My Take On Water-Based Cleansers & My Water-Based Cleansing Stash

Water-based cleansers are used to remove water-based impurities like sweat and dirt after your oil cleanser removes oil-based impurities like makeup and SPF. But, although these cleansers are made to, well, cleanse, they can sometimes wash away more than what you want them to. They can also erase the hydration your skin needs.

So, let’s go back to the basics. We will learn about:

  • The different types of water-based cleansers
  • Some cleansing techniques
  • My thoughts on the water-based cleansers currently in my stash

SO, WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE WATER-BASED CLEANSERS & WHICH IS BEST FOR YOUR SKIN GOALS?

Water-based cleansers come in a few categories: foam cleanser, gel cleanser, cream cleanser, and cleansing water.

FOAM CLEANSER

Foam cleansers are lightweight, sudsy cleansers that foam up as you massage it into your skin. They are known for their effectiveness at removing impurities. But, they are also known for being a bit drying. However, all foaming cleansers are not created equal. Most people don’t like the dryness that’s caused by harsh foaming agents. But, many foaming cleansers are sudsy yet formulated without drying foaming agents.

GEL CLEANSER

Gel cleansers have a gel-like consistency, as the name suggests. They’re known for being effective at decongesting clogged pores, removing excess oil and killing acne-causing bacteria. Gel cleansers are similar to foam cleansers, yet, they’re generally gentler and more hydrating.

CREAM CLEANSER

Cream cleansers a thicker, creamier consistency. They’re also known to cleanse your skin without stripping it of its natural oils. Cream cleansers can also come in the form of “milk” or “lotion.”

It is debatable as to whether cream cleansers should be categorized as an oil cleanser or a water-based cleanser since most of these cleansers contain moisturizing ingredients. Some use them as a cleanser to remove makeup too. Now, although some cream cleansers can remove most kinds of makeup, I’d still recommend using an oil-based cleanser during your double cleanse.

CLEANSING WATER

These are the cleansers that you don’t need to rinse off with water. Cleansing waters work like water cleansers by removing water-based impurities and help to tone and purify the skin. So, this cleansing water can simply be swept across your face on a cotton pad to remove dirt.

Cleansing waters removing water-based impurities and help to tone and purify the skin. If your skin needs a deep clean, a cleansing water is a great third step in your cleansing process.

Just like any other part of the routine, water-based cleansers aren’t one-size-fits-all. Your needs will vary based on your environment, age, lifestyle, and skin goals and concerns. Mainly, a good cleanser should be gentle and non-stripping. Your face shouldn’t feel stiff, irritated, dry, or tight after you wash your face.

So, if you have oily skin, foaming cleansers can be a great option because they’re often more effective at helping control oil production. If you have combination skin, gel cleansers can be a good option because of their deep clean while being gentle and hydrating. If you have dry skin, cream cleansers are a great option because of their moisturizing qualities. And, for days when your double cleansing routine is not getting the job done, incorporating a cleansing water can make you feel extra fresh.

WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A WATER-BASED CLEANSER:

Before we get into my current stash, I want to explain my skin type and what I look for in a second cleanser. 

My current skin type is dry, sensitive, and I am eczema-prone. I’m also prone to dehydration. I’m 37 years old, and I live in New York, where it’s cold and dry this time of the year—just putting that out there since cleansers will vary based on my environment, age, lifestyle, and skin concerns.

Since my skin is very prone to dehydration, I generally look for gentle cleansers that help to soothe and hydrate my skin. I mean, every eczema-prone skin type loves to hear those words! I don’t want my skin red or irritated afterward. 

There are two ingredients that I check for:

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (aka SLS) – Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is commonly used in cleansing products like body wash, cleansers, shampoos, and hand washes. It gives these products their foamy, bubbly consistency. But, SLS is a skin irritant. Cleansers using SLS can strip the skin of its natural oils, causing dry, irritated skin. It can also irritate your eyes.
  • Fragrance – As I said when I talked about my oil-cleansing stash, it’s best to limit your exposure to fragrance if possible, especially if you have sensitive skin. Fragrance, as we all know, is one of the top skin irritants. 

MY CURRENT WATER-BASED CLEANSING STASH THIS SEASON:

Skin Fix Barrier+ Foaming Oil Cleanser

This Skin Fix cleanser is something I’d feel comfortable recommending to anyone. It’s a lightweight lotion that turns into a soft foam with slightly oily slip when mixed with water. It contains coconut-derived cleansing agents and skin-softening ingredients such as aloe vera, jojoba oil, and squalane. And of course its fragrance-free.

What I appreciate most is that this cleanser hasn’t aggravated my skin, even when my skin is already irritated. I have used this cleanser in the morning and as my second cleanse in the evening.

This Skin Fix Barrier+ Foaming Oil Cleanser retails for $28 for 6 oz. And you can purchase it on Sephora or QVC.

INGREDIENTS: Water/Eau/Aqua, Glycerin, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Sodium Lauroamphoacetate, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Glycol Distearate, Betaine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Panthenol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Gluconolactone, Jojoba Oil/Macadamia Seed Oil Esters, Squalene, Phytosteryl Macadamiate, Phytosterols, Tocopherol, Chondrus Crispus Extract, Hydroxypropyl Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Ethylhexylglycerin, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Propanediol, Xanthan Gum, Coconut Acid, Citric Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Chloride, Benzoic Acid, Sodium Benzoate

Pai Skincare Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser

This cleanser has a unique creamy (almost balmy) texture that can work on wet or dry skin. It can melt away makeup and impurities in a single move; but, I prefer to use it as a morning cleanser or second cleanse in my double cleansing process. My favorite way to apply this is to dry skin. I massage it in for a minute or two and then step into the shower. It also comes with a muslin cloth, which is a great way to lightly exfoliate your skin while removing your cleanser.

I like the subtle rose scent, and I love that it spreads easily between my palms and on the skin. And my skin feels very hydrated after cleansing with it. It’s a gentle, hydrating cleanser, ideal for sensitive skin like mine. 

This retails for $50 for 3.38 oz. And you can purchase it on many websites, including Bloomingdale’s and Free People.

INGREDIENTS: Aqua – Purified Water, *Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil, *Ricinus Communis Seed Oil – Castor Oil, *Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil, Lactobacillus Ferment – Naturally Derived Preservative, Cetearyl Alcohol – Naturally Derived Emulsifier, Glycerin – Organic Derived Vegetable Glycerine, *Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Cetearyl Glucoside – Naturally Derived Emulsifier, Tocopherol – Natural Vitamin E, Rosa Damascena Oil – Rose Oil, *Pelargonium Graveolens Oil, Sodium Levulinate – Naturally Derived Preservative, *Lavandula Augustifolia Oil – Lavender Oil, Lactic Acid – Ph Regulator, Litsea Cubeba Oil – May Chang Oil, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate – Naturally Derived Emulsifier, Sodium Anisate – Naturally derived Preservative, **Citral, **Citronellol, **d-Limonene, **Geraniol, **Linalool

*Certified Organic by the Soil Association
** Naturally Occurring in Essential Oils

Holifrog Rashmoo Water Lily Nourishing Milky Wash

Now, as I stated previously, cream cleansers are great for dry skin. So, in the winter months, I’m drawn to them. And this milk-type cleanser falls in the creamy cleanser category. This cleanser can also be used as an oil-based cleanser. But, I prefer to use it as a morning cleanser or second cleanse in my double cleansing process. 

Although the directions don’t suggest this, I generously apply it to dry skin and give myself a facial massage before I remove it or jump in the shower. 

This cleanser has a lotion-like consistency that feels soothing on contact. And it’s is packed with amino acids and calming plant extracts. It’s another gentle, hydrating cleanser. And this one is entirely fragrance-free!

This cleanser retails at $38 for 5 oz. You can purchase the Holifrog Rashmoo Water Lily Nourishing Milky Wash at Dermstore, and, of course, on Holifrog’s website.

INGREDIENTS: Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Jojoba Esters, Glyceryl Behenate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Wax, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Aqua (Water/Eau), Sucrose Laurate, Lactobacillus Ferment, Parfum (Fragrance)*, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Mel (Honey, Miel), Pentapeptide-48, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Acacia Decurrens Flower Wax, Hippophae Rhamnoides Fruit Oil, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Tocopherol, Populus Tremuloides Bark Extract, Lactobacillus Ferment Lysate Filtrate, Lactobacillus, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Polyglycerin-3, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Phenethyl Alcohol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Maltodextrin, Benzyl Alcohol.INGREDIENTS: Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Glyceryl Stearate, Stearic Acid, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice*, Cetearyl Alcohol, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Sodium PCA, Sodium Lactate, Arginine, Serine, Glycine, Valine, Isoleucine, Proline, Alanine, Threonine, Phenylalanine, Histidine, PCA, Sodium Cocoyl Apple Amino Acids, Nymphaea Alba (Water Lily) Root Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera (Lotus) Flower Extract, Panthenol (Vitamin B-5), Arthrospira Platensis (Spirulina) Extract*, Tocopherol, Phenethyl Alcohol, Sodium Chloride*, Xanthan Gum, Aspartic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Gluconate, Hexylene Glycol, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate.*

*Certified Organic

Holifrog Superior Omega Nutritive Gel Wash

This cleanser is by far my favorite water-based cleanser right now. The gel texture lathers ever so slightly, so I get a foam fix without stripping my skin of its natural oils. 

This is a great all-purpose wash for anyone who wants a deep clean. I’ve, of course, used this cleanser during my morning cleanse. Just check out my daily routines pictures in my IG highlights! But, this cleanser also makes for an excellent follow-up to Holifrog’s Kissimmee Vitamin F Therapy Balmy Wash when I double-cleanse.

Although this cleanser is known for providing a deep cleanse, it’s packed with probiotics to balance the skin and prevent it from drying out. 

This cleanser retails at $36 for 5 oz. You can also purchase the Holifrog Superior Omega Nutritive Gel Wash at Dermstore, and, of course, on Holifrog’s website.

INGREDIENTS:  Aqua(Water), Glycerin, Decyl Glucoside, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Coco-Glucoside, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Seabuckthorn) Fruit Oil, Saccharomyces/Xylinum/Black Tea Ferment, Lactobacillus Ferment Lysate, Lactobacillus Ferment, Lactobacillus, Brassica Oleracea Italica (Broccoli) Seed Oil, Camellia Oleifera (Camellia) Seed Oil, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Vinegar, Tocopherol, Glycerly Oleate, Glucose, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Carrageena, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Fermen Filtrate, Sodium Phytate, Hydrogenated Palm Glycerides Citrate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Dehydroacetate

Holifrog Shasta AHA Refining Acid Wash

This is an excellent exfoliating cleanser. It has a blend of glycolic and mandelic acids that gently sloughs off dead skin cells. I’ve only used this cleanser when my skin looks congested. I put this on my skin and hop in the shower. After 2-minutes, I wipe it off with a damp Clean Towel, and my skin has almost glass-like smoothness.

This cleanser retails at $38 for 5 oz. You can purchase the Holifrog Shasta AHA Refining Acid Wash at Dermstore, and, of course, on Holifrog’s website.

INGREDIENTS: Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Lactic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Sodium Hydroxide, Xanthan Gum, Calophyllum Inophyllum (Tamanu) Oil, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Mandelic Acid, Microcitrus Australasica Fruit Extract, Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Fruit Oil*, Tartaric Acid, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Bentonite, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Gluconate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Citric Acid, Sodium Stearoyl, Lactylate, Quartz, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Dehydroacetate

Jordan Samuel Skin The Matinee Gel Cleanser

This cleanser was one of my go-to cleansers last year. And it’s been a great addition this winter. This gel cleanser has a great slip on the skin, so it’s easy to move around without tugging my face. And not only does this non-foaming gel cleanser smell like the spa, but it leaves my skin feeling less congested and more smooth and hydrated. So, I’m left with the pleasant feeling of clean, hydrated skin with no filmy feeling left behind. This cleanser does have some salicylic acid, which I believe helped with any congestion during those sweltering summer days. But it isn’t an active percentage.

Rarely is a gel cleanser, not even remotely drying. And this cleanser leaves my skin feeling clean but not stripped. 

This cleanser retails at $36 for 5 oz. You can purchase this on Jordan Samuel Skin’s website.

INGREDIENTS: Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Glycerin, Polyglyceryl-10 Laurate, Propanediol, Coconut Alkanes, Carbomer, Coco-Betaine, Water/Aqua/Eau, Decyl Glucoside, Phenoxyethanol, Salicylic Acid, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Sodium Hydroxide, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate 

Lait VIP O2 Cleanser

This is another cleanser in my winter skincare routine. It’s a moisturizing cream cleanser that promises to cleanse and decongest without dehydrating. It contains lactic acid, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid to exfoliate. Add in nourishing ingredients like squalane oil. And mix that with niacinamide, which great at improving the skin’s barrier function and the skin’s hydration. You get a gentle, brightening, and smoothing cleanser.

This is another one that can be used as a first cleanse. But, I only use it as a morning cleanser or second cleanse. I use it mostly in my evening routine. I enjoy this cleanser most when I leave this on for around 5 minutes before rinsing. And it leaves my skin glowy and soft. I use this cleanser a few times a week since it contains so many actives. 

This cleanser retails at $67 for 5.1 oz. You can purchase this at a few spas. I, personally, purchased mine from Rescue Spa.

INGREDIENTS: Aqua (Water), Polyacrylate-1 Crosspolymer, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Glycerin, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Sodium Cocoamphoacetate, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil (Organic), Propanediol, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil (Organic), Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Lactic Acid (L), Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Moringa Oleifera Seed Oil (Organic), 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, Cocodimonium Hydroxypropyl Silk Amino Acids, Hydrolyzed Silk, Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) Leaf Extract, Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate (L), Lecithin, Astaxanthin, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Lauryl Glucoside, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate, Caprylyl Glycol, O-cymen-5-OL, Polysorbate 20, Tetrasodium EDTA, Phenethyl Alcohol, Potassium Sorbate

Allies of Skin Molecular Silk Amino Hydrating Cleanser

I recently reviewed this cleanser on Instagram. This is a thick, amber-hued gel that glides on my skin beautifully. And it barely suds when I massage it on my face. Although it claims to remove makeup, I only use it as a water-based cleanser. So, I use it as my cleanser in the morning and my second cleanser in the evening.

I honestly haven’t been this impressed with a cleanser in a while. And the hydrating and antioxidant-rich ingredients speak for themselves: nourishing cleaners, antioxidant-rich plant extracts (i.e., silk amino acids), and hyaluronic acid. It’s also fragrance-free.

This cleanser retails at $38 for 3.38 oz. You can purchase this at Dermstore or on the Allies of Skin website.

INGREDIENTS: Aqua (Water), Polyacrylate-1 Crosspolymer, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Glycerin, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Sodium Cocoamphoacetate, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil (Organic), Propanediol, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil (Organic), Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Lactic Acid (L), Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Moringa Oleifera Seed Oil (Organic), 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, Cocodimonium Hydroxypropyl Silk Amino Acids, Hydrolyzed Silk, Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) Leaf Extract, Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate (L), Lecithin, Astaxanthin, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Lauryl Glucoside, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate, Caprylyl Glycol, O-cymen-5-OL, Polysorbate 20, Tetrasodium EDTA, Phenethyl Alcohol, Potassium Sorbate

So, that’s the round-up of all the water-based cleansers currently in my stash!

FYI…

Please know that you don’t actually need seven different cleansers! I mean, a normal person would be fine with one good water-based cleanser. But, variety is the spice of life, and I feel lavish having a cabinet filled with an array of amazing cleansers!

Would you try any of these? Tell me which ones you’d purchase below.

Shop My Winter 2020 Water Based Cleansing Stash

ALLIES OF SKIN MOLECULAR SILK AMINO HYDRATING CLEANSER
HOLIFROG SHASTA AHA REFINING ACID WASH
HOLIFROG SUPERIOR OMEGA NUTRITIVE GEL WASH
HOLIFROG RASHMOO WATER LILY NOURISHING MILKY WASH
Pai Skincare Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser
Skinfix Barrier+ Foaming Oil Cleanser
Jordan Samuel Skin The Matinee Gel Cleanser
Biologique Recherche Lait VIP O2
ALLIES OF SKIN MOLECULAR SILK AMINO HYDRATING CLEANSER
HOLIFROG SHASTA AHA REFINING ACID WASH
HOLIFROG SUPERIOR OMEGA NUTRITIVE GEL WASH
HOLIFROG RASHMOO WATER LILY NOURISHING MILKY WASH
Pai Skincare Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser
Skinfix Barrier+ Foaming Oil Cleanser
Jordan Samuel Skin The Matinee Gel Cleanser
Biologique Recherche Lait VIP O2
Follow:

1 Comment

  1. Emmanuella Osei
    July 15, 2020 / 12:31 pm

    Thanks for this. I was using LaRoche Posay Hydrating Cleanser in Winter but wanna try something new.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *