From gentle facial foams to nifty face cleansing tools, we review a range of different facial cleansers for clearer and healthier skin. It’s the unsung hero in our beauty regime. From fancy formulas to dermatologist favourites, we try out several face cleansers to find one that could elevate our daily routine into an unmissable ritual.
Dr Belter’s Quickstart Gel Wash, $73, and Clarity Concentrate, $68
I’m not fond of elaborate beauty routines, so picking up a quality facial cleanser is one of the easiest ways for me to take care of my skin. This soap-free Gel Wash is soothing on the face and it worked well with my combination skin. The mildly abrasive particles leave your skin feeling smooth and clean, and there’s an icy kick to it that’ll wake you up in the morning! The anti-irritant formula is also ideal if you’ve got sensitive skin.
With so much time spent masked up, acne and facial blemishes have been a recurrent problem for many of us. While many of the acne creams I’ve used tend to leave behind harsh, dry skin, the Clarity Concentrate dries up, disinfects and even soothes the affected area.
– Dinesh Ajith
Bia Hydrating Skin Superfood, $86
Healthy skin has to be well moisturised, and that’s the aim of this Skin Superfood, which includes extracts of the Helichrysum italicum (“Immortelle”) flower to help with parched and inflammatory skin.
It comes in a pump design so you can control the amount you need. The texture of the cream is light and sinks into my skin really well using just one pump. It’s very hydrating without clogging my pores. I’ve noticed a huge difference in my skin within a few weeks of usage – the texture and redness have improved significantly.
The product is packed with all-natural ingredients and is also vegan and cruelty-free. Definitely worth purchasing!
Antü Refreshing Cleanser, $69
I’ve always had trouble with cleansers; they’re either too dry for my skin or they don’t cleanse well enough and my pores get clogged. That’s why finding the right one is so important.
I had to try this product when I saw that it has a combination of shea butter and several kinds of citrus and leaf extracts. The consistency is absolutely amazing for my sensitive and acne-prone skin, as it’s non-foamy and glides smoothly as I work it into my skin. It also has a refreshing citrusy scent, which provides a sense of rejuvenation.
I’m surprised and pleased at how super refreshed, clean and soft my skin feels; I look forward to using the product at the start of the day, and also the end when my skin starts to feel greasy. It’s a must-have cleanser in my daily regime.
– Hana Kamal
Covermark’s Mineral Wash, $50
If you’re looking for a daily face cleanser that cleanses well without drying out your skin, try this one. The scent-free face wash is formulated with Moroccan mineral clay to absorb dirt from the pores, while cleaning out surface impurities and brightening the complexion. I use it every day – once in the morning and once at night – and love how clean my face feels after each wash.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed using the facial cleanser with the provided sponge, which helps to lather up a generous amount of soft and fluffy foam. In fact, I’ve found myself looking forward to my cleansing routine more so than before! This will make a great addition to any skincare cabinet, especially if you have sensitive skin like me.
– Anthia Chng
Astalift’s Moisture Foam, $42
This creamy pink-coloured facial cleanser from Japan has a lovely rose scent. I was worried that it might be too harsh for my dry skin (because of the fragrance), but I was glad to discover that it cleanses without stripping the moisture off my face. This means I can use it several times a day without feeling any tightness or dryness after.
Another bonus is that it’s formulated with skin-loving ingredients such as astaxanthin (an antioxidant found in algae), lycopene (another antioxidant found in tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables) and water-soluble collagen, for smoother, more radiant skin. I’m still using a concealer and blusher at the time of writing but let’s give it a few more weeks!
– Louisa Lim
Citrea’s Face Soap, $39.90
Having never used cleansing face soaps, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I’ve been enjoying the results! The smell is fresh and lemony – lemon myrtle and yuzu give it a lovely citrus scent.
It’s very simple to use. The thick foam that comes from the soap easily takes off makeup and cleans your skin, leaving it feeling squeaky clean but not dry. The soap bar includes ingredients like hyaluronic acid to make sure your skin feels moisturised.
Another big bonus of using this cleansing soap is that it’s made from 99 percent natural ingredients – how fab is that? And it’s perfect for those with sensitive skin.
– Michaela Bisset
IYAC’s Pure & Gentle Cleansing Foam, $70
Smelling like a powdered orange cordial from my childhood, this lovely cleansing foam is made in Singapore and designed for sensitive and even acne-prone skin.
It dispenses smaller amounts normal pumps – I chose two pumps for no-makeup days or more if I needed it. The creamy rich lather can then be rinsed off or wiped with a damp cloth – I preferred the latter as it seemed to remove the dirt and excess product better.
My skin felt calm, smooth and hydrated afterwards, and not taut and shiny like other facial cleansers that can strip your skin of natural oils.
– Danielle Rossetti
Ole Henriksen’s Find your Balance Oil Control, $40
I love this product! I have combination skin and I feel this face cleanser has helped quite a lot with the oiliness. It has a wonderful fresh scent too.
If I’ve been out and about, I double wash to get all the gunk out. But do remember to moisturise because double cleansing literally takes all the oiliness away.
Overall, I really liked using it; it bubbles enough to make me happy and the peppermint sensation leaves the skin quite cool, which I think is great for this climate.
– Susan Knudsen-Pickles
BClean’s BHuman Face Wash
BHuman is a skincare brand with environmental sustainability in mind. All its products come in powder form; the brand says that by removing the water in its formula, it significantly reduces the water footprint for each customer.
This face wash comes in a lovely reusable small bamboo bottle, which I adore. The ingredients are 100 percent plant based. All you need is a few sprinkles of powder, which you mix with a tiny bit of warm water in your palm to get a good lather. I found the light lavender scent divine.
My skin is rather dry and I found this cleanser to be very kind to my skin. A single cleanse with the BHuman powder worked just perfectly for me. It made my skin feel super clean, soft and not stripped. For oilier skin, you may find that you need to cleanse twice, as the formula is rather gentle.
– Karin Galley
Escential The Body Tonic’s Harmony Cleansing Grains, $32
A blend of natural herbal ingredients that provides gentle exfoliation as I wash my face? Yes, please! Most of the ingredients in this cleanser are organic, including mung bean powder, whole grain brown rice powder and others. It left my skin feeling supple without feeling dry. After a week, my skin seemed to be slightly brighter too. I like that there aren’t any nasties such as parabens, artificial fragrance or preservatives.
As it’s a powder, I could choose how grainy I wanted the paste to be – I added less water when I wanted thicker paste. Having said that, if I was in a hurry, having to mix water with the grains to create the paste is not as convenient as using a facial cleanser from a tub or bottle with a pump.
– Patricea Chow
Dermedics’ Ceramide Creamy Cleanser, $78
Unfortunately, this face cleanser has no bubbles at all. What it has, though, is a soothing, calm, creamy texture that doesn’t irritate the skin. Bubbles are like a big rock-star party for the skin; the creamy texture of Dermedics is more like calm, private me-time at a spa!
This particular product is designed for sensitive skin. I really saw the difference when I was using it during my time of the month, when my skin usually has a few breakouts due to my period. It calmed my skin down.
It’s unisex, too, so anyone with acneprone skin may be able to benefit from it. It’s also hypoallergenic and doesn’t contain parabens, alcohol, colourants or allergens. After a month of using it, I can tell that my skin is calmer, brighter, younger-looking and bouncier.
– Susan Knudsen-Pickles
Dr GL’s Cleanser Lightening Plus, $98
After reading the hype around this skincare range, I was very keen to try it. I’d never chosen a face cleanser because of its brightening claims, but my late 40s skin was quite drawn to it. I love that it doesn’t contain any oil, parabens or sulphates too. It has a watery texture which I was not expecting but you only need a small amount to add to wet skin and it lathers up well. As it doesn’t contain oil, it leaves the skin feeling very clean and bright. I did notice a difference after using it for only a few days. The price tag is a little expensive to be honest but it’s worth it if you really want to splurge on something to make your skin feel amazing.
– Jacqui Young
Lierac’s Micellar Milk, $38
This facial cleanser has two properties: it’s supposed to remove external pollutants and dirt from the skin and dissolve makeup. It also draws out excess sweat and sebum and helps to eliminate dead skin cells. It’s smooth and gentle, and I like the smell – there’s a hint of jasmine. It wasn’t that great with removing mascara, but I think it’s a nice milky cleanser for the face and neck. It’s good for all skin types.
– Rebecca Bisset
Glow Recipe’s Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser, $52
This lovely gentle facial cleanser gives the right amount of foam to remove makeup properly. I was impressed as it also removes waterproof mascara very easily. It smells nice and is easy to use – a little goes a long way as one pump is all it takes to work up a nice foam. It leaves the skin fresh and face tight after use. I’m a huge fan of the Glow Recipe range and this is definitely on my list to purchase again.
– Jacqui Young
CNP Laboratory’s Cleansing Perfecta, $34
This cleanser is a mix between cream and gel, which makes for easy application. It’s also suitable for sensitive skin and has no fragrance at all.
I tried using it to clean all of my makeup off. My BB cream washed away effortlessly, but it didn’t remove all of my mascara. (Admittedly, it does say on the packaging to remove eye makeup before using the cleanser.) If you wear a lot of sunscreen, BB cream or foundation, you might have to use a gentle sponge to get all of it out.
I’m a big fan of bubbles, and this face cleanser unfortunately doesn’t lather well. However, it does do the job it promises – my skin doesn’t just feel fresh and thoroughly clean after using the product, it feels bright and bouncy!
– Susan Knudsen-Pickles
And for cleansing other places…
Woman Essentials’ Brightening Replenishing Feminine Wash, $59
Just as I cleanse and care for my face, hair and body daily, I pay careful attention to feminine hygiene – I’ve understood its importance ever since suffering from a painful infection as a tween. Most body soaps can strip moisture and cause an imbalance in the gut flora so I prefer feminine washes. I dislike those that leave a “soapy” feeling even after washing them off; this wash didn’t do that and yet it still left me feeling refreshed. Its fragrance is subtle and doesn’t leave a cloying sensation on the nose. I look forward to using it!
– Patricea Chow
This article first appeared in the November 2021 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!