Jun 29, 2021

Water Based Cleansers Explained

There is a lot of conversation surrounding cleansers out there…so much so that it can be difficult to separate the fact from the fiction. 

How many kinds are there, and how are they different? Which is the best one for your specific skin? To help sort through all the information, we’ll discuss one of the specific cleanser types in more detail… water based cleansers. 

Here’s everything you need to know about them, and how they can work in tandem with Miami MD products to help you better love the skin you’re in.

Why Cleanser Type Matters

If you’re new to skin care, you probably thought that choosing a facial cleanser would be the easiest decision you’d have to make when putting together a skincare routine. 

What could be more simple than washing your face, right? While the act of cleansing your skin is fairly simple, choosing a cleanser can actually be a major factor in how your skin looks and the results you can achieve. 

If you choose a formula or type that doesn’t work with your specific skin type or help with your areas of concern, you may worsen any issues that you’re having. 

One great example is having acne-prone or oily skin. A cleanser that dries out your skin can actually make your skin produce more sebum (oil), exacerbating blemishes and oily looking skin.

Here are just a few of the cleanser types out there other than water based cleansers, along with a brief summary of how they work and who they work best for:

Powder cleansers

Containing a mix of granules that both control oil and exfoliate the skin, powder cleansers are dry until mixed with water. They can then be gently rubbed on the face, providing exfoliation as well as cleansing the skin. 

Powder cleansers work best on people with combination or oily skin types.

Foaming cleansers

Foaming cleansers are a concentrated foam that becomes even more foamy when mixed with water. 

However, because they can be drying, they’re not great for people with naturally dry skin. People with oily skin types may find them especially helpful, and normal and combination skin types can benefit as well.

Oil-based cleansers

Although this may sound like a type of cleanser for anyone to avoid, oil based cleansers work great for dry or combination skin types. Even people with naturally oily skin can benefit, as the oil in the cleanser binds together with impurities and the oils on the face and washes them away. 

Cream cleansers

Cream cleansers help cleanse the skin without stripping away any of the natural oils that it needs to protect itself. These cleansers are naturally moisturizing, and are great for anyone who needs a little hydration boost. 

They also work great when the weather gets colder, or if you live in a dry environment. Although oily skin needs moisture too, cream cleansers are best for people with dry, combination, and normal skin types. 

Gel cleansers

There is a small niche for the people who can benefit from using a gel cleanser but, for those people, it can make all the difference. 

It helps strip away all of the extra sebum that can clog the pores of naturally oily or acne prone skin types. However, just like cream cleansers, gel cleansers leave the natural oils on the skin untouched.

Micellar water

Micellar water is about as simple of a cleanser as they come. Tiny molecules, called micelles, are suspended in water and used to very gently clean away debris and dirt without using soap. 

It is especially beneficial for people with sensitive skin, but normal, combination, and even dry can use it with no issue as well. People with oily skin may need a little extra cleansing, though. 

Cleansing balms

Similar to an oil cleanser, cleansing balms are a thicker cleanser that hydrates the skin while still removing dirt and makeup. It’s great for people who need extra cleaning power, without worrying about clogged pores. 

What Are Water-Based Cleansers?

With so many different types of cleansers out there, it’s easy to see why it can be so hard to sort through all of them and find the best one for you. However, even though there are a lot of them, there is also significant overlap between them. 

For instance, if you’re looking for a water based cleanser, you can often find them in gel form, foaming form, etc. Even micellar water is a form of water based cleanser. They are good for helping rid the skin of sweat, dirt, debris, and other water based impurities. 

To identify what is or isn’t a water based cleanser, just check the ingredient list… the first one listed should always be water. It really is that easy! But what are they actually good for, and how do they work?

On a technical level, water based cleansers work by using a “surfactant,” which just means a “surface working agent.” Water by itself just isn’t enough to remove all of the things that can sit on your skin, clog your pores, and lead to breakouts. They not only stick to the debris, they also allow it to be washed off your face in a process known as emulsification. 

Essentially, anything that can be dissolved in water can be removed from the top layer of the skin by a water based cleanser. Surfactants also help determine how much (or how little) your cleanser lathers. 

How To Choose A Water-Based Cleanser

The downside of water based cleansers for certain people is what makes them extraordinary for others. Unfortunately, a natural casualty is that it also rinses away the natural sebum (oil) on the face. That makes water based cleansers better for people who have naturally oily or acne prone skin. 

However, with so many different cleanser types and styles out there, it is possible for any skin type to find benefit with use. Those with dry or combination skin types will likely do better with micellar water or gel water based cleansers, which require less rubbing and will leave more of the natural oil on the skin. 

Oily and acne prone people may prefer a foaming water based cleanser, or a micellar water that is designed specifically for this skin type. This may take a little trial and error but, when you find the right one for you, you’ll be amazed at the difference you can see with regular use. 

Using A Water-Based Cleanser In Your Skin Care Routine

Water based cleansers were designed specifically for water based impurities, so it may be helpful to cleanse your skin with it twice to really make sure that everything is gone.

If you wear makeup, you’ll also want to remove that before you cleanse so your cleanser isn’t having to fight through that extra layer to reach your skin. 

Don’t rub, be gentle! After your cleansing routine is finished, gently pat your skin dry. 

Just like when you’re cleansing, rubbing the skin (especially aging skin) can cause friction and damage the area over time. This is especially true when it comes to the thin skin around the eye area, which becomes even more thin over time due to the natural aging process. 

The next step is to apply any serums you may be using. A good rule of thumb is to apply targeted serums first, like Miami MD’s Intensive Eye Repair Serum. Once those are dry, apply the remainder of your serums from the thinnest in consistency to the thickest. 

With a water based cleanser, moisturizing becomes especially important, as you are also removing a lot of the skin’s natural oils. So that you don’t unintentionally destroy your moisture barrier, choose a moisturizer that contains an ingredient called ceramides

Ceramides are epidermal lipids that are essential to forming the moisture barrier on an anatomical level, so helping provide the skin with more access to them keeps it intact, moisturized, and able to protect itself. 

And, as always, your morning skin care routine should always finish with an appropriate sunscreen, especially with an SPF of at least 30, that protects from both UVA and UVB rays. 

In Summary

Water based cleansers can be very beneficial to any skin care routine, especially if you deal with oily or acne prone skin. When you know the right way to incorporate it, and what other products to include to keep your skin looking and feeling its best, you can make a major difference in your skin.

Miami MD’s functional beauty products are an excellent way to work with any cleanser to keep your skin radiant and beautiful, as well. That’s the beauty of an efficient, supportive skin care routine.


Acne – Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

The structure, function, and importance of ceramides in skin and their use as therapeutic agents in skin-care products | Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology

Sunscreen FAQs | American Academy of Dermatology Association

Written by: Admin