The best jelly cleansers: why this hybrid formula is the perfect heatwave companion

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At the height of summer, you might find your regular skincare routine just isn’t cutting it. When it’s time for a switch up, your cleanser is the perfect place to start, says Stylist’s beauty director Shannon Peter.

Me and my dry cheeks love a thick, unctuous cleansing balm. In fact, I’ve been using Stylist favourite Clinique Take the Day Off Balm for as long as I can remember. But as the days get hotter (and my inner-London flat gets stuffier) I need something a little lighter, that feels refreshing every time I use it. And that’s exactly where jelly cleansers come in.

What is a jelly cleanser? It’s worth noting that as with so many new skincare innovations, jelly cleansers are considered a Korean export. In texture terms, they sit halfway between a fluid cleansing gel and a solid cleansing balm, with that kind of wobbly quality you’d expect from the jelly name. You massage the cleanser onto skin, and after a splash of water, it will start to melt down into a milk, making it really easy to remove. 

But even within the jelly cleanser category, there are a few different types. Some come plied with nourishing oils to condition skin and melt down stubborn SPF. Others are oil-free and ridiculously refreshing, but the almost-gelatinous texture makes sure skin never feels stripped or too squeaky, like some traditional gel cleansers can cause. Basically, you can find a jelly cleanser suited to any skin type or cleanser preference.

I’ve been using a handful of different jelly cleansers over the past few months and quite frankly, my skin can’t get enough of them. So if you’re ready to make this summer skincare switch, here’s the ones I love.

  • Best for: dry skin

    Jordan-Samuel-The-After-Show-Treatment-Cleanser

    Jordan Samuel Skin After Show Treatment Cleanser

    Built on a base of plant-based oils, this cleanser squeezes out from the tube like a whipped-up balm before melting into a fluid oil on the skin. Add water and it changes yet again, this time into a softening milk. It’s particularly good for dry skin as it’s so nourishing, but it also contains sugar cane exfoliants that will (very, very) gently nibble away at any dead cells on the skin’s surface. It’s straight-up incredible.

    £20, Cult Beauty

  • Best for: removing make-up

    Ren-Perfect-Canvas-Clean-Jelly-Oil-Cleanser

    Ren Perfect Canvas Clean Jelly Oily Cleanser

    In texture, this jelly cleanser is very similar to the Jordan Samuel one above, but has a very distinct and deliciously sweet smell. It uses grape, sunflower and meadowfoam oils to melt away SPF and pollution, and glycerin which is brilliant at locking in hydration. After using it, my skin has that elusive dewy sheen that lasts for hours.

    £25, Cult Beauty

  • Best for: sensitive skin

    Plenaire-rose-Jelly

    Plenaire Rose Jelly

    Less oily, this one feels inherently lighter than those first two, and has that really satisfying rose scent, thanks to distilled rosewater. It turns especially milky after adding water, which makes it brilliant for sensitive skin as it feels so soothing.

    £16, Liberty London

  • Best for: combination skin

    Glossier-Milky-Jelly-Cleanser

    Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser

    Probably the most talked-about jelly cleanser out there, Glossier’s formula is a little more fluid than the others, and in my opinion, doesn’t have the same make-up melting powers. However, for a second-cleanse (Brownie points to anyone committed to the double cleanse method), or for no-make-up days, it’s the perfect thing to lift off residual dirt and leave skin feeling hydrated and fresh, with no lingering oiliness. I am sure anyone with combination skin will be happy to hear that.

    £15, Glossier

  • Best for: oily skin

    Drunk-Elephant-Beste-No-9-Jelly-Cleanser

    Drunk Elephant Beste No 9 Jelly Cleanser

    Unlike the others, Drunk Elephant’s jelly cleanser turns into a foam after you add water, which is when the coconut-based surfactants get to work lifting off dirt, pollution and product, while also layering on skin barrier-strengthening fatty acids. Anyone with oily skin will be especially thankful for the sebum-lifting  lather, but with glycerin and marula oil (brilliant for spot-prone skin, too!) it reinstates the hydration it takes out.

    £27, Cult Beauty

Images: Getty / courtesy of brands.

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