Should you be updating your cleanser for winter? (Yes—here’s why)

A cold snap can wreak havoc on even the most untemperamental skin types; we’re talking extreme dehydration, flakiness, redness and sensitivity. It’s inevitable, and forces us to accept the fact that what was once the perfect daily skincare routine may require a little extra help in the hydrating (and soothing!) department during the cooler months. While for some it could mean a swapping out a product or two—and for others a total overhaul—your first point of review should be the first step in your routine; cleansing.

Drying indoor heating, crisp air and wind can rob your skin from much-needed moisture, leaving you with the responsibility to ensure not a single product in your routine—especially your cleansers—are aiding in this dryness. While some cleansers—especially those for oilier skin types—are formulated to clear the skin of oils, it is crucial that as our skin becomes drier, we hydrate at every step (and never strip!). Here are some tips.


“Traditional cleansers with sulfates are thorough but can over-dry skin,” says Carrie Gross, CEO and co-founder of Dr. Dennis Gross. Come winter (and, well, all year-round), Gross suggests that we “look for cleansers that are soap-free and phthalate-free,” as they’re infamous for stripping the skin of its natural, replenishing oils. “You need a formula that effectively and easily whisks away makeup and impurities, without using aggressive detergents.”

Just this week the brand launched their Hyaluronic Marine Meltaway Cleanser, “an oil-free, nourishing cleanser that effortlessly melts away all traces of waterproof makeup including eye makeup, dirt, oil and impurities without the need for rinsing—no rubbing, tugging, or second cleansing needed.” Exclusive to MECCA, it acts like a double cleanse in one and doesn’t call for even the smallest splash of water, saving you from time, mess, and the risk of over-cleansing. Plus, it’s formulated like an active serum, spiked with a hydrating cocktail of hyaluronic acid, marine algae, kiwi, and aloe to deeply hydrate and nourish the skin barrier as it cleanses. It’s the all-in-one cleanser you didn’t know you needed.

“Today’s cleansers go beyond just cleaning your face, shares Gross. “They are now formulated with ingredients that can help with your skin type and target concerns; that is why looking for active ingredients in your cleanser is just as important as a serum when looking to build the most effective skincare routine.”

RéVive’s Foaming Cleanser Enriched Hydrating Wash is another cleanser filled to the brim with nourishing ingredients like soothing vitamin E, free-radical neutralizing green tea and moisture-replenishing sodium hyaluronate, guaranteed to save you from over cleansing and exacerbating winter dryness.

WATCH MORE: Your most satisfying cleanse yet


Cleopatra was really onto something all those centuries ago when she would bathe in sour milk (ripe in what we now know as lactic acid), as a soothing and effective anti-ageing beauty ritual. Incredibly softening and nourishing for the skin, fats and proteins present in milk give it a creamy, naturally hydrating consistency, making a milk or cream-based cleanser the perfect alternative to a gel in the cooler seasons.

While not all milk cleansers contain cow’s milk nowadays (or donkey’s, if you’re Cleopatra), they’re packed with emollient-rich ingredients like oils and vitamin E, which help to latch onto and clear away daily build-up, makeup and grime while infusing the skin with a velvety suppleness—no tight, squeaky feelings here. For this reason, they are the optimal winter alternative for those suffering from sensitive, reactive, or dry skin.

Our top picks? Korres’ Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser is free from anything you wouldn’t want on your skin and is formulated with pre- and probiotic-rich Greek yogurt to nourish and protect the skin barrier. The super soothing powers of amaranth seed extract and honeysuckle also get to work in this cream cleanser to calm irritated skin. For the flowerchildren among us, Chantecaille’s Flower Infused Cleansing Milk is also free from harsh, drying chemicals, replacing them with hydrating and conditioning florals like jasmine, mimosa, narcissus, mallow and cornflower to soothe as this milk cleanses.

READ MORE: Why probiotics in skincare are the answer to your sensitive skin needs


If you’ve been reading The Memo for a while now, you’ll know just how much we love oil cleansing—especially as the first step in unwinding after a long day. An oil cleanser will literally melt your makeup away, reaching beyond the surface to also break down any SPF or actives still sitting on (and in) your skin. They are typically safe for use on eyes, too, and will encourage even the most stubborn waterproof mascaras to glide away. Plus, the good ones will also help to unclog pores and prevent breakouts, moisturise and balance both dry and oily skin types, and calm irritation caused by acne or alternate skin concerns.

Rather than opposing the layers of dirt, sebum and makeup on your face, a cleansing oil has a like-for-like mentality, working with rather than against build-up to lift it away from the skin. Water is employed at a later stage to emulsify and then be washed (or wiped) away and reveal clean, soft (and once again, non-stripped) skin.

As for our favourites, Mecca Cosmetica’s Nourishing Cleansing Oil is a culmination of everything we’ve ever loved in a cleansing oil. It’s not too thick for easy, lightweight application, is packed with radiance-boosters like avocado, hemp seed, argan, prickly pear seed, jojoba and raspberry seed oil, and smells of invigorating orange and neroli. Shiseido’s Perfect Cleansing Oil has won awards for its efficacy and non-greasiness, made perfect with strengthening glycerin, and nourishing grape seed oil to combat dryness, free radicals, and the visible signs of ageing. And last but definitely not least, Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Cleansing Oil transforms on the skin from an oil to a milk, and is enriched with an intoxicating blend of botanical oils (including glow-getting evening primrose), perfect to calm both your mind and skin at the end of a day.

READ MORE: Now you have time to double cleanse – no excuses


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