2016 beauty: The best oils, balms, buffers and more

By Jill Dunn

Photo: © Getty Images

Wouldn’t it be great if your sink-side routine didn’t feel like a chore? Because of advancements in textures (from skin-smoothing powders to convenient wipes and nourishing balms), there are many ways to customize your cleanse – and no excuse to go to bed with a face full of makeup.

No matter what cleanser you choose, the ritual should be the same. Never speed-race through your cleanse. “Wet your face first and massage a nickel-sized drop of cleanser onto skin for at least 90 seconds to two minutes,” says Dr. Lisa Kellett, a Toronto-based dermatologist. “The water should be tepid, never too hot, as that can strip the skin of its natural moisture. Pat it dry with a towel; never rub.”

ONE-STEP

Eau Thermale Avène Micellar lotion, $28, drugstores and mass-market retailers; Decléor Micellar Oil, $35, at Hudson’s Bay, thebay.com; Caudalie Makeup Removing Cleansing Water, $28, at drugstores and mass-market retailers

CLAIM TO FAME
Micellar cleansers were first made popular in France, where Parisian women found the hard water too harsh for their skin and so adopted one-step cleansing waters. These no-fuss cleansers are a secret of models, who rely on them backstage during Fashion Week to gently cleanse between shows.

HOW THEY WORK
These cleansers use micelle molecules that trap oil and dirt on the skin, cleansing it gently without rubbing. The appeal is simple: douse a cotton pad with one of these liquids and watch makeup vanish – no water, no suds, no rinsing required.

TRY THEM IF
You like a one-step cleanse or if your skin is super sensitive.

BUFF AND GO

Josie Maran Argan Exfoliating Cleansing Powder, $49, sephora.ca; Kellett Clear Polishing Gel Cleanser, $45, dlkonavenue.com Boscia Konjac Cleansing Sponge with bamboo charcoal, $19, sephora.ca.

CLAIM TO FAME
Exfoliating cleansers are championed by those who like to micro-exfoliate daily – rather than go for a weekly scrub – and work to slough away dead skin cells that can otherwise cause breakouts or dullness.

HOW THEY WORK
With soft, round beads or gentle exfoliating ingredients such as rice powder, these cleaners are gentle enough to use daily. Remember to massage, not scrub. “Being too aggressive on the skin can unnecessarily add redness and irritation,” says Charmaine Cooper, education manager for Dermalogica Canada. “In fact, when you use the appropriate formula, it’s not how much pressure you give to the skin that counts. It’s how effectively you’ve distributed the formula on the skin.”

TRY THEM IF
Your skin is dull, you have clogged pores or tend to have break-outs. These cleansers can also be added to your skin-care routine as seasons change to normalize skin and even tone. Remember to be gentle with the cleansing technique.

WIPE OUT

Ole Henriksen Nurture Me Makeup Removing Cleansing Cloths, $19, Sephora, sephora.ca; Skyn Iceland Glacial Cleansing Cloths, $17 for 30, Murale and select Shoppers Drug Marts

CLAIM TO FAME
It doesn’t get any easier than premoistened cleansing wipes – before the gym, for travel or for those nights when you just can’t muster a full lather-and-rinse routine.

HOW THEY WORK
Most towelettes contain ingredients such as coconut oil or tea tree oil to cleanse skin. Look for quilted varieties as those are extra gentle. “Cleansing wipes are great in a pinch to remove makeup, but not necessarily for every day,” says Dr. Kellett. “They are convenient, but aren’t always the most thorough.”

TRY THEM IF
You’re on the run or don’t need a heavy-duty cleanse – many people use them in the morning when they just want to freshen up after a night’s rest.

OIL BOOM

Amore Pacific Treatment Cleansing Oil for Face & Eyes, $60, sephora.ca; A-Derma Exomega Emollient Cleansing Oil, $19, drugstores and mass-market retailers; Dermalogica Precleanse, $53, at select spas, dermalogica.ca

CLAIM TO FAME
Cleansing oils erase dirt without stripping the skin of its natural oils.

HOW THEY WORK
Massage oil onto skin and then wet palms with water, continuing to massage to create a milky lather. “Nothing removes oil and debris from the skin better than an oil – like attracts like,” says Charmaine. She’s also a proponent of the double-cleanse – cleanse first with an oil followed by a cream or gel cleanser.

TRY THEM IF
You have really dry skin or you wear a lot of makeup – oil-based cleansers melt away even longwearing or waterproof formulas.

BALM SQUAD

Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, $36, at Clinique counters, clinique.ca; Biotherm Biosource Balm-in-Oil, $34, biotherm.ca

CLAIM TO FAME
A dry-skin saviour in wintertime because of their luxurious texture.

HOW THEY WORK
Balm cleansers are solid at room temperature, but once they’re scooped in to your hand and massaged onto damp skin, they melt into a milky, creamy – and super luxe – lather. It’s as close as you’ll get to a spa experience at home.

TRY THEM IF
You have a drier skin type or skin that feels itchy or tight, especially in the wintertime.

CLEANUP CREW

THESE NEXT-GENERATION PRODUCTS UPGRADE YOUR ROUTINE

1. Sephora Collection Black Magic, set of 2 Makeup Removal Cloths, $15, sephora.ca; 2. Boscia Tsubaki Oil-Infused Exfoliating Powder, $45, sephora.ca; 3. Philosophy Purity Made Simple Cleanse and Massage One-Touch Facialist Kit, $99, cleanser included, Sephora, Hudson’s Bay, Shoppers Drug Mart

  1. It sounds too good to be true, but these black magic cloths require no cleanser. Simply dampen with warm water and watch makeup and dirt disappear. They are machinewashable so you can use them time and again.
  2. With 100 per cent natural konjac root fibre (an Asian plant lauded for its ability to purge pores) this sponge has a bouncy texture once wet. It’s more gentle than a washcloth so you can safely massage on to skin for a thorough clean.
  3. Cleansing power tools are nothing new, but some find the oscillating action of the bristles irritating. This version uses vibrating silicone bristles to nudge dirt and oil from pores so it feels more like a massage.

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