5 Types Of Facial Cleansers & How To Choose the Right One

When it comes to shopping for the perfect face wash, it can be hard to know which one to choose from all the different types of facial cleansers. Here’s our guide to the best facial cleansers and what they’re perfect for!

How to Choose Facial Cleanser

Young woman washing face with best facial cleansers

Choosing the best face wash for your skincare routine starts with understanding what each of the types of facial cleansers does. While yes, at the end of the day, they’ll all leave your skin feeling fresh and clean, some skin types do better with certain cleansers, and some cleansers should only be used at nighttime. Here’s our guide to the best facial cleansers and what makes them special. 

Oil Cleanser

This type of facial cleanser is best used every night at the end of the day to gently, yet effectively deeply cleanse your skin and remove makeup as part of a double cleansing routine. I know what you’re thinking - how am I supposed to wash an oil off of my skin? Oil cleansers are cleverly formulated with a special type of ingredient called an emulsifier that allows the oils to be rinsed away cleanly with just water leaving skin that’s free of makeup and ready for your second cleanse. 

All skin types do well with oil cleansers - those with oily skin or congestion-prone skin might even find that regular oil cleansing helps to minimise the appearance of large pores thanks to consistent deep, yet gentle cleansing that these types of facial cleansers provide.

sk-ii facial treatment cleansing oil
SK-II Facial Treatment Cleansing Oil
This ultra-effective cleansing oil dissolves away your makeup and any sebum-based grime from your skin.

Balm Cleanser

Balm cleansers are essentially oil cleansers in a slightly different form. They’re ideal for double cleansing - the method of removing your makeup with an oil or balm cleanser, and following that up with milk, cream or gel cleanser to thoroughly cleanse your skin. 

You’ll find balm cleansers packaged in squeeze tubes or jars - no matter their packaging, all balm cleansers melt right down into a luxurious oil that quickly and easily dissolves makeup - even the stubborn waterproof kind. Just like oil cleansers, they can be rinsed away with water to reveal makeup-free skin and a radiant glow! 

Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing balmOmorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm
Leave your skin feeling fresh and clean with this cleansing balm from Omorovicza. 

Milk Cleanser

Milk cleansers can be used morning and night - they have a gentle formula that’s halfway between a gel and oil. They usually have a few more oil-based ingredients - which makes them pretty good for removing makeup - but aren’t as oily as balm or oil cleansers. 

Milk cleansers are old school in the way that they can be tissued off after using, instead of rinsed away. This method leaves traces of moisturising oils on your skin, strengthening your skin’s moisture barrier and locking in essential hydration. They’re rich, moisturising cleaners - which makes them ideal for all skin types, but will be especially enjoyed by dry skin. 

clarins cleansing milkClarins Cleansing Milk with Moringa
This gentle cleansing milk from Clarins removes makeup and impurities while nourishing skin.

Cream Cleanser

These rich, luxurious facial cleansers have a thicker texture than runnier milk cleansers, and foam up to a thicker lather that leaves your skin feeling clean and refreshed. Some cream cleansers are fortified with exfoliating acids and clay to address specific skin concerns; treatment cleansers like this should be used once or twice a week in tandem with another of these types of facial cleansers in your skincare routine. 

dermalogica skin resurfacing cleanserDermalogica Skin Resurfacing Cleanser
This cream cleanser from Dermalogica exfoliates your skin with the power of Lactic Acid.

Gel Cleanser

Gel cleansers are often thought of as the best facial cleansers for just oily and combination skin, but that’s not always true! While they tend to be a little foamier than their other cleanser counterparts, many modern gel cleansers are actually ideal for all skin types thanks to modern formulas that add hydration to skin without stripping it away. 


Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel
A gentle soap-free cleanser that refreshes and revitalises all skin types. 

Now that you know how to choose facial cleanser based on what they can do, get your beauty affairs in order!

If you’re still trying to figure out a routine, let alone pick a certain type of cleanser, try our skin analysis!

Beauty Affairs Skin Analysis

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Alexis Adrienne

Alexis Adrienne

Alexis Adrienne is a passionate beauty writer with over 10 years of experience. She’s incredibly keen on all things skincare, makeup and cosmetics, with a fingertip on the pulse of the latest global beauty trends at all times.

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