How to Choose the Best Face Cleanser for You

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

If you want clear, healthy skin, cleansing is arguably the most important step. A face cleanser is the backbone of any skincare routine and is the first step in keeping skin clear and healthy. 

That’s why it’s critical to use the right formula for your skin type and concerns. Yet, finding the right cleanser for your skin is one of the most overlooked parts of many people’s skincare routine. Your face cleanser can play an intricate role in the effectiveness of the rest of your skincare routine.

So, how do we find the right cleanser? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know to find the best face cleanser for your skin. 

Today, I’m sharing:

  • Why It’s Important To Use The Right Face Cleanser
  • The Different Types of Face Cleansers
  • How To Determine The Best Face Cleanser For Your Skin
  • Why Face Wipes Are Not A Good Face Cleanser

Why It’s Important To Use The Right Face Cleanser

It’s not so much that a good face cleanser, on its own, is going to do something miraculous to your skin. But, the wrong face cleanser can indeed create a skin condition that you don’t usually have. And one that you’ll spend money trying to “fix” with other skincare products.

  • If your cleanser is too stripping, your skin can become dry, irritated, or sensitized. 
  • If your cleanser is too rich, it can leave a residue behind that clogs your pores.

The Different Types of Face Cleansers

Face cleansers come in a few categories: foam, gel, cream, oil, and micellar water. Let’s discuss each of them.


Foam cleansers are lightweight, sudsy cleansers that foam up as you massage them into your skin. They are known for their effectiveness in removing impurities. They are also known for being a bit drying. However, all foaming cleansers are not created equal.


Gel cleansers have a gel-like consistency, as the name suggests. They’re known for being effective at decongesting clogged pores, removing excess oil, and killing acne-causing bacteria. Gel cleansers are similar to foam cleansers, yet, they’re generally gentler and more hydrating.


Cream cleansers have a thicker, creamier consistency. They’re also known to cleanse your skin without stripping it of its natural oils. Cream cleansers can also come in the form of “milk” or “lotion.”

It is debatable whether cream cleansers should be categorized as oil or water-based cleansers since they contain moisturizing ingredients. Some are used to remove makeup too. Although some cream cleansers can remove most kinds of makeup, I’d still recommend using an oil-based cleanser during your double cleanse.


When double cleansing or as a stand-alone cleanser, oil cleansers help to give you clean, soft, and smooth skin. It’s an oil-based cleanser that draws out oil-based impurities such as sebum, SPF, makeup, and pollutants on your face. So when you finally use your water-based cleanser, it can get into your pores without any interference.


These are the cleansers that you don’t need to rinse off with water. Cleansing waters work like water cleansers by removing water-based impurities and help to tone and purify the skin. So, micellar water can simply be swept across your face on a cotton pad to remove dirt.
Cleansing waters remove water-based impurities and help to tone and purify the skin. If your skin needs a deep clean, cleansing water is a great third step in your cleansing process.

How To Determine The Best Face Cleanser For Your Skin

A general rule when picking a cleanser is to base it on your skin type. I don’t necessarily agree with the broad classifications of oily, dry, combination, acne-prone, or sensitive as your sole source in picking a cleanser. Because many of us are two or three of those on any given day!

So my best advice is to pay attention to how your skin looks and feels and tweak your routine accordingly.

Like any other part of the routine, cleansers aren’t one-size-fits-all. Your needs will vary based on your environment, lifestyle, and skin goals. Mainly, a good cleanser should be gentle and non-stripping. Your face shouldn’t feel stiff, irritated, dry, or tight after you wash your face.

In general:

  • If you have oily skinfoaming cleansers are a great option because they’re often the most effective at helping control oil production. 
  • If you have combination skingel cleansers are great because of their deep clean while being gentle and hydrating. 
  • Cream and oil cleansers are a great option for dry skin because of their moisturizing qualities. Oil cleansers are great for double cleansing too. 
  • And, for days when your double cleansing routine is not getting the job done, incorporating micellar water can make you feel extra fresh.

Since my skin is very prone to dehydration, I generally look for gentle cleansers that help soothe and hydrate my skin. I mean, every eczema-prone skin type loves to hear those words!

Two ingredients I check for in a face cleanser:

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (aka SLS) – Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is commonly used in cleansing products like body wash, cleansers, shampoos, and hand washes. It gives these products their foamy, bubbly consistency. But, SLS is a skin irritant. Cleansers using SLS can strip the skin of its natural oils, causing dry, irritated skin. It can also irritate your eyes.
  • Fragrance – I always say that it’s best to limit your exposure to fragrance if possible, especially if you have sensitive skin or eczema. Fragrance is one of the top skin irritants.

Why Face Wipes Are Not A Good Face Cleanser

You’ll notice that face wipes are nowhere to be found on my lists of suggested cleansers. I think they’re convenient to use when you’re on the go or at the gym, but they should never be a replacement for an actual face cleanser.

If you like face wipes and want to include them in your routine, I suggest using them as an initial makeup-removing step and then following them up with a regular cleanser.


I hope this post gave you some insight into what types of cleansers are out there and how to pick a face cleanser for you. 

Please don’t allow yourself to get too caught up in a particular cleanser category, because at the end of the day, it’s essential to use this information as a jumping-off point. It will ultimately come down to how your skin reacts to different formulations. Always trust your gut when it comes to skincare because it’s all about personal preference. 

Hopefully, I’ve convinced you that cleansers are an important part of your skincare regimen and that all are not created equal!

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  1. Emmanuella Osei
    July 15, 2020 / 12:31 pm

    Thanks for this. I was using LaRoche Posay Hydrating Cleanser in Winter but wanna try something new.

  2. January 7, 2023 / 1:43 am

    After reading this piece, I am overjoyed. Because I have been concerned about my face for a few months. But now i am feeling very happy. In the future, I want to see more important information like this. Once again,
    thank you for making me feel at ease and satisfied.

  3. March 7, 2023 / 6:36 am

    Thanks so much for this. Posts like these are always very handy because cleansers are a must! Best Face Wash !

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