At the risk of sounding whiny, my skin-care routine has felt like a lot lately. There are so many steps, products, and to-dos that sometimes I yearn for the times way back in the aughts when I’d wash my face with an apricot scrub and be done with it. These days, I use an eye makeup remover, a micellar water, a cleansing balm, and a cleanser… and that’s all before I start applying serums, masks, treatments, and moisturizers.
Needless to say, if I can combine a step or two (or three!), I’m all for it. Enter: The Ordinary Glycolipid Cleanser ($13), which has been a happy surprise in my oversaturated hygiene routine. Not only has it taken the place of the aforementioned makeup removers and cleansers—like your dad’s all-in-one shampoo-conditioner-body-wash—but it actually delivers on all three fronts.
Ingredients and benefits
The star of the show here is, obviously, “glycolipids.” This particular type of lipid—which is naturally occurring in the skin and helps regulate barrier health—makes a gentle-but-effective cleansing agent thanks to its ability to pull out dirt, impurities, and excess oils. They do their job without being stripping, so you won’t experience tight, dry discomfort after use.
Polyglyceryl-6 Dicaprate then steps in as an emollient and emulsifier, which not only helps to soften and smooth the skin but also aids in gently removing makeup (and boosts the efficacy of the glycolipids) without clogging pores.
Moisturizing and hydrating ingredients include squalane, glycerin, apricot kernel oil, and sunflower seed oil. All four of these ingredients boost the skin’s moisture levels and improve barrier health. The result? Baby-soft, smooth, soothed, clean-but-not-stripped skin.
The formula is vegan and cruelty-free (yay!), silicone- and fragrance-free, oil-free, and suitable for all skin types. It’s excellent for sensitive and dry skin, but powerful enough to take off makeup and remove excess oil. And at $12.50, it’s cheaper than my most recent Starbucks run, and given the 150mL size (5oz), it’s gonna last a while.
What happened when I tried it
This was a love-at-first-wash experience for me. The brand claims that the formula can take off all of your makeup without stripping the skin, so I tried it on a day when I was wearing long-wear mascara, waterproof eyeliner, foundation, and sunscreen. A quick lather and rinse later, and it was all gone.
For context, I have dry-combo skin and tend to use gentler products to avoid irritation—namely Kate Somerville Goat Milk Cleanser ($44), Elemis Rose Balm ($68), and Avéne Micellar Water ($18)—so it usually takes a triple-cleanse to remove everything if I’m wearing makeup.
With the Ordinary’s Glycolipid Cleanser, I took some time to massage my skin (without rubbing my eyes too much) and was genuinely delighted with what I felt when I washed it off. There was no grease or oiliness, no stripped or uncomfortably tight skin, no raccoon eyes, and no streaks of greige makeup running down my face and neck—I had been purified. Simply put, the formula delivered on its promise of being gentle and thoroughly cleansing.
Of course, being the dedicated journalist I am, I couldn’t run to my keyboard to sing this stuff’s praises after just one use. But now, after spending a few weeks getting to know this creamy cleanser—and realizing that it can cut my cleansing routine down to a single step—I can confidently say we’re in a committed relationship.