Finding the right cleanser can feel like a minefield, but after years and years of grilling dermatologists and facialists, we are armed with a huge list of brilliant buys - and this advice: find something that doesn't leave your skin feeling tight or irritated, and use it right.
That second bit is crucial - possibly more so than the actual formula you use. You want to be applying your cleanser to skin in firm, circular strokes, making sure you don't forget your jawline and hairline, or drag at the area around your eyes - basically, get it everywhere, evenly. Then take a clean flannel, soak it in warm water, wring it out, and slide it across your face, taking the cleanser and make-up/the day's dirt with it.
Now do it a second time. Why? Because if you've ever run a cotton pad across skin that's been cleansed and found that there's still a bit of dirt or make-up there, you'll know that humans are fallible and that cleansing once doesn't always quite grab everything. Plus Caroline Hirons, she of our expert column and of much, MUCH skin knowledge, says so.
In the morning, do it once. If you prefer a simple splash off affair, go for something more lightweight that doesn't require the flannel - but beware of lots of foaming - that usually means sulfates and sulfates mean dryness and compromised barrier function. Also, the morning would be a good opportunity to use cold water instead for a refreshing mini hit of cryotherapy.
In terms of picking one, we rate all the below - but you'll have to pick based on how your skin behaves. We'd recommend an oil/balm cleanser for anyone with dry skin that needs all the softening and cosseting, something creamy for anyone with a more easily-ruffled complexion (though beware of essential oils in the mix if that's you - they can also irritate), and a gentle, wash-off cleanser as a morning or alternative second cleanse option...
1. This Works Light Time Cleanse & Glow
Containing Vitamin C and E, don't waste this one on removing make-up - instead, use it directly on skin in the morning or as a second, treatment cleanse in the evening to reap the benefits of brightening vitamin C and soothing vitamin E.
This Works available at | £30.00
2. Sarah Chapman Skinesis Ultimate Cleanse
This oil-balm is soothing and calming, working especially well on sensitive skin thanks to the chamomile, jasmine and rose oils contained within. Makes for a good first cleanse to remove make-up or a treatment cleanser when massaged in.
Available at | £44.00
3. REN Rosa Centifolia 3-in-1 Cleansing Water
If you love to wipe make-up off with a cotton pad, make sure you're doing so with a gentle formula like this detergent-free water.
Ren available at | £15.00
4. Malin + Goetz Grapefruit Face Cleanser
Containing antibacterial grapefruit extract and amino acid agents, this cleanser will gently slough off dead skin and up your glow with each use.
Malin+Goetz available at | £29.00
5. Dr Sebagh Breakout Foaming Cleanser
Rather than strip skin, this (very gently) foaming cleanser instead hydrates and soothes with oat amino acids and works on reducing the overproduction of sebum. Use as a second cleanse in the evening or in the morning, and chase with a lightweight, hydrating serum.
Available at | £25.00
6. Dr Jackson's Face Wash
Not all face washes are born equal, as this one is testament to. In the mix are a bunch of oils and extracts that'll hydrate and brighten - and make sure you're not washing away all your skin's moisture.
Available at | £25.00
7. Aesop Parsely Facial Cleanser
Lactic acid is one of the most foolproof of acids, helping to gently work dead skin cells off the surface. This gel to creamy lather cleanser makes good use of it adding in jojoba and liquorice to brighten and hydrate.
Aesop available at | £40.00
8. SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser
Designed not to disrupt the skin's surface in any way, this cleanser is the ultimate in gentle and removes make-up and cleans skin with equal aplomb.
Skinceuticals available at | £26.99
9. Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser
Affordable and cult, it's little wonder this cleanser has an army of fans. Use it to remove make-up, and to cleanse in the morning.
Available at | £14.50
10. Bobbi Brown Rich Cream Cleanser
Perfect on dry skin in need of the most gentle and moisturising of cleanses, this cleanser won't leave skin feeling tight in the slightest.
Bobbi Brown available at | £18.70
11. Exuviance Gentle Cleansing Cream
Formulated by the two doctors behind the Exuviance brand, this cleanser is rich with Polyhydroxy Acids (PHAs), which gentle dislodge dead skin while working to up hydration. Use this both to remove make-up and to treat skin, morning and evening.
Available at | £29
12. Burt's Bees Soap Bark & Chamomile Deep Facial Cleansing Cream
Designed to smooth and soothe, this aloe vera-rich cleansing cream will whip off make-up in no time - and leave skin feeling soft and supple.
Available at | £7.66
13. Elemis Pro-Radiance Cream Cleanser
Purifying, balancing, and strengthening, this is an all-round good egg that suits most skin types. Works equally as well to remove make-up as it does to simple cleanse.
Available at | £31
14. Elizabeth Arden - 'Superstart' ProbioticCleanser - Whip to Clay
This innovative cleanser is designed to nurture the all-important good bacteria on the surface of your skin. We'd recommend using this as a treatment cleanser a few times weekly, leaving it on the skin for a minute to go to work before removing with a flannel.
Available at | £22
15. Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm
Beloved by facialists and bloggers, this cleansing balm makes for a great base for a facial massage, and never leaves skin feeling tight or compromised.
Available at | £39
16. S5 Neutralise Cleanser
This non-foaming cleanser balances and soothes skin, meaning you won't end up with tight-feeling skin and a compromised barrier.
Available at | £28