Healthy Skin

How to choose the right cleanser

There are many  different skincare products on the market, and it can be difficult to choose the right cleanser.

Your skin has a natural film of sweat and oil that traps and accumulates a build-up of dust, air pollution, smoke and whatever else is in the air, on top of anything you’ve applied that day. Cleansers remove build-up from your skin and leave behind natural moisturising factor, barrier lipids and good bacteria.

But, knowing how to choose the right cleanser for your skin can prove tricky. Here, skincare expert, Hannah English, explains how to pick the perfect cleanser for your skin type.

How to choose the right cleanser

Oil or balm

Oil or balm cleansers are good for fast, gentle makeup removal. They’re also good for the ‘first cleanse’ at the end of the day i.e. to remove the pollution, makeup and build-up. You may wish to opt for a seperate ‘second cleanse’ cleanser afterwards to tackle skin concerns.

With oil or balms, be sure to cleanse thoroughly and leave no trace behind on skin. They can clog pores if they leave a film.

Exfoliating (powder, enzyme, acid)

Exfoliating cleansers are ideal for preventing clogged pores. They’re great to use in the morning, after a workout or before a treatment. These types of cleansers also work well as a second cleanse in the evening, after using a first cleanse to remove build-up from the day.

Take care to avoid over-exfoliation with these types of cleansers.

Micellar water

The benefits of micellar water is that it’s quick, easy and rinse-free. It’s ideal for the morning or as an evening first cleanse to remove any build-up from the skin.

Be aware that some micellar water products are too harsh to be left on the skin. You may wish to opt for an alternative if you have sensitive skin.

Gel or foaming

Choose a gel or foaming cleanser if you’re looking for something to remove excess oil. Ideal to use in the morning, it also works great as a second cleanse in the evening to address oily skin.

Something to look out for is that gel or foaming cleansers can be dehydrating.


Cream-based cleansers are ideal for any skin type, and work especially well on dry skin. You can use cream-based cleansers as a first or second cleanse at night. You can also use them in the morning.

Take care to cleanse thoroughly with cream-based cleansers; they can leave residue behind.


Choose a clay cleanser if you’re looking to remove excess oil. Ideal in the morning, or as a second cleanse at night, clay will help to draw out oil from the skin.

Be mindful that clay cleansers can be dehydrating.

How to cleanse your skin

Follow Hannah’s top tips for the ultimate cleansing ritual.

  1. Wash your hands and apply the oil cleanser to a dry face.
  2. Wet your hands and add warm water to your face to emulsify. This is when the surfactant in the oil cleanser interacts with water.
  3. Spend 30 seconds massaging the cleanser into your skin, then remove with water or the softest flannel you can find. This is your make-up removal step.
  4. Use your second cleanser to get into your skin and target skin concerns, any residual excess oil, leftover oil cleanser and dead skin yet to be rinsed away. Spend at least 30 seconds on this step to ensure you haven’t missed any spots (more sensitive skin might require less time).

If you’re not using an oil cleanser, here are the steps to follow:

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Apply cleanser to damp hands and lathe.
  3. Apply the lather to your dry face and work in for 30 seconds, adding more water as you go.
  4. Remove with water or a soft flannel.

Discover more healthy skin tips in Hannah’s book, Your Best Skin by Hannah English.

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