Cream cleansers are also often called milk or lotion cleansers, and they're creamy and opaque. They use an emulsion - a mix of water and oil or butter- to create a lotiony soap that both cleans and moisturizes.
Who it's for: They're usually a good choice for dry skin types because they moisturize as they gently clean. They’re not the right choice for oily skin types that need something a bit more high intensity to remove and control excess oil.
As the name suggests, gel cleansers have a gel-like consistency and are usually transparent.
Who it's for: Gel cleansers are great for most skin types, as they tend to be relatively low foaming, so they're not super drying, but they also do a great job of removing excess oil and dirt.
Oil cleansers are one of the more controversial new cleansers on the market. They take advantage of the fact that oil attracts other oil to removes excess oil and the dirt and dead skin cells attached to it.
Who it's for: People who love them claim that rather than cause acne, they actually help to control it. But we haven't found that to be the case, and recommend oil cleansers mainly for people with dry skin. Combination, and oily skin types are better off avoiding them.
Similar to the concept behind oil cleansers, micellar water is made up of tiny balls of cleansing oil molecules- called micelles- suspended in soft water. The micelles attract oil and dirt that you can then rinse off of you skin, without being super drying.
Who it’s for: Micellar water is very gentle, so it’s a great choice for dry skin types. But it won’t wash off heavy makeup, so nix it if you need to get that off. And it isn’t strong enough for oily or combination skin types.
Acid cleansers use salicylic acid or glycolic acid to gently and effectively exfoliate skin to remove excess dirt, oil, and dead skin buildup. They are usually a bit thinner than other cleansers and don’t foam up all that much. It’s probably obvious that we’re partial to acid cleanser- Alder New York’s Everyday Face Cleanser uses glycolic acid as its star ingredient.
Who it’s for: Everyone. Acid cleansers are great because they deep clean gently so they don’t over dry sensitive and dry skin types. They also help oily skin types to remove and control excess oil even after you wash. We’re not gonna lie- they’re our favorite type of cleanser.
Foaming cleansers use more modern technology to foam up once you pump them out. We’re not big fans of foam cleansers- they usually use harsh SLS or other chemicals to get those big foamy bubbles that strip skin of all its oil, good or bad. Even if you have oily skin you never want to strip you skin completely of oil.
Who it’s for: In our opinion, no one.