All beauty editors know one thing to be true: a cleanser can make or break your skin-care routine. The feeling of squeaky clean skin is one satisfying factor but not washing your face properly means your skin simply won't reap the benefits of your serums and moisturizers. Instead of absorbing effectively and working to their full potential, it’s likely they’ll perch on the surface of makeup, sunscreen and anything else your skin has come into contact with that day. Not only is that a waste of time, it’s a waste of money, too.
With brands like The Inkey List, CeraVe and Byoma bringing high-quality, reasonably priced formulas to the market, it isn’t necessary to spend a small fortune on washing your face. The Ordinary’s offerings in particular are as good as their price point is low. If you’re already a fan, you’ll know that the Squalane Cleanser, $19.90, is a staple among dermatologists and TikTok skin care enthusiasts alike thanks to its silky, balm-like texture. Then there’s the newer Glucoside Foaming Cleanser, $12.50, which is a seriously effective makeup remover. Now they both have competition.
Enter: Glycolipid Cream Cleanser, $12.50. A handful of things set this unique formula apart from its predecessors. Firstly, the texture: it’s more of a gel-cream as opposed to a balm-to-oil (like the Squalane Cleanser) and it doesn’t lather up (like the Glucoside Foaming Cleanser). It’s water-based so it feels more like a lightweight lotion but its cleansing power isn’t to be underestimated. The Ordinary promises that the Glycolipid Cream Cleanser removes dirt, environmental impurities (for example, pollution) and makeup. Even better, it’s suitable for all skin types.
What are glycolipids?
If you don’t mind a crash course in chemistry, a lipid is a naturally occurring fat. Glycolipids are fats with a carbohydrate attached to them, and they look after cells which connect to form tissues, like skin. Glycolipids are said to have a strong emollient effect so they soften, soothe and hydrate dry skin. This makes them an effective addition to moisturizers, serums and cream cleansers like this one from The Ordinary.
Is The Ordinary’s Glycolipid Cream Cleanser any good?
Before I get into the nitty gritty, it’s not often I finish a cleanser the way it’s supposed to be finished. It’s my job to try all the latest launches and more often than not, I end up moving on from a product long before I squeeze out the last drops. So that nothing goes to waste, I repurpose face washes for my body or use foaming versions to clean my makeup brushes. But I enjoyed the Glycolipid Cream Cleanser so much, I didn’t want to reach the end. When I did, not much else I had to hand could compare.
The gel-cream texture is similar to that of CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser, $14.99, arguably the most viral cream cleanser on TikTok. If you’re an R29 regular, you’ll know I enjoy using this. It’s kind to reactive and sensitive skin, works to dislodge makeup and leaves skin feeling soft, not like it might crack at any moment. I did notice one key difference, though: The Ordinary Glycolipid Cream Cleanser sliced through my thick mascara in one fell swoop, whereas CeraVe’s always requires a double cleanse to melt everything away. For this reason alone, I’m more likely to reach for the Glycolipid Cream Cleanser. Anything that shaves even a minute off my skin-care routine gets my vote.
I should also let you in on something else: before the Glycolipid Cream Cleanser landed on my desk, I had been using a new, $42 cream cleanser from a brand adored by dermatologists. It required real effort to dissolve my foundation and mascara, and it made my eyes sting. At $12.50, The Ordinary’s cleanser is a snip of the price and, in my opinion, much more effective and enjoyable to use.
It’s safe to say that we’re more aware of our skin barrier (the outermost layer of your skin, which acts like armour for your face) than ever before. As a result, creamier, more gentle cleansers are usurping foaming versions, which are notorious for making skin feel tight and uncomfortable. Though I have combination skin, which is prone to a very oily T-zone and the odd cluster of whiteheads, I found that the Glycolipid Cream Cleanser was better for me than something with a lather.
In fact, I think I prefer it to the brand’s recent Glucoside Foaming Cleanser. I didn’t feel the urgent need to replenish my skin with serums and moisturizers afterwards because my skin wasn’t thirsty. Instead, it was soft and bouncy. Since learning how to take care of my skin barrier better (opting for moisturizers with ingredients like ceramides and glycerin, not overusing products like retinol or exfoliating acids, and switching to cleansers such as this one), I’ve noticed fewer breakouts, too.
My partner (who also has combination and acne-prone skin) loved the Glycolipid Cream Cleanser just as much as I did, which is why you’ll see that the tube has been squeezed to within an inch of its life. We even considered snipping off the top to retrieve the remainder. My only gripe is that the tube isn’t twice as big. Using it in the evening to remove makeup and in the morning to freshen up my face (not to mention sharing it with another person) meant that we got through the lot in just under a month.
The Glycolipid Cream Cleanser is available to buy now at theordinary.com/en-us and, just like the cleansers that came before it, I have a feeling it’s going to fly off the virtual shelves. I know a future cult classic when I see one.
Refinery29's selection is purely editorial and independently chosen – we only feature items we love! As part of our business model we do work with affiliates; if you directly purchase something from a link on this article, we may earn a small amount of commission.