Cleansing is one of the non-negotiable steps in a skincare routine, and sometimes picking a good cleanser isn’t an easy task. We tend to think of cleansers as less important to “get right”, since it doesn’t stay on your skin for long, but in my opinion finding a cleanser that works for your skin will make a huge difference. The wrong cleanser can cause prolonged irritation, which leads to worsened acne. It can also make dehydrated skin so, so much worse.
There’s a thorough guide to picking a cleanser and working out a cleansing routine in The Lab Muffin Guide to Basic Skincare.
Here are some quick reviews of a few cleansers I’ve tried recently. These are all gel or foaming cleansers which I use on their own in the shower if I haven’t worn makeup, or after makeup removal (usually with a cleansing oil or balm) if I’ve left the house that day.
Then I Met You Soothing Tea Cleansing Gel
Then I Met You Soothing Tea Cleansing Gel ($36 USD for 100 mL) is the gel cleanser from Charlotte Cho’s own skincare brand. She’s a Korean skincare expert and the founder of Soko Glam. This cleanser is packaged in a set with a cleansing balm, which I’ll review separately. Charlotte’s packed a lot of beneficial skincare ingredients in it, including glycerin and sodium hyaluronate (great for keeping skin hydrated), gluconolactone (an exfoliating poly hydroxy acid) , tea tree oil, licorice root, Centella asiatica extract,
I enjoyed this cleanser – it’s mildly scented (with a slightly minty fragrance – probably from the tea tree), lathers to produce a mild foam, and washes off leaving no tight feeling. It has a pH of 5-6.
Ingredients: Rice Ferment Filtrate (Sake), Water, Glycerin, Acrylates/Beheneth-25 Methacrylate Copolymer, Diethylhexyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate, Sorbitol, Potassium Cocoyl Glycinate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Diglycerin, Potassium Cocoate, Propylene Glycol, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Centella Asiatica Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Extract, Panthenol, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Gluconolactone, Citric Acid, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Extract, Glyceryl Caprylate, Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Polyglycerin-3, Dextrin, Disodium EDTA, Cinnamomum Camphora (Camphor) Bark Oil, Glyceryl Acrylate/Acrylic Acid Copolymer, t-Butyl Alcohol, Butylene Glycol.
Oneoseven Low pH Chaga Cleanser
Oneoseven Low pH Chaga Cleanser ($17 USD for 120 mL) is a Korean cleanser that easily lathers to give a thick, luxurious foam. It contains small decorative green tea leaf bits, but there aren’t enough for it to be a scrub. It has a herbal scent. The cleanser left my skin feeling really soft, but ever-so-slightly tight. It has a pH of 5.
Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Ethoxydiglycol, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Xanthan Gum, Glycereth-26, Decyl Glucoside, Inonotus Obliquus (Mushroom) Extract, Coceth-7, PPG-1-PEG-9 Lauryl Glycol Ether, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Powder, Glyceryl Caprate, Polyglyceryl-2 Laurate, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Citric Acid, Malt Extract, Polyglyceryl-10 Laurate, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Broussonetia Kazinoki Root Extract, Nelumbium Speciosum Flower Extract, Morus Alba Bark Extract, Malus Domestica Fruit Extract, Camellia Japonica Leaf Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Vaccinium Vitis-Idaea Leaf Extract, Tricholoma Matsutake Extract, Vinegar, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Fruit Extract.
Fresh Sugar Strawberry Exfoliating Face Wash
Fresh Sugar Strawberry Exfoliating Face Wash (RRP $33 USD for 120 mL) is a non-foaming cleanser with little sugar crystals in it. The sugar crystals are very fine, and if you don’t want to exfoliate you can splash a bit of water in your hand with the cleanser and rub it around so they’ll dissolve before you use it. It also means you don’t end up with little scrubbing bits stuck around your face and in your sink and shower – one of my biggest annoyances with scrubs!
This doesn’t foam, and doesn’t leave my skin with a tight feeling. But I felt like it didn’t clean my skin as well as I expected a cleanser to – not that surprising, since cleansing surfactants are quite far down the ingredients list for a cleanser. It does have an absolutely delicious scent that reminds me of Splice iceblocks (these amazing lime-coated vanilla popsicles you can get in Australia). The pH is quite low: 4-5.
Ingredients: Glycerin, Sucrose, Butylene Glycol, Fragaria Vesca (Strawberry) Fruit Extract, PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Ribes Nigrum (Black Currant) Fruit Extract, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Fragaria Ananassa (Strawberry) Fruit Juice, Sapindus Mukorossi Peel Extract, Tocopherol, Parfum (Fragrance), Aqua (Water), Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, BHT, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, Limonene, Citral, Benzyl Alcohol, Linalool.
Skin Doctors pH Balancing Cleanser
Skin Doctors pH Balancing Cleanser (RRP $24.95 AUD for 100 mL) is a mildly foaming cleanser. It contains lactic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid that acts as a chemical exfoliant, and avocado oil. It has a light scent and a pH of 5. I found that it didn’t leave any tight feeling on my skin, but it did feel like there was a slight hydrating film left on my skin.
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Glycol Distearate, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Lactic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Ethoxydiglycol, Butylene Glycol, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Fruit Extract, Polyquaternium-10, Pentylene Glycol, Glycerin, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Lactate, Serine, Urea, Sorbitol, Sodium Chloride, Allantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea, Triethanolamine, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Fragrance (Parfum).
These products were provided for editorial consideration, but as always these are my honest opinions. This post also contains affiliate links – if you decide to click through and support Lab Muffin financially (at no extra cost to you), thank you! For more information, see Disclosure Policy.