Updated 9 March 2022
Our tests are independently conducted and reflect the test editor's honest and objective opinions. Selection of products and test results are in no way influenced by manufacturers, retailers or other internal or external parties.
Various facial cleansers were used regularly for a couple of months by people of different ages and with different skin types. The instructions provided for the amount to use and how to use it were followed.
Use: How easy is the cleanser to apply and use? Is it easy to remove?
Scent & packaging: How does the product smell? Is the packaging hygienic and easy to use? Is it easy to get the right amount?
Result: Does the product deliver what it promises? Does it remove all make-up? Does it feel gentle on your skin? Does it leave the skin soft or tight?
A gentle, soft, effective facial cleanser that smells heavenly
Type: Oil cleanser Format: Pump bottle Quantity: 150 ml Price class: Medium
Klairs Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil smells very good. It’s far from being a strong smell, but rather a gentle, soft and powdery smell that feels as safe as an embrace.
However, it’s not just the scent that makes Klairs Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil a real winner in the bathroom cabinet. It’s also really effective at washing your face clean of both dirt and make-up, whether or not you use waterproof products.
As the name indicates, this is a cleansing oil. It’s quite thin in terms of consistency, so it’s important to use it quickly after pumping it out into your hand. The pump bottle is stylish, simple and looks nice on the sink edge or the bathroom shelf.
You apply the oil to dry skin and massage it in small circles over the face. Regardless of whether you’ve got patience for doing small circles, you’ll quickly notice how effective it is at removing all your make-up. But perhaps the best thing is the feeling afterwards. Your skin feels soft and supple, without even the slightest tendency to tightness. It almost feels like you've given yourself a mini-facial.
The oil isn’t black, despite the name. On the other hand it does contain, among other things, black sesame oil (antioxidants), blackcurrants (vitamins) and black beans (balances sebum production).
Klairs Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil effectively removes make-up and dirt, while at the same time smelling lovely, making it a big favourite with all of our testers.
The most convenient make-up remover for those who think skin care is boring
Type: Micellar water Format: Bottle Price range: Budget
Do you find make-up removal about the most boring thing you can do? Read on! Here’s the product for you.
First, let’s take a minute to talk about micellar water. This cleansing water is becoming more widespread, but lots of people still don’t really know what it is. Micellar water contains micelles. Micelles are molecules that like both water and fat. When using this water, the micelles attract oil and dirt and bind them together. In simple terms, they lift dirt off your skin in a gentle way.
BioDerma Sensibio H2O is the original when it comes to micellar water. It’s been hugely hyped and named as the winner in almost an infinite number of tests – and the fact is that it lives up to all our expectations, and more besides. First of all, this is a really budget-friendly product – the bottle is available in a large format and lasts a long time.
Using a make-up remover pad (you should ideally use reusable pads for the sake of the environment) you wipe your face with BioDerma Sensibio H2O, and make-up and dirt disappear in an instant. The water doesn’t dry out your skin, but leaves a soothing, cool feeling. Whether you choose to use BioDerma Sensibio H2O after a regular cleanser to lift off the last make-up residue, or if you use the micellar water as your only cleanser, your skin will feel clean and ready for bed. If you use waterproof make-up, it might be a good idea to start with an oil cleanser, but otherwise a dose of BioDerma Sensibio H2O is often enough.
Makeup removal has seldom been easier – thanks to BioDerma Sensibio H2O.
An oil cleanser that simultaneously moisturises your skin
Type: Oil cleanser Format: Pump bottle Quantity: 140 ml Price class: Medium
Once you’ve got over that little voice in your head telling you it’s weird to wash your face with oil, there’s almost nothing that feels as good. Medik8 Lipid-Balance Cleansing Oil is a cleansing oil with a perfect medium-thick consistency and a scent that’s utterly fabulous.
Many oils suffer from being too thin, which also makes them difficult to handle, but this one hits the sweet spot between thin and thick, making it easy to clean your face with. The colour is a beautiful yellow, and when you apply it to a dry face it feels lovely and smooth. Once you’ve massaged the oil in, you work it into a milky consistency with damp hands. You then rinse the product off.
Medik8 Lipid-Balance Cleansing Oil easily removes both make-up and dirt, and when you’ve patted your skin dry it feels soft, flexible and thoroughly moisturised. And this transforms cleansing your face – which often feels like a necessary evil – into sheer pleasure.
There are undoubtedly cleansers that are a lot cheaper, as this one is in the upper mid-range in terms of price, but it’s far from the most expensive. The thing you really need to bear in mind is that this is a very economical oil cleanser, which goes much further than you’d first think when you see the slim bottle. The bottle itself has a pump dispenser, so it’s easy to get the right amount.
Medik8 Lipid-Balance Cleansing Oil is a cleanser that works on most skin types. Easy to dispense, easy to use and a practical pump – your skin will love you for it!
A luxurious cleanser that's reminiscent of a spa treatment
Type: Balm Format: Tube Quantity: 120 ml Price class: Medium
Elemis Nourishing Omega-Rich Cleansing Oil is a truly wonderful oil based cleanser that works just as well on waterproof make-up as it does on lips painted red with a kiss-proof matte lipstick.
Sometimes when cleansers are this effective they leave your skin feeling tight and dry, and while that dryness does convince you your skin’s nice and clean, it’s a feeling that really leaves a lot to be desired. Elemis Nourishing Omega-Rich Cleansing Oil never makes your skin feel dry and sad. On the contrary, your face feels soft as a peach after using this cleanser.
You work the oil, which smells discreetly of expensive spa and face treatments, gently into your skin. One press of the pump is usually enough. Then you just add a little lukewarm water and work up a milky emulsion. When you feel ready, you simply rinse off the entire thing. Or, if you prefer, you can also wipe off the residue with a soft washcloth. This is guaranteed to remove the remaining make-up too.
Elemis Nourishing Omega-Rich Cleansing Oil isn’t cheap, but it’s so economical, efficient and gentle that it feels like money well-spent.
Facial cleanser in balm form that melts beautifully into the skin
Type: Balm Format: Tube Quantity: 120 ml Price class: Medium
Skin City Mellow Balm Cleanser is a wonderfully soft and caring cleanser that you look forward to using.
This cleanser has the consistency of a balm. Once applied, it melts into your skin and becomes an oil, which feels wonderful to massage into your face at the end (or beginning) of a long day. When it's time to rinse it off, you just add a little water, which makes Skin City Mellow Balm Cleanser once more change consistency and become like a soft milk.
This cleansing balm effectively cleans your face and works really well even if you have sensitive or dry skin. Your skin never feels tight after use as ingredients such as squalane, shea butter and mango kernel oil add moisture to your skin, leaving it feeling soft and smooth. But it's not just dry skin that appreciates Skin City Mellow Balm Cleanser. Even people with oily complexions find that their skin becomes clean and soft after use.
You can use it as a pre-cleanse, as part of a two-step cleansing routine, but actually Mellow Balm Cleanser works fine as the only step in your cleansing ritual, as it can even remove eye make-up without causing irritation or leaving traces.
Skin City Mellow Balm Cleanser is a really nice facial cleanser that makes removing your make-up a pure pleasure.
A luxurious cleansing balm ideal if you want to give yourself a treat
Type: Balm Packaging: Jar Price class: Premium
Cleansing balms aren’t everyone’s first choice. Time to think again! This type of cleanser is effective and also makes your skin soft. And it’s easy to see why Sunday Riley Blue Moon Tranquility Cleansing Balm has won so many beauty awards.
This solid balm melts quickly thanks to the heat from your hands and face. The scent is incredibly herbal, reminiscent of an expensive spa offering luxury treatments. It effectively removes all residues from the day’s make-up, as well as any dirt and grime. For rinsing it off, our test panel found that lukewarm water and a washcloth worked best. Many people like to wash twice when using an oily cleanser, but if you do that you lose some of the wonderful soft feeling on your skin.
This cleanser feels gentle and caring and none of our testers reported anything like dry or irritated skin after use. And your make-up? Yes, it's all gone!
A classic and effective oil cleanser for the face
Type: Oil Format: Bottle Quantity: 150 ml Price class: Premium
Dermalogica PreCleanse has become something of a staple on many bathroom shelves, and is often the first cleansing oil you’ll come into contact with.
As the name suggests that this is a pre-cleanse – in other words the first step in a cleaning routine that contains more than one step. A multi-step routine isn’t for everyone – it’s time consuming and can be quite costly. But don’t despair. Dermalogica PreCleanse works well even on its own.
Pump out a splash of oil into your hand, and then massage it into the dry skin on your face. The oil wipes away most things in terms of make-up: from strong smoky eyes to stubborn glitter that simply doesn’t want to shift. After massaging for a while, you can almost feel the dirt coming off – a very satisfying feeling.
While Dermalogica PreClease is effective at cleansing the face, it’s also very gentle. As it’s an oil cleanser, the skin feels hydrated immediately after use – especially if you don’t follow it with another product.
Dermalogica is a brand that always feels safe to use. The price is a bit higher than many others, but you always get better quality products for your money. The design is simple with a pharmacy feel.
Dermalogica PreCleanse is an excellent cleanser for the face that removes everything in the way of make-up and leaves your skin nice and smooth afterwards.
A professional cleanser that’s often used in salons
Type: Gel Format: Tube Quantity: 212 ml Price class: Medium
Exuviance is a brand that’s widely used in skincare salons, and it’s easy to understand why. Their products are well thought out and rarely disappoint. The fact that they also make your bathroom feel a bit like a skincare salon is a bonus.
Exuviance Purifying Cleansing Gel is an incredibly economical product and you get a long way with a very small amount. This cleanser works like a traditional soap: massage into damp skin and rinse off when you’re done. Our testers found this cleansing gel somewhat difficult to rinse off, and preferred to use a facecloth to speed up the process a bit.
After use, however, you may sometimes feel that your skin tightens a little. Not enough to feel uncomfortable, but enough to still react to it and immediately feel the need to apply some moisturiser. The scent is good and feels luxurious.
The tube is generously sized, and given that it’s so economical the price isn’t entirely unreasonable.
Exuviance Purifying Cleansing Gel is a good cleanser on the whole, but equally it’s not exactly a life-changing experience. With that said, our testers happily used it down to the last drop.
A soft and pleasant cleansing butter for the face
Type: Cleansing butter Format: Jar Quantity: 90 ml Price class: Medium
A cleansing butter is very reminiscent of a balm – and often the only real difference is how the product was named when it was launched. So the Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter is a butter rather than a balm.
This jar is a real powerhouse when it comes to removing stubborn make-up from your face – both glitter make-up and waterproof lipsticks are easily removed with this butter.
In the jar, the product looks a little waxy, but when you start rubbing it into your face, it quickly takes on a different form. The butter melts from the heat of your skin and becomes oily. The result is a pleasant massage for the face and effective removal of make-up and dirt.
Once you’ve finished cleansing, the Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter is rinsed off using lukewarm water, and your face is left feeling wonderfully soft and moisturised. You may sometimes feel that the butter has left a film on your skin, but our testers found this added to the sensation of the skin being moisturised.
The cleansing butter is economical – it isn’t often you need more than a pea-sized amount. This way, one jar will last for a good while. But exactly because it lasts quite a long time, it doesn’t always feel optimal that the format is a jar where you apply it with your fingers. Of course this problem can be solved with a spatula, but most of us can’t be bothered to fiddle with this kind of thing before bedtime.
But it is an excellent product to remove your make-up with. If you don’t have anything against a jar as such, this is a good investment.