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How to Choose the Right Cleanser for your Skin Type

6 min read

Find the right skin cleanser for your skin type

Check out this article on askbella

How do you choose your skincare products? Do you reach for products you like based on their scent, packaging, or effectiveness? Don't worry, a lot of people do. But, that's not necessarily the best way to find your perfect skincare routine.

Out of all the steps in your skincare routine, cleansing is one of the most important.

Your cleanser is what prepares your skin for the rest of your creams, masks, and serums. To get the most out of washing your skin, the perfect cleanser needs to be able to remove dirt, oil, makeup and impurities, all without disrupting your skin's natural balance.

The truth is that not all cleansers will suit your unique skin needs. You will need to know your skin type because the secret to picking the right cleanser for your skin is this: you need to match your skin type to the right type of face wash.

If you’re asking yourself, “what face wash should I use?”, you’re not alone. With so many products to choose from, the options can be overwhelming. So, we’ve pulled together this handy guide to help you find the right cleanser for your skin type.

Match your skin to the right type of cleanser

As you have probably noticed, cleansers come in a whole stack of different formulas (from creams and oils to gel and foam cleansers). Plus, each type of face wash contains a unique mix of ingredients that will have a different impact on your skin.

By figuring out what type of skin you have, you can choose a face wash that will help (not harm) your skin.

Think about it like this: using the wrong type of cleanser (such as an exfoliator) on sensitive skin is likely to cause the skin to become dry, irritated and sore. Instead, using gentle cleansing milk packed with soothing natural ingredients will keep the skin clean, soft and supple.

Not sure what type of skin you have? Here’s a quick checklist to help you figure it out:

Oily skin

your skin is likely to become shiny or greasy throughout the day and you find your skin may be prone to clogged pores, acne and breakouts.

Combination skin

your skin tends to have some patches that are dry and flaky, while other areas tend to be oily and even acne-prone.

Sensitive skin

your skin tends to react with rashes or irritation when trying new products. Plus, you might notice you’re extra sensitive to the sun, temperature and seasonal changes.

Dry skin

your skin tends to appear dull, ashy or even flaky and can easily become red or blotchy if you don’t keep it moisturised regularly.

Now you’ve got a clear idea of your skin type, let’s help you find the right face wash formula to help you get your glow on. Or if you want to skip to the fun part, enter your skin type into the Skin Quiz and you will be given your perfect match of skincare products, tailored to your skin type (without the hassle of trying to choose).

How to choose the best cleanser

Oily Skin

As we mentioned, those of us with oily skin tend to experience a shiny complexion and even clogged pores. But just because you have oily skin doesn't mean the answer is scrubbing it all away with a cleanser that is too strong. That may strip your skin of its healthy, natural oils (and yes, oily skin does still need its natural oils) which provide protection for your skin.

So when it comes to picking the right face wash for oily skin, it's all about finding formulas that can cut through dead skin cells, grease and oil while still being gentle and not disrupting our natural skin barrier. Perhaps a double cleanse, maybe the answer to your problems, which you can read more about in our guide to cleansers.

The best formula for oily skin is a gentle foaming cleanser or a gel cleanser that is packed with active ingredients (such as lactic acid). The key is to steer clear of alcohol-based cleansers that can dry out your skin and trigger even more oil production.  

Combination skin

As the name suggests, those of us with combination skin experience both dry and oily areas. That means your cleanser needs to be gentle and soothing while still cutting through grease and oil effectively. 

Your best bet is to look for a light gel cleanser or creamy milk cleanser. This will help avoid irritation on dry, flaky areas while still giving your skin a good clean (particularly in those oily T-zone spots).  

Some helpful ingredients for combination skin types are Vitamin E and aloe which have gentle, soothing effects on the parts of your skin that are dry and flaky.

Sensitive skin

For those of us with sensitive skin, you’ll want to find a face wash that is gentle and soothing on your inflamed and irritated skin. The biggest thing to remember when picking a cleanser for sensitive skin is to steer clear of products that are considered harsh, abrasive or may dry out your skin’s natural protective barrier. 

That’s what makes cleansing balms and gentle cream cleansers a winner for sensitive skin. These formulas are hydrating and nourishing while working hard to give your skin a deep clean. 

Plus, make sure to keep in mind any ingredients you know your skin has previously reacted badly to. A good way to test a new product on sensitive skin is to perform a patch test 48 hours before using it on your face (this will help you avoid any nasty reactions).

Dry skin

For skin that’s dry, tight or flaky, picking the right cleanser is all about finding products that will leave your skin soft,  hydrated and clean. 

As dry skin can be really delicate, it’s important to look for face washes that are packed with nourishing oils (such as coconut oil) and hydrating ingredients (such as vitamin e). This will help you avoid any other skin conditions you might also be navigating (such as eczema or acne). 

Choosing oil-based cleansers such as cleansing oil can dissolve dirt and impurities without stripping dry skin of its natural oils.

Make sure to follow up your freshly cleansed skin with a rich moisturiser to rehydrate the skin after cleansing. It is important that it is applied correctly, so follow these 6 steps for applying moisturiser, to achieve a healthy and hydrated glow.

water texture
water texture

Ingredients you should know about

Not all skincare is created equal. Some may contain active ingredients that treat certain skin conditions or concerns, whilst others may contain natural or synthetic ingredients that are purely for aesthetics rather than a benefit.

You should always consider the ingredient list when choosing a product to ensure you are comfortable with the ingredients used.

Salicylic Acid

Used in some products for acne-prone skin to exfoliate the skin and unclog pores

Hyaluronic Acid

Plumps the skin and assists in smoothing fine lines and adding hydration

Glycolic Acid

Used for hyperpigmentation, anti-aging, dryness and acne

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS)

A surfactant that allows water and oil molecules to bind together, potentially causing irritation (if sensitive to SLS)

When it comes to choosing skincare based on ingredients, personal preference definitely plays a role in deciding.

If you are searching for a cleanser that is a bit more natural, you may like to look out for sulfate-free cleansers, which will remove dirt and makeup without irritation. However when looking for more natural alternatives, keep in mind that products like micellar water or cleansing water, may sound like they are a 'water' based product, but often they will still contain surfactants for their cleansing power.

And if you don't find your cleanser strong enough to remove waterproof makeup or remove oil, you may want to consider cleansing wipes to remove makeup around the eyes without having to cleanse the whole face. You can then wash the rest of your face with your usual cleanser. This is the perfect makeup removal solution for combination or normal skin, as you get the best of both worlds.


Putting your best skin forward, always

So when the time comes to cleanse, there is no excuse to pick up the bar soap and scrub away. Whether you choose cleansing bars, micellar water, gel cleansers or dual phase makeup removers, choosing the right products will cleanse skin and protect your skin barrier.

Understanding your skin type will help you narrow down your options when it comes to choosing the hydrating cleansers suited to your skin. By learning what ingredients work best for your skin needs, you'll be in the best position to add a product to your skincare routine that helps you achieve radiant, glowing skin.

Find your perfect matchFind your perfect matchGet unbiased advice and find the best products for your skin in an instant with Skinalyser®. And let science do the shopping for you.Get unbiased advice and find the best products for your skin in an instant with Skinalyser®. And let science do the shopping for you.START SKINALYSER®

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