Cleanser Crisis Showdown

Those who follow me on Twitter should know that I’ve been having what I call a “cleanser crisis”, no thanks to reformulations. Seriously, why do companies see the need to reformulate when their product is already doing well, and to boot, the reformulation is often not improving the product but deteriorating its quality. OK, don’t answer that- I actually do know why, but nevertheless I am not pleased. Nope, not at all.

My first “cleanser crisis” was sometime early this year. I have been a happy, satisfied, long time user of Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser (About 5-6 years) and range, and their reformulated version of the cleanser as well as the range broke me out badly. It broke my heart like nothing, as I’m a pretty loyal skincare user. I turned to my cousin, who is a beautician and owns the Cellnique salon De Fennel Face Body Wellness in Desa Petaling, and she recommended me Cellnique Vital Repair Cleansing Milk, which I have been happily using since then.

Lo and behold, my joy was short-lived when I recently restocked on the cleanser and found that it had been reformulated, and what’s worse, it has mineral oil/paraffinum liquidum added to it. Now, I am extremely sensitive to this ingredient, and it caused whiteheads and broke me out. Even my cousin was appalled and she wouldn’t recommend mineral oil to my skin type either.

Since then, I have been trying out a few cleansers, hoping that they could replace the Cellnique Vital Repair Cleansing Milk, and here are my results so far.

From left to right: Cellnique Vital Repair Cleansing Milk (Old), Cellnique Vital Repair Cleansing Milk (New), Cellnique Intensive Hydrating Gel Wash, Dermalogica Essential Cleansing Solution, Jurlique Soothing Cleansing Lotion.

First of, a little background on my skin type: Sensitive and dry. Prone to whiteheads/bumps/breakouts when sensitive to certain ingredients or using unsuitable skincare. Cousin gave me some advise and pointers for cleansers- no foaming or gel-type cleansers, lotions or milk-types are the best for me. I test all these cleansers for an average of 3 days (6 washes- morning and night) and nothing in my skincare and makeup regimen has changed.

While testing out these cleansers, I also go by a few main things- the big pimple on my the side of my nose that developed after using the new Cellnique Vital Repair Cleansing Milk (Read the review below, and one out of two), my chin and the sides of my nose. A good cleanser for me would reduce the size of the pimple and/or calm it down and not irritate it or make it bigger (Obviously not make it go away overnight), not make my chin feel rough and won’t make me develop whiteheads on the sides of my nose.

Cellnique Vital Repair Cleansing Milk (Old Formula)

A unique cleanser that does not only effectively remove make-up and pollutants, but also nourishes your skin with essential vitamins and humectants. The retinol and Vitamin C content helps the skin to combat the assault of free radicals. This is a hypo-allergenic cleaning milk excellent for all skin types, including post-operation skin.

Let’s start with the control and my go-to cleanser. At first I had serious apprehensions of using it. Vitamin A retinol? Vitamin C? Can my skin really withstand it? It is sensitive after all, but I trust my cousin because she knew my skin type and was my beautician, after all. My skin did experience some minor peeling on the nose the first week I used it, mainly because of the retinol, but it’s apparently normal according to my cousin and then it went away completely, so it was all right. It smells of faintly of vanilla and coconuts (Or both), and the texture is pretty viscous and milky. It goes on the face rather smoothly like a thick lotion and rinses off easily, leaving the skin feeling soft and smooth with no greasy residue. My skin also looked less reddish and more calmed. I can’t use it more than twice a day though because then I will start to have flakes (Most likely due to the retinol and/or Vitamin C content perhaps), but otherwise it has kept my skin looking smooth, calm and breakout-free throughout the entire time I’ve been using it, so it’s definitely a strong favourite of mine.

It costs RM 119 for 200ml, and can be purchased at all Cellnique salons… if they still have it.

Ingredients: Purified Water (Aqua), Cetyl Isooctanoate, Glycerin, Glyceryl Monostearate, 1,3-Butylene Glycol, Cetereath-5, Cetereath-25, Cetyl Alcohol, Wheat Germ (Triticum Vulgare) Oil, Allantoin, Vitamin A Retinol, Ascorbyl Magnesium Phosphate (Vitamin C), Sodium PCA, DMDM Hydantoin, Alpha-Bisabolol, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Methylparaben.

Cellnique Vital Repair Cleansing Milk (New Formula)

A unique cleanser that does not only effectively remove make-up and pollutants, but also nourishes your skin with essential vitamins and humectants. Vitamin C and Wheat Germ contained within this cleanser help battle against free radicals. Suitable for all skin types, including post operation skin.”

This is the reformulated version of my go-to cleanser (Review above) and it broke my heart. The smell is pretty much the same as the old one, but the texture is definitely greasier and thicker. I didn’t realise it had been reformulated until I was washed my face with it and noticed that the font had changed, and when I turned the bottle and read the ingredients list I had a shock mainly because of the words “paraffinum liquidum”. Nevertheless I stuck it out for the 3 days I usually take to try something out, hoping that this would be different, but developed multiple tiny little pus-filled pimples and itchy pimple-like bumps on my forehead and cheeks after washing. It also left a slight greasy residue, even though I dry my face with a towel after washing it. I also eventually developed two full-blown pimples on the sides of my nose, one of which went away thankfully, but the other still remained. If that’s not a sign that it’s not right for me, I don’t know what is.

It costs RM 119 for 200ml, just like the old formula, and can also be purchased at all Cellnique salons.

Ingredients: Purified Water (Aqua), Paraffinum Liquidum, Cetearyl Isononanoate, Propylene Glycol, Beheneth-20, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-15 Glyceryl Stearate, Wheat (Triticum Vulgare) Germ Oil, Diazolidinyl Urea, Cetyl Alcohol, Sodium Acrylates Copolymer, Methylparaben, PPG-1 Trideceth-6, Bisabolol, Vitamin C (Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate), Fragrance, Propylparaben.

Cellnique Intensive Hydrating Gel Wash

A gentle facial wash designed for dry, sensitive and mature skin. Cleanse, condition, revitalize all at once with this cleanser’s unique blend of skin-smart ingredients; Purslane Extract, Green Tea Extract and Chamomile Extract. It sweeps away impurities without drying out and irritating the skin. Extremely gentle and non-comedogenic.

Remember my cousin advising me that I shouldn’t use foaming and/or gel-type cleansers for me? I asked her about this cleanser and she said she wouldn’t recommend it because it will dry my skin out. I was baffled because after all, it said “hydrating”, right? I bought a bottle to try anyway. The scent is pretty floral-ish and in a way reminds of tea, and the texture is really runny as you can see pictured. It also foams up pretty well and of course, rinses off well too. My cousin was right, though- it dried up the skin around my mouth after washing, leaving it feeling pretty thin and taut. So much for hydrating there. And after using it for the 3 days, I notice little pimple-like bumps starting to form on my forehead, cheek and nose area, my chin area felt rough and that big pimple on the side of my nose did not change in size and/or redness, which means that it’s overall not a good cleanser for me.

It costs RM 119 for 200ml, and can be purchased at all Cellnique salons.

Ingredients: Purified Water (Aqua), Cocamidopropyl Betaine, PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Methyl Gluceth-20, PEG-150 Distearate, PEG-8, Phenoxyethanol, Cocamide DEA, Citric Acid, Polysorbate 20, Tetrasodium EDTA, Fragrance, Purslane (Portulaca Oleracea) Extract, Green Tea (Camellia Sinensis) Leaf Extract, Olive (Olea Europaea) Leaf Extract, Chamomile (Anthemis Nobilis ) Flower Extract, Methylisothiazolinone, Cl 60725, Cl 19140, Cl 42090.

Dermalogica Essential Cleansing Solution

A rich, creamy cleanser that gently lifts impurities from dry, sensitive skin while deep-conditioning and soothing irritation. Contains no artificial fragrance or colour.

I asked my cousin if I should try this cleanser, because I have a soft spot for Dermalogica (After all, it was the first “expensive” skin care brand I used) and she said I could, but the texture of it might be a little oilier than I’m used to. I’m fine with it as long as it works, and I really hoped it did. I do love the scent of this one- it reminds me of butter, and the texture is almost similar. It’s definitely a kind of pleasure using this. My skin felt soft and smooth after using it with no feeling of dryness or tautness, my skin seemed to at least look calmer especially that pimple and my chin area was relatively smooth. Hurrah! I thought I was bagging a keeper. However, there was an occasional small pimple that appeared, either on my cheek or on my forehead after washing, but I chalked it up to stress and anxiety from trying out cleansers, until a huge pimple threatened to develop on my chin and I started having whiteheads around my nose and chin that sealed its fate. I had high hopes for this one, but it was dashed.

It costs about RM 155 for 200ml, and can be purchased at all Aster Spring salons.

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Butylene Glycol, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, PEG-8, Polysorbate 60, Cetyl Alcohol, Sorbitan Stearate, Propylene Glycol, Humulus Lupulus (Hops) Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Equisetum Arvensa Extract, Pinus Sylvestris Cone Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Flower Extract, Ricinoleth-40, Beeswax, Ethylhexyl Hydroxystearate, Aminomethyl Propanol, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Dimethicone, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Ceresin, Disodium EDTA, Carbomer.

Jurlique Soothing Cleansing Lotion

A gentle, soothing cleansing lotion for sensitive skin that lifts away surface impurities to leave the complexion feeling fresh and clean.

My decision to try this was made after browsing through potential brands I could try, and it was mainly because I do quite like brands that tend to be more “natural”. The scent is aromatherapy-ish and the texture is the runniest of all the lotion or milk-type cleansers featured here. Due to its texture I find that one pump was too little, and two pumps seemed to be overdoing it, so much so that the tip of nose experienced a tiny amount of peeling after using it for the third day if I preservered in using two pumps, so I had to adjust it to about 1.5 pumps. But it did seem to reduce the redness on my skin and calmed it after cleansing- the pimple seemed to be finally giving up, and it rinsed off well without leaving a greasy residue. My skin also felt soft and smooth after using it, with just a fair bit of tautness around the mouth but it was bearable. There were no whiteheads around my nose, but my chin area didn’t feel relatively smooth, and after the second day, where very small pimples appeared around my nose, but they disappeared as soon as they came.

It costs RM 134 for 200ml, and can be purchased at the Jurlique salons in The Curve and Mid Valley Megamall, or the kiosk at Pavilion KL. They also seem to be available at 1 Mont Kiara, Isetan at Suria KLCC and Queensbay Mall in Penang.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Lecithin, Lithospermum Erythrorhizon (Groomwell) Root Extract, Zanthoxylum Alatum (Sichuan Peppercorn) Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Cera Alba (Beeswax), Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance (Parfum)*, Lactic Acid, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Oleyl Alcohol, Linalool*; Limonene*. * From Natural Essential Oil (Chamomile – Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria), Lavender – Lavandula Angustifolia)

Please note that I did not rely on these cleansers to take off my makeup at the end of the day, even though most of their descriptions (On the websites) says that they are able to. I personally find that they may be a little to mild to be able to fully take off sunscreen and foundation. I practice a double cleansing routine at night, first with Dermalogica Precleanse and then with cleanser. I think that’s it’s vital to properly remove everything before cleansing the face, especially if you’re using sunscreen and foundation and/or makeup.

Verdict: Thankfully, I managed to stock up on a fair bit of the old Cellnique Vital Repair Cleansing Milk thanks to my cousin and also my boyfriend Louis, when we attacked a few Cellnique salons, and it can (Hopefully) last me for quite a while. But if I am really hard pressed into replacing it, I’d probably go with the Jurlique Soothing Cleansing Lotion of all the other cleansers featured here. At least doesn’t leave my skin feeling overly taut and dry, left no greasy residue, relatively calmed down my skin and most importantly did not cause serious breakouts like the others did even if they were tiny ones. However, I’m still not 100% enamoured with it yet… I don’t know, it doesn’t seem to have a “kick”, so I might still be on the lookout and there may or may not be more comparison posts like this for cleansers until I find one :P

So much for cleansers not being important, not for my skin at least :(

7 thoughts on “Cleanser Crisis Showdown

  1. Did you know Dermalogica actually updated their formulation of the Ultracalming Cleanser because of feedback like yours? My understanding is that the new update is good and fans of the Ultracalming Cleanser are happy again. You should consider giving it another shot…maybe ask your retailer to give you a sample to try the product again?

    • Really? That’s great news to hear if it’s true :) Hopefully it will be as good as the old formula. Will check if my nearest Dermalogica salon carries it. Thanks! :D

  2. Hi,
    Am I glad that I am not the only one to dislike their new formula for the Ultracalming Cleanser. I have also been a faithful user of their original formula for 4 years and I was very upset that it has been changed. Using their new formula caused my skin to be flushed and red.
    I have tried to write in to Dermalogica in the USA, but their replies were too slow and inefficient and I sort of given up in the end.

    • Hi, nice to see that I’m not the only one too :) The new formula not only caused my skin to be flushed and red, but also caused me to have breakouts. Not just the cleanser but the whole range in general : I’ve read a lot of negative reviews on their website, which means we’re not alone too! Hopefully they’ll do something about it. In the meantime I’ve pretty much given up on them except for the Precleanse and Daily Microfoliant- even the Essential Cleansing Solution had been reformulated and was not as good as the old one.

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