Types of Cleansers: Yeah, There is More Than One!

Have you ever thought about all the different types of cleansers on the market? I mean, really thought about it? There's foam, gel, cream, milk, oil...the list goes on and on.

With so many choices, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out which one is best for your skin type. Do you need foam or gel? A bar of soap or a cream? It's enough to make your head spin! 

But don’t worry! ! Today, we're breaking down all the different types of cleansers and helping you figure out which is best for your skin type without spending hundreds on random products. 

So sit back, relax, and get ready to learn about your new favorite skincare product.

The ABCs of Facial Cleansers

A facial cleanser is one of the most important steps in a good skincare routine-- but what exactly is it? In short, a facial cleanser is a product that helps to remove dirt, oil, makeup, and other impurities from the skin.

However, not all facial cleansers are created equal. Some are designed for specific skin types, such as oily or dry skin, while others aren’t meant to be used on a daily basis. So, if you’re confused about how many types of cleansers there are, here is a full breakdown of all your options: 

Oil-based cleansers

Oil-based cleansers are exactly what they sound like - cleansing products that contain oil as the main ingredient. The oil helps to break down makeup and other impurities on the skin, leaving it feeling clean and refreshed.

They are made to remove oil-based impurities like excess oil *aka sebum*, sunscreen, and makeup. 

Here are our favorite types of oil-based cleansers:

  • Cream cleanser or cleansing milk

Cream cleansers and cleansing milk are usually made with oils, which help to emulsify the dirt and makeup so that it can be rinsed away. 

Whereas foaming and gel cleansers tend to be light and airy, cream cleansers are, well, creamy. And, unlike other cleansers that can be a little drying, a cream cleanser leaves the skin feeling hydrated and soft thanks to its moisturizing ingredients, such as glycerin or hyaluronic acid, which can help nourish the skin. 

Cream cleansers often come in jar or pump packaging, and they can be applied with a cotton pad or directly to the face.

Cream Cleanser
Softymo Honey Mild Cleansing Cream Featuring Winnie The Pooh
Cream Cleanser Softymo Honey Mild Cleansing Foam Winnie The Pooh
Sale price$20.00

A cleansing balm is, quite simply, a solid form of cleanser. It's typically made with a blend of all-natural oils and butters, which work together to dissolve makeup, dirt, and grime. 

Unlike traditional liquid cleansers, cleansing balms are designed to be used dry. Additionally, they're incredibly versatile, so you can use them as the first step in your double-cleansing routine, or you can use them on their own as an alternative to your usual cleanser.

To use one, you simply massage it onto your skin in circular motions. The heat from your skin will cause the balm to melt, allowing it to effectively lift away impurities. 

Cleansing Balm
Neogen - Real Fresh Cleansing Stick Green Tea
Cleansing Balm Real Fresh Green Tea Cleansing Stick
Sale price$5.00 Regular price$25.00
Cleansing Balm
All Clean Balm | One Step Cleanser
Cleansing Balm All Clean Balm
Sale price$18.00

  • Oil cleanser

If you have oily or acne-prone skin, the thought of cleaning your face with oil sounds positively crazy. I mean, shouldn't we be using products that will help to control the oil production on our face, not add to it? However, as it turns out, using cleansing oils can actually be very good for your skin. 

In a nutshell, oil cleansers are a type of facial cleanser that contains natural oils like jojoba or olive oil. And here is how they work: when you massage an oil into your skin, the oil helps to break up any dirt, makeup, and other impurities that are sitting on the surface. Then, when you rinse it off with water, all of that gunk gets washed away, leaving your skin feeling clean and refreshed. 

In this sense, oil cleansers are great to remove stubborn waterproof makeup and leave your skin feeling softer and smoother, so they’re the first step in a 2-step cleansing routine. 

Oil Cleanser
Etude House - Real Art Perfect Cleansing Oil
Oil Cleanser Real Art Perfect Cleansing Oil
Sale price$18.00
Oil Cleanser
Calendula Complete Cleansing Oil 200ml
Oil Cleanser Calendula Complete Cleansing Oil
Sale price$21.00

Water-based cleansers

In a nutshell, water-based cleansers are formulas that contain mostly *you guessed it* water. That might not sound like much, but it actually makes a big difference. Water-based cleansers are typically lighter and more refreshing than types of cleansers. 

Plus, they don’t include any oils or waxes that can make the skin feel heavy, which can be good during the hottest months of the year. But it also means they might not be as effective at breaking down heavy makeup or oil-based sunscreen, like oil cleansers. 

Taking that into account, here are our fave types of water-based cleansers

  • Foam cleanser 

A foam cleanser is literally a cloud of happiness that you can rub all over your face!  It's light and airy, and it leaves your skin feeling refreshed and clean. 

A foaming cleanser is made with a special ingredient called surfactants. Surfactants are molecules that love oil and dirt. They attach to the oil and dirt on your face, and then they rinse away easily with water.

This cleanser usually comes in a pump bottle, so all you have to do is pump out a little bit of cleanser, add some water, and massage it into your skin until the foam is formed. 

Foam Cleanser
Rice Water Bright Foaming Cleanser | Cleanse & Hydrate
Foam Cleanser Rice Water Bright Foaming Cleanser
Sale price$15.00
Foam Cleanser
iUNIK Centella Bubble Cleansing Foam
Foam Cleanser Centella Bubble Cleansing Foam
Sale price$18.00
Foam Cleanser
Collagen Cleansing Foam
Foam Cleanser Collagen Cleansing Foam
Sale price$12.00

  • Gel cleanser

A gel cleanser is perfect for when you need to give your face a good, deep cleanse without stripping it of its natural oils. 

It’s a type of facial cleanser that contains active ingredients suspended in a refreshing and light gel base. The gel base helps to deliver the active ingredients deep into the pores, where they can break down impurities and help to prevent clogged pores.

Gel cleansers usually have a refreshing, cooling effect on the skin, making them perfect for use in the morning or after a workout. They often contain ingredients like glycerin or aloe vera to help hydrate the skin while cleansing. 

Facial cleansing wipes are the quickest, simplest way to cleanse your face - and they're perfect for when you're on the go. Just take one out of the packet, give your face a good wipe, and voila! Makeup, dirt, and excess oil are gone in an instant.

But what exactly are facial cleansing wipes? Do they work just as well as other types of cleansers? Facial cleansing wipes are basically just dampened cloths that are infused with a cleansing solution. The solution can be anything from plain water to an astringent or exfoliating agent. And the clothes themselves can be made from a variety of materials, including cotton, silk, or even bamboo. 

However, most of them are not really that effective at cleansing your face and they definitely don't replace a good old-fashioned cleanser and water routine. But hey, they're quick, easy, and convenient - and sometimes that's all you can ask for! So, you can use them from time to time. 

Cleansing Wipes
BIORE MAKEUP REMOVER FACIAL WIPES | CLEANSE & HYDRATE
Cleansing Wipes Biore Makeup Remover Facial Wipes
Sale price$10.00
Cleansing Wipes
Rice Water Bright Cleansing Wipes
Cleansing Wipes Rice Water Bright Cleansing Wipes
Sale price$14.00
Cleansing Wipes
KLAVUU Pure Pearlsation PH Balancing Quick Cleansing Pad
Cleansing Wipes Pure Pearlsation PH Balancing Quick Cleansing Pad
Sale price$30.00

  •  Clay cleanser

A clay cleanser is a type of facial cleanser that contains clay and water. Clay is a natural material that has absorbent properties. In this sense, common varieties include bentonite clay, kaolin clay, and French green clay, which have antiseptic and exfoliating properties. When used on the skin, it can help to remove excess oil, dirt, and impurities. 

Clay cleansers are often used as part of a double-cleansing routine. This means that they are used after an oil-based cleanser to remove any remaining residue. 

Plus, it’s considered an exfoliating cleanser, since they can also be used to help exfoliate the skin, as the small particles in clay can help to slough off dead skin cells.

To use a clay cleanser, simply apply it to wet skin and massage it gently in circular motions. Rinse with warm water and follow up with your usual skincare routine.

Micellar cleansers are the latest buzz in the beauty world, and for good reason. These gentle yet effective cleansers are made up of micelles, or tiny balls of oil suspended in water, that attract and trap dirt and makeup like a magnet. Just add a few drops to a cotton pad and sweep it across your face, no rinsing is required.

When you apply a micellar cleanser to your skin, the water in the formula helps to loosen and remove dirt, makeup, and other impurities, while the oil in the micelles helps to nourish and hydrate your skin. 

Micellar Cleanser
The Chok Chok Green Tea Cleansing Water
Micellar Cleanser The Chok Chok Green Tea Cleansing Water
Sale price$16.00
Micellar Cleanser
Innisfree Blueberry Rebalancing Cleansing Water
Micellar Cleanser Blueberry Rebalancing Cleansing Water
Sale price$15.00
Micellar Cleanser
Tea Tree Cleansing Water
Micellar Cleanser Tea Tree Cleansing Water
Sale price$18.00

  • Powder cleansers

Powder cleansers are the hot new trend in skincare! 

Powder cleansers are essentially just what they sound like: cleansing agents that come in powder form. To use them, you simply add water to create a lather and then apply it to your skin or hair as you would with any other cleanser. 

And bonus - they're often packed with skin-loving ingredients like fruit enzymes and clay, which can leave your complexion looking radiant and refreshed. 

The Best Cleanser Bepending on Your Skin Type

As you read, there’s a long list of facial cleansers out there, so if you want to prevent wasting your time on one that doesn’t work correctly on your skin type, here’s everything you need to know about the perfect cleanser for you: 

Best facial cleanser for oily skin and acne-prone skin

Anyone with oily skin or acne-prone skin knows the challenges that come with finding the right cleanser. Too harsh and you risk stripping away all the natural oils your skin needs, leading to dryness and irritation. Too gentle, and you end up with a face that’s a grease pit by noon and have even more pimples: 

It’s a delicate balance, but there are a few types of cleansers that can help to control excess oil without causing undue stress to oily skin:

  • Oil-based cleansers

They can actually help to dissolve stubborn impurities without leaving the skin feeling dehydrated. 

In this sense, try to find oil cleansers that are formulated with non-comedogenic cleansing oils, to avoid future breakouts. Plus, these oils are easy to absorb and won’t leave you with a greasy feeling. 

Follow up with a water-based cleanser to remove water-based impurities like sweat. 

  • Clay cleansers

Clay cleansers purify the skin by absorbing excess oil and exfoliating the complexion to treat acne while still being gentle enough to use daily without causing irritation. This can be excellent for oily skin types. 

  • Gel and foam cleansers

Usually, gel-based or foaming cleansers contain ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, which help by removing excess oil and acne-causing bacteria, without being too harsh on the skin. 

Extra tip: for oily and acne-prone skin, always read the labels to check for comedogenic ingredients, since they can cause you to break out!

Oil Cleanser
Natural 90% Olive Cleansing Oil | Remove Impurities
Oil Cleanser Natural 90% Olive Cleansing Oil
Sale price$25.00
Foam Cleanser
Wonder Pore Deep Foaming Cleanser
Foam Cleanser Wonder Pore Deep Foaming Cleanser
Sale price$15.00

Best facial cleanser for sensitive skin

People with sensitive skin types know the challenges that come with finding the right cleanser. Many products are too harsh, causing redness, irritation, and dryness. Others don't cleanse deeply enough, leading to breakouts. 

What's a person with sensitive skin supposed to do? Here are some of the best types of cleansers for sensitive skin, so you can finally find a product that works for you:

  • Cream cleanser

Creamy cleansers are typically very gentle and effective at removing makeup and impurities without leaving the skin feeling dry or tight. They tend to be a good option for those with sensitive skin, as they won’t strip away your oils or irritate delicate tissues.

  • Micellar cleanser

This gentle cleanser contains microscopic micelles, which act like magnets to draw out impurities and makeup from the skin. Micellar water is also alcohol-free and fragrance-free, making it ideal for people with sensitive skin. 

  • Gel cleanser

Gel cleansers are another good choice for sensitive skin, as they are often gentle, refreshing *which can help with redness*,  and non-drying. 

  • Foam cleanser

If you prefer a foaming cleanser, make sure it doesn't contain any harsh sulfates, like sodium lauryl sulfate. Instead, look for ones that use gentler surfactants like coco-glucoside or lauryl glucoside. These will still give you the benefits of deep cleansing without being too harsh and destructing your skin barrier. 

Best cleanser for combination skin

Given that combination skin is, well, a combination of dry and oily skin types, it can be tricky to figure out what kind of cleanser to use. Usually, oily and combination skin can use the same types of cleansers, but there are a few exceptions. So, here are our best options: 

  • Powder cleanser

Because they're not overly drying or irritating, they're perfect for use on combination skin. And because they don't contain any oils or other comedogenic ingredients, they won't clog pores or cause acne breakouts. 

  • Gel and foaming cleansers

Look for a gel or foam cleanser that's designed specifically for your skin type. These formulas are usually non-comedogenic and oil-fighting ingredients, like salicylic acid, and contain moisturizing ingredients. And they tend to be nice and light, so they won't leave your skin feeling tight or dry. 

  • Clay cleansers

These cleansers can absorb excess sebum without being too drying. Look for gentle clays, like kaolin!

  • Oil cleansers

These are the Hannah Montana of cleansers for combination skin because they can offer a deep facial cleansing while hydrating it and treating oily skin. Just stay away from comedogenic oils, like coconut oil. 

Milky Piggy 24K Gold Snail Cleansing Foam
Milky Piggy 24k Gold Snail Cleansing Foam
Sale price$15.00
Gel Cleanser
COSRX Low PH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
Gel Cleanser Low PH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
Sale price$18.00
Oil Cleanser
Olive Real Cleansing Oil
Oil Cleanser Olive Real Cleansing Oil
Sale price$20.00

Best cleanser for dry skin

If you have dry skin, you know the feeling of tight, flaky skin that just won't seem to moisturize. It can be frustrating to find a facial cleanser that doesn't make your dry skin feel worse, so here are our top picks: 

  • Cream or milk cleanser

Look for creams that, aside from having cleansing oils, also contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin, which help to attract and retain moisture. 

  • Cleansing balm

You might also want to try balm cleansers, which can help to dissolve makeup and dirt without stripping your skin.

Best cleanser for normal skin

If you have normal skin, you’re in luck! You can actually enjoy the benefits of every type of cleanser without any issues. However, here are some general tips: 

  • Avoid cleansers that are harsh or contain irritants. These will strip your skin of its natural oil, causing it to produce more oil to compensate. This can lead to breakouts and an overall unhappy complexion.
  • Choose a cleanser that is gentle and non-abrasive. Your goal is to clean your face, not scrub it raw. A good way to test this is to rub the cleanser on the back of your hand before using it on your face. If it feels too harsh, it probably is.
  • Choose a cleanser depending on your concerns: if you have mature skin, go for one with anti-aging ingredients like vitamin C, or if you want to brighten your complexion, choose one with niacinamide. It depends on you. 

Cleansers: Where to Find the Best and Final Recommendations

Now that you know what is the best cleanser for your skin, I have one last thing to tell you: if you have oily skin and still want to use a micellar cleanser, or if you have sensitive skin and are already using clay cleansers, DON’T WORRY! 

You don’t need to get rid of what you want or have! The most important thing is that you learn what works for your skin and what doesn’t. So, as general rules: 

  • Stay away from comedogenic ingredients if you have oily, combination, or acne-prone skin. 
  • Check the labels for fragrance-free, alcohol-free, paraben-free, harsh chemicals-free cleansers for sensitive skin
  • Go for cleansers with moisturizing ingredients if you have dry skin. 

All in all, you can use whatever cleanser you like as long as you respect those rules! 

And, if you are ready to try on some new cleansers or are a newbie looking for the best cleanser to get healthy skin, here at Asian Beauty Essentials you find everything from oil-based to water-based cleansers from the best Korean brands

So don’t waste any more time and get the best new addition to your skincare routine today. 

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