Best Cleansers and Exfoliators

On the hunt for perfect, glossy and clear skin? Want to know exactly what the difference is between a face wash, cleanser, micellar water and exfoliator, which you’re supposed to use first and which is the best for your skin type? Read more…

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Based on 4,156 reviews
Real-u Beauty Bundle

Real-u Beauty Bundle 🏆 2024

4.6  (146) Summary
Tammy
Tammy
 
Best by farThese products made my daughters skin the clearest we had seen it in years! It took the redness out of her skin as well as reducing the acne. Show details
SkinB5™ Next generation Clear Skin + Wellness

SkinB5™ Next generation Clear Skin + Wellness 🏆 2024

4.4  (316) Summary
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E V.
E V.3 posts
 
Sand and Sky Brilliant Skin

Sand and Sky Brilliant Skin 🏆 2024

4.4  (478) Summary
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Tina W.
Tina W.
 
RubbishDoes absolutely not deliver what it promises. Used twice. My skin did not feel hydrated at all. It left a sticky dry itchy film on my face. Way overpriced. Not happy. I threw it in the bin. Show details
St. Ives Apricot Scrub

St. Ives Apricot Scrub

4.3  (107) Summary
Rin
RinNSW15 posts
 
Too rough on my skinMy partner loves this exfoliant but it is way too rough on my skin, maybe I have more sensitive skin than he does.

He does have the odd breakout and he loves the feel of this on his skin and it does get rid of his pimples and blackheads when he uses it semi-regularly.  Show details

Real-u Cleanse

Real-u Cleanse

3.9  (98) Summary
Sam
Sam
  cleanse
Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant

4.8  (25) Summary
Sarah
SarahSA9 posts
 
Lovely productNot too harsh and leaves your skin feeling great. I have sensitive skin and it works well on mine. Show details
Sukin Cream Cleanser

Sukin Cream Cleanser

4.4  (29) Summary
Solange L.
Solange L.NSW2 posts
 
Really goodI am very impressed with the quality of this product, it really cleans, good ingredients, smells nice and good price. Show details
Clarins Beauty Flash Balm

Clarins Beauty Flash Balm

4.6  (25) Summary
Liza
LizaSA12 posts
 
Preferred the old formulaHaving used and loved the old formula for years I was slightly shocked when they changed it. Still good product but it no longer has a nice fragrance and on my skin it's a bit sticky Show details
Skinstitut Glycolic Scrub 14%

Skinstitut Glycolic Scrub 14%

4.1  (40) Summary
Rachelle
RachelleBonogin10 posts
 
La Roche Posay Effaclar

La Roche Posay Effaclar

4.3  (28) Summary
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Anna380
Anna380QLD3 posts
 
Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel

Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel

4.3  (26) Summary
Sarah
SarahSA9 posts
 
Will continue to buyGreat cleansing gel for sensitive skin! Bottle lasts for some time! Show details
Sukin Foaming Facial Cleanser

Sukin Foaming Facial Cleanser

3.7  (49) Summary
Opinions Matter.
Opinions Matter.236 posts
 
Formula 10.0.6 Mud Masks

Formula 10.0.6 Mud Masks

3.4  (56) Summary
Cotton C.
Cotton C.3 posts
 
Love itThis is my fav brand to use. I use the Berry awake, Pores be pure, and the Glow one. I never felt a burning sensation before, only a nice refreshing tingling one on the berry awake, and i just feel good about my skin now! Show details
Essano Rosehip Oil

Essano Rosehip Oil

4.5  (16) Summary
Lucy
LucyNSW
 
Lush Angels on Bare Skin

Lush Angels on Bare Skin

4.0  (24) Summary
Briseyda Valladares
Briseyda Valladares
 
Lush
Lush   DM   
More
The Body Shop Seaweed

The Body Shop Seaweed

3.7  (31) Summary
Mhorven M.
Mhorven M.
 
Burning sensationBurns my skin and gave me acne too. Will not buy again
Ego QV Face Gentle Face Cleanser

Ego QV Face Gentle Face Cleanser

4.4  (16) Summary
Amy H.
Amy H.2 posts
 
Hmmm not sure about this oneMy skin didn’t like it. This cleanser states it’s for sensitive skin but it contains sodium laureth sulfate which can be very irritating for people with sensitive skin??? Doesn’t make sense. Show details
Gabby
Gabby
 
ASAP Range

ASAP Range

3.3  (46) Summary
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miako kuhn
miako kuhn2 posts
 
powerful sun protection ideal for combination skinIt was delivered in a reasonable time frame. The order was correct plus the extra gift from the online game purchase. The sunscreen and the sprayer were securely wrapped. The ordering process althrough out has been a fantastic and fun one. Agents are friendly special thanks to Anna. Show details
Clinique Clarifying Lotion

Clinique Clarifying Lotion

4.5  (14) Summary
John Ul.
John Ul.QLD4 posts
  Verified
did not dry up my skinThis is an excellent product in helping my acne-prone skin get better. It didn't break me out and keep the moisture in place while not creating excessive sebum. I've had a good experience with this one! Show details
Pinetarsol Solution

Pinetarsol Solution

4.8  (12) Summary
Spring tulips
Spring tulipsAustralia24 posts
 
Perfect for eczema, dermatitis or dry skinThe bath oil is my favourite from the range. It works well to clear up eczema, dermatitis and dry skin. The gel isn’t what I would call a gel as it’s pretty watery so not really suitable as an alternate to liquid soap. A little pricey compared to alternate brands but worth it to alleviate a flare up. Show details
MR8
MR8Brisbane5 posts
 
Raquel M.
Raquel M.WA5 posts
 
Not as good as the original Scholl foot fileIt slows down a lot when using it. Whereas the original ones run same speed and did not slow down.
Would recommend the original one, but not the wet and dry one. I’m still a fan of Scholl products. Bought from chemist warehouse Ballajura 6066 Show details
Skin Clarity Range

Skin Clarity Range

3.4  (27) Summary
Bex
Bex2 posts
 
The best, the only thing that worksLiterally the only product that works to keep my acne at bay plus keep my skin supple and smooth. I kid you not. I’m gutted I can’t find this product anywhere anymore. Show details
Nivea Gentle Exfoliating Scrub

Nivea Gentle Exfoliating Scrub

3.4  (27) Summary
CrackedChelle
CrackedChelleSouth Australia18 posts
 
Dermalogica Precleanse

Dermalogica Precleanse

4.3  (12) Summary
Kaitlyn
KaitlynVIC7 posts
 
Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser

Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser

3.2  (33) Summary
Sue
SueHobart2 posts
  Verified
Tracey
Tracey12 posts
 
Biore Pore Strips

Biore Pore Strips

2.8  (64) Summary
Zet
Zet2 posts
 
Bioré
Bioré   DM   
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To further assist with your enquiry and concerns, please contact consumerau@kao.com thank you

Garnier Pure Active Range

Garnier Pure Active Range

3.6  (19) Summary
Customer
CustomerNSW34 posts
 

Girl smiling and using face cleanser

An effective skincare routine is important to your confidence, health and happiness. With more varieties of cleansers and exfoliators available on the market currently than ever before, where do you begin to start when going about choosing one?

Well, there is no one-size-fits-all in this case, the best facial cleanser and exfoliator for you depends on your skin type, goals and how simple or luxurious you want your skincare routine to be.

Types of face washing products

Face wash

Many people think cleansers and face washes are synonymous as they both clean the skin, but there are differences between them. Face washes are the most effective at removing debris from deeper layers of the skin and cleansing the pores - they are similar to body soap and foam when being used.

They are not necessary for everyday use, however those with very oily skin or acne can benefit from using face washes especially geared for them, often with salicylic acid.

Cleansers are much more gentle and effective at removing oils and makeup and can be used on an everyday basis. For a deep clean, you can use both in tandem - using a cleanser first to rid the face of impurities and then a face wash to get deeper into the skin.

Cleansers

Cleansers come in a host of varieties and forms. From most abrasive to lightweight, they are as follows:

  • Exfoliating cleansers: Come in two forms: physically exfoliating with small abrasive balls or chemically exfoliating. They are not to be used long-term on an everyday basis as it can irritate. Suitable for oily and combination skin.

  • Bar cleansers: Often look similar to bar soaps and are eco-friendly and travel-safe. Depending on the formula, they can be very drying for the skin, however the newest innovations claim to be more gentle. Suitable for oily skin.

  • Powder cleansers: Turn from a powder into cream, gel or foam after adding water and also have a gentle exfoliating effect based on rice starch or chickpea powder. They often come in sachets and are easily transportable. Suitable for oily and combination skin.

  • Foaming cleansers: Contain SLS to provide their foaming effect, they usually rid the skin of all dirt and oils but can be irritating to sensitive skin. Suitable for oily skin and combination skin.

  • Clay cleansers: Turn from clay into a mousse-like consistency and work in a similar way to clay masks by cleaning pores and absorbing excess oil. Suitable for oily and combination skin.

  • Gel cleansers: Give a deep cleanse while still providing some moisture. Some may also contain SLS as they can foam when in water. They are good for oily and combination skin.

  • Oil cleansers: Should be applied on dry skin as opposed to wet skin and then gently wiped or rinsed off. They use water-soluble oils to attract oil and debris and are suitable for all skin types.

  • Cleansing balms: Very similar to oil cleansers and should be applied on dry skin, but have a different consistency in the tube which melts into an oily consistency after application. They are effective at removing makeup while still being nourishing and are suitable for all skin types.

  • Lotion cleansers: Often labelled as ‘milk’ or ‘cream’ cleansers and are the least harsh of the cleanser types. They are non-foaming and use botanical oils and other moisturising ingredients to cleanse and nourish the skin. They are suitable for dry and sensitive skin.

Exfoliators and scrubs

Exfoliators are great to use 1-3 times a week to remove any build up of dead skin cells and smoothen the skin. They come in the form of facial exfoliators, exfoliating masks, body scrubbers and lip scrubbers etc. They work by unclogging pores and scraping away dead skin cells. They can improve the appearance of your skin in many ways, contribute to collagen renewal and improve the health of your skin as long as they are not used too often.

Scrubs can come in the form of oils, creams and clays which are chemical-based and break down the dead skin chemically. Alternatively, you can buy physical exfoliators which do the job manually by using grains of sugar, walnut shells or apricot pits etc to rub against the skin and loosen the dead skin cells.

There are many applicator tools that can be used to achieve this purpose such as exfoliating brushes, gloves or sponges.

Micellar Water

Unlike cleansers, this method doesn’t involve rinsing. You can simply wipe off the residue with a cotton pad, a facecloth or cleansing wipe. Micellar water uses oil molecules called micelles to attract dirt, oil and makeup away from the skin.

Because it is alcohol-free, it can be used on sensitive areas and is recommended for removing stubborn eye or lip makeup. It is suitable for all skin types but should be used in conjunction with a cleanser and not exclusively, as it’s not strong enough to provide an overall clean. It’s recommended to use before or after a cleanser.

Another convenient alternative is a face wipe, which similarly helps remove makeup and dirt without the need for rinsing. It is a great transportable short-term alternative to a cleanser but not a replacement.

How do face cleansers work?

Products that wash the face (and body) contain surfactants - little agents that are hydrophilic at the top and hydrophobic at the tail. Basically, their tails attract all the dirt and grime on your face to become things called micelles, which then get washed out as you rinse your face.

How drying your face cleanser is depends on the charge of your surfactants. Negatively charged surfactants (anionic) such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) are more effective at stripping the dirt and oils on your face than those surfactants with a mixed charge (amphoteric) or a positive charge (cationic). Often, you’ll find the latter used in cleansers for sensitive skin.

Can I just clean my face with water?

You could, and while it can feel refreshing, it won't remove dirt, excess oils and makeup. Even if you don’t use makeup, the general pollution in the air can build up on your face along with sweat and dead skin cells. It can be beneficial for everyone to incorporate a gentle face cleanser once a night into their routine for healthy, shining skin.

Best ingredients for your skin type

man using face wash in mirror

Everyone has a different skin type and different skins tolerate different ingredients. To find the cleanser most compatible with your skin, consider finding one with the suitable ingredients:

Dry skin: botanical oils such as jojoba, avocado, coconut, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, antioxidants, plant butters, lactic acid

Sensitive skin: aloe, Jojoba oil, green tea, oatmeal, chamomile. Avoid: alcohol-based, SLS & fragrant cleansers

Oily skin: clay, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, vitamin C

Acne-prone skin: salicylic acid, glycolic acid, tea tree oil & other antiseptic astringents, retinol/vitamin A

If you’re lucky enough to have a normal skin type, you have a wider variety to choose from, but the seasons can also affect how your skin behaves and you might find it beneficial to use a more clarifying cleanser in summer and a gentle one in winter.

Recommended face washing routine

How many times a day should I wash my face?

It is recommended that you wash your face at least once a night to purify the skin from the toxins of the busy day by using a cleanser.

For those who wish to do so, the morning can be a good time to use a face wash or exfoliator to get a deep cleanse. If you have been working out or wearing heavy make, you can also wash thrice but be careful not to overdo it as that could lead to irritation and breakouts.

Can face cleansers cause pimples?

Cleansers, when used correctly, shouldn’t cause breakouts. However, common mistakes such as scrubbing too hard, using a cleanser that is too clarifying for your skin type, using extremely hot water, using too much product and washing your face too many times can strip your skin of its natural oils which can lead to excess sebum production and blockage. The breaks and tears in the skin from over scrubbing can allow bacteria to enter. For that reason, it’s important to listen to your skin and choose your cleanser accordingly.

Face washing best practices

Using warm, body-temperature water is the best course of action as it opens up the pores. Hot water is often an irritant for sensitive skin and cold water does not open up the pores as effectively. Using clean hands, place a 5 cent coin-sized amount of product into your palm and rub in circular motions around the face. Be careful not to scrub too hard. Rinse as required and pat the face dry with a clean towel.

Post-cleansing routine

There are many things you can do after cleansing to ensure that you get the best results for your skin.

Double cleansing & exfoliation

For those who want a thorough clean, double cleansing can be an option depending on the two cleansers used. It’s recommended to use a combination of a clarifying cleanser with a gentle, hydrating one to provide the best results.

It is also possible to use a gentle cleanser followed by an exfoliant for an extra-deep clean.

Toner

If cleansing just once, you can use a toner (or micellar water as a softer alternative) to rid the skin of any leftover impurities, brighten the skin and tighten the pores.

Moisturising

It’s important afterwards to follow up with a moisturiser, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin. Because your pores have been opened, the product will have space to work on your skin.

Final thoughts

Here are some things you should consider before buying the right cleanser for you:

  • Value for Money: Many high-end products do the same thing as drugstore ones but under the guise of fancy packaging. It’s useful to see how others rate the product in this category and if the product is worth the price tag.

  • Ingredients: By checking the ingredients, you can help figure out if this product will cause any irritation or be right for your skin.

  • Ease of Application: There are a variety of forms of cleansers and choosing the one that is the most convenient for you is important. Would you like it to be in the form of a transportable bar, micellar water without rinsing or a foaming cleanser?

  • Smell: If you’re into smelling a particular way, this could be an important factor to consider. This also rings true if you have sensitive skin or would generally prefer a non-fragranced product.

A great cleanser is the bedrock to achieving healthy skin and the first step you should take before any moisturisers, exfoliators or makeup can work their magic on your skin. The key to choosing a good cleanser depends on your daily routine and skin type and can be aided by informative reviews from others who have tried it.

You can read the highest-ranking cleanser and exfoliator reviews on our website today to help you make the best choice.

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