What if your skin is so sensitive that daily cleansing results in such a sore, red, tight or hot face that you’d sooner avoid the ritual altogether? Women (and men) tell me this more frequently than you’d imagine. Whether suffering from acne, rosacea, the ill-effects of menopause, medication or chemotherapy, or born with easily angered skin, many of us will go through phases of finding cleansing a prohibitively grim and uncomfortable task. Doctors typically suggest washing with aqueous cream and while I’m the last person to argue with medical advice, I do take issue with this on a sensorial and cosmetic point of view. Aqueous cream (as prescribed to me throughout childhood) feels gross, doesn’t remove makeup, and leaves behind an unpleasant slick. Here, my layperson’s alternatives are gentle but infinitely nicer.
I’m wildly impressed by cosmetic dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting’s new Flawless Cleanser (£16, 200ml). This is a melty, viscous, glycerin-rich gel that massages on to a damp face and rinses off instantly, leaving no residue and zero discomfort on all skin conditions including oily, acne-prone, dry and irritated. It’s refreshing, luxurious (rare in this sort of product) and fairly priced. One caveat: Dr Bunting suggests using one pump dose in the morning, two at night to remove makeup. But in practice, I first needed to remove the worst of it with a micellar lotion or cleansing milk (REN’s Evercalm, £19 for 150ml, is ideal for the sensitive makeup-wearer).
If your skin can’t tolerate even that (and you don’t mind the unlovely feel of microfibre), try Face Halo (£18 for three). These are discs, washable up to 200 times, that when soaked in plain water, shift the bulk of heavy makeup. I’ve tested them extensively and despite being initially horrified at the idea, can confirm they work with minimal rubbing – although they leave my dry face thirsty for product to restore slip. I should also mention the stellar work of CeraVe, whose pharmacy-shelf skincare continues to impress. The Hydrating Cleanser, £9 for 236ml, is terrific value, and its inclusion of ceramides and hyaluronic acid makes for a comfy cleanse with no greasy after-feel. It won’t pass the clean towel test on foundation and mascara, so do your heavy lifting first.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010