The 10 Types of Facial Cleansers and What They Are Used For

A facial cleanser is a skincare product that is used for removing excess oil, dirt, dead skin cells, pollutants, and make up products. Cleansers help diminish the signs of acne while also cleaning out clogged pores.

Facial cleansers are the foundation of a good skincare routine, and figuring out what cleanser is best for your skin type whether dry, oily, or combination skin is vital to getting the results you are looking for.

What are the Different Types of Facial Cleansers?

There are various cleansers out there but these are the most common types of cleansers:

Foam Cleansers

A Foam cleanser is a lightweight foamy solution that create a lather with the use of the pump or your hands. Foam cleansers remove excess oil and dirt from your pores and are ideal for combination skin types.

Examples include (CeraVe Foaming Cleanser, Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser, Korres Foaming Cleanser)

Gel Cleansers

A Gel cleanser is usually transparent in appearance with a gel-like consistency. They can have both exfoliating and deep cleaning properties which is ideal for acne prone skin and oily skin.

Examples include (Peach and Lily Cleansing Gel, Neutrogena Cleansing Gel, Bontanical Kinetics Gel Cleanser)

Cream Cleansers

A Cream cleanser can be moisturizing and are usually thicker in consistency. They cleanse the skin without removing its natural oils which is ideal for sensitive skin and dry skin.

Examples include (Murad Cleansing Cream, Laneige Cream Cleanser, Omorovicza Moor Cream Cleanser)

Oil Cleansers

An oil cleanser is another way to rid the skin of surface debris, excess oil, and makeup. They leave the skin feeling smooth and supple, remove makeup, and can be used to double cleanse. All skin types can use an oil cleanser since they can be rinsed out without an oily residue.

Examples include (Shiseido Cleansing Oil, One Love Organics Cleansing Oil, Kaike Melt Oil Cleanser)

Bar Cleansers

Bar cleansers are known to have conditioning ingredients such as emollients and prebiotics that cause the skin to feel calm and they lack sodium lauryl sulfate which is a harsh ingredient. Bar cleansers can also have exfoliating qualities that can give the skin deep cleansing. Dry skin types will benefit the most from this type of cleanser.

Examples include (Ethique Facial Cleanser, Cetaphil Cleansing Bar, CeraVe Cleansing Bar)

Bar cleansers could also help the planet since they use less packaging, more sustainable ingredients, and are often more environmentally friendly by using recycled materials. Bar soap for instance is considered one of the most sustainable soap options since it creates less than 10 times the environmental impact than liquid soap.

Powder Cleansers

Powder cleansers are cleansers that come in a powder form and become activated once water is added. The cleanser can have a cream or foam consistency depending on the product you are using and the amount of water that gets added. These cleansers are considered exfoliating powders due to their gentle exfoliation. Sensitive skin types will benefit the most from this cleanser.

Powder cleansers are also convenient for those who travel since they do not have to worry about any leaking or travel restrictions.

Examples include (SBR Enzyme Powder, Hanskin Powder Cleanser, Kanebo Suisai Powder Cleanser)

Cleansing Balms

Cleansing balms have a creamy and paste like consistency that remove impurities and dirt from the skin without stripping any of its natural oils or making the skin dry. They can be used around the eyes to remove makeup since the ingredients are often natural which will not irritate the skin. The oils in these balms help provide a deep clean that can aid in dissolving excess oils that often lead to clogged pores. It can remove makeup effortlessly leaving the skin feeling hydrated. They can be used for all skin types but is particularly beneficial for dry and sensitive skin.

Cleansing balms are used by using dry hands to apply on to the dry skin. The reason being that the oils int he balm and the skin need to attract before water gets added. Surfactants then release the tension on the surface of the skin which allows it to lift and remove makeup that can then be rinsed off.

Examples include (Elemis Cleansing Balm, Then I Met You Cleaning Balm, Eve Lom Cleansing Balm)

Clay Cleansers

Clay cleansers remove dirt, impurities, and toxins from clogged pores while keeping the skin at balance. They can deep cleanse the skin without removing its natural oils, keep oil in check, and get rinsed off. They are most beneficial for oily and combination skin.

Examples include (SkinFix Clay Cleanser, Ren Clean Skincare Clay Cleanser, Dermalogica Clay Cleanser)

Micellar Cleansers

Micellar cleansers also called micellar water are surfactant molecules that are suspended and by their very nature attract oil and dirt. In other words its an oil that is suspended in a water based cleanser that helps remove dirt and meep products from the skin even more effectively than other types of cleansers. Its most beneficial for dry and sensitive skin.

Micellar cleansers need to be used with a muslin cloth or cotton pad to sweep across your face gently to remove the make-up.

Examples include (Bioderma Micellar Cleanser, Simple Micellar Water, Acure Micellar water)

Cleansing Wipes

Cleansing wipes are beneficial on those days or nights when you are too tired or not close to home to use your regular products and want to clean your face or remove make-up. The way to use makeup products include gently rubbing your face in a circular motion starting at your forehead and then across your face. Be gentle with sensitive areas like your eyes, use a splash of water, and moisturize afterwards. Cleansing wipes can be used by all skin types dry, oily and combination skin, just be sure to use a cleansing wipe that works for your skin needs.

Examples include (Neutrogena Cleansing Towelettes, Kopari Melt Wipes, Almay Cleansing Towelettes)

What are the Benefits of Using a Facial Cleanser? 

Facial cleansers remove cosmetic products and environmental impurities along with sebum and dirt among others while not irritating or damaging the skin.

How do you Wash your Face?

Once you have the right facial cleanser it’s  important to know how to use it. Depending on the type of product that you are using whether water-like or creamy they will either require the use cotton pads or rising to remove.

You can use lukewarm water when facial cleansing using circular motions beginning at the center of your face and working outwards as recommended by Dr. Madfes.

How Often Should You Wash Your Face?

You should wash your face twice a day, once in the morning and once the evening. The reason for this being that while you sleep your pores expel oil and sweat. By washing your face in the morning it will allow you to remove any excess oil that you acquired while sleeping and will give you a fresh start. Washing your face at night is beneficial since it can remove sebum, oil, sweat, and environmental pollutants. This allows your skin to reset itself and it allows it to breathe while you rest.


There are numerous cleansers out there that serve distinct purposes whether you have dry, sensitive skin, or oily and combination skin. Depending on what you are trying to achieve with your skin there will be a product out there for you. Be open to trying products that may work for your skin type and do your research.


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