For skincare I think my favorite things to try out are facial cleansers. There's nothing quite as refreshing as the feeling of having squeaky clean skin. I have sensitive skin that reacts to a lot of products and when it happens it usually happens instantly with a flash of tiny little red bumps that surface everywhere. I need cleansers that are gentle but still effective at getting rid of excess oil and dirt. I have normal combination skin so I look for cleansers that are strong enough to feel like my skin is thoroughly cleansed, doesn't leave any film but at the same time won't strip the skin and leave it feeling tight. I have a roundup of face cleansers I think are really good for right now, especially as we transition to spring. A few are tried and true and some others are new to me that I've been testing since January. I took these photographs a little over a month ago but wanted to wait and use up a few tubes entirely to see how I felt about them and also which ones I thought I would be repurchasing.
Finding a cleanser depends on so many different things. Skin type is the main deciding factor so if you have normal but sensitive skin like me I think you will find this review most helpful. I probably switch up my cleansing routine more than the average person. I tend to use a different cleanser for morning versus night. Also on full makeup days I like to double cleanse by using a cleansing water or cleansing oil first to remove my makeup. Then I follow with a regular liquid or cream cleanser afterwards to make sure my skin is cleansed all the way. On workout days I find myself giving my face an extra wash - right after I work out and also right before I go to bed because I have this thing about sleeping with clean skin.
I'll split my recommendations by type and by intensity. I'm a huge wimp when it comes to any kind of tingle for skincare so all of these in this roundup are tingle-free and super gentle.
Up first are the cleansing oils I've had in rotation from Tom Ford, Tatcha, SK-II and L'Occitane. For these it's really hard to pick a favorite because all four are extremely good. I've reviewed oils before (a few years ago) and I'm really picky with what I repurchase. As long as an oil doesn't break out my skin or cause a reaction I'll use it up entirely because I don't want it to go to waste. Many leave an emollient film on the skin that I personally don't like. Others strip the skin. Some others just don't emulsify well on my skin when you add warm water. A few thoughts on these four:
- Tom Ford Purifying Cleansing Oil ($80 for 6.7 fl oz) is the newest cleansing oil that I've tried, it just launched this year. Tom Ford Beauty describes this one as having a velvety formula, filled with nutrient-rich natural oils such as Jasmine Flower oil, Evening Primrose oil, Buriti oil, Tamanu oil and botanical extracts such as Panax Ginseng Root Extract and Thistle Fruit Extract, to cleanse and detoxify skin." It indeed does have a velvety texture and cleanses the skin entirely. It removes all traces of makeup including eyeshadow, although I did not test on mascara because I don't like oils near my eye area. It is on the purifying side but isn't stripping. It did leave my skin feeling firm and smooth, but not tight.
- Tatcha Pure One-Step Camellia Cleansing Oil ($48 for 150 ml / 5.1 fl. oz.) has been reviewed here on The Beauty Look Book before. I would say this is my no-fail go to for cleansing oils. It's gentle and leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth. It's non-irritating and melts away all the makeup from your skin when you add warm water to emulsify and massage into the face. I love that they make a well packaged mini versions perfect for travel.
- SK-II Facial Treatment Cleansing Oil ($70 for 8.4 fl oz) is another favorite. This one has the most velvety cushiony texture out of all the ones I've tried. It's just as gentle as the Tatcha but I find the SK-II leaves the skin feeling a bit more moisturized. On days I feel dry this one is best for my skin because it's not quite as purifying as others but still removes all traces of makeup.
- L'Occitane Immortelle Cleansing Oil ($32 for 6.7 fl oz) full review here, but quick take is this is one of the most gentle but effective cleansing oils I've tried and used up. I really love this one because it's nourishing and leaves the skin feeling super soft and smooth without any residue.
Next are more traditional formulas, but as I've been testing some new ones I've found some really interesting ones that are quite innovative in texture and how they apply on the skin.
Shown above from left to right:
- Kate Somerville Gentle Daily Wash ($34 for 4 oz) this is one I've used up entirely and I love it. Over the summer I fell in love with the Detox Daily Cleanser because it was good for those super hot humid days. As we transitioned to cooler weather I started using the Gentle Daily Wash and it's a lot more gentle on the skin. It's a really good daily mild cleanser that I love for super sensitive skin days. It's effective enough to use every day multiple times a day without stripping the skin. For me this one is pure love and I will be repurchasing this one. It helps calm down the skin on irritated days.
- Kate Somerville Exfolikate Cleanser ($38 for 4 oz) is the newest cleanser from the Kate Somerville line. I also used this one up entirely (I just finished it 2 days ago). This one is such a unique cleanser. It has no gritty texture like scrubs do but does contains a mix of glycolic acid and lactic acid along with pineapple, pumpkin and papaya enzymes to exfoliate the skin in a natural way without being harsh or drying. It's gentle enough to use daily but I like to use this 2-3x per week and alternate with the Daily Wash. It's super gentle - there has been no irritation or harsh feeling on the skin. It's amazing at improving the skin texture without the harsh feeling of a scrub.
- Algenist Gentle Rejuvinating Cleanser ($25 for 4 oz) is another really good gentle cleanser option. I'm about 80% finished with this one and think it's yet another incredible discovery. It's similar in performance to the Kate Somerville Gentle Daily Wash but the Algenist is a unique cream texture that has a slightly mousse-whipped feel. This is one of the few cleansers I can use 2x a day 7 days a week without feeling like I need to switch up cleansers. It's gentle as the name implies but does a great job at cleaning the skin.
- First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Deep Cleanser with Red Clay ($24 for 4.7 oz) has been featured on the blog a few times and definitely has reached a favorites spot for me in terms of being one of the best purifying cleansers. It cleans out the pores and the red clay helps draw out excess oil. It helps clear up the skin when I have breakouts. The texture is almost gel-like but still liquid. I think this is a great balancing product for those with normal, combination or oily skin. Right now I can't use it daily because it's a tiny bit drying for the weather/season right now - but that's for my normal combo skin.
- bareMinerals Clay Chameleon Transforming Purifying Cleanser ($22 for 4.2 oz) is another really good clarifying cleanser. This one is interesting because you apply it directly on dry skin and massage it until the cleanser turns white. It's a light red color that has a clay-cream like texture. Once you massage it into the skin you rinse with warm water and it cleans the skin entirely. This one is slightly stronger than the one from First Aid Beauty but is still gentle and non-irritating. It leaves the skin feeling firm but not tight. I like this on days I feel oily or after workouts. My husband really likes this one, although his go-to is still the Kiehl's Facial Fuel.
Out of all the ones I've been testing, I would say that my top two favorites for cleansing oils right now are the L'Occitane and Tatcha with SK-II being close third. I find L'Occitane to be the most soothing and gentle for my skin while Tatcha is a classic staple. The SK-II one is good but the price prevents me from wanting to purchase over and over again although I really really like it. The one from Tom Ford is one of the most purifying ones I've tried - I suspect it might be a bit too strong if you have dry skin. It's definitely a luxurious one but I think you can find other more affordable options that perform just as well.
For the regular cleansers, I've been so impressed with Kate Somerville. I can't rave enough about the line because the skincare just works so well for my sensitive skin. For everyday my favorites are the Kate Somerville Gentle Daily Wash and Algenist Gentle Rejuvinating Cleansers.
Do you have a favorite cleanser of the moment? I always love hearing about skincare favorites so please share in the comments!
Press samples included from all brands featured above except SK-II. As always all opinions my own.