Last updated: 16/10/2022

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Like people, facial cleansers come in a wide variety of forms. There is one perfect cleanser for everyone because it depends on their ingredients and how they will react with each specific skin type. You also need to to take into account any particular skin problems or conditions you may have.

More generally, you should understand how your skin works and which products work best with your own skin. If you suffer from acne and dry skin you need a different type of cleanser from if you had oily skin and acne. This guide will help you to navigate the differences between different types of cleansers and complexions.


  • First of all, you need to familiarise yourself with the types of facial cleansers that are on the market. Most can be divided in between four main categories: soaps, synthetic cleansers, combination cleansers with antibacterial properties and oil-free cleansers.
  • Your skin type is a determining factor in choosing the right facial cleanser. If you are prone to acne, rosacea or dry skin, you need to choose different products.It is important to always test new products to check that you do not have an adverse reaction.
  •  Today’s market is full of good products, which can make making a decision overwhelming. This guide will cover the best facial cleansers suitable for different skin types as well as different needs you may have.

The best Facial Cleanser: Our Picks

It can be very challenging to choose the right product. There are light, strong and mixed facial cleansers. Using the wrong product will mean you won’t get the results you’re looking for. Below we will share a list of the best products around suitable for different skin types.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about facial cleansers

Choosing a facial cleanser, or deciding to change the one you have been using for a long time,  can be overwhelming. Nobody wants to make a mistake that will have a negative impact on your skin. In this article, we will try to answer the most frequently asked questions about buying a facial cleanser.

 Facial Cleanser

Generally cleansers have one key function: to eliminate dirt, micro-organisms and dead skin cells.
(Source: Dean Drobot: 45863060/

What are facial cleansers and what are their advantages?

The facial cleanser is a key step in any skincare regime to keep skin healthy and boost the effectiveness of other products in your regime.

There are many types of facial cleansers and each one can react differently to different skin types. Choosing an appropriate one is very important. In general, all cleaners have the same function. They are used to remove dirt, sebum, microorganisms and dead skin cells. They do this by emulsifying or dispersing these elements in the cleaner, which is then removed with water.

Very strong cleansers can dry out some skin types by removing lipids, proteins and natural moisturizers but are suitable to others.  It is essential that you know the components of the soap you want to use to prevent damaging your skin or worsening existing problems.

Here are some of the  factors to  take into account when choosing a facial cleanser:

  • Removes oil, dead cells and dirt from your skin
  • Suitable to use on a daily basis
  • Refreshes your skin
  • Cleansers that are too strong can weaken the outer layer of your skin

What types of facial cleansers are there?

Generally, cleansers are divided into four broad categories, each one with their own particular characteristics which act on skin in different ways.

  • Soaps are good cleansers, they remove sebum and dirt without problems. Soaps are made from animal or vegetable fats, are alkaline and strong. Soap can however also remove proteins and natural oils keeping the skin moisturised.and as a result cause damage to the outermost layer of the skin.
  • Synthetic detergents contain little soap Their pH levels are close to those of the skin itself. This category of cleansers removes dirt and harmful agents from the skin but does not affect it as much as soap and does not dry out the outer layer of the skin.
  • Combination cleaners contain both synthetic ingredients and soap with the addition of antibacterial agents. These help to eliminate negative bacteria but also affects the natural flora of the epidermis. This can irritate the skin.
  • Lipid-free cleaners are quite mild. They do not contain soap but still cleans the skin and leave a thin layer of moisturizer on the skin.
Type Composition Effects on the skin
Soaps Soaps are made from animal or vegetable fats, and are alkaline substances which are designed to be strong cleaning agents. They effectively remove dirt, sebum and dead cells, but also proteins and natural moisturisers.
Synthetic cleansers pH similar to that of the skin, of synthetic origin. Clean the skin without affecting too much the outermost layer of the skin.
Combination antimicrobial bars Combination of soap and synthetic detergent, contain antibacterial agents. They remove harmful bacteria from the skin, they can also remove the natural microorganisms of the skin and irritate it.
Oil-free cleansers Gentle, clean without soap. They leave a thin layer of moisturiser on the skin.

What type of facial cleanser should I use if I have acne?

Acne is a condition that occurs when the sebaceous ducts of the skin are blocked. It can occur in the form of black or white spots, which may or may not be inflamed.  The facial cleansing routine you choose can help or exacerbate this condition. If you suffer from acne you should choose your skin products with great care. There is a false perception that acne is caused by not washing the skin and should be treated by the extreme use of strong cleaners and exfoliators.

This can damage the health of the skin and worsen the appearance and recurrence of acne and lesions. You should stay away from products that dry out the skin, as this can clog your skin.

Dr Jaishree SharadDermatology Cosmetologist based in Mumbai
“It is extremely important to wash your face the correct way, using an appropriate facial cleanser for your skin type”.

In addition, it is recommended that you choose cleansers that also do not alter the pH of the skin.  There is evidence that those that contain sodium lauryl ether sulfate, such as lipid-free cleaners will main the skin’s natural pH.levels.  You can also try liquid bars or soaps that contain antibacterial properties. This can help improve your symptoms.

What facial cleanser should I use if I have sensitive skin?

People with sensitive skin or who have rosacea or eczema should be careful when choosing a facial cleanser. Usually, it is recommended that you stay away from cleansers that dry out the skin and can irritate it. In this way, you will prevent your skin from being irritated.

There are studies that show that sensitive skin is related to the alteration of the external lipid barrier of the skin. Cleansers that remove this lipid barrier can exacerbate the symptoms of sensitive skin. Look for gentle, moisturizing cleansers that soothe your skin.

 Facial Cleanser

People with sensitive skin or who suffer from rosacea or eczema should choose their facial cleanser carefully. (Source: Pogrebkov: 40974202/

What is the best facial cleanser for normal, combination or oily skin?

Skins are divided into three types for the purposes of finding a suitable cleanser. These are: oily, normal and dry. Normal skin produces a moderate amount of sebum with no dry patches.  If you have normal skin you can use a wider variety of facial cleansers, but we recommend not using something that is too abrasive.

Normal skin sometimes  have a mixture of oily  areas and dry areas. Usually, the most oily areas are in the T-zone covering the chin, nose and forehead. For this reason you should find a cleaner that is suitable for both dry and oily skin. This  can be a bit complicated. Look for natural ingredients and do several tests that allow you to choose the one that best suits your skin. Test which one suits you best along with the products you use in your daily routine.

Dr Jaishree SharadDermatology Cosmetologist based in Mumbai
“If you have oily skin, avoid cleansers which contain oil or alcohol, which can make your skin more oily”.

If your skin is oily, you can look for cleansers that contain chemical exfoliants like salicylic acid or a slightly stronger product. However, we recommend that you do not overdo it to avoid causing an imbalance in the good bacteria of your skin. Look for a balance that allows you to take care of your skin.

Shopping Criteria

As we have mentioned, your skin type should be the most important factor you consider when deciding which product to use as a facial cleanser. Here is a comprehensive list of what you should look for according to your skin type, as well as other factors that may come into play.

Skin type

You should always work out your skin type before choosing a cosmetic or beauty product. This will dictate which components are beneficial to you and the most common problems for your skin to look out for. If you do not know, you can talk to a dermatologist or do a home test.

  • Sensitive or dry. If your skin is easily irritated, you should use a mild facial cleanser and hydrate your skin. Those that take away all the natural moisturizers can worsen your condition. If you have rosacea or eczema, your symptoms will improve with lipid-free cleansers.
  • Normal. Normal skin types can use a wider variety of products for facial cleansing, from combined to lipid-free products, which are softer. § Combination. Combined skin types need products that do not further dry out already dry areas as well as controlling the production of sebum in oily areas. The best thing you can do is look for softer products that will not be abrasive to your skin.
  • Oily. Oily skin can use a stronger cleanser without compromising the health of the outer layers. However, if you suffer from acne and have oily skin, it is better to use softer products that will not irritate your skin.

Other ingredients

Before buying a product, check its label to determine what are the active ingredients in the cleaner as you might have had an adverse reaction to some of these.

There are facial cleansers, for example, that include fragrances, parabens or alcohols that can react with sensitive skins or trigger more dryness in your skin. As a rule, it is best that you go for those products that contain less harmful ingredients and so you can maintain control over what comes into contact with your skin.

Exfoliating cleansers

You should also consider using an exfoliant a few times a week. These remove dead cells from your skin. An important factor when choosing an exfoliating cleanser is the type of abrasive ingredients that they use. Many brands use microplastics or fragments of plastic smaller than 5 mm. Studies show that these are highly polluting to the oceans and are not broken down by treatment plants.

If you can, avoid products which contain microplastics or pieces of these.


Controlling acne breakouts can be difficult if you do not have a proper cleanser. You can believe that using exfoliants and soaps will help you control acne but these can make it worse.  These products can dry out your epidermis and cause skin flakes that in turn clog your pores.

If you are in the middle of an outbreak, you should try a cleanser with antibacterial properties to control the worse of the symptoms. Follow this with a softer cleanser that will keep your skin hydrated and that do not raise its pH, such as those containing sodium lauryl ether sulfate.

Rosacea or eczema

Rosacea causes redness as it affects the blood vessels of the skin. In more severe cases, this can cause thickening of the skin, particularly in the area of ​​the nose. Eczema is also a disorder that can cause redness on the skin, but for different reasons. It can also cause itching and peeling.

If you suffer from one of these conditions you must take special precautions when choosing treatments for your skin. In general, you should resort to mild facial cleansers and, preferably, those that do not contain soap. This will keep the outer layer of your skin stable, which will help control your symptoms.


Before choosing a facial cleanser, it is important that you investigate what your skin type is and also take into account which skin problems you want to improve (acne, rosacea, eczema). These will be the key factors guiding your choice.  You can either consult a dermatologist or do tests at home.

Once you know this detail about your skin, you must choose between different types of facial cleansers. These can help eliminate dirt, dead skin cells or sebum from your skin. If they are very strong, however, they can damage the outermost layer of your skin, especially if it is sensitive. That is why you must choose carefully.

If this guide has been useful to you, we invite you to share it in networks with your contacts, who may be in search of the perfect facial cleanser. We also invite you to write comments on this article and tell us how your skin reacted to different facial cleansers.

(Source of the featured image: Dolgachov: 58803043/