How to Find the Best Cleanser for Your Skin Type

December 05, 2016
Jessica Khorsandi
By: Jessica Khorsandi | by L'Oréal
How to Find the Best Cleanser for Your Skin Type

Think you’re using the wrong cleanser? If your skin feels tight or dry you just may be. To discover how to find the best cleanser for your skin type we tapped a board-certified dermatologist. Find out what he had to say below!

By now you should know full well that cleansing skin is a non-negotiable part of a skin care routine. Facial cleansing formulas—the good ones, anyway—are meant to remove dirt, oils, makeup, pollution, and whatever else is hanging out on your complexion from the duration of the day. Why? Because a buildup of cosmetics and filth can overstay its welcome and potentially wreak havoc on the skin. “You should be using a gentle cleanser twice per day,” says board-certified dermatologist, and consultant Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali. “Once when you wake up and once right before you hit the sheets and apply your night cream.”

Aside from how often one should cleanse, one of the most frequently asked questions related to cleansing is, “How do you know if your cleanser is actually working?” It’s a valid question. Nobody wants to be slapping face wash on their skin day-after-day only to be causing more harm than good, right? The key to determining if your face wash is right for you is to examine how your skin feels after the ritual. If your skin feels squeaky clean, tight, oily, slick, and/or any combination of the lot, it might be time for a facial cleanser overhaul. Keep reading to discover how your face should feel after cleansing—plus, tips on how to pick the right cleanser for your skin type!


People often look for that tight, squeaky clean feeling after cleansing as a sign that their pores are clean and their cleansing ritual is picture-perfect. It couldn’t be further from the truth. Forget what you heard, your skin should not feel tight after cleansing. If it does, this can be a sign that your cleanser is too harsh for your skin and is stripping it of the natural oils it needs. What can ensue, of course, is dry skin. But more frightening than that is the potential for your skin to overcompensate for what it believes to be a lack of moisture by excreting additional sebum. Excess sebum can lead to unwanted shine and in some cases, breakouts. Some people might even feel tempted to wash their face more frequently to eliminate some of that extra greasiness, which can only further aggravate the vicious cycle. See how this can be problematic?

So, how should your skin feel after cleansing? “The right cleanser makes your skin feel fresh, but is rather light,” says Dr. Bhanusali. Ultimately, your face should feel clean and not overly greasy or dry. Dr. Bhanusali recommends using an exfoliating cleanser a few times per week, especially on busy days or when you break a sweat. They are formulated with exfoliating ingredients like alpha and beta hydroxy acids to cleanse the pores. Just make sure the formula is suited for your skin type.


As mentioned earlier, over-washing your face can have terrible consequences. Washing your face twice per day is the recommended amount to avoid excess dryness, flaking, peeling, and irritation. Be extra careful with exfoliating cleansers, too. “If you overdo it, you may notice new acne bumps and redness starting to form, particularly on the upper cheeks and below the eyes where skin is thin,” warns Dr. Bhanusali. 


Think it might be time to switch up your facial cleanser? You’ve come to the right place! One of the most important aspects to consider before picking a face wash is your skin type. That said, we’re sharing popular types of cleansers—foam, gel, oil, and beyond—for every skin type, including some of our very favorite formulations below!

For Dry Skin: Dry skin types can benefit from cleansers that offer hydration and nourishment along with basic cleansing. Oil cleansers and cream cleansers are typically good picks.

Try: L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Nourishing Cream Cleanser, Vichy Pureté Thermale Cleansing Micellar Oil

For Oily/Combination Skin: Oily, combination skin types can benefit from non-comedogenic gentle foam, gel, and/or exfoliating cleansers. Look for formulas that are mild and refreshing to remove dirt and filth without stripping skin’s natural oils.

Try: SkinCeuticals LHA Cleansing Gel, Lancôme Énergie de Vie Foam Cleanser, La Roche-Posay Ultra-Fine Scrub

For Sensitive Skin: If you have sensitive skin, rich cream cleansers and balms are a gentle option that can hydrate and cleanse your skin at the same time.

Try: Shu Uemura Ultime8 Sublime Beauty Intensive Cleansing Balm, The Body Shop Vitamin E Cream Cleanser

All skin types can also try micellar water—a gentle option that typically requires no rinsing—and cleansing wipes for quick clean on-the-go. No matter what formula you choose, always follow up any cleansing routine with a heaping dose of your favorite moisturizer and SPF! 

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