So here's the thing: I don't know that you 100%, definitely, have to wash your face two times a day. I get the approach: You want your face to be as clean as possible, and both day and night can be dirty times. (For different reasons.) But it's something that's never worked for me. Don't think I haven't tried it, though! I've gone cleanser-happy at times...and then I got a rash. And pimples. And contact dermatitis. Less washing worked better. So less washed I have stayed.
The other thing that works better (for me) is cream cleanser. Rubbing lotion made for washing (what cream cleanser is—or at least what it feels like) on my skin has saved me from pimples and rashes and contact dermatitis so many times I don't know why I ever abandon in the first place. That's on me. I have no one to blame but myself. But I can say that at this point, I am very much an expert on cream cleansers, and these are the best ones.
Avène Antirougeurs Dermo Cleansing Milk
My forever favorite and constant companion. This one is best if you have redness, über sensitive skin, and a condition like eczema or psoriasis. Very gentle—so gentle, you don't even have to wash it off if you're one of those no-water folks. (They exist!) I used to just wipe it off with a toner-soaked cotton pad. Until I found...
The New Favorite
Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser
Fresh to the United States from the UK this month, the thick and luxurious Liz Earle cream is a heavy hitter. For many reasons: It smells like eucalyptus, my favorite scent, and it comes with a cotton muslin, my favorite way to remove cleanser. Because if you're a sensitive baby, exfoliation can be hard—but still a necessity. The cloth part of this makes it suitable for easily irritable skin, but still serious on dead skin. On weekends, I add a few pumps of oil into the cleanser for a treatment cleanse. Perfect for post-plane skin.
The Organic One
OSEA Ocean Cleansing Milk
There's something about Malibu. I think it's probably the most beautiful and luxurious place on earth, which is why I was very excited to try everything from the OSEA line. This one is organic, vegan, gluten-free, and made in the USA. Like everything in Malibu. The consistency is more similar to the Avène version—if even a bit lighter—so a good summer option when it's not bone-chillingly dry and cold.
The Makeup Remover
Kate Somerville Cold Cream [available April 1]
Not yet released, this Kate Somerville dream is an updated version on your mother's (or your grandmother's) classic. It is scented, but if you're removing heavy makeup, this is your guy. Perfect if your foundation is drying your skin out. Leaves skin plumper than it found it.
The (Other) French One
Biologique Recherche Lait U
Everything about Biologique scares me, except this cleanser. This cleanser is a dream. Particularly if you're breaking out. Particularly if you're dry but still breaking out and you have no idea why. Is that you? That sounds like it might be you. Please take this cleanser and run off into the sunset together.
Photographed by Tom Newton.
Cleanse, mask, moisturize. Read here for the best clay masks that won't dry out your skin.