The Panel: Evaluating face-wash cleansers
Having worked up a lather, our beauty-testing panel report to Sarah Caden on the best face-wash cleansers out there
We're bringing it back to basics over the next few weeks, and aiming to help you get to grips with the cornerstones of caring for your skin. We're talking about that old advice -- cleanse, tone and moisturise -- and, this week, we're on the cleansing bit.
In these days of daily showers -- remember the weekly bath of your childhood? -- most people favour a foaming face wash in the morning, and we have five to fit all skin types here.
By night, however, the best skincare advice seems to be to double-cleanse; in other words, preceding either your wipe-off cream cleanser or your face wash with either a cleansing water or a cleansing oil.
We'll come back to the last two at a later date. For now, we're all about the face wash.
When it comes to washing your face, it's best to avoid soap. Even the oiliest and least-sensitive sorts seem to struggle with soap and its tendency to dry the skin out. Also, don't be shy of mixing things up a bit, as wisdom suggests that one's skin gets weary of the same wash all the time.
Olay Regenerist 3-Point Super Cleansing System, €49.99, available nationwide
Exfoliation, we're always told, is crucial in terms of anti-ageing -- it won't stop the clock, but it will make your skin look better and respond more to unguents. This high-speed spinning brush boosts exfoliation and, as the sales pitch goes, improves skin texture and absorption of creams. It comes with a 20ml trial size of Skin Perfecting Cleanser; the full size is €8.49. "I used this system three times a week and I noticed a difference in smoothness. I like that you can use any cleanser with it," a panellist said.
BEST DEEP CLEANSE
SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Cleansing Gel, €31.50, see www.skinceuticals.co.uk
This is a face wash suitable for oily or blemish-prone skin, which recognises that these are not strictly young-skin complaints. So, with ingredients such as glycolic and salicylic acids, it gently exfoliates and softens fine lines. "For me, this is a once-a-week wash," said a panellist in her late 30s. "I used a bit more moisturiser, but I had clear pores."
BEST SUDSY CLEANSE
L'Occitane Immortelle Brightening Foaming Cleanser, €22, L'Occitane shops natiowide
Soap-free but surprisingly sudsy, this is a luxurious-feeling white cream that lathers up into a fine foam. It has softening immortelle-flower essential oil as well as daisy extract, which is said to brighten the skin. Certainly, it leaves the skin clean, but quite comforted, too. "I'm sick of gels and the squeaky-clean feel, but a lot of creams are too creamy and pore-cloggy," said one panellist. "This strikes a nice balance."
BEST HYDRATING CLEANSE
Ren Rosa Centifolia Cleansing Gel, €19, Debenhams; Marks & Spencer Beauty Halls; pharmacies nationwide
This is a sulphate-free cleanser, which means you're not going to get a lot of suds, but you can banish any notions that the lack of suds prevents it from cleaning effectively. It contains rose-petal extracts that claim to boost the skin's strength, as well as soothing, softening aloe vera. "The thick gel feels lovely on the skin, and my skin didn't feel stripped afterwards," said one panellist. "A winter winner."
BEST GENTLE CLEANSE
Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cleanser, €18, 35 Wicklow St, D2; Dundrum Town Centre, D16; Arnotts
The 'Ultra' line of products from this brand wear their blandness with pride, and this cleanser is no exception to that. Which is to say that it's effective, but there isn't anything fancy about it. The thick cream-gel is pH-balanced and fragrance-free, with skin-kind ingredients, such as avocado and apricot-kernel oils. "There's a really good foam from this, which is a little surprising, given how gentle it is," said a panellist. "The thick texture of it is quite satisfying, too."