Gosh, there are a lot of different cleanser formats nowadays. Once upon a time, back in the beauty dawn of time, cleansers were pretty much always in milk form – and many women we know enjoy this format and texture. Milks tend to be gentle on touchy skin (all these did well with sensitive souls) and give you a choice as to how to remove them, either via cotton wool pads swiped over skin or with a muslin cloth and water. Creamy and dreamy was our testers’ verdict, for all four winners.
GOLD and BEAUTY STEAL AWARD Aromatherapy Associates Hydrating Renewing Rose Cleanser
Perhaps less well-known than their stellar Bath & Shower Oils is Aromatherapy Associates’ skincare – but testers gave this a great score, suggesting it belongs right up there in AA’s Hall of Fame. A gentle, rich milk, it nourishes with jojoba oil and is delectably fragrant with geranium (for skin-balancing) and Damask rose, to deliver skin TLC.
‘Love this! It’s so far superior to my usual cleanser. It smells of roses but not like your granny would wear! It’s more like a high-end gentle rose scent. My make- up came off easily with the cleanser, and then the water removed the remnants. Waterproof mascara was a bit more stubborn so would need a double cleanse, but there were no traces on my pillow at all. My skin didn't feel at all dry or tight. It looked radiant! My new favourite cleanser, the best I have ever used. I would and will buy it, without a doubt’ • ‘This rich creamy lotion is a lovely product, a real treat for my skin. I didn't feel like it was stripping my face. It promises to leave skin left fresh, bright and delicately fragrance - I agree 100 per cent. My skin was also moisturised and soft after’ • ‘The texture of this product is really smooth and really creamy. The consistency is just perfect, neither too rich nor too runny. And the fragrance is gorgeous. It takes all my make-up off without effort, using a wet muslin cloth to remove the cleanser. My skin felt gorgeous afterwards, really conditioned’ • ‘Cleansing with Aromatherapy Associates Renewing Rose Cleanser is a real treat. It smells luxurious, is rich and creamy and glorious. It does exactly what it promises to removing every trace of make-up and leaving the skin renewed, soft and really, really cleansed’ • ‘Love the easy pump packaging, as it’s so practical and hygienic. The scent is so uplifting without being overbearing. Leaves skin feeling clean but comfortable, never stripped or dry. It could be used as a very light moisturiser too, I think. Really couldn't fault this as an effective cleanser, without the sensitivity caused by using certain products containing rose. It reminded me of being in a spa and felt like a treat to use. Even using twice daily for the course of the testing [six weeks] I had at least a third left so although it’s a more upmarket product than my usual one, it did last as very concentrated’ • ‘Simply stunning!’
£29 for 200ml - click to buy
SILVER AWARD (JOINT) Avène Redness-Relief Dermo Cleansing Milk
Avène built their reputation by creating products (incorporating soothing thermal spring water from their own sources) for touchy, sensitive skins. This ultra-milk milk cleanser is part of a range that particularly targets rosacea; it’s entirely alchol- and fragrance-free.
‘This cleansing milk has a very nice texture – creamy lotion, perfect for the sensitive skin. It is neither too runny nor too heavy, just right. It is very easy to apply. I use cotton pads and then wipe it off with a warm moist face flannel. I have a very sensitive skin and do not put a lot of make-up on a daily basis, heavy make-up only for night outs or special occasion. This cleansing milk removed all of my make-up without the need to use other products. This is my daily cleanser now. It is the best product I have ever used to cleanse my skin and remove make-up. It is very gentle on my skin. I love it!’ • ‘This cleansing milk is amazing. It cleans the skin very well without leaving it tight or with red patches. It is very gentle on the skin, perfect for anyone with sensitive skin. This is the best cleanser ever. I love it and can recommend it to everyone that has sensitive skin. I would buy it without hesitation. Yes, yes, yes’ • ‘This removed all my waterproof mascara at the first attempt, leaving no traces on my pillow. It’s creamier than my normal cleanser so my skin feels more moisturised. It’s soothing and gentle and the pump system makes it easy to use. I massage it into my skin then remove in the shower’ • ‘There is no fragrance, which is great. I really liked this for my sensitive skin but it would suit all skin types’ • ‘This is just lovely and well priced. I prefer it to any cleanser I have used as it is less drying and definitely leaves my skin feeling moisturised and comfortable. I used it as I would a hot cloth cleanser (my previous usual product) and it behaved perfectly. I checked to see how good a job it had done by following with toner and acid toners and all came up clean - no make-up or dirt on the cotton wool.’
£13.89 for 400ml - click to buy
SILVER AWARD (JOINT) and BEST NATURAL Jurlique Replenishing Cleansing Lotion
This tall pot of rich cleanser is another great choice for touchy and dry complexions, and is our top suggestion for those seeking out more natural products. Many of the botanicals featured in the cleanser are grown, harvested and extracted in situ at their organic farm in the South Australian hills, including calendula, rosemary, yarrow, lemon balm, birch and licorice, along with soothing marshmallow root extract and nourishing shea butter. As with all Jurlique products, it's free from silicones, mineral oil, paraffin, PEGs, parabens, GMOs, artificial colours and fragrances (and more). The multi-Beauty Bible Award-winning Aussie botanicals brand tell us this can even be used in the eye area for removing long-lasting make-up along with the general gunk and grime of the day.
‘Before trying this cleanser I would not wear mascara because I hated the mess with cleaning it, but now I can use mascara every day! Smiley face! It cleans my skin perfectly, leaving it moisturised, and removes waterproof mascara at the first swipe. It’s the best cleanser I have ever used’ • ‘This lotion is a pleasure to use. The smell is divine which makes me want to cleanse properly before bed. The texture is light so it’s easy to apply to a dry face, massage in and then remove with a damp cloth, which takes off everything. Due to the smell and texture I spend more time than usual massaging my face and neck so my skin is very clean with a bouncier healthy glow. I will certainly buy it’ • ‘A winner. Rich – but non-greasy - milky lotion that's light enough to spread quickly and effortlessly over the skin. One pump easily cleaned off an average day’s make-up but it takes two to remove a night-out face full of ‘slap’. It promises to remove impurities, while hydrating and restoring. It did all of this. I like this lot. It has the edge on my usual cleanser as it gives me great skin, which feels fresh’ • ‘I like this and would consider buying it as it’s very easy to apply and pleasant to use. It removed daily dirt and make-up with ease; I found that using the hot damp cloth method was effective. It left my skin clean and soft with no tightness’ • ‘The texture is so light that I didn't think it would remove all my make-up but it does. I applied on a dry face then rinse with a damp cotton cloth. It removed waterproof make-up easily and left my face smooth, hydrated and glowing.’
£20 for 200ml - click to buy
BRONZE AWARD Samaya Pitta Hydrating Cleanser
We've seen really rather a spectacular performance by the Pitta range within this Ayurvedic beauty brand's entries to 2019's Beauty Bible Awards; the exfoliator and facial oil have also excelled. Pitta skins – according to ancient Indian wisdom – are prone to redness, sensitivity and flare-ups, so the ingredients in Samaya's Pitta range are chosen accordingly; this tall glass pump-action (and luxury-priced) cleanser features potent neem oil (to reduce itching and roughness), almond oil, gotu kola (anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing), lotus seed extract (a 'sacred' ingredient which equally soothes the mind and skin), saffron and shatavari, long used as a tonic for female health concerns. The scent which so seduced our testers, meanwhile, comes from jasmine extract.
‘This is one of my favourite cleansers of all time. I bloomin’ love it! In fact I have put it on my present wish list. My skin is clearer than it has been for a long time, particularly a congested area on my chin, which has been the subject of a long-term battle. This cleanser has made it look so much better. I have been amazed at how soft my skin is. Also how easily and completely the product rinsed off – there is a slight greasiness to the product which you might imagine would stay on the skin but doesn't. A little goes a long way too’ • ‘This is very rich and quite thick but goes n very smoothly. The essential oils fragrance is really lovely. It was very efficient as a cleanser and dissolved all my make-up including mascara. It left my skin extremely moisturised. Even after using plenty of water to remove all traces of make-up, there was some residual cleanser but it didn't leave my skin greasy’ • ‘I like the pump dispenser, which gives a small amount so you don't waste product. Although the product is thick, it isn’t greasy on the skin and when water is added becomes a smooth, milky consistency, which is soft on the skin and easy to wash off. Skin was left feeling very clean, soft and really hydrated. I would definitely buy this’ • ‘I loved this cleanser, which is far superior to my normal one [a market leader]. It promised to remove make-up and leave skin feeling balanced, purified, softer and more radiant, living up to its claims’ • ‘I like the glass packaging and the simple cardboard outer tube, which can be recycled. This was a big positive for me as I don't like waste.’
£59 for 100ml - click to buy