Tried and Tested: Cleansers

I recently decided to start a series of ‘tried and tested’ posts, beginning with lip balms. Now it’s time to investigate an even more pivotal element of your skincare routine: cleansing. The following five cleansers are a range of gel, foam, oil and cream based products. God forbid any of you use face wipes to cleanse (we won’t even go into that now)… so hopefully this covers most bases.  Some I love, some didn’t work quite so well for me. Some are 100% natural, some not. I hope one will be right for you!

Good Things Stay Clear Anti Blemish Cleanser

Good Things Stay Clear Cleanser

Ingredients: 3/5  – Free from parabens, sulphates, mineral oil and not tested on animals. This isn’t a ‘natural’ or organic range (nor does it claim to be) so it does contain some non-natural ingredients including perfume/fragrance (the sixth in ingredients list which is quite high up). Includes extracts of willow-bark, which is anti-microbial (kills or inhibits growth of microorganisms) i.e. good for preventing breakouts.

Packaging: 4/5  – Practical, flip top soft plastic 150ml tube. I haven’t got to the end of the product yet but having used these types of tubes before and they’re pretty easy to squeeze out the last bit of product, so there should be minimal wastage. Also good for travel as they’re light and lock closed.

Fragrance: 2/5  – Personally I find it far too sweet, like bubble gum. However I think as a teenager I’d have loved it.

Performance: 4/5  – I don’t use this very often –I’m put off by the smell and the fact it’s not that natural. However if I ever want that “fresh feeling” which I think you can only really get from a cleanser which you can wash off with a splash of water, then I use this. It’s a runny gel which you need to work into your skin for a little while to really remove grease and makeup and work up a bit of a lather (not much as no sulphates, remember). When you wash it off it really does leave skin feeling super clean but with no hint of ‘squeak’, tightness or dryness. This is really important to me as other teenage ranges out there simply strip skin of its natural sebum, which is completely counter-productive to preventing breakouts and damages skin.

Price: 5/5  – At £4.99 for 150ml this is pretty good value and really accessible as it’s sold in Boots.

Overall Score: 4/5 – this isn’t my favourite due to the sweet smell, but that aside it’s a great performing cleanser for a reasonable price.

Balm Balm Super Light Coconut Cleanser

Balm Balm Coconut Cleanser
Balm Balm Coconut Cleanser

Good for: removing eye makeup, sensitive skin.

Ingredients: 5/5  – 100% organic and 100% natural blended coconut oils. Fantastic for sensitive skin as there are no nasties and no fragrance.

Packaging: 2/5  – I love the look of the packaging – the soft pastel colours in the Balm Balm range are delightful. However this cleanser could really do with a pump or at least a smaller opening at the top. It’s a very thin oil so comes rushing out making it very hard to pour it into your hand without spilling excess everywhere. It’s fine if you transfer straight onto cotton wool and use as an eye makeup remover but the packaging makes it hard to use as an all over facial cleanser.

Fragrance: 4/5  – Fragrance free. There’s no hint of coconut which goes to show how much added fragrance is added to many coconut products. Again, great for sensitive skin but if you like a scent you might be disappointed.

Performance: as a makeup remover 5/5, as a cleanser 3/5  – I personally think this product works best as a makeup remover rather than an all over cleanser. It’s a very lightweight oil and is fantastic at dissolving eye makeup including waterproof mascara. Plus it’s so natural it doesn’t sting or irritate your eyes at all. I dab onto cotton wool pads and gently wipe over my eyes.

It does work as a cleanser however it literally is just an oil so you have to rub it over your skin then use a flannel or muslin cloth to wipe off. There’s just something funny about the feeling of wiping it off which I don’t really enjoy or find satisfying and although it does remove my makeup I just don’t get that ‘clean’ feeling. My routine at the moment is to use this to remove makeup then Liz Earle’s Cleanse & Polish to clean my face all over.

Price: 4/5  – £12.99 (for 100ml) may seem a bit steep but it’s a reasonable price to pay for a good performing 100% organic and natural product in my opinion.

Overall score: 4/5 – I love the fact it’s completely pure and organic and it’s definitely worth purchasing if you’re after a gentle but effective makeup remover.

Kiehl’s Acai Texture-Perfect Cleanser

Kiehl’s Acai Texture-Perfect Cleanser
Kiehl’s Acai Texture-Perfect Cleanser

Good for: Well, I was told by the SA this was good for normal to dry skin, but I would challenge that and say it’s actually a bit drying. I’d recommend this for oily skin or perhaps for combination skin during the summer months when your skin’s more hydrated. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for very dry skin.

Packaging: 4/5  – This cleanser comes in a lightweight plastic bottle with a pump dispenser that turns the liquid inside into foam. I like the foam mechanism as it controls the amount of product you use and the clear plastic cap stays in place making it good for travel. My only qualm is that the sticker on the outside isn’t very waterproof so I can see it getting tatty quickly.

Ingredients: 4/5  – One of the reasons I chose this product was because many Kiehl’s products contain sodium laureth sulphate which I want to avoid in my skincare. This is one of the only Kiehl’s cleansers that doesn’t. It’s labelled as ‘100% natural origin’ and on the back states that 58.3% of ingredients are ‘from organic farming’, certified by Ecocert France. The hero ingredient in this is acai berry, chosen for its antioxidant properties. The first on the ingredient list is orange fruit water. It also contains lavender oil and rosemary leaf oil as natural preservatives. I would say if you have very sensitive skin it might not be right for you as lavender is quite potent and may irritate very sensitive skin.

Fragrance: 4/5  – This has a botanical smell; a mixture of the orange water, lavender and hint of rosemary come through giving it a citrusy and herbal scent. I like it – it’s invigorating and refreshing with really relaxing, outdoorsy associations.

Performance: 3/5  – This cleanser claims to ‘minimize the effects of environmental stressors by clearing skin of impurities and helping to protect against free radicals’. It ‘helps to clear surface pores and maintain skin’s natural balance for healthier looking, more even-toned skin.’ In terms of cleansing, I found it performs well. I like the amount of product which comes out of the pump and it’s effective at removing makeup and dirt. You do need two washes though if you’re removing makeup.

However I find it stings slightly around the eye area – not painfully so but it’s not completely comfortable. Also I find when I wash off and dry my face it’s left feeling a little dry. Of course I always use moisturiser anyway but I don’t want to have to rush to put it on; I’d prefer a cleanser that leaves my skin feeling soft and balanced.

I think perhaps this would work for me during summer months and it’s definitely a great bottle in its size and weight to take on holiday. During these winter months however, I’m afraid it’s letting me down as my skin is in need of something much more nourishing.

Price: 2/5  – At £20 this is a bit overpriced in my opinion. For an everyday product which will last you a few months at most, I’d like to be paying between £8 and £15 max. If it was a miracle product I might think differently, but for me, it’s not.

Overall Score: 3/5 – There are things I like about this (the ingredients, the smell, the packaging) but it’s too drying for me especially at this time of year.

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish

Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Cleanser
Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Cleanser

Good for: everyone. This is a really balanced cleanser.

Packaging: 4/5  – I like everything about this. It’s so lightweight, you could take it everywhere with you. The pump dispenser gives you the perfect amount for a first cleanse plus you can pump a little more softly to get a smaller amount out. I guess the only thing I would like to change would be to be able to see how much product is left. As it’s an opaque container you can’t quite be sure when it’ll run out.

Ingredients: 3/5  – Liz Earle markets itself as having ‘naturally active ingredients’ although has never claimed to be a wholly ‘natural’ range with all natural (or organic) ingredients. Instead its approach is highlighting the power of the botanicals it selects. In the pasts L.E. has faced controversy over including parabens (chemical preservatives suspected of being potentially carcinogenic) in its products, however has defended the decision by the argument that the dangers of rancid ingredients are far worse than the potential danger of the preservative (which is in tiny quantities). Anyway, that’s all irrelevant as Cleanse & Polish doesn’t contain parabens. Yay!

This is not completely natural but doesn’t have any real nasties, therefore it gets 3 out of 10 on the ingredients.

Fragrance: 5/5  – This is the perfect fragrance if you want a scented product which isn’t too overpowering. Its extracts of rosemary and eucalyptus come through giving a strong botanical aroma, but has a more subtle scent than the Kiehl’s Acai cleanser, for example.

Performance: 5/5  – This is without a doubt my favourite of all these cleansers featured and my favourite cleanser that I’ve ever used, full stop. It is a beautiful soft cream cleanser that really works to remove makeup whilst being very gentle (not stinging around the eyes, no adverse reactions, no dryness afterwards). You apply this to dry skin then wash off with the muslin cloth that comes with it. The warm cloth on your face feels really nice and the muslin is soft and gentle while effectively lifting off all the grime and makeup the cream. My skin feels totally clean, soft and nourished afterwards. Perfect.

Price: 4/5  – The 200ml pump with muslin cloths is £23, then it’s £21.50 for top up tubes. For 100ml it’s £13 or 311.50 respectively. This isn’t exactly cheap but it won’t break the bank either, and it’s definitely worth it for its performance!

Overall Score: 4.5/5 – Love this product all round! (It’s not completely natural or organic therefore loses a little half point. Gotta be fair now.)

Antonia Burrell Natural Glow Cleansing Oil

Antonia Burrell Cleansing Oil
Antonia Burrell Cleansing Oil

Good for: I would say normal to oily skin, although mine is on the dry side, so I don’t have firsthand experience.

Packaging: 3/5  – I’m not overly keen on this packaging. It’s a glass bottle which is quite heavy and clunky. I get nervous about dropping it on my tiled bathroom floor! The pump is good though and makes it easy to dispense the right amount of product. Plus there are benefits of dark coloured glass – it preserves the ingredients better than plastic.

Ingredients: 4/5  – 100% pure plant ingredients.

The blurb: “Infused with Cypress (a natural astringent) and Petitgrain (extracted from the same tree that produces neroli and bitter orange and used as a natural treatment for acne) it heals and purifies the skin, calms irritation and brightens fatigued skin. Sun Glow Cleansing Oil helps protect skin from free-radical damage, which also causes accelerated skin ageing, and gives you the deepest, most luxurious cleanse yet.”

Fragrance: 2/5  – I don’t really like this scent, sadly. It’s very strong, verging on medicinal in my opinion. Just smelling it makes me nervous about putting it anywhere near my eyes as it’s so strong.

Performance: 2/5  – On first applying the product I really liked the texture of this oil – soft, rich and velvety. In terms of removing dirt and makeup, it does cleanse quite well. However there are some flaws… Firstly, I was right about the fragrance being too strong for the eye area. This actually really did sting when I got some in my eye. That’s an issue for me as I want a cleanser that can clean my whole face, including my eyes, without worrying about it. (If I’m tired and in a rush I can’t be faffing around with lots of different products.) There’s even a warning on the back of the bottle to avoid contact with eyes and flush with water thoroughly if contact occurs. So if you do use this product, I definitely suggest using a separate eye makeup remover first.

My other issue with it is that I found it a bit drying. I was really surprised because the texture of the oil is lovely and it felt nourishing while I was cleansing. But, after washing it off, my skin felt surprisingly tight and I felt I rushed to put on my moisturiser (emu oil). I also tried the toner that goes with this cleanser but again I didn’t like the strong smell and didn’t feel it was very hydrating. Perhaps this could work better for people with oily skin types.

Price: 1/5 – £38.50 for 200ml… I appreciate the ingredients are good quality but this is three or four times more than I’d realistically spend on a cleanser so I won’t be repurchasing (this was given to me by a PR for review).

Overall score: 2/5  – This was a bit of a disappointment to be honest. I usually love oil cleansers and was excited to try a new natural product with some interesting sounding pure plant ingredients. But it didn’t work for me unfortunately.

I have even more cleansers to try and am always looking out for new ones, so no doubt there will be a ‘part 2’ to this post in the future. It’s such an incrimental part of skincare and one that’s so important to get right. If I could give you some very basic tips when picking a cleanser I’d say (a) avoid cleansers which have sulphates or parabens in the ingredients (they’re known skin irritants and possible carcinogens); (b) aim for something with as few ingredients as possible (more likely to be purer and more natural, in general); and (3) my personal preference is a cream or oil based cleanser as opposed to foam or liquid, as they tend to be the least drying. You never want your skin to feel tight and dry after cleansing. It’s not soap and should not strip the skin of its natural oils, even if you have oily skin.

Until next time…


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12 thoughts on “Tried and Tested: Cleansers

  1. Wow, this is a great list and reviews of cleansers. Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish looks particularly interesting to me. Thanks a lot!

  2. Thank you for this post! I recently moved and my Glymed gentle cleanser is running out. Sensitive skin is hard to please! Great tips. Thank you

    1. Sorry. Unclear. I moved away from my esthetician! I’m looking for alternative products and it’s hard to find them.

  3. Pingback: Winter Skin Savers
  4. I am a little taken aback and quite surprised with your review of the Antonia Burrell Cleansing Oil. I love the smell its fresh and uplifting I could breath it in all day, the texture is lux, the way it cleans my skin is so easy. No irritation on my eyes and I wear tons of mascara. You get what you pay for and this is a qulaity product.. i have had mine for 4 months and still have lots left, smoother skin, less blemishes i adore the product.

    1. Hi Chalicia. thanks for you comment and really glad you’re enjoying the product. My review was based on my own experience of the product so of course is quite subjective: everyone has different skin and perhaps mine is just more prone to dryness and irritation than yours. I would say that especially in winter my skin is quite sensitive. I also don’t really like strong smelling products, especially facial products, regardless of how natural or high quality they are, so that’s just my personal taste. Anyway, it’s great to hear that it’s working better for you. I agree that the texture is gorgeous. x

    1. Yeah, love it! Can’t believe I hadn’t discovered it earlier. Only thing I don’t like is washing the muslin cloths. I need to stock pile them cos I’m lazy.

  5. I was really keen on trying the coconut cleanser mainly for the fragrance! I love coconut. Bit disappointed it has no scent even though I know it’s a cleaner product as a result. I’m a sucker for a delicious smell.

    1. Ah, sorry to disappoint Aly! No it doesn’t smell, but it’s still a delight to use! x

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