These 11 Budget Cleansers Are Just as Good as Their Expensive Counterparts

Cleansing is an essential step in every skincare routine, vital for removing makeup, product residue and excess oil, as well as for prepping skin for future product application and targeting concerns like dullness and congestion. "Washing your face really is the cornerstone of a great routine and glowing skin,” says facialist and skin expert Charlie Perry. "If you aren't cleansing your face properly with the best cleanser for your skin's needs, it’s very hard for everything that follows in your routine to go right.” Choosing the right formula can make a vital difference to your skin, with options ranging from balms and oils through to gels, milks, and foams. However, the best cleansers don’t necessarily need to be expensive or packed full of pricey active ingredients in order to be effective. 

"‘You get what you pay for’ is true of many consumer goods, but not necessarily beauty,” says beauty journalist and brand founder Sali Hughes. "I love many luxury beauty brands and their products, and I always will, but it’s important to remember that for every fancy jar, magnetic lid, beautiful ad campaign and gold-foil box, pennies and pounds are added to the price you ultimately pay from your purse.” It’s always worth keeping in mind that a product’s price tag is often dictated by these factors and so doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality of the ingredients used or the product’s formula. "I think increasingly, people are paying more attention to what matters,” adds Hughes. "The product at the heart of the fantasy. That’s what needs to be great. The rest is delicious detail.” It’s true; take a look at the offerings of affordable skincare brands like The Ordinary, CeraVe, and Beauty Pie, and you’ll see that there are plenty of standout affordable face washes out there. They may not have luxurious packaging, but it’s what’s inside that counts.


(Image credit: @THATGRACEGIRL)

Hughes herself recently collaborated with beauty brand Revolution to create her own line of affordable skincare products. "It was my number one priority to make this product range available to as many people as possible, and that meant keeping the prices as low as I could squeeze them without compromising on quality and ingredients,” she says. "I just very strongly believe that great, effective, high-quality and intelligently formulated skincare formulas should be available to the overwhelming majority of people who have to consider and prioritise where their hard-earned cash goes.” We are, after all, in a cost-of-living crisis, and so it makes sense to cut down where it’s possible to do so. "A cleanser is always the product I'd recommend saving rather than spending on,” says Perry. "It's not on your skin for long, so pricey actives have a short time frame to work their magic, and the best formulas don't need huge amounts of actives to be effective.”

If you’re building a budget-friendly skincare routine and looking for affordable versions of your favourite luxury cleansers, look no further. With like-for-like textures, formulas, functions and hero ingredients, these cleanser dupes are just as good as (if not better than) their more expensive counterparts.

If you love: Augustinus Bader The Cream Cleansing Gel

Try: Revolution Skincare x Sali Hughes Clean Sheet Morning Cleanser

If you love: Kate Somerville Delikate Soothing Cleanser

Try: E.l.f. Skincare Pure Skin Cleanser

If you love: Fresh Soy Face Cleanser

Try: Byoma Creamy Jelly Cleanser

If you love: Eve Lom Cleanser

Try: By Beauty Bay Chamomile + Oat Lipid Cleansing Balm

If you love: Dermalogica Clearing Skin Face Wash

Try: CeraVe SA Smoothing Cleanser

If you love: Tatcha The Camellia Cleansing Oil

Try: The Body Shop Camomile Makeup Cleansing Oil

If you love: Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm

Try: Beauty Pie Super Healthy Skin Hot Oil Cleansing Balm

If you love: SkinCeuticals LHA Cleansing Gel

Try: The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser

If you love: Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel 

Try: The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

If you love: Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip

Try: Skin Proud Wonder Clay Cream Cleanser

If you love: Bioderma Sensibio Cleansing Micellar Water

Try: Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water

Next Up: These 15 Budget Serums Are Just as Good as the Expensive Versions

 Opening Image: @amaka.hamelijnck

Freelance Beauty Editor

Grace Day is a beauty editor and content creator. She has over 10 years of beauty-industry experience, spanning editorial, retail, and e-commerce, which gives her a unique understanding into how people shop for their beauty routines. While studying for a history degree (specialising in the history of beauty) and working as a beauty adviser in department stores, Grace started writing her own beauty blog in order to share the products she discovered while dealing with acne. After graduating, she moved to Beauty Bay as beauty editor and content manager. Grace is currently a beauty contributor to Who What Wear. She has also written for Hypebae and PopSugar and works as a brand consultant and copywriter.