Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Know Your Cleansers || A GUIDE TO CLEANSERS || Rivet Licker

Cleansers. Just soap, right? WRONG. Cleansers are the first step in your skincare routine, the step that gets the day off and leaves your skin prepped to receive treatment, but they're not a one size fits all approach. Your cleanser should be appropriately matched to your skin type and condition, because you don't want to be using something that dries your skin out when it's already dry, or worsens your acne.

This post is an adaptive revisit from a story I wrote a couple of years ago for another blog, but the information is absolutely more than relevant for my readers with some products for all budgets!


Theres more than one type?

Just like skin, there are so many different kinds of cleansers to choose from. Factors affecting your choices are:

+ How much oil your skin produces?
+ Do you wear makeup?
+ What kind of conditions do you have? Acne? Dermatitis?

You may benefit from more than one type – I know I do!



Foaming/lathering cleansers are generally more alkaline in pH, which means they aren't always very skin friendly. A lot of them are based on either classic recipes of soap, or newer generation surfactants, and yes, they will get you squeaky clean. These cleansers can come in solid bars, gels, liquids and creams; these are all activated by water, however self-foaming cleansers are liquids with an aerating pump that delivers the product as a foam.

They work because they emulsify (allow oil and water to mix) and lift away dirt and oil.


Any skin type, except very dry, unless the cleanser is specifically designed for dry skin. Foaming cleansers will clean up everything, so they're good for removing the last traces of makeup or dirt from skin that may otherwise cause breakouts.



Glow Lab Gel Cleanser 140mL - $15.99AUD - Priceline [Purchase]

Gel cleanser with Vitamin C and fruit acids to brighten.

QV Face Gentle Foaming Cleanser 150mL - $13.50AUD - Chemist Warehouse [PR Sample]

Super gentle foaming cleanser free of fragrance.

Swisse Olive Leaf Gel Cleanser 125mL - $9.99AUD - Priceline, Chemist Warehouse [Purchase]
An affordable foaming gel cleanser for normal to oily skin.


Antipodes Juliet Skin Brightening Gel Cleanser 200mL - $34.99AUD - Priceline, Myer [PR Sample]

A fruity gel cleanser that brightens skin.

Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel 250mL - $56.50AUD - Mecca [Gift]
An oily skin's saviour.

Medik8 gentleCleanse Mild Foaming Cleanser 150mL - $39.00AUD - Adore Beauty
Purifying foam cleanser.



Unlike their foaming counterpart, some cleansers, whether they be solid, gels, liquids, or creams, still do the job of cleansing skin, but without the foaming action. That's not to say they don't contain surfactants. I would personally lump all Micellar Water makeup remover types into this category, because micelles just do what soap does in a similar way, just without the foam (or at least not much of it). These cleansers still clean, but they are way more gentle, especially on sensitive skin.

Cream and milky liquid formulas are the most common.

Any skin type, including very dry. Cream formulas definitely do a better job for the dry types, but can sometimes be not as effective on oily types. These types of cleansers are often indicated for sensitive skin.



Cinch Face It 5 in 1 Micellar Water 200mL - $19.99AUD - Priceline [PR Sample]

Complementary cleanser to the Kakadu Plum enriched line for a gorgeous glow.

Clinelle PureSWISS Hydracalm Caring Milk Cleanser 100mL - $9.99AUD - Priceline
Cleansing milk designed for sensitive skin.

Essano Rosehip Moisturising Creme Cleanser 100mL - $14.99AUD - Priceline
Hydrating and effective cleansing.


Edible Beauty No.1 Belle Frais Cleansing Milk 200mL - $54.00AUD - Adore Beauty
Botanical cleansing milk.

Mecca Max Off Duty Micellar Water 150mL - $28.00AUD - Mecca
Tonic to remove waterproof makeup and leave skin hydrated.

Pixi X Caroline Hirons Double Cleanse 2 x 50mL - $38.00AUD - Adore Beauty
A two step, solid cleansing oil and cleansing cream for superior makeup removal.



Cleansing Balms are the next step up. These cleansers are based on oils and waxes that feel as though you're trying to wash your face with petroleum jelly. More often than not, they are unable to be removed by splashing water, and are required to be removed with a hot towel or wet cotton pads. Beeswax, coconut oil and various plant butters are often found in these cleansers, but they still have ingredients that can emulsify with water to wash off normally. These cleansers usually come in tubs and they might create a milky texture when being rinsed.

I find these to be the most effective at getting rid of makeup and cleansing in one step.


Dry skin! There is without a doubt that balm cleansers are super gentle on dry skin. Oily types can use a balm to help remove makeup, following up with a cleanser from the above types (generally a gel that foams).



Lush Ultrabland 100g - $29.95AUD - Lush [Purchase]
The super classic cleansing balm.

PALMER'S Coconut Oil Formula Cleansing Balm 64g - $11.99AUD - Priceline

Coconut, Sweet Almond and Tahitian Monoi Oils.

Trilogy Make-Up Gone Cleansing Balm 80mL - $38.99AUD - Priceline [PR Sample]
A rich balm that will remove every last trace of makeup.


Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm 200mL with Cleansing Cloth - $129.00AUD - TVSN [Trial Size]

Luxury in a jar for this truly incredible balm.

ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm 105g - $93.00 - Mecca [Trial Size]

A spa experience at home.

SKINN Olive & Enzyme Cleansing Balm 118mL - $39.95AUD - TVSN [Purchase/PR Sample]

My most favourite cleanser of all time!



Some people will use straight up coconut or olive oil to cleanse, and while it seems like a good way to cleanse, it's not always going to get you clean. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, so it would be better classed as a balm cleanser, however, olive oil and other vegetable oils can be mixed to create a liquid cleansing oil. I don't like these, because they often leave residues and are a nightmare to clean from my face towels. I prefer the types with emulsifiers that turn these cleansers into a milk.

It works by the theory of "like dissolves like", and oils being non-polar substances (unlike water) are miscible with other non-polar substances. It's no better for oily skin, though.


Dry and normal skin. Oily skinned individuals have sworn by this method, and if it works for you, great, but it's definitely something a dry type should use.



Hylamide High Efficiency Face Cleaner 120mL - $29.95AUD - Priceline
Oil based cleanser that can emulsify with water.

Innoxa Restore Hydrating Cleansing Oil 150mL - $17.95AUD - Innoxa, Priceline, Myer [Purchase]
Oil to milk cleanser that removes all traces of makeup.

Natural Instinct Skin Refining Cleansing Oil 100mL - $21.99AUD - Priceline

A 6 oil blend for all skin types.


Aesop Parsley Seed Facial Cleansing Oil 200mL - $59.00AUD - Adore Beauty

Mild cleansing oil that leaves skin feeling refreshed.

Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil 180mL - $46.00AUD - Mecca

Cleansing oil for dry and dehydrated skin.

NIOD Low-Viscosity Cleaning Ester 240mL - $70.00AUD - Deciem, TVSN

Not a typical "oil" cleanser, but works on the same principle, where esters behave like oils.

Cleansing Tips

+ You don't need to double cleanse all the time.

If you are removing makeup or have been exposed to a lot of pollution during the day, it is ideal to double cleanse prior to bed.

+ Cleanse your skin before applying makeup.

Makeup requires a clean base to adhere to, so cleansing your face will help makeup apply better. Just remember to prep your skin with an appropriate moisturiser.

+ Use two different cleansers, one in the morning, one in the evening.

This may sound like a waste of product, but I assure you it isn't. Some cosmetics brands have AM and PM cleansers, which are designed to work together. I personally like to use a gel cleanser in the morning to wake up my skin and prep it well for my Vitamin C serum, and I use a cream cleanser in the evening, because it helps cleanse away makeup and dirt to allow for use of my night time skin care (generally AHAs).

+ Rinse your face with water after using Micellar Water.

It's super mild cleanser, and but it can still irritate skin!

+ Cleansing wipes do not replace proper cleansing. 

Sure, they remove makeup and refresh your skin conveniently, but please don't leave it at that!


What's your favourite type of cleanser? Let me know!

Note: Most of the products mentioned in this post were chosen based on price point an, rather than personal experience. Products that have been tried and tested by me are clearly stated. As usual, all products posted are from Cruelty Free brands.

This post is presented as a knowledge piece. Acquisition of products and/or services stated alongside each item, my thoughts are honest.
For more information, please read my Disclosure Policy.


  1. Thanks for that info Lara! I wasnt sure what cleansing method was right for my skintype now i know!