I’m a Beauty Editor, and This Is the One Skincare Product I Never Splurge On

But is it actually worth the money? This is the question that I am most frequently asked as a beauty editor. The answer, I’m afraid, is more often than not a complex one. You see, while some makeup products and topical skin treatments are priced with downright obscene markups, other products might totally justify a three-figure price tag. The truth is though, each case is totally different, depending on the formulation. The example I regularly give is antioxidant serums. While a £10 vitamin C serum might sound enticing, it is a notoriously unstable ingredient, making it difficult to formulate with. A really great vitamin C serum will have required extensive (and expensive) research, so spending extra is likely to wield more impressive results. 

However, there is one caveat to this rule. While serums and moisturisers that sit on your skin all day long often require a bit of research and a spending commitment, products that are designed to be rinsed straight off needn’t be expensive. You see, after many years of picking the brains of some of dermatology’s most notable experts, as well as testing and trialling every new beauty product that has come my way, I have learned that, when it comes to cleansers, great expense is totally unnecessary.

First of all, any ingredient costly enough to drive up the price of a cleanser really isn’t on your skin long enough to make a long-term difference. The ingredients commonly found in truly great cleansing formulas shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Secondly, when it comes to cleansers, simplicity is key. While super-rich, sumptuous balms that smell like spas might feel great, many dermatologists argue that the fragrant, but very costly, oils used in such products could actually cause skin more harm than good. It’s fair to say, therefore, that not only are affordable cleansers just as good as more expensive options, but many of them are also considered better.

So while I love a luxury cleanser just as much as the next person, the truth is, when it comes to deciding what to spend my hard-earned cash on, I’d always opt for an affordable cleanser over a high-end one. In fact, the majority of my favourite cleansers out there cost less than £15. And I’m not alone. Amongst skin experts, some of the most highly recommended cleansers by dermatologists can be picked up in your local supermarket or pharmacy. Not sure where to start shopping? Keep scrolling for the affordable cleansers that your skin will really thank you for.

CeraVe is, without a doubt, one of the most highly regarded cleansing brands around. Loved by dermatologists and beauty editors alike, this new launch from the brand comes out of the pump as a rich cream that transforms into a luxurious lather as you massage it in. It leaves skin feeling clean, hydrated, and comforted.

If you ask me, this is one of the most luxurious-feeling affordable cleansers out there. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s chock-full of moisturising squalane that hydrates while it works. It starts off as quite a rich balm but turns into a luxe oil once you start massaging it in, removing makeup and grime with unparalleled ease.

For those who have oilier skin, like me, this foaming gel is worth taking a look at. It’s nothing fancy to use (much like the rest of CeraVe's products), but it delivers a really deep, effective cleanse that doesn’t leave skin feeling tight or uncomfortable thanks to hyaluronic acid and ceramides. Most impressively, it contains niacinamide to soothe.

So you thought you had to spend big to get that spa-like cleanse, huh? You better think again because this super-hydrating cleansing balm is really quite special. Formulated with oat kernel oil and colloidal oatmeal, it’s ideal for those with sensitive skin and offers an effortless deep cleanse. For an extra treat, you can leave it on the skin for a few minutes as a super-soothing, nourishing mask. Trust me. It’s a total treasure.

I have used this face wash for years. If you consider your skin to be on the normal side of things and rarely experience any serious issues, you’ll likely love this. It’s a no-fuss cleansing cream that softens and hydrates skin while it cleans, restoring harmony.

If you require something a little more hard-working, this salicylic acid formula can be used on the face or the body to slough away dead skin cells and help prevent clogged pores. The best bit? While some salicylic acid formulas might be drying or potentially irritating, this stuff contains ceramides and hyaluronic acid to keep the skin barrier intact and prevent dryness.

Between this stuff and Effaclar H, La Roche-Posay basically has a monopoly on derm-approved cleansers. For those who have sensitive skin and struggle with inflammation, if you haven’t tried this cleansing gel, it’s worth reading up on. Formulated specifically for intolerant skin types, it cleanses without even a hint of discomfort or irritation.

I’ve lost count of the number of ears I have chewed off about the joys of this cleanser. If you ask me, no cleansing balm competes. If you’re relying on irritating face wipes or micellar water to remove your makeup, I urge you to try this instead. Simply massage it into dry skin and watch on as it melts away any trace of makeup and dirt. It leaves skin glowing, plump, and radiant.

If you struggle with dry skin along with acne and breakouts, La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar H Hydrating Cleansing Cream is often recommended as the first port of call by skin experts. It melts into wet skin to restore balance and comfort and has been formulated with acne-prone skin in mind.

Simple but chic, this cult cleanser is a favourite amongst beauty buffs for good reason. It’s gentle but does an excellent job at budging pore-clogging grime. It has a really delicate scent that makes it feel a little bit more luxe, and it looks seriously good on the shelf.

You might not have heard of Curél before, but it’s actually Japan’s number one sensitive skincare brand. This makeup-removing gel does the job of a micellar water but is also kind to skin. Warm it up between the fingers, apply to dry skin, and add water to create a creamy emulsion. It’s full to the brim with skin-loving ceramides to deliver a glowing complexion.

Another derm favourite, Cetaphil is pH balanced and free from any potential irritants such as fragrance and soap. It’s about as simple as a cleanser gets, but it leaves skin feeling baby soft.

Philosophy’s Purity Cleanser has been a long-standing go-to of mine. It makes for the ultimate no-fuss morning and night cleanser, but this updated formula is up there with some of my favourite beauty products ever. It’s a reimagined version of the original, is formulated without oil (which is great for me, considering my skin is super oily already), and contains bamboo extract to nourish.  

I want to put this out there: I am not a micellar water person. Personally, I think that too many people are hooked on the stuff. I have countless friends who consider a swipe of micellar water in the evening enough of a cleanse. If you do use micellar water as a makeup remover, it’s super important to make sure you follow up with a wash-off cleanser to rid the skin of any irritants. I prefer to take my makeup off with a balmy cleanser. However, I must admit that Garnier's Micellar Cleansing Water is one of the most convenient makeup removers out there. In fact, it’s better than any of the high-end micellar formulas I’ve tried.

Slightly more powerful than others on this list, this cleanser is actually a clay formula, making it perfect for those with oily, blemish-prone skin. Not only that, but it also contains salicylic acid for an added pore-purifying boost. If you’re looking for a way to get your oiliness in check, I highly recommend this stuff.

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