A gentle cleanser, whether it comes in the form of a foam, milk, gel or micellar water, should do the job of cleansing your skin from dirt, sweat and excessive sebum without stripping it of its natural oils. Whatever you plan on putting on next – sun cream, moisturizer or exfoliator – your skin will be better at absorbing the full benefit of their active ingredients when it is cleaned thoroughly, but gently. Cleansing (C) should be the first step of a COMP skin care routine. Below we have made a selection of the five best cleansers for sensitive skin; some of them can even be used as makeup removers – except when it comes to the most durable waterproof eye makeup.
Why use a cleanser?
Most children have flawless skin – unless they suffer from proper skin diseases like eczema, psoriasis etc. But as you enter puberty, the rise in hormones causes the sebaceous glands to become more active (if not overactive thus causing acne) and your skin will excrete more sebum (oils/lipids). On the surface of your skin the sebum will mix with dust and other micro-particles from pollution and this thin layer of grime cannot simply be washed away with water as oil and water don’t mix. You will need a gentle cleanser which shares some properties with soap (e.g. being able to bind both water- and lipid-soluble dirt), but without its harsh detergents which will strip your skin of all its oils – also the beneficial ones. The grime can otherwise build up and cause your pores to clog (laying ground for breakouts) or at the very least give your skin a dull appearance. There are, however, of course some lucky exceptions who walk around with great-looking skin without doing anything for it, but even they might look even better if using a gentle cleanser once or twice a day.
What is important when buying a cleanser?
Opposite to what many may think, it is not that important that your cleanser matches your skin type whether it is dry, oily, combined etc. It should merely stay on your skin for approx. 30 seconds and thus it is only meant to clean the surface rather than bringing some high-impact ingredients to work deep in the skin tissue. This task is better done by moisturizers and other facial products which are meant to stay on your face for 8+ hours. When it comes to cleaning your skin, the most important thing for all skin types is that the cleanser is gentle. That being said – if you have very oily or very dry skin, it might be a good idea to opt for a cleanser directed towards your skin type as it can be more prone to reacting in an unfortunate way to certain ingredients. In the following we have reviewed the five best gentle cleansers which should fit various skin types and come in different emulsions (cleansing milk, foam etc.). You will not find any soap bars/cleansing bars etc. as they are all – almost with no exception – too harsh and drying on the facial skin.
The Line-Up: Best Cleansers for Sensitive Skin
Overview of the Best Cleansers for Sensitive Skin
|Product||La Roche-Posay Toleriane Purifying Cleansing Cream||The Body Shop Calming Facial Cleanser||BioDerma SensiBio H2O||Pevonia Botanica Sensitive Skin Cleanser||Acne.org Gentle Cleanser|
|Size:||125 ml||200 ml||100 ml, 250ml and 500 ml||200 ml||97 ml, 236 ml and 472 ml|
|Formula:||Foaming cream||Cleansing milk||Micellar solution||Cleansing milk||Foaming cream|
|Best for:||Oily intolerant skin||Normal to dry skin||Normal to dry skin||Dry to very dry skin||Oily, acne, combination skin|
I. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Purifying Foaming Cream
Almost all of French La Roche-Posay’s cleanser are top-notch, but the Toleriane line takes the first-prize for its extremely gentle, yet efficient cleansers for very sensitive intolerant skin. The Toleriane Purifying Cleansing Cream creates a rich foam when lathered up and is for combined to oily intolerant skin while the milky Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser is superb for even very dry skin, but can also be used on normal skin. There is also a foaming gel version of Toleriane for normal to combination skin, but it is not available in the States. Notice that these cleansers as well as other La Roche-Posay products will be a lot cheaper in Europe; in France and Germany you can buy products for approx. half of their US price. So, be sure to stock up when you are on the right side of the Atlantic!
Use: Create foam between your hands by lathering a dab of the cream with slightly warm water. Massage gently into face (avoiding eye area) and then rinse off with tepid water.Ingredients – La Roche-Posay Toleriane Purifying Foaming Cream: Water • Glycerin • Myristic Acid • Potassium Hydroxide • Glyceryl Stearate SE • Stearic Acid • Lauric Acid • Palmitic Acid • Coco-glucoside • Tetrasodium EDTA
II. The Body Shop Aloe Calming Facial Cleanser
The Body Shop has a lot of overly fragranced products, but this cleanser is fragrance-free and thus a perfect choice for those who swear to brands with an emphasis on natural ingredients. The Body Shop Aloe Calming Facial Cleanser is perfect for sensitive skin which is otherwise normal to dry, but does not contain a huge amount of Aloe Vera in spite of its name. In line with The Body Shop’s ideals, nevertheless, the Aloe Vera comes from organic Community Trade farms in central Guatemala.
Use: Massage over the face and neck, using fingertips. Rinse off with tepid water or wipe away with a tissue or cotton ball.
III. Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Solution
The Bioderma Sensibio (also known as Crealine) Micellar Solution is probably the most famous and well-known product on this list, as it is popular among models and A-listers and thus gets its fair share of PR. But there is reason for the craze as it simply is a very good product which gently cleans the skin and removes all but the most resistant waterproof makeup. Watery micellar solutions have been all the rage for the past years, but what is particular good about the Bioderma Sensibio/Crealine Micellar Solution is that it does not contain alcohol (which can be quite irritating for the skin) unlike certain other micellar products. It comes in a bottle in three sizes; 100ml, 250ml and 500ml (both as a bottle and with a pump).
Use: Apply with a cotton ball or pad. Non-rinse.Ingredients – Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Solution: Water (Aqua) • Peg-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides • Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract • Mannitol • Xylitol • Rhamnose • Fructooligosaccharides • Propylene Glycol • Disodium Edta • Cetrimonium Bromide
IV. Pevonia Botanica Sensitive Skin Cleanser
Pevonia Botanica has chosen the luxurious approach to “natural” skin care and its Sensitive Skin Cleanser is by far the best cleanser the brand has to offer (as many of its other products contain fragrance and irritating ingredients, natural or not). This cleanser is especially good for dry or very dry skin due to its high content of safflower seed oil, but for the same reason also not suitable for oily or combination skin. The Pevonia Botanica Sensitive Skin Cleanser comes in a 200ml bottle with a practical pump.
Use: Apply a small quantity all over your face and neck; work it in gently with your fingertips. Remove with a washcloth or cotton ball, wet with tepid water.
V. Acne.org Gentle Cleanser
If you have acne, oily or combination skin, you might have been tempted to use harsh facial cleansers, toners or scrubs more than once. Don’t. The people behind Acne.org – the website and community evolving around this skin concern (which affects most people at least once during their lifetime), have developed the affordable Gentle Cleanser which will aid acne and combination skin – not least because it does not contain any ingredients which could irritate the skin further. Acne.org recommends that you use two full pumps (4ml) of the cleanser every time you clean your face, which would make the 16 oz. (472ml) bottle last 2 months if you use it twice a day – and that sounds like quite a lot of product to use in so little time. We would say that you can easily use half or less of the suggested amount and still get your face clean with the Acne.org Gentle Cleanser.
Use: Work up a lather of the cleanser between your hands and then apply to a wet face (tepid water). Wash gently with fingers for 10 seconds, then rinse off with tepid water and pat your face dry with a towel.