There are A LOT of different kinds of face washes on the market, and it can be difficult to choose one that suits your skin…

After reading this comprehensive guide to all the face washes and cleansers out there, you should know exactly which one to use when (and why)!

Face wipes

Face wipes are convenient woven sheets that are saturated with cleansing ingredients. They’re very convenient when you’re in a pinch, will be away from water or on an overnight trip you want to pack light for, but they’re not a great choice for every day as they’re often riddled with harsh ingredients like fragrance and alcohol that are known to cause irritation.

If you use them as the exception and not the rule they can be very handy. Be gentle when you’re wiping your skin, and use multiple wipes until you can no longer see any dirt or make-up transfer on your last wipe.

The most gentle and effective option I’ve come across is Garnier Micellar Oil-Infused Wipes, R60 (supermarkets and pharmacies).

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Micellar water

Micellar waters have been around for decades, but they’ve only gained popularity in SA in recent years. They’re watery solutions with cleansing molecules suspended in them, and they’re pretty effective at removing make-up.

I don’t use them every day, but I do favour them for late nights and lazy days. Simply pour some onto cotton disks and swipe away. I do find the wiping irritates my skin, so I’ve gotten into the habit of adding a few drops of facial oil onto the cotton pad, and it works like a charm. Not only is the solution then gentler, it also speeds up the make-up removal process – and less friction means less irritation.

Read more: What is micellar water (and should you be using it)?

Copyright: dolgachov / 123RF Stock Photo

Foaming face wash

Just about everyone has used a foaming face wash at some stage. If you use a good quality wash they’re suitable for most skin types except dry and sensitive skin, and they’re very easy to use as well.

Simply pump or pour some wash into your hand, lather, and start washing. Gently work your way around your entire face, using your ring- and middle fingers for more delicate areas. Whether you wash over your eyes or not will depend on the formulation and usage instructions of the product. Rinse with lukewarm water.

Cleansing milk

Cleansing milks aren’t very popular at the moment, but they’re a very safe bet if you’re unsure of which type of facial cleanser to use. They’re generally indicated for ‘normal’ (i.e. problem-free) skins that are slightly towards the dry side – this can also mean they’re a good winter alternative to foaming washes.

You can either use your dry hands to spread and work in a milk cleanser, or you can apply it with cotton rounds. Both methods are effective – it boils down to your preference. Milk cleanser can be rinsed off with warm water, but you may have to give your face a swipe with cotton wool if there’s a residue.

Try Avene Gentle Milk Cleanser, R250 (Clicks, Dis-Chem)

Cleansing cream

Cleansing cream has grown in popularity as it’s a gentle and effective way of cleansing your skin and removing make-up without drying out skin. Work the cleanser into dry skin with your dry hands. Add a little bit of water by wetting your hands to emulsify the cream, which makes it easier to rinse off.

If you struggle with dry or sensitive skin, cleansing cream is probably your best option.

Cleansing oil or balm

Cleansing oils and balms have skyrocketed in popularity in the last decade thanks to greatly increased education and awareness around them. They’re gentle on skin, yet super effective at dissolving even the most stubborn waterproof make-up.

Better yet? They’re suitable for all skin types. Not only do these cleansers respect your skin’s pH (thus soothing sensitive skins and keeping the barrier of dry skins intact), they’re suitable for oily skin types as well – oil dissolves oil.

Simply work the oil or balm into your skin, and remove with a muslin or regular face cloth.

Try The Body Shop Silky Camomile Cleansing Oil or Cleansing Balm, R210 each.

Last but not least – double cleansing

Double cleansing is always recommended – the first cleanse is to remove everything from the surface of your skin (like make-up, dust or pollution) and the second cleanse is for your skin (oils etc).

Depending on your skin type, you may want two different types of cleansers for this. An oily or combination skin might need a cleansing balm to remove full coverage foundation and waterproof mascara, but a foaming wash afterwards will leave you feeling fresh and clean. Play around until you find what works for you!