- Gentle cleansers are specially formulated to provide hydration and relief for dry and sensitive skin types.
- Cream and lotion cleansers are most effective on dry and sensitive skin.
- Those with combination and oily skin types should opt for lightweight gel-based cleansers.
Gentle cleansers are a mild and effective choice for those with dry and sensitive skin types. Use them in the morning and night to hydrate your skin, and clear away impurities. Unlike face washes, they are non-foaming, more moisturizing, and contain fewer harsh ingredients.
Do Gentle Cleansers Work?
Despite being milder on your skin, gentle cleansers are still effective in lifting away impurities from your face. Gentle cleansers are also beneficial for easing the symptoms of dry and sensitive skin, often containing a variety of nourishing ingredients, such as aloe vera and hyaluronic acid, leaving your skin feeling moisturized.
Tips for Choosing a Gentle Facial Cleanser
When choosing a cleanser, avoid those containing surfactants. Surfactants are ingredients that are widely used in skin care products to lift away dirt and oil from the skin. Some surfactants are known to irritate and dry skin when applied topically, such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).
Similarly, avoid cleansers that claim to be gentle yet contain added fragrances and preservatives – these ingredients have been found to cause allergies and skin irritation when used in cosmetic products.
Best Gentle Cleansers for Your Skin
Gentle cleansers are formulated with a variety of ingredients. When choosing a gentle cleanser, it’s important to consider your skin type and its individual needs.
Those with sensitive, easily-irritated skin may want to opt for a cleanser containing soothing, anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as:
- Chamomile – Provides an anti-inflammatory effect on your skin when applied topically, with antioxidative benefits.
- Tiger grass – Soothes and reduces inflammation, and has been found to aid in the skin’s healing process.
- Aloe vera – Widely used to ease the symptoms of sunburn. Soothes inflammation and relieves redness.
Opt for cleansers with milk and lotion formulations that have a mild and creamy consistency, which work to soothe, protect and moisturize your skin.
If you have a dry skin type, use lotion, cream or milk cleansers – these formulations provide moisturizing effects as well as leaving your skin clean and refreshed. Choose cleansers containing hydrating ingredients, such as:
- Hyaluronic acid – Intensely hydrates your skin, improving its texture and appearance.
- Glycerin – An emollient ingredient that both hydrates and helps to lock-in moisture.
- Ceramides – Waxy lipids that support the skin’s natural protective barrier, helping it to retain moisture.
Use a gel-based cleanser to clean and refresh your skin. Gel-based cleansers are more lightweight and less likely to clog pores than other formulations, such as creams and lotions. Look out for ingredients that control oil and unclog pores, such as:
- Salicylic acid – A beta-hydroxy acid that exfoliates deep inside pores to clear out excess oil and buildup.
- Niacinamide – Reduce the appearance of enlarged pores and regulates your skin’s sebum production.
Avoid cream and lotion cleansers containing emollient ingredients such as lanolin and mineral oil. If you have oily skin, these ingredients may clog your pores and trigger breakouts.
Choose a mild, balancing cleanser that moisturizes the dry parts of your face, without clogging pores on the rest of your face. While this may seem challenging, there are ingredients that can both hydrate and control sebum, such as:
- Green tea extract – A protective antioxidant ingredient that reduces sebum secretion.
- Lactic acid – A mild alpha-hydroxy acid that exfoliates and also stimulates natural ceramide production, protecting the drier parts of your skin.
If you have a normal skin type, it’s likely that your skin will react positively to most gentle cleansers and ingredients. Still, it is best to avoid unnecessary ingredients, such as SLS and added fragrances.
How to Use a Gentle Facial Cleanser
Gentle cleansers should be used as the first step in your skin care routine. Use twice a day, in the morning and evening for best results. This will keep your skin cleansed and hydrated throughout the day, and while you sleep.
After rinsing off your cleanser, follow up with a moisturizer to lock in the benefits. Some gentle cleansers are designed to be massaged into the skin without the need for rinsing, so it’s always best to double-check the individual instructions of your products.
If you notice any irritation or redness after introducing a new cleanser to your routine, discontinue its use immediately.
Gentle cleansers are most beneficial for those with dry and sensitive skin types. When choosing a cleanser, it’s important to find one that contains ingredients that work in harmony with your individual skin type and its requirements.
Many gentle cleansers contain hydrating and soothing ingredients to combat signs of dryness and irritation, such as hyaluronic acid and tiger grass. Those with oily and combination skin benefit the most from gel-based gentle cleansers; alternatively, milk, lotion and cream cleansers are best suited to dry and sensitive skin types.
- Bylka, W., Znajdek-Awiżeń, P., Studzińska-Sroka, E., & Brzezińska, M. (2013). Centella asiatica in cosmetology. Postepy dermatologii i alergologii, 30(1), 46–49. doi:10.5114/pdia.2013.33378
- De Jongh, C. M., Verberk, M. M., Withagen, C. E., Jacobs, J. J., Rustemeyer, T., & Kezic, S. (2006). Stratum corneum cytokines and skin irritation response to sodium lauryl sulfate. Contact dermatitis, 54(6), 325-333. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0105-1873.2006.00848.x
- Fowler, J. (2012). Understanding the role of natural moisturizing factor in skin hydration. Pract Dermatol, 9, 36-40. pdfs.semanticscholar.org/e8b8/0459761bb743fae95ac8f504345f1fd0bbab.pdf
- Hamilton, Tatyana & Gannes, Gillian. (2011). Allergic contact dermatitis to preservatives and fragrances in cosmetics. Skin therapy letter. 16. 1-4. researchgate.net/publication/51164374_Allergic_contact_dermatitis_to_preservatives_and_fragrances_in_cosmetics
- Jegasothy, S. M., Zabolotniaia, V., & Bielfeldt, S. (2014). Efficacy of a new topical nano-hyaluronic acid in humans. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 7(3), 27. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3970829/
- Lodén, M., & Wessman, W. (2001). The influence of a cream containing 20% glycerin and its vehicle on skin barrier properties. International journal of cosmetic science, 23(2), 115-119. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1467-2494.2001.00060.x
- Meckfessel, M. H., & Brandt, S. (2014). The structure, function, and importance of ceramides in skin and their use as therapeutic agents in skin-care products. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 71(1), 177-184. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaad.2014.01.891
- Reuter, J., Jocher, A., Stump, J., Grossjohann, B., Franke, G., & Schempp, C. M. (2008). Investigation of the anti-inflammatory potential of Aloe vera gel (97.5%) in the ultraviolet erythema test. Skin pharmacology and physiology, 21(2), 106-110. https://doi.org/10.1159/000114871
- Stallings, A. F., & Lupo, M. P. (2009). Practical uses of botanicals in skin care. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 2(1), 36. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2958188/