Paulien Eeckels

19 Jun 2020

How to Choose the Ideal Cleanser for Your Skin Type

After you’ve defined your skin type and understand the different ingredients used in skincare products, it’s finally time to dive into the skincare routine itself. The key to “perfect” skin is finding your ideal cleanser. For your products to work properly, you have to make sure you apply them to a clean face. Find out how to choose the right cleanser that matches your skin type in this article!

On a daily basis, we get exposed to lots of dirty goods. You cleanse your face to get rid of sweat, dead skin cells, and pollution. If you apply your skincare on top of all this dirt, your products will not work as intended. So, using a cleanser is very important.

Double cleansing, what’s in it for you?

It doesn’t matter whether it’s morning or evening, your first step in your skincare routine should always be cleansing your face. Actually no, your first step should always be washing your hands. It’s pretty self-explanatory to know that rinsing your face and applying products with dirty hands is not a good idea. As mentioned before, cleansing your face helps you get rid of all the dirt you get exposed to daily, but it also helps to prevent breakouts.

For your morning routine, I recommend you try to use as little product as possible. Especially for people with sensitive, dry, or acne-prone skin. The only dirt on your face in the morning is sweat and some dead skin cells anyways. Sometimes, just a splash of water can do the job.

In the evening, it’s best to opt for double cleansing, where you cleanse your face two times. Then, your skin will be a lot dirtier because it got exposed to those recently mentioned dirty goods. With a double cleanse, you’re making sure all of that is definitely gone. You are also sure you’re applying the following products on perfectly clean skin. You can use the same cleanser twice, or you can use two different ones that each have a different purpose.

How to define your ideal cleanser(s)

What kind of cleanser(s) you should use depends on your skin type and what your skin needs. If you read the first two articles about your skin type and different ingredients, you should know what to look for. There are some things we all have in common, though. You best rinse your skin with warm to lukewarm water to have the best results. Never use too hot water, though. Always remember, if the water is too hot for your hands, it will be too hot for your face as well. And when cleansing your face, always go in upward motions. Oh yeah, and make-up wipes? Good to clean your house, but not your face. They’re bad for your skin and the environment.

There are lots of different cleansers out there: oil-based cleansers, cleansing milks, cream cleansers, gel cleansers… I will discuss them all, what they do, and what skin type they were made for.

Oil-based cleansers

Oil-based cleansers perform great on any skin type. I would recommend oil-based cleansers to everyone. They are the perfect first cleanser. Because of their specific formula, it gets rid of all your make-up (even your eye make-up, without it irritating anything), SPF, and other remaining dirty goods. Cleansing oils are not that different from face washes, only they use water-soluble oils to dissolve your make-up and wash it away. That’s why you can use them on your eyes as well. And trust me, they will get rid of your make-up better than any other cleanser or wipe out there.

People with oily or acne-prone skin, don’t be afraid of the word “oil” here. This product will not make your skin oilier and it will definitely not affect your acne negatively.

The application of this cleanser is very easy: you gently massage one (or more, depending on the product) pump of cleansing oil all over a dry and dirty face. Be careful around the eye area, though, the skin around the eyes is very thin and sensitive. Rinse off with some lukewarm water. If you want to dry your skin afterward, remember to use your towel in tapping motions and don’t rub it harshly all over your face. Be gentle with your skin, always.

If you use an oil-based cleanser as the first step of your cleansing routine, I would definitely recommend you use a different cleanser as the second. Oil-based cleansers are perfect to get rid of dirt, but your face will not be entirely clean. For your morning routine, you best opt for a different cleanser.

Cleansing milks

Cleansing milks are perfect for people with dehydrated, dry, and/or sensitive skin. If you have dehydrated skin (in need of moist) this is great for you, because cleansing milk formulas are very rich in water. Cleansing milk hydrates and moisturizes your skin while cleansing it. They’re also great for dry and sensitive skin because they don’t foam like gel and cream cleansers, as they don’t contain any surfactants. That’s what makes them so gentle for your skin. This cleanser is also great if you have acne-prone skin. These types of cleansers often contain soothing ingredients that help to calm down redness and reduce irritation in sensitive and acne-prone skin.


Because they don’t contain any surfactants, they are less ideal for taking off your make-up. So, I would recommend you use this solely in the morning, or as a second cleanser in the evening. Cleansing milks usually have a creamy white color, while their texture is that of very liquid and runny cream. They’re not actually made of milk (most of the time). Their formula feels very rich, after cleansing your face with this type of formula, it leaves your skin feeling soft and healthy. It’s best to apply a cleansing milk on dry skin with a cotton pad. If you have sensitive skin, you can wipe it off with a cloth or cotton pad (water can dry out your skin even more). Other skin types can just rinse it off with lukewarm water.

A little extra tip here, because you don’t need water to rinse this type of cleanser off, it’s ideal for festivals, planes, and stuff like that.


Cream cleansers

Cleansing creams are perfect if you’ve got dry or sensitive skin or skin that always feels tight after cleansing. Cleansing creams are most of the time gentler and more hydrating than other kinds of popular face washes, like foams and gels. It balances out any skin concern and it calms down sensitive skin.

Cream cleanses have a creamy (unexpected, I know) texture that doesn’t produce lather. Some people think that lather is necessary for a clean face, but it’s really not. With cream cleansers, you cleanse your face without throwing off its pH or stripping off its protective barrier. Which makes them perfect for dry and/or sensitive skin. People with dehydrated skin can also benefit from this type of cleanser because they also deposit moisturizing ingredients.

When and how you should use a cream cleanser, depends on the cleanser you pick. Sometimes cream cleansers don’t require water and you’re good with some cotton pads. Others do require water for both application and rinsing.

You can use this cleanser both in your morning as evening routine, and you can use it as a first or second cleanser. If your skin gets more sensitive during winter times, switch up your regular cleanser for a cream cleanser during the colder months.

Gel cleansers

Gel cleansers are great if you are in need of deep cleansing. But they tend to be drying sometimes. So, stay away from these if you have dry or sensitive skin. If you have combination, normal, oily and/or acne-prone skin, these cleansers will do the trick for you. Gel cleansers are amazing to clear away impurities and prevent future breakouts. But please, make sure your cleanser isn’t too harsh because we don’t want to strip away our natural oils, do we? Go read my article about oily skin to figure out why!

You activate your gel cleanser with water. Start by dampening the product in your hands with some water. Apply it to a wet face and proceed to foam up your gel cleanser using gentle circular massaging motions. Rinse off with lukewarm water. You can use this cleanser both in the morning and evening, and it will do the trick on its own, or you can combine it with another cleanser.


Balm Cleansers

Balm cleansers are amazing for people with dehydrated, dry, and combination skin. Balms are great at removing dirt, oil, and make-up. They mostly contain ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, or other plant-based oils to make sure they have that balm-like formula. That’s what makes them so ideal to hydrate and moisturize your skin. Your skin will feel very soft and nourished after rinsing your face with a balm cleanser.

Just like oil-based cleansers, balm cleansers are great to take off your make-up. That’s because they’re based on the same principle, they utilize oils and emollients to break down make-up, oils, sweats, and other impurities. But unlike the oil-based cleanser, they have a very buttery or waxy texture. The formula usually melts once heated up in your hands or once they come into contact with your face. You best apply a balm cleanser to a dry face, and once all the make-up and other impurities are dissolved, you can remove it with a washcloth or warm water. Depending on the products. Some balm cleansers turn milky or foamy once they come into contact with water. You best use your balm cleanser in the evening as a first cleanser to remove all your make-up.


Foam cleanser

Okay, I’m going to be honest with you here: I don’t like foam cleansers. Most of the time these are or feel pretty cheap (Kylie Cosmetics, I’m looking at you, honey) and they are too hard on your skin. Foam cleansers create a foamy lather and strip away oil, make-up, and SPF. But because of the lather, they can slightly dry out the skin. Now, if you have oily, acne-prone, or teenage skin, this isn’t too damaging for you. And if you have found one that does the job for you, I’m not here to judge!

Foam cleansers are one of the easiest cleansers to use. You apply the foam on wet skin and start massaging it into your skin in upward (!) motions. After you’ve cleansed your face, you rinse it off with lukewarm water. If you do want to use a foam cleanser, you can use it both in the morning as evening, and it’s perfect on its own or as a second cleanser. I feel like you can easily change up a foam cleanser for a gel cleanser. They pretty much do the same for your skin, but a gel cleanser is a little less harsh for your face and its formula is a little richer.


That’s it for the first step of your skincare routine! I hope you finally know what cleanser works for you, and what you have to look for next time you go skincare shopping. Now, there are some other products you can clean your face with apart from a cleanser. As I’ve mentioned before, do not use face wipes. They are a breed of dirty germs. Another popular cleaning product is micellar water, although it doesn’t do the job for me, it’s a great second cleanser for lots of people. Especially if you have dry or dehydrated skin.

If you have any more questions about cleansers, slide in our Insta DM!

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