Pre-cleanser: What is it and when should you use it?

Pre-cleanser - is it what your skin care routine is missing? Or, just a load of old waffle? Here's our take on how, and when to use it.

Pre-cleanser is one of those beauty jargon terms you've probably heard knocking around. After all, in the skincare world, there are any number of paths you can take to the holy grail of glowing skin. From cleansers to toners, boosters to serums, vitamin powders to jelly masks - sometimes it can be overwhelming, to say the least. And now, pre-cleanser gets thrown into the mix.

On the other hand, maybe, you are an avid fan already and thinking "eh, of course, you pre-cleanse skin!". There's a good chance you're doing it without even realising. But the question is, what is a pre-cleanser and when/how should you use it?

makeup remover

What is it?

Before we jump into what it is, let's talk about the theory behind pre-cleansing. In a sense, it's a bit like using a dishwasher (stay with me here). Think about when you're loading a dishwasher - some plates and dishes need to be rinsed thoroughly before they can be cleaned by the dishwasher, right? Otherwise, they'll come out with some residue on them. Others are fine, and can go straight into it. Well, in theory, that's what pre-cleansing is about (but for your skin).


A pre-cleanser is like a rinse for your skin, designed to remove makeup and general dirt/debris. By doing that, it gives your normal  cleanser a chance to do its job properly and actually cleanse skin (rather than having to double job). In general, the formulas are oil based and can grab grime and dissolve makeup quickly.

How to use it

The majority of pre-cleansers are lightweight oils which can be applied directly tothe skin. The oil is then massaged in, gently breaking down makeup and general daily grime. Then, you simply rinse it off. Skin is left prepped and ready for the next steps of cleanse, tone, moisturise etc.

When to use it

Skin purists would argue that you should always pre-cleanse.  But the truth is, sometimes it's hard enough not to fall asleep in your makeup, let alone do a four or five step skin care routine. Our take on it is that pre-cleansing is a useful technique for times when your skin is feeling lack lustre, or when you've been wearing a bit more makeup than usual. It just ensures that you've removed everything and that your complexion has a chance to breathe.


Do you pre-cleanse? Or do you think it's a bit of a waste of time?

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