So, your cleanser is always going to end up down the drain, but for the time it is on your face, it needs to do a good job! Whether it's breaking down sunscreen or clearing your face in preparation for some heavy-duty night serums, it needs to be gentle yet effective, rinseable yet thorough and - well, you get the gist.
We are kind of spoiled for choice nowadays - there's so much more than a few frothy cleansers on the market that leave your skin feeling squeaky and stripped. It's a fine balance though - this is an area where you don't need to invest heavily to find the right clean for you.
The following 4 cleansers have been tried and tested various times by moi over the years, and there's something here for everyone - oh, and they are all under $21, which is just about as much as you ever need to pay for a wash-off product.
I love The Inkey List's Oat Cleansing Balm - I first ordered it off Cult Beauty when they restocked (of course they sold out everywhere first round), and it took awhile to come and I ended up making some new Instagram friends as we messaged back and forth wondering if our packages would ever arrive, and 'why don't I have a confirmation email yet?!'. Anyway, this stuff is THICC, and it comes in an extra-large tube and is filled with soothing oat kernel oil and colloidal oatmeal and sweet almond oil - very relaxing to massage in, rinses off well but does leave a bit of a thin layer on your skin even so. For $17, one tube will last and last.
Paula's Choice, a brand that forever changed the way I looked at skincare. Their Pore Normalising Cleanser is $20 (you can only buy this product online) and contains salicylic acid - this is a great cleanser for someone with oily, clog-prone skin who craves a gentle foam and fresh gel feel.
The Ordinary's Squalane Cleanser sits at $13.90 and it is the best oil/balm hybrid feel - you really want to massage this in to your dry face and watch it work its magic. The rinse is super clean and seamless, and it's too easy to drop into Priceline and grab a tube or two. This is a nice middle ground for someone who finds real oil cleansing too much to handle, and it loosens up any build-up on your face with minimal effort.
The Derma Sukin (Sukin's ultra-gentle line) Daily Gentle Face & Body Wash is a steal at $8.95, and it is the best vegan alternative for something like Cerave or Cetaphil. Sensitised skin types will love it, and you've got chamomile and aloe vera in there for extra calming.
Although they aren't on your face all day or night, the right cleanser sets the tone for the rest of your skincare routine, and with any of the above, you'll know you're treating your skin right (and, if you want to purchase a combination for double cleansing, it still won't break the bank).
Oh, and if you're looking to get the most out of any cleanser - use lukewarm water, massage gently into your skin for 20-30 seconds at least, and if you're about to add moisturiser, let your skin air dry rather than towel drying so you trap that moisture in.