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The best cleansers for combination skin in 2023

Shine-prone with dry patches? Give your skin some balance with the help of our pick of the best cleansers for combination skin

A “combination” skin type is exactly what it says on the tin, presenting characteristics of both oily and dry skin. While it’s the most common skin type, finding the right products to address your specific concerns – whether that’s an oily forehead and dry cheeks, or sensitive zones around the eyes but dry elsewhere – can prove difficult. Heavy oils and ultra-hydrating formulas can exacerbate a greasy T-zone, for example, whereas anything too clarifying on dry skin could cause irritation or flakiness. 

While it’s possible to use two different moisturisers, for oily and dry, on particular areas of your face to achieve a happy medium overall, the nature of cleanser application means that you ideally need to find one hero product that works for both of these issues in one fell swoop. 

Thankfully, there are some great dedicated cleansers for combination skin that can bring balance to your complexion, leaving skin happy, clean and comfortable. Whether you’re looking for a budget option, a gentle formula for sensitive skin or a fix for pesky blemishes, read on to discover our pick of the best cleansers for combination skin, plus a guide covering the factors you should consider when making your choice.

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How to choose the best cleanser for combination skin 2023

What causes combination skin? 

Compared to normal skin, where oil production is balanced across the face, combination skin is usually characterised by an oily and shiny forehead, nose and chin (known as the T-zone), and dry cheeks and temples. There are a number of factors that could result in this skin type, including external factors such as changes in the weather, harsh products, high stress levels and sun damage, as well as your genes.

Do I have combination skin?

There are many tell-tale signs that would indicate that you have combination skin. These include:

  • Sensitive cheeks that can feel tight and irritated 
  • Different pore sizes across your face 
  • Skin becomes shiny very quickly
  • You often have a cluster of blemishes in the same place (usually around the T-zone)

Our list of the best cleansers for combination skin has the top products to help balance out these areas for a more even and comfortable complexion.

Which ingredients should I look for in a product?

When shopping for the right cleanser for your combination skin type, we recommend choosing a product that’s both soothing and clarifying. Steer away from harsh formulas, which will leave your skin irritated and potentially even damage the skin barrier. 

Opting for hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides and antioxidant-rich oils can help nourish drier areas as they remove any makeup, banishing that tight feeling.

If you have acne-prone or very oily skin, look for a cleanser that has exfoliating properties, such as salicylic acid, which will help unclog pores and eliminate shine.

The ratio of hydrating ingredients to exfoliants can vary from one cleanser to the next, so for best results, opt for the product that caters to your primary concern, whether that’s blemishes and clogged pores or sensitivity and flakiness.

How we test cleansers for combination skin

At Expert Reviews, we know that hands-on testing delivers the most complete information about a product. To test all the cleansers we review, we use the product on combination skin, noting which ingredients work best together to restore the skin’s balance. Where cleansers are recommended for a particular issue, we test the cleansers on the appropriate type of skin to ensure we make an accurate recommendation.

We follow the recommended regimen stated on the product or packaging, evaluating the overall quality of the cleanser, the feeling of the skin post-cleanse, and the results over time with regular use. We also consider how well each product lathers. Finally, we confirm the amount of the product.

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The best cleansers for combination skin to buy in 2023

1. CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser: Best overall cleanser for combination skin

Price: £13 | Buy now from Boots

This CeraVe cleanser is our top pick for combination skin types, delivering a thorough yet gentle cleanse while restoring the skin’s barrier. Skin is left feeling comfortable with no hint of tightness. Made up of a hydrating blend of ceramides, hyaluronic acid and amino acids to soothe and nourish parched skin, its combination of ingredients gets to work without stripping the skin of natural moisture.  

Impressive ingredients aside, we adore how luxurious this cleanser feels to use. Starting as a cream, it lathers into a silky foam that can easily be worked into skin to remove all traces of makeup, oil and grime. It’s fragrance-free (a blessing for sensitive skin) and online customers were particularly impressed at its affordable price and the fact that a little product goes a long way.

Key specs – Volume: 236ml; Texture: Cream to foam; Star ingredient: Jojoba oil 

Buy now from Boots

2. Jordan Samuel Skin The After Show Treatment Cleanser for sensitive skin: Best for sensitive skin

Price: £20 | Buy now from Cult Beauty

The sensitive version of Jordan Samuel’s OG cleanser is free of harsh ingredients or fragrance, making it a soothing saviour for irritated, combination skin. Its gel-to-oil formula feels ultra-soft and gentle on application, removing all traces of makeup and excess oil. 

Containing antioxidant-rich oils including olive and jojoba to help slough away stubborn mascara, plus green tea and chamomile extract to calm stressed skin, it gets to work without stripping your skin of essential moisture. Customers comment on its fabulous texture and how well it works on dry, sensitive skin, cleansing without causing irritation, leaving the face super-soft. 

Key specs – Volume: 94ml; Texture: Gel to oil; Star ingredient: Olive, jojoba and grape seed oils

Buy now from Cult Beauty

3. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Micro-Peeling Purifying Gel Wash: Best for acne-prone skin 

Price: £21 | Buy now from Look Fantastic

This foaming cleanser from well-known French brand La Roche-Posay is the perfect choice for anyone whose combination skin leans more towards the oily side. The formula contains a combination of 2% salicylic acid, lipo hydroxy acids (LHA) and zinc to help perform a micro-exfoliation and slough away any blemish-causing bacteria without irritation.

Gentle enough to use daily, we particularly loved the cooling feel of menthol as it was massaged into damp skin. Customers loved how well it cleansed, leaving skin feeling fresh, and how well it cleared spots and blemishes. Alcohol-free and hypoallergenic, it’s a great choice for sensitive skin, and it comes in at a great price, too.

Key specs – Volume: 400ml; Texture: Gel; Star ingredient: Salicylic acid

Buy now from Look Fantastic

4. Beauty Pie Japanfusion Pure Transforming Cleanser: Best for removing makeup

Price: £9 for members, £25 for non-members | Buy now from Beauty Pie

Those looking for a formula to remove makeup effectively, including waterproof cosmetics, will love this cleanser that promises to “tracelessly remove makeup, oils and pollution”. Its gel-to-oil-to-milk texture is super versatile, working well for both your daytime and nighttime skincare routine.

Boasting Nmfission Moisture Lock complex, a yeast derivative, it delivers hydration and firmness, while Jabara extract, rich in vitamin C, reduces pigmentation. The cleanser has been awarded five stars online many times over for cleansing skin without irritation, leaving skin looking dewy and radiant. It can even effectively remove waterproof mascara.

Key specs – Volume: 100ml; Texture: Gel to oil to milk; Star ingredient: Jabara extract

Buy now from Beauty Pie

5. Aveeno Face Calm + Restore Nourishing Oat Cleanser: Best budget cleanser

Price: £7.99 | Buy now from Feel Unique

Looking to calm irritated skin on a budget? Aveeno’s cult-favourite oat cleanser is here to soothe your skin worries away, with its prebiotic oat complex that’s been proven to nourish, strengthen and protect the skin’s barrier. Unlike some of the other cleansers on the list, it doesn’t foam, but its texture is perfect for use on any dry patches of skin. Fragrance-free, it’s also a great choice for combination skin that’s particularly sensitive. 

The formula also includes feverfew, which is high in antioxidants and helps to improve the appearance of facial redness, calming irritated skin. Many reviewers rave about its stellar makeup-removing abilities and claim it’s a holy grail for flakiness. Suitable for the whole family, including kids, we love its budget price, too.

Key specs – Volume: 200ml; Texture: Gel; Star ingredient: Prebiotic oat

Buy now from Feel Unique

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