Cleansing Jellies: The Best Way To Wash Your Face

Not quite an oil, not quite a balm, jellies make my finicky skin happy.
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Not quite an oil, not quite a balm, jellies make my finicky skin happy.

It shouldn’t be so hard to wash your face. Still, something as simple as removing makeup, dirt, and pollutants from your skin is too often fraught with painful dryness, clogged pores, leftover mascara, or even (perish the thought) a leftover film.

face cleansing gels

Buh-bye, greasy films! (The word "film" squicks me out so hard, I just about couldn’t get through this caption.)

And of course, this winter has left me in that skin care hell where a foaming cleanser is too drying, but a cleansing oil or balm never feels like it’s quite washed off your skin. It wasn’t until my fifth or sixth “What if I’m actually just trapping my makeup underneath a layer of oil?” panic spiral that I decided to give cleansing jellies a shot.

The concept behind cleansing jelly (another brilliant Asian import!) is that it’s a cross between a cleansing oil and a cleansing balm.

Jellies are usually oil-based, non-foaming, but mixed with an emulsifier to rinse totally clean--just perfect for my skin type. Like oil cleansers, you apply jellies to dry skin first, massage them in, and then splash with water to rinse them away.

boscia tsubaki cleansing oil-gel

My first cleansing jelly was a tiny bottle of Boscia’s Tsubaki Cleansing Oil-Gel that I scored as a Sephora reward. (Tamara’s also a fan!) 

The liquid-y, transparent-pink gel contains camellia and rice bran oils to hydrate while cleansing, but then rinses away leaving no greasy residue behind. It got me totally hooked.

nude perfect cleanse omega cleansing gel

Riding high on my new discovery, I picked up Nude Skincare’s Perfect Cleanse Omega Cleansing Jelly

Made with natural ingredients, if that’s your thing, this jelly’s base is sunflower oil. It comes out of the tube thick, almost like Vaseline, but liquefies as it warms on your skin. This one is my favorite for dissolving clogged pores. When this jelly comes in contact with water, it gets milky and disappears, leaving super clean skin. The only downside is this was a bit more drying than others I've tried.

la roche-posay physiological cleansing gel

Cleansing jellies aren’t all oil-based, though. When La Roche-Posay sent me their Physiological Cleansing Gel, I knew the formula would be a game-changer. 

It acts just like oil-based jellies: massage into skin, then rinse away with water. But instead of an oil, its cleansing agent is poloxamer, a common ingredient in gentle cleansers like contact solution and micellar water. Yup, this is like a micellar water in an even more powerful gel. The cloudy white jelly feels amazingly gentle on my skin, but it still manages to remove every bit of my eye makeup. This is my fave of the bunch, and I’ll definitely use it whenever my skin needs a little babying--which is almost always.

  • What’s your favorite gentle cleanser?
  • Have you ever used a cleansing jelly? Let me know what other brands I need to try.