser onto your skin.

The Saem's Silky Smooth Pore Cleansing Cream

Cream Cleansers
Cream cleansers are probably the most popular form of cleansing that people use if they don't use soap and water. Cleansing creams are the best option for dry or sensitive skin as they get rid of dead skin cells, dust, dirt and make-up but don't take any of your essential oils from your face, causing it to dry out. I use a really cheap, yet effective cold cream as a cleanser (Nivea) and just slather it all over my face, let it sit for a minute or so and remove it with toner. It's much gentler for removing make-up than make-up wipes and provides an extra surge of moisture. 

Etude House's Magic Bubble Brush Foam Cleansers

Foam Cleansers
Foam cleansers are extremely popular in Asia at the moment, including China, Korea and Japan - after trawling through all the cleansers Korea Depart offer, most of them are foam cleansers! They are also cheaper than cream cleansers but you have to use more product to cover your face, especially if you want to remove all remnants of make-up and because the foam is airy, you don't get as much in the packaging. Foaming cleansers can be slightly drying so drier or more sensitive skin types should be wary. They do, however, provide a deeper, more thorough cleanse and are better for acne-prone skin as they get rid of all the dirt, dust and and impurities that can clog pores and make skin oily. You can get gentler or milder foam cleansers that you can use many times a day so if you really, really want to try out foam cleansers and have dry/sensitive skin, you can still do that! Who would cleanse their skin more than once a day though?

Ten Seconds Cleansing Gel

Gel Cleansers
Gel cleansers are a type of lighter oil cleansers and are best for normal to combination skin. They are the best of both worlds - they have the deep cleaning of an oil or foam cleanser with a cooler, more refreshing feel of a gel, which is great for sensitive or irritated skin. They can be a tad drying so it's best used on skin that has more oily spots than dry ones, or even just on your T-zone. 

Skinfood's Lemon Brightening Cleansing Oil

Oil Cleanser
Oil cleansers are, as you've probably guessed, thicker, oiler formulations that usually consist mostly or purely of oil (most cleansers are a mix of oil, water and wax). You can use shop bought, branded oil cleansers or use cupboard basics like olive or jojoba oil! The concept of oil cleansing is that you massage the oil into your skin, dissolving hard oil and impurities that clog up your pores. Some people claim oil cleansing is the most effective way to almost completely eradicate blackheads because of this. You also usually need to remove the oil residue with another cleanser, like a foaming or cream one, but commercial oil cleansers are usually fine to absorb. You can use different oils depending on your skin type and some can be quite drying or quite moisturising. Jojoba, rosehip, olive and almond oil are great for dry skin. Because oil cleansing is regarded as being so deep cleaning, you probably only want to use this method 2-3 times a week, depending on your skin type.

It's Skin Rice Firming Cleansing Milk

Milk Cleansers
Milk cleansers are another gentle, natural way of cleansing similar to oil cleansing. Milk cleansing is a far more gentler and some may argue, less effective but it is good for sensitive or dry skin and can bring balance back to your skin that harsh soaps or cleansers may have caused. Again, you can buy commercially available milk cleansers or you can wash your face with milk. Literally. The milk from your fridge? Grab it, dab some on a cotton wool pad or ball and wipe it on your face using upward motions. It doesn't remove make-up, however. You can also infuse other natural ingredients such as lavender or essential oils for an extra benefit depending on your skin type but you will need to keep it in the fridge and throw away as soon as it starts smelling funny. Milk contains lactic acid, which hydrates your skin (and some say it can lighten) and is also an alpha hydroxy acid which works as a gentle exfoliator without the bits. Goats milk is higher in fat than cows, so is recommended for sensitive skin and can even alleviate excema. Milk cleansing can leave your skin more supple and moisturised and can neutralise the effects of hard water. Calcium, magnesium and iron deposits in hard water can irritate and dry out skin over time so use this to replenish moisture and restore balance.

Tony Moly's Aqua Aura Cleansing Water

Water Cleansers
Water cleansers are extremely light and well, watery, on application. They replenish moisture after application and you don't even need to wash it off after use - it's so light, it absorbs into skin. Water cleansers cleanse, refresh and balance skin to make it look more radiant and glowing. They are quite gentle and can be formulated for dry and sensitive, normal, oily or combination skin. The most available one I found was the UK's very own Boots No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Water. As with other cleansers, you dab this type onto a cotton wool ball or pad and wipe your face with it. It's not too good at removing make-up and requires a lot of product to do so.

IOPE's Moisture Skin Cleansing Lotion

Lotion Cleansers
Lotion cleansers are slightly more watery and thinner than cream cleansers and are good for dry or sensitive skin. They are quite refreshing and have the properties of a moisturiser in the fact that it is good for providing moisture to dry/sensitive skin and doesn't need to be rinsed off. Lotion cleansers are gentle as they contain no soap, oil or alcohol either and can be used around delicate eye areas - the skin on and below the eyelids, not your actual eyes. 0_0 They are very similar to gel cleansers but are better if you like the feel and effects of creamier cleansers and remove make-up better too. They are also termed as "emulsion cleansers" due to the combination of oil and water they contain.

The Face Shop's Tissue Specialist Green Tea Cleansing Wipes

Sheet (Tissue/Wipe) Cleansers
Cleansing tissues or wipes are probably best known for removing make-up and not much else. Western brand cleansing wipes tend to be quite drying as they contain harsh ingredients to strip make-up from the skin but also manage to strip away essential oils and sebum from us too, making our skin feel tight and dry. They play even more havoc on dry and sensitive skin - sometimes I use make-up wipes to remove make-up when I'm feeling lazy and can't be bothered to use cleansers and toner but I always make sure to moisturise afterwards in order to resist dry patches and flakes. Asian brands, however, usually have cleansing benefits that keep oils and necessary substances in the skin whilst cleansing of impurities and make-up. You can get different formulated for different skin types so there is no specific skin type catered for.

Skylake's Portable Cleansing Powder

Powder Cleansers
Powder cleansers are, well, powdery substances you mix with water to create a cleansing paste or lather. Due to natural ingredients used in them, they may not lather or bubble up that much but can be used as a gentle yet deep cleansing for normal to combination skin. Powder cleansers can last longer than other cleansers and are usually split up into little packets for each application so are more portable than others too.  Powder cleansers haven't quite clicked in Western cosmetics yet so check out Skylake's and Innisfree's take on them.

Happy Bath's White Clay Pore Cleansing Balm

Balm Cleansers
Cleansing balms are thicker than creams and are great for dry skin as they are very moisturising and remove dirt, dust and make-up. They turn oilier as they are applied and can be spread into a very thin layer so you don't use as much and is easier to remove. Massaging the balm in before removing is even better for your skin as it gives a better cleanse and promotes blood flow, giving you a radiant and glowing complexion. Unfortunately they are not so great on spot-prone skin as they leave a lot of the skin's natural oils in and can cause breakouts - sometimes oilier skin needs the slight stripping and antibacterial action of other cleansers such as foams or gels. If you apply cleansing balms in thicker amounts and leave for 10 minutes, they can act as super moisturising and cleansing masks and can also be used on elbows, knees, lips, etc. for extra surges of moisture. A lot of cleansing balms contain plant-based ingredients and wax, which contributes to their thick, creamy and sometimes slightly oily or waxy consistency. Lush's Ultrabland cleanser is the perfect example of a cleansing balm and is great for all skin types, even spot-prone ones.

Mizon's Real Oatmeal Cleansing Sherbet

Sherbet Cleansers?!
Sherbet cleansers are very unusual and are mostly found in Asian brands such as Mizon and Shiseido. Sherbet or sorbet cleansers have a well, sherbet or sorbet texture that melts away as you apply. I guess the texture is kind of grainy and dry feeling but not, if you know what I mean? It is dry or solid enough to be able to be scooped up and usually comes with a little spatula or spoon. It isn't drying though, and can be used for combination skin. I guess this is used more because of the novelty of the texture and the fact it actually melts away like an actual sorbet - I want to try this now too, so it's tempted me!

Wow, a lot of different cleanser types! You'll find that there are a couple of each type that are great for a particular skin type - dry and sensitive skin is best with cream, oil, milk, balms or lotions (lots of choice!), normal and combination skin has gel, oil, water, powder and sherbet to use and oily skin types can use soap, foam, oil, powder and wipes.

Do you have an ultra favourite cleanser you swear by? I love my cheapy cheapy £1 Nivea cold cream but I want to try out a Korean type too.


  1. What an informative post! I'm currently using a sherbet cleanser and I'm actually liking it. It's quite different and a bit hard to describe but the moment it's massaged and distributed on my face, I feel like most of my makeup just comes right off.

    Anywho, thank you for such a long and detailed post on all the different cleansers out there! Keep up the awesome work!

    1. Oh, what sherbet cleanser are you using? I'd love to try one! It sounds heavenly... *0* I've been recently taking my make-up off with pure olive oil and it literally just melts away! It makes my skin feel lovely and soft too (I cleanse the oily feel/residue away with another, foaming cleanser)!

    2. I've read somewhere that pure olive oil is great for our skin and some people actually use it to remove their mascara and eye makeup. Maybe I should try that because I'm not loving my eye makeup remover at the moment.

      Oh about the sherbet cleanser! I'm using Tony Moly Relaxing Aqua Marine Sherbet Cleanser. I love everything about it except for the fact that it contains methylparaben =(

    3. Yes, it is! I have started using it since I ran out of my Avon oil based eye make-up remover, which I just used for my whole face anyway, and olive oil literally melts the make-up off my face and makes my skin feel very soft and much more nourished than regular, harsher make-up removers. I do remove the oily feeling and any extra olive oil off of my face using a regular foaming cleanser though.

      That sounds great, I will definitely check it out!

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