There is only one rule to cleansing. Always wash before bed (it’s essential for getting rid of oil, make-up, dirt and pollution particles that can spark inflammation), but it’s fine to forgo it in the morning unless you put on treatment products like retinol or glycolic acid the night before. But when it comes to choosing one, there are no rules. You just have to know your skin type and what effect each cleanser will have on your skin. Here’s your cheat sheet.
Best for: Women with normal skin who aim for a low-maintenance routine— you don’t even need to turn on the tap with this. The tiny oil molecules act like a dirt magnet; the formula’s H2O and mild surfactants sweep it away.
How to use it: Soak a cotton pad, then blot skin. Repeat until nothing more comes off on the pad.
Try: Eucerin Dermo-purifyer Micellar Water (R200). Your skin will be left clean and soothed without disrupting the skin’s natural moisture barrier. Available – and on sale right now! – at Dis-Chem.
Best for: Normal or oily types who aren’t using topical acne meds (the combo could be overly drying). The pillowy texture feels especially nice post-workout.
How to use it: Wet your face first and pump a single serving into your palm, then slather it from chin up to forehead to prevent it from falling into eyes. Rinse until the bubbles go buh-bye.
Try: Ponds Flawless Radiance Facial Foam (R90). A foam that contains micro-exfoliating beads to wash away oil, dirt and impurities. Available at Dis-Chem.
Best for: Dry or sensitive skin, or if you use moisture-sapping products for acne or wrinkles. Creams mix high levels of emollients (hydrating ingredients) to break up grime with low levels of surfactants (cleansing agents) to knock out muck.
How to use it: Apply a 10c-size dollop onto — this is key — dry skin. Remove with water.
Try: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser (R230). A cream cleanser that’s mild and non-irritating, it softens as it cleanses. Available at Dis-Chem.
Best for: Oily or combo skin. Though many gels now boast added hydrators, they still contain higher levels of surfactants.
How to use it: Wet your face and gently massage a coin-size dollop of gel onto your face using circular motions. Rinse off.
Try: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Cleanser (R98). This non-sticky lightweight gel will keep skin hydrated and healthy. Available at Dis-Chem.
Best for: Dry or eczema-prone folks who wear lots of foundation. Base is made with oils that water can’t break up; here, oil dissolves oil.
How to use it: Apply a tablespoon to dry skin; remove with a wet cloth.
Try: Uriage Xemose Soothing Cleansing Oil (R240). This oil nourishes and moisturises very dry and atopic skin. Available at Dis-Chem.
Best for: Combination skin. In addition to utilising gunk-busting oils, these guys often contain natural exfoliators, which help slough rough patches and unclog pores.
How to use it: Warm a 50c-size amount in your palms (it’ll melt into an oil), massage into dry skin, then wipe away with a soft, wet cloth.
Try: REN Rosa Centifolia No.1 Purity Cleansing Balm (R480). A rose-infused cleansing balm that gently melts away dirt and make-up. Available at Clicks.