A Category Analysis on Skin Cleansing



A Category Analysis on Skin Cleansing


What type of cleanser do you use?

Everything you didn’t know about the first step of skincare is here. Kat explores types of cleansers and why they are essential in the care of our skin – not to mention choosing the right one to protect and nurture your dermis. We’re exploring how imperative this category is, as well as which cleanser types are essential for most, in order to keep a minimal approach in our Activated Essentials range.

We’re creating an unparalleled micro-range of activated essentials. Find out how you can co-design your own natural skincare range with leading experts – and get it free for an entire year.

Both skincare enthusiasts and dabblers alike have been raised with the notion that a basic skincare routine follows a linear formula: cleanse, exfoliate, moisturise, and add serum or oil.  

And for good reason. Cleansing, the first step in any formidable routine, provides a blank canvas for other products to influence the skin. By removing impurities like make-up, dirt, dead skin cells, or excess oil, skin can soak in the active goodness of a range of skincare products.

Cleansers are high on the list of products we’re excited to develop and refine. We commonly see that cleansers are full of unnatural ingredients, target only one issue, and aren’t synonymous with an entire routine. 

The epidermis undergoes a lot of stress on a daily basis. As a part of the body that consistently exposed, it’s extremely sensitive and malleable. From touching our face, to applying makeup, to living in a polluted atmosphere, skin easily and visually reacts to external influences. When skin isn’t properly cleansed, it can result in acne or dull and dry surface. The key to encouraging skin health and cleanliness is through a passionate love affair with cleansing: twice a day to be thorough. 

Note: not sure if you’ve picked up on our view, but subdued is a word that we are not. Noema likes to deeply and obsessively investigate to understand the why’s, how’s and who’s. 


To cleanse is simply the action of cleaning deeply and getting rid of impurities. In skincare, cleansing is releases negative external influences from the skin that wouldn’t appear naturally. 

Without a cleansing routine, skin becomes susceptible to breakouts influenced by oil, dirt, or makeup. Pores will become clogged and appear larger, resulting in a dull complexion. Down the line, the habit of not cleansing the skin can also encourage premature wrinkles.

Like an onion, the skin is composed of complex layers. At the very surface of the skin is the acid mantle, a thin film that lays on top of the epidermis. This acid mantle is a mixture of secretions from sweat and oil glands and natural fatty acids. It’s an integral barrier to bacteria, viruses, and pollutants. The natural pH of the skin dances between 4.5 and 6.2 - a slightly acidic, but not offensive pH level.

That slight acidity acts as a defense mechanism to exterior influences. The pH level of the skin plays a crucial role in balancing moisture levels. If your skin’s pH balance is off, it can result in acne, dryness and wrinkles. Cleansing the skin on a regular basis allows the skin to reset itself and achieve that optimal pH level.

Types of Cleansers

As with a majority of products in the skincare industry, when it comes to cleansing, options are a’plenty. From gel cleanser to oil cleansers, we recommend selecting the products that work best with your skin. If you haven’t talked to a dermatologist about what ideal arsenal looks like, it’s worth experimenting with an array of formulations to find the products that work best for you. 

Gel Cleansers

Gel cleansers are known for decongesting pores, removing oil through deep cleansing formulations. Depending on the producer, gel cleansers usually have ingredients with antiseptic and exfoliating benefits. Gel cleansers benefit oily skin. 

Oil Cleansers

Oil cleansers focus on balance pH through a hefty mix of antioxidants and essential oils. While introducing more oil may seem counterintuitive for cleansing, the added oils bind impurities and ‘bad’ oils, pulling both when rinsed off. 


Cream Cleansers

Moisturising takes centre stage for cream cleansers. With a thick consistency, cream cleansers often contain plant-based oils and are designed for dry skin. 

Foam Cleansers

While we haven’t been shy about our opinions on foam, foam cleansers are known and loved for their ‘squeaky clean’ feeling and effective removal of excess oils. 

Additional cleansers include cream-based, bars, powders, micellar, or clay. All are designed with specific intentions and skin types in mind. Clay for example, is most suitable for pulling heavy toxins and excess metals for normal skin. 

Foaming and gel cleansers tend to incorporate surfactants, a popular cleansing agent notorious for stripping natural oils. Other cleansers may include chemicals, soaps, or parabens to produce that ‘squeaky clean’ feeling. While these ingredients do the actual job of cleansing the skin, they also weaken and damage the aforementioned acid mantle.

Noema’s Guide to Cleansing

Here’s the deal - all skin types are different, hence all routines differ. But the formula tends to remain the same. At the heart of cleansing, and any good skincare routine, is a sustained understanding of how your skin reacts to external forces - including products. Some skin thrives from a twice a day cleansing, while other skin types dry out. 

Our go-to rule? Always cleanse your face before bed. Remove any makeup or product, massage cleanser with warm water to your skin, rinse and pat dry. Done.

While we develop our cleansers, we’ll be keeping in mind a few things. For one, we’d like to develop a cleanser that not only washes off the nasties, but also provides necessary moisturise and pH balancing. We’ll be avoiding foams and surfactants, while selecting potent active ingredients. Creating a supportive environment for the acid mantle will be our priority - we’d like to encourage the body’s natural processes rather than change them entirely. 

Our goal for the cleanser we develop is to create a one-size-fit most product. We hesitate to claim that anything we create will suit all skin types, but we’ll be testing ingredients and formulations until we find a fluid product that cleanses efficiently without damaging the skin.

Katherine Guerrero 2.png

Katherine Guerrero
Content writer /
Environmental policy


Co-Design Your Activated Essentials —

Here at Noéma, we’re busy researching the best ingredients - so that we can make the best activated essentials for you, with you. We’re taking a radically new direction in skincare; we use you as the key ingredient.

By collaborating with industry experts such as naturopaths, biochemists, product specialists and formulators, our aim is to create an Activated Essentials product range with the best ingredients, formula and design.

We’re taking applications from our diverse community to contribute to co-designing an essential micro-range of products right for them. Get involved in upcoming events and workshops covering wellness, self-care and design.


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