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The Differences Between Gel and Milky Cleansers (and How to Choose the Right One for You)

The Differences Between Gel and Milky Cleansers (and How to Choose the Right One for You)

Finding the perfect face cleanser can be a challenging process. You might want it to target specific skincare concerns and work with your skin type, whether it’s balanced, dry, or oily. Plus, you want to love the ingredients.

There’s another step people often forget, and that’s deciding what type of base they want in a cleanser. Gel cleansers and milky cleansers are among the most popular types, but what do those names mean? And how can you decide which one to use? We’re here to break down the differences to help you achieve the perfect clean.

Gel Cleansers

Gel cleansers are what we often reach for when we want that deep clean feeling. This formula is often the best choice after a workout, when dealing with breakouts, or when wearing makeup. Gel cleansers generally produce a lather once they mix with water and some friction, which helps wash away impurities to get a deeper clean.

Typical gel cleansers can be slightly more drying on the skin, so they’re usually recommended for normal or combination skin types. Always follow your cleansing with a moisturizer to keep your skin properly hydrated and nourished.

Opting for a moisturizing gel cleanser also helps you avoid that dry, tight feeling. Our no-foam Ocean Cleanser is a gel-based formula infused with seaweed to help remove surface impurities and excess oil thanks to bentonite and lactic acid. It’s pH-balanced to gently exfoliate without stripping away the skin’s protective barrier—no more worrying about unwanted dryness.

For an even deeper clean, turn to our Ocean Cleansing Mudd. This mineral-rich cleanser uses tea tree and peppermint oils to help purge impurities from the skin, which also results in a refreshed, invigorated feeling.

Mineral marine cleanser

Clarifying cleanser

How to Use a Gel Cleanser

For best results when using a gel cleanser, wet your face and hands. Apply a pump of cleanser to your damp hands, add a little water, and rub your hands together to emulsify the gel.

Next, apply the cleanser to the face in gentle circular motions, massaging across your entire face. At this stage, it will feel soft and emollient on your skin. Rinse well with warm water and lock in the hydration with a serum, oil, or moisturizer.

Milky Cleansers

Milky cleansers are made from lightweight emollient bases. This type of product is nourishing and cleansing without the drying effect on skin. Milky cleansers are effective enough to clean off makeup while keeping skin fully nourished. Because these products are so gentle, they’re perfect for removing eye makeup from delicate skin.

While they can be effective for all skin types, milky cleansers work best for sensitive, dry, or mature skin.

Our Ocean Cleansing Milk is a milky cleanser formulated with sunflower and safflower seed oils to provide a nutrient-rich base that gently but effectively melts away dirt, debris, and makeup.

Soothing, gentle cleanser

How to Use a Milky Cleanser

For best results when using a milky cleanser, dampen your hands and face before adding a pump of cleanser. Rub your hands together to distribute the product evenly. Unlike a gel, a milky cleanser will not foam. Instead, directly apply it to your face and massage in gentle circles before rinsing with warm water.

Even though a milky cleanser is made to be moisturizing, it’s important to provide extra hydration with your favorite serum, oil, or moisturizer after washing.

Fun fact: Our Ocean Cleansing Milk is so gentle you can mix it with other products to tone down their potency.

Choosing Between Gel and Milky Cleansers

While some people choose to rely on just one cleanser for every face wash, it can also be beneficial to alternate. Your skin has different needs in the morning and at night, so it’s valuable to tailor your skincare routine accordingly.

If a gel cleanser seems to be overly drying, but you still want a deeper clean, try swapping it out with a milky cleanser every few days. On the flip side, if your wash routine could use some oomph without drying you out, try using the gel cleanser in the morning for a wide-awake feeling and the milky cleanser at night to leave skin feeling soothed.