Oil cleansing has been all the rage in the natural world for years. But ever since we got over convincing everyone that it’s ok—even great—to use oils on your skin, I’ve had a little dilemma. I needed a break from oil cleansing. Gasp!
While oil and balm cleansing have their place in my “slow ritual” regimen, they do take longer to use than other cleansers and some of them take a little too long to remove completely—especially when they require following up with a second cleanse. Which is most of the time. Also to consider: those nights that I need to grab something quick and efficient so that I can scurry off to bed before collapsing on my bathroom floor.
That’s where this list of cleansers steps in. When you want the power of a thorough cleanser without the hassle of an evening spent removing it—ok, taking some poetic license here—then these options are for you. Whether you love the texture of a cream, a gel, an oil, a lightly sudsing formula, or even a balm, there’s something here for everyone, and you’ll find that these work for most skin types without disrupting the delicate moisture balance of your skin.
The key factors here are clean rinsing, efficacy, and powerful natural ingredients that lift dirt and grime while fortifying skin to receive the next layer of treatment products. Are you with me so far? Ok, good. Let’s dive right into the cleansers.These natural cleansers prove that the road to clear skin is paved with good inventions. Click To Tweet
The pH balancing gels
Why is there so much talk about the skin’s pH? That’s because in a world where alkalinity is often favored over acidity (because most of us are overly acidic due to sugar, iodized salt, wheat, coffee, meat consumption, and most bottled water), a slightly acidic pH of 5.5 is actually and perhaps unexpectedly desirable when it comes to skin.
Sometimes balanced skin takes a little fine-tuning to get just right which is one reason why dermatologists recommend using toners after cleansing to restore pH. In its healthiest state, the acid mantle is “a film of amino/lactic acids and oils protecting skin from environmental factors (bacteria, pollutants) that contribute to premature aging and irritation.” (I plucked that awesome description right off Into The Gloss.)
The telltale signs of overly acidic skin are redness, breakouts, and irritation. Signs of it being overly alkaline—which describes anything over a pH of 7—show up as dryness and the development of wrinkles and possibly eczema. That’s why harsh soaps that leave skin squeaky clean will dry you out over time because their pH hovers at about a 9, which is way too alkaline. (Don’t worry though. Fan fave Osmia Organics face soaps and the brand new Skin Owl Beauty Bars use oils and other ingredients to offset the inherent alkalinity of a soap-based product.)
Here are four others that promise never to dismantle your mantle.
Blissoma Free, $39
My kids love this gel because it’s an easy no-fuss cleanser that keeps their skin free from breakouts—no exaggeration. When blemishes started appearing on their faces, I handed them this bottle and within a couple of days, their skin looked good as new. Clear skin in one bottle and no complicated and expensive OTC potions?! That’s pretty darn awesome.
I love it for removing makeup easily. It does so gently with 11 power-packed ingredients that can even be used around the sensitive eye area. Soapbark creates a light foaming action for those of you who prefer a more traditional sudsing cleanser. It also contains yerba matte with 196 active compounds which is more than green tea, in case you were wondering. Plus, Blissoma’s founder shares her eye-opening take on why cleansing is the most important step you can do for your skin.
At $39, this well-priced option has been a repeat purchase, and I have shared it with my sister’s teenaged daughter who’s hooked on it too.
Kahina Giving Beauty Cleanser, $56
Kahina’s signature organic argan oil joins white willowbark and papaya extracts in a creamy gel cleanser that is gentle enough to use around the eyes and washes off easily. A double cleanse may be necessary when removing makeup, but the neroli and blue tansy scent make it oh-so-delightful to use. In a sea of half-full beauty bottles that surround me daily, I’ve surprisingly finished this cleanser as well as the next two very quickly which is a good indication of how much I enjoyed each of them.
YULI Halcyon Cleanser, $52
The first time I used this cleanser, I thought “meh, what’s so special?” But after a while, my skin started showing signs of calming down and looking less confused. I chose to use it in the mornings and found it worked better for me then, though it can be used morning and night. I just didn’t love it as a makeup remover.
This is no simple cleanser but one YULI refers to as a chiral bioactive gel emulsion. Umm…and that means what exactly? This company uses hardcore science to produce its revolutionary formulas starting from cleanser and working up to serums. Halcyon is “adaptogenically engineered to work in stasis with individual skin needs to provide the optimum cleansing and nourishment.” With stellar ingredients like green tea leaf, red algae, colloidal peptides, hydrolized fruit enzymes, and zeolite, let’s just say that it’s very good for skin, and my own face proves it.
I ran out of this cleanser a while ago and have missed it ever since, but can’t justify repurchasing it until I empty a few others. However, it’s high on my wishlist for sure.
Josh Rosebrook Moisturizing Cleanser, $50
Known for his meticulous attention to ingredients that rival a herbal apothecary, Josh Rosebrook once again creates a high performance blend that’s plant-based and super effective. This creamy gel cleanser infuses skin with phytonutrient-rich sea minerals, neutralizes free radicals with antioxidants hawthorne berry, grape seed, and green tea, moisturizes with omegas 3, 6, and 9, and wards off inflammation with Calendula, Slippery Elm, St Johns Wort. Seriously. So good.
Note: Similar to Halcyon and Kahina’s cleansers, I did find that removing makeup with an oil step first worked better than washing with these cleansers alone. But it has been a while since I’ve used them, so I’d have to try them again with makeup removal in mind to see how effective they are and how many times I’d need to repeat the face wash for makeup to come off entirely.
The cleansing cream
Kypris Cleanser Concentrate, $64
This is luxury cleansing at its best. Only a pearl size amount is needed to cover the entire face and massage away the day—including stubborn dirt and makeup—better than I would have expected from such a non-irritating cream. Moringa, wildcrafted Prickly Pear, and probiotics are some of the key ingredients in a blend that offers exactly the right amount of slip to glide over skin seamlessly. But it is the clean rinsing that surprised me the most from the tiny sample sizes that I am testing out. That’s due to the gentle emulsifiers in it and the total absence of a waxy feel that’s sometimes prevalent in a cream cleanser which makes this concentrated cleanser a snap to wipe off.
So far, it has been very thorough at makeup removal. Initial results after a few nights of use are total thumbs up.
The emulsifying cleansers
Sometimes you want the oil cleanse without the hassle of removing it with a washcloth a few times. I get it. So do I. There’s nothing quite a facial massage to stimulate the skin and help puffiness and toxins drain too. It’s those times that I reach for the emulsifying oil cleansers. Normally oil doesn’t mix with water, but by adding an emulsifying agent, it converts the oils into a milky white consistency when combined with water that rinses off like a dream. Formula Botanica posted an awesome run-through of different emulsifiers, if you’d like to dig deeper on the topic.
Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organic Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil & Makeup Remover, $42
There will never be an equivalent to cult classic ED4OLO’s hit Vitamin B Cleanser. With one pump, you get a whiff of a tropical island getaway—think: piña colada colliding with Carmen Miranda’s hat—and the fun doesn’t stop there. This destination-inducing oil is rich enough to give your cleansing massage extra slip, yet when it comes in contact with water, it emulsifies easily and slides right off along with the stuff you don’t want on your skin.
Maya Chia The Great Cleanse Supercritical Cleansing Oil, $38
If you love a thinner oil that isn’t quite as viscous as OLO, then Maya Chia’s Cleanser is the one for you. Once massaged over the face, this skin-calming cleanser uses the powers of the brand’s signature supercritical chia seeds and other oils to sweep away dirt and makeup, plus the delicate scent soothes the senses.
Jordan Samuel Plié Cleanser, $24
This super convenient tube (pics + more deets in this post) dispenses a gel that slips over skin like an oil and quickly melts into a milky emulsion when it meets water, leaving skin refreshed and clean in its wake. Jordan Samuel’s Plié was originally tested on the heavily made up faces of performance artists to remove all traces of stage makeup without leaving skin dry or taut. This stuff works and feels dreamy gliding on. Sometimes my skin feels a little tight after washing with this cleanser, so even though it’s designed for most skin types, if you tend to have dry skin, try it first, if possible. However, I do love it and keep a tube in my shower for easy access.
Moss Skincare Beurre Céleste Honey-Infused Rinsable Cleansing Balm, $60
Magic happens when skin-favorite honey marries macadamia nut oil and kokum butter in this polyamorous, non-greasy balm that rinses completely clean. Really. There’s no residue to wipe off later, which is the goal here. It’s a new purchase for me so I’m still testing out long term performance, but I love the way it exfoliates with natural enzymes and anti-bacterial honey to detoxify pores without creating micro-tears from abrasive ingredients. Moss Skincare is designed with adult acne in mind so you won’t suffer clogged pores after use, but simply nourished skin. So far, I’m loving it.
Two staple cleansers
I didn’t feel right about ending this post without mentioning two of my all-time favorite cleansers that have been repeat buys for years: Cecilia Wong’s Vitamin C Cleanser, $38, that smells like a juicy orange grove in a medley of tangerine, alfalfa, borage, parsley and aloe, and Om Aroma (soon to be Savor Beauty) Pearl Cleansing Cream, $52, that contains little bits of champagne grapeseeds to exfoliate skin while washing. I love them both because in a pinch they work to remove makeup better than most cleansers, yet they’re supremely forgiving on the skin and never leave me feeling dry or uncomfortable. These are always in my stash and my go-to’s on lazy nights.
So, if you ask me what do I use? All of the above. Of course! I believe in rotating products as needed and variety is the “balm” of my existence. 😉