By Fiona McKim
What do you think your most important skincare product is? We all get excited about new masks and supercharged serums, but there's a lesser-celebrated workhorse that deserved your attention - cleanser. Put bluntly, you can slap on all the 'wonder creams' you like, but those expensive ingredients won't get far if your skin is still clogged with the debris of the day. According to just about every dermatologist and Beauty Editor going, an effective cleanse is the most fundamental part of your skincare routine (along with SPF) and yet the 2016 Superdrug Beauty Report revealed it didn't even make British Women's top ten most essential beauty products Why? I blame wipes, so seductive in their ease yet so lacking in actual cleansing power. If you find proper cleansing too much faff, I promise you just haven't found the right product yet. Once you get going with your ideal formula, you'll love the feeling of being properly primed and pepped for your skincare and cleansing will come to feel like brushing your teeth - you won't dream of going to bed without doing it.
What cleanser is right for you?
Oil Oil cuts through stubborn makeup without drying out or stripping skin. These wash-off cleansers suit most, especially dry or sensitive skin but also oily types as they create a comforting cushiony layer in your epidermis that instructs your skin to cool off it's natural sebum production.
Under £10Simple Kind To Skin Hydrating Cleansing Oil, great for sensitive skin with no mineral oil. Buy Simple Kind To Skin Hydrating Cleansing Oil for £6.99 at Boots.com
Under £25 DHC Deep Cleansing Oil is one of the original and best cleansing oils from Japan. Buy DHC Deep Cleansing Oil for £21.50 at dhcuk.co.uk
Under £50 Bobbi Brown Soothing Cleansing Oil gets off every scrap of makeup, gently. Buy Bobbi Brown Soothing Cleansing Oil for £32 at Bobbibrown.co.uk
Under £100 Shu Uemura Ultim8 Sublime Cleansing Oil is gloriously hydrating with eight botanical oils. BuyShu Uemura Ultim8 Sublime Cleansing Oil for £52.90 at Amazon.co.uk
Balm So many women's favourite texture, and no wonder. Balms are satisfyingly rich, packed with nourishing essential oils (so they smell amazing) and need a bit of elbow grease to spread around and remove with a hot cloth, so you know you've worked it in enough for a proper cleanse.
Under £10 The Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter, thick and creamy, soothes sensitivity. Buy The Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter for £10 atThebodyshop.com
Under £25 Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm, a little thick but transforms with water to a gentle effective oil. Buy Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm for £22 at Clinique.co.uk
Under £50 Elemis Pro Collagen Cleansing Balm, smells divine and melts into skin. Buy Elemis Pro Collagen Cleansing Balm for £40 at Amazon.co.uk
Under £100 Eve Lom Cleanser, one of the first balms, with luxurious plant oils and a cute cloth. Buy Eve Lom Cleanser for £55 from Spacenk.com
Foaming These are fun and satisfying to use and leave skin tingly clean, so particularly suit those with oily or congested skin who like a refreshing rather than comforting cleanse. Some of these can contain harsh detergents or make your skin feel tight, so check the ingredients carefully and perhaps avoid if you're prone to dryness.
Under £10 Soap & Glory The Fab Pore Purifying Foam Cleanser, with witch hazel and salycilic acid to clear out blackheads. Buy Soap & Glory The Fab Pore Purifying Foam Cleanser for £8 at boots.com
Under £25 Gallinee La Culture Foaming Facial Cleanser, beautifully gentle with probiotic cultures. Buy Gallinee La Culture Foaming Facial Cleanser for £14 at Amazon.co.uk
Under £50 Chanel Mousse Douceur a velvety mousse with antioxidant benefits. Buy Chanel Mousse Douceur for £27 from Feelunique.com
Under £100 La Mer The Cleansing Foam contains the famed algae blend and polishing pearl powders at snip compared to the creams. Buy La Mer The Cleansing Foam for £69.95 from Amazon.co.uk
Gel and liquid exfoliantsIf blemishes, pores or dullness are a problem, gel cleansers with liquid exfoliants are your best bet to dislodge dead skin cells, dip into pores and de-gunk them. Look for lactic, glycolic and salicylic acid or fruit enzymes, and remember to wear SPF daily to protect that fresh new complexion.
Under £10 Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix with fruit acids and2% glycolic for a gentle everyday peel. Buy Nip + Fab Glycolic Cleansing Fix for £7.95 at Amazon.co.uk
Under £25 Neostrata Foaming Glycolic Wash with 18% glycolic acid is seriously effective on hardcore pores and dull skin, start every second night and build up. Buy Neostrata Foaming Glycolic Wash for £22.98 at amazon.co.uk
Under £50 Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser is a double whammy that works at surface and pore-level to deeply clean. Buy Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser for £34 at Murad.co.uk
Under £100 MZ Skin Cleanse & Clarify, a clear gel packed with actives that leaves skin seriously perky. Buy MZ Skin Cleanse & Clarify for £56 from mzskin.com
The easiest option if you're transitioning from wipes, just pop a few drops on a cotton pad, sweep over your face and that's your lot! No rinsing, no mess, no faff. Essentially this is purified water filled with micelles, little molecules that attract dirt and oil, drawing them out of your skin without drying like alcohol or chemical-based cleansers can. You won't feel quite as fresh as after a double cleanse, but this is by far the fastest, laziest route to clean skin.
Under £10 Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water so handy, a gentle giant unperfumed bargain. Buy Garnier SkinActive Miceller Cleansing Water for £7.99 on Amazon.co.uk
Under £25 Bioderma Sensibio H20 Beauty Editors used to lug this on the Eurostar before it launched in the UK. Sensitive, won't make your eyes stream. Buy Bioderma Sensibio H20 for £10.50 from Boots.com
Under £50 Lancome Eau Micellaire Douceur with extra goodies white lotus and rose to soothe. Buy Lancome Eau Micellaire Douceur for £23.50 at Lancome.co.uk
Under £100 Guerlain Pure Radiance Cleanser just breaches the £50 mark, which sounds steep but remember, you don't rinse micellar off! This means the skin-kind oil-infused formula sticks around doing lovely nourishing things to your skin all day or night. Buy Guerlain Pure Radiance Cleanser Eau De Beaute Refreshing Micellar Water for £54.93 from Amazon.co.uk
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