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The Ultimate Cleanser Guide

Woman hiding half her face while using a cleanser

It’s true…cleansers are a fundamental part of any morning and evening skin care routine. But even we can admit that it’s not always practiced as much as it’s preached. We’ve all been in the position where we’ve jumped into bed before melting away the day.  

Well, luckily for you , we’ve put together the ultimate cleansing guide to ensure you swipe away any unwanted impurities to boost a clean complexion morning and night. Trust us, the cleansers’ benefits are worth adding those extra few minutes to your beauty regime… 


In short, a cleanser is a product used to remove make up, dirt, excess oil, dead skin cells and any other impurities from the surface of your skin. Providing ample skin care benefits, the everyday essential works by unclogging your pores, while gently exfoliating the top of your skin cells. The result? A clean, cleansed and refreshed complexion.  


With many various formulas on the market, finding the perfect cleanser for your skin type isn’t always an easy task. With that in mind, we’ve broken down the most common types of cleansers to see which one is right for you. 


Typically starting out as an oil or cream before transforming into a foaming lather, the aptly named foam cleansers are a great balancing solution for normal or combined skin. Leaving your complexion clearer and shine-free, they remove excess oil while leaving you with a soft, supple and smooth sign off. 


Designed to clean out pores, gel cleansers are ideal for congested, blemish-prone and oily skin. Doing what it says on the tin, the formula is made into a gel texture and tackles everything from congestion to resurfacing your skin for a healthy and happy glow. 


Ideal for those with dry, sensitive skin, cream cleansers deliver a nourishing dose of hydration. Gentle and soothing, they are lightweight to avoid irritation. 


Providing maximum results with minimal effort, oil cleansers (also referred to as cleansing balms) dissolve the day away with one swipe. Packed with skin-nourishing nutrients, they target specific concerns to leave your skin feeling clean, balanced, and radiant.



While they share some similarities, face washes and facial cleansers have many key differences – discover how to distinguish the two below… 

FACE WASHES: With a sole purpose of removing dirt and oil from the surface of your skin, face washes are water-based product that often contains stronger ingredients that work better for oily or congested skin. 

FACIAL CLEANERS: Facial cleaners not only remove unwanted impurities from your skin’s surface, but they also boost moisture and balance your complexion – without stripping your natural oils. The result? A hydrated and nourished complexion. Typically richer in texture, cleansers do not contain sodium lauryl sulphate (an ingredient common in soaps), which can cause irritation.  

Woman applying a creamy cleanser onto her face


CLEAR BUILD UP: One of the primary benefits of adding a cleanser to your skin care routine is that it cleans up your complexion, removing any unwanted impurities (we’re talking dirt, dead cells and debris) while smoothing out your skin’s surface. 

PREVENT CLOGGED PORES: When used consistently, facial cleansers help prevent and shield your skin from clogged pores. How? By banishing build up, the gentle exfoliation of the everyday essential removes dirt and oil, helping to alleviate pre-clogging dead skin cells.  

HYDRATE YOUR SKIN: Cleansers that include dew-drenching ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides, vitamin E and more, promote and lock in moisture to quench your complexion’s thirst while leaving you with a soft, supple and smooth surface.  

BOOST A BRIGHTER COMPLEXION: Facial cleaners work hard to enhance a radiant complexion in lots of different ways. A case in point? When wiping away dry and dead skin cells, the formula begins to reveal a fresh layer of skin and its natural glow. Plus, cleansers are synonymous with stimulating blood circulation, encouraging blood flow to your face for some added (and much-appreciated) sheen.  

CREATE A CLEAN CANVAS: The use of cleansers promotes advance penetration of other products which you may use following this vital step. Creating a clean canvas for your toners, serums and moisturisers, the skin care saviour primes and preps your complexion for better results. 


Different types of cleansers have different steps to achieve a clear complexion. So, the best way to find out how to use cleaners is to follow their packaging’s instructions. However, having said that, there are some tips and tricks which can be applied to ensure you get the best results.  

  1. Use them day and night When it comes to cleansers, consistency is key. They should be the first step in both your daily morning and night-time skin care routine.  
  2. Wet your hands and face first: If you’re going to use a rinse-off facial cleanser, then it’s best to wet your hands and splash your face with water before applying. This will help you create a superior lather that grabs onto the dirt and oil before rinsing. 
  3. Always clean your hands first: Clean hands are imperative when touching your face, even more so before cleaning your face. Our tip? Before cleansing your skin, use a hand wash— that way you can avoid transferring bacteria from your fingers to your face. 
  4. Use cleansing as a massage: We don’t know about you, but we never say no to a massage. So why not use your cleansing routine as an opportunity for a little pampering? With the tips of your fingers, gently massage your face wash onto your skin with small circular motions and use light pressure before rinsing off with water. This not only makes you feel relaxed, but it boosts your face’s blood flow.  
  5. Adjust your water temperature:Cleansing your face in lukewarm water can help prevent stripping the skin of its natural oils and from your face feeling tight after a wash. Extreme hot or cold water temperatures can have the opposite effect of what you're trying to accomplish, so it’s important to get it just right.  


Powered by its balm-to-oil formula, Alpha-H’s Melting Moment Cleansing Balm lifts impurities away without disrupting your skin’s natural pH levels. Laced with antioxidants and rich in Australian wild orange extract, the skin care saviour hydrates, calms, protects your skin barrier function and regulates sebum production all in one wash. Now, that’s what we call a job well done.  

How to use the cleanser:Apply a grape-sized amount onto dry skin, gently massaging over face, neck and décolletage with light, circular motions. It can be used around the delicate eye area and eyelashes if wearing eye make up. Add water to emulsify the formulation, continuously working in circular motions. Rinse off with a warm damp face cloth for enhanced resurfacing and make up removal. Then, pat skin dry. 


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Proving that sometimes less is more, BYOMA’s Jelly Cleanser gently and effectively breaks down dirt, debris, excess oil and make up, whilst keeping your precious skin barrier intact. The secret to this renowned formula? It’s unique blend of barrier boosting tri-ceramide complexes paired with antioxidant-rich liquorice root and green tea extract. Powered by this innovative fusion, the jelly deeply nourishes your skin without compromising on its undeniable glowing results. 

How to use the cleanser:Massage one or two pumps onto damp skin in slow circular motions and rinse off with lukewarm water. This can be used alone or as the second step in a double cleanse routine. Once you run out, replenish your stock with a refill pod. 


Offering a fresh take on foam, Pai Skincare’s PHAZE Rebalancing PHA Cleanser works to gently exfoliate congested skin while getting your complexion back on track. Restoring equilibrium one pump at a time, the dew-boosting formula blends protective prebiotic inulin, NMF sugar complex and plant-derived PHA to gentle exfoliate the skin while locking in some much-appreciated moisture.   

How to use the cleanser:Apply one to two pumps to damp skin. Gently massage across the face, avoiding the delicate eye area. Rinse, and pat dry. 


Aptly named, Farmacy’s Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm melts away the day with its transforming formula. Combining papaya extract with sunflower and ginger root oil, the soft and supple solution effectively dissolves stubborn make up and impurities, whilst revitalising, refreshing and rejuvenating your complexion.  

How to use the cleanser: Scoop a generous amount with the included spatula and apply to dry skin. Use your fingertips to massage the formula into the skin with gentle upward and outward circular motions, focusing on areas that need attention. The solid balm will melt into an oil when in contact with the skin, then into a milky lather when water is applied. Splash with water or wipe off with a warm, damp washcloth. 


Perfect for all skin types, including those with even the most sensitive of skin, Kate Somerville's Goat Milk Cleanser blurs the line between cleansing and moisturising. Formulated with the brand's signature soothing goat’s milk – which is rich in natural milk proteins, nourishing Manuka honey as well as conditioning and nourishing jojoba and avocado oils – this non-foaming formula gently removes make up, dirt, oil and impurities without stripping skin of its radiance or essential moisture. 

How to use the cleanser:Apply a small amount to damp face and neck, then massage gently for 30 seconds. Rinse and gently pat dry. 


Now you’ve discovered everything you need to know about cleanser benefits, it’s time to level up your morning and nighttime routine and start your skin care as you mean to go on…  

Trifonia Asmar
Trifonia Asmar Writer and expert
Cult Beauty’s Senior SEO Copywriter, Trifonia started out in the industry when bold brows were just becoming a ‘thing’, and shares a passion for all things fashion and beauty. Currently embracing her curly girl journey (after endless years of straightening her strands), she is finally reverting to her natural ways! When Triffy isn’t busy testing out the latest curl-saving solutions, you’ll find her binging the latest reality TV show or on a long walk listening to her ever-evolving country music playlist.

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