I often wonder what it must be like to have skin that actually behaves, that doesn’t have to be coddled and cared for with utmost caution. There’s a good chance that I’ll never know—and I’ve tried everything in search of the One Thing that’ll finally give my long-suffering skin a swift kick in the ass. I’ve yet to find it (and if you happen to beat me to it, let me know), but lately I’ve been relying on no-rinse cleansers to keep my itchy bumps and breakouts at bay.
No-rinse cleansers are not always micellar waters, which I also love. Rather, the ones I’ve grown fond of are actually—brace yourselves!—creams. Don’t be so quick to write all things creamy off as guaranteed pore-cloggers: Sometimes, hyper-sensitive blemish-prone skin like mine loses its shit because it’s actually dehydrated. Foaming cleansers and topical acne treatments dry it out, which in turn sends it into oil production overdrive, and irritate it too while they’re at it. With the right ingredients, creamy, hydrating products will actually balance the skin.
I got the idea to experiment with creamy water-free cleansers when, out of pure, unadulterated laziness, I started using Korres Greek Yoghurt 3-in-1 Cleansing, Toning, and Eye Makeup Removing Emulsion ($24) most nights when I was too tired (or drunk, or drunk and tired) to go through the whole face-washing song and dance. After a couple weeks of slathering the emulsion all over my face, sweeping off makeup with a few cotton balls, and hitting the sack, I noticed that my skin was softer, clearer, and overall better, when I had honestly expected it to be worse as a result of my flagrant disregard for actual cleansing.
My amateur “findings” corroborated some things that I’d already known but hadn’t fully bought into, like the fact that water can be terribly drying to the skin as well as irritating, depending on where you live and what the water is like. I always felt like I needed water for my skin to get completely clean, which is still kind of true—when I use no-rinse cleanser, I don’t get the same squeaky-clean feeling I do when I use liquid cleanser and water, but that might be a good thing? All I know is that not only am I not breaking out, but I’m also not dealing with the flaky patches of dry skin I usually get in the winter.
Anyway, my new favorite cleansers are the best of both worlds, because they’re both making my skin look better and saving me a hell of a lot of time and effort in the morning and before I go to bed. Here’s my current routine: I squeeze a quarter-sized amount of LUSH 9 to 5 Cleansing Lotion ($22.95) into the palm of my hand and then massage it all over my face, including my eyes if I’m wearing mascara. (Keep your eyes closed, of course.) Then, I just use dry cotton ball after dry cotton ball to swipe the makeup off until it comes up clean—it usually takes about two or three, more if I’m wearing a ton of makeup—and follow up with my usual serum and moisturizer. Easy.
LUSH Ultrabland ($29.95) is another one of my favorites, and La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser ($23.99) is also great and easy to find in drugstores. I’m clearly rather pleased with my new regimen, and though everything should always come with the disclaimer that it may not work for everyone, I’ve been speaking highly of the water-free approach to anyone who will listen, namely friends who also whine about how their skin is dry, sensitive, and breaking out all at once.
I’ve been burned by skin care so many times, I always hesitate to give anything a truly ringing endorsement—but I feel pretty confident in saying that, no matter what skin type you have, you really can’t go wrong with these gentle, skin-lovin’ formulas. They’re kind of the best.