This post has been updated: Five Best Cleansers of 2013

One's only desert island luxury item should be a facial cleanser. There is the need to stay clean, of course, and the best cleansers are so full of nourishing anti-agers and breakout controllers that in a pinch you could get by on nothing else. Our Five Best cleanser picks are not the cheapest, but for the aforementioned reasons they are among the best investments in your skin that you can make.

La Vie Celeste Exfoliating Mother of Pearl Cleanser ($40 in the TIA shop).  This is hands down my favorite cleanser – and, according to commenter Joe, it is great for shaving as well. I think that is down to the unique (well unusual) use of clays in this cleanser. It doesn’t foam, but has a creamy consistency (thankfully, not in the overly-unctuous way that most are). It cleans well and leaves the face smooth as the clays have a gentle exfoliating action. The key ingredient is Mother of pearl a source of the protein conchiolin, which acts like the protein keratin (which is found in skin, bones and hair), and has the ability to hydrate skin cells and facilitate repair of damaged skin cells. In addition, there are antioxidants in the form tea, apple, gingko biloba and ginseng extracts. More on the LVC cleanser.

Join the conversation on our Facebook Fan Page!

KaplanMD Cleansing Lotion ($55) is pricey but is aimed at and good for 50-something skin that is “transitioning” skin. Our tester, Debra, described it “as a purifying facial cleanser that thoroughly, yet gently, lifts away makeup, dead skin cells”. Soy, panthenol and apple extract increase softness and elasticity, while chamomile and hawthorn flower calm and soothe the skin to help reduce flushing and redness. Read the full review

John Masters Organics Bearberry Oily Skin Balancing Face Wash ($22). Jimmy introduced as to this cleanser for oily skin.  And for those of you who don’t think it’s a real cleanser unless it foams, this one is for you. A key ingredient is willowbark and oily skins will benefit from its astringent and antiseptic properties, as well as sebum control. The organic bearberry extract is a great ingredient for also helping in sebum production. Traditionally, it’s known mostly for helping discoloration and working as an astringent. It has antioxidant and antibacterial properties as well. (Bonus!). As always with JMO, there’s nothing to dislike and the price point is friendly.

Epicuren Discovery Milk Cleanser ($22). I reach for this whenever my skin is out of sorts and threatening to erupt in a breakout. Epicuren cleanses whilst soothing. And added bonus is that helps to shrink open pores. A little goes a really long way and I’ve had my bottle for ages. One of the most dominant ingredients is kukui nut oil, also known as candlenut. This is supposed to cure all sorts of skin ailments, from sunburn to eczema; although it must be said that I haven’t yet found any research to back this up. Ruscus Aculeatus (Butcher’s Broom) is an anti-inflammatory that also soothes cuts and infections. There is vitamin B – an acne helper – in the form of panthenol. There are plenty more nice things including water lily and there is absolutely nothing here to dislike. A little goes a really long way and I’ve had my bottle for ages. Read the full review.

Skin Nutrition Cleansing Gel ($45). This mildly foaming cleanser is non drying but does a really good job of refining pores. After using it, skin looks incredibly clean and restored. With minimalist design for the packaging and a hint of a clean, fruity smell, it is comfortably unisex. The main ingredient, cactus pear fruit, contains substantial amounts of vitamin C, biothiols, taurine and antioxidant betalain, a kind of pigment that tests have shown are especially responsible for the plant’s antioxidant potency. As well as an orchard of other antioxidant fruits, the cleanser has glucose oxidase, which contains three important amino acids, and lactoperidoxase, an antioxidant enzyme from milk.

Ingredients in LVC’s cleanser

Aqua (Purified Water), Sclerotium Gum, Mother of Pearl (Pteria Margaritifera), White Clay (Kaolin), Kaolinite (Pink Clay), Green Tea (Camellia Sinensis), Marshmallow (Althea Officinalis) Extract*, Apple (Pyrus Malus) Extract*, Gingko Biloba Extract*, Ginseng (Panax Ginseng)*, Chamomile (Anthemis Nobillis) Flower Extract*, Cosmocil CQ (Polyaminopropyl Biguanide), Grapefruit Seed (Citrus Paradisi) Extract*.

Ingredients in KaplanMD cleanser

Water (aqua), C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Tea-Cocoyl Glutamate, Polysorbate 60, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Acrylates/C 10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Soy Isoflavones Aglycones, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Cimicifuga Racemosa (Black Cohosh) Root Extract, Lecithin, Phospholipids, Maltodextrin, Polysorbate 80, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Tocopherol, Sodium Cocoyl Apple Amino Acids, Panthenol, Sodium PCA, Crataegus Oxyacantha (Hawthorne Berry) Flower Extract, Pentylene Glycol, Salicylic Acid, Triclosan, Propylene Glycol, Inulin, Malic Acid, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Aminomethyl Propanol, Disodium Edta, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Butylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Fragrance.

Ingredients in JMO

Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis) Leaf Juice (Aloe Vera), Decyl Glucoside (*), Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Salix Nigra Bark Extract (Willow), Leuconostoc/Radish Ferment Filtrate, Glycerin, Arctostaphylos Uva Ursi Leaf Extract (Bearberry), Vaccinium Myrtillus Fruit/Leaf Extract (* Bilberry), Saccharum Officinarum Extract (Sugar Cane), Acersaccharum Extract (Sugar Maple), Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Fruit Extract (Orange), Citrus Medica Limon Extract (Lemon), Oryza Sativa Extract (Rice), Sapindus Mukurossi Fruit Extract (*), Mentha Piperita Leaf Oil (Peppermint), Lavandula Angustifolia Flower Oil (* Lavender), Mentha Spicata Oil (Spearmint), Citrus Limonium (Lemon) Oil (Lemon), Cupressus Sempervirens (Cypress) Leaf Oil (Cypress), Backhousia Citriodoria Leaf Oil (* Lemon Myrtle), Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Fruit Peel Oil (Pink Grapefruit), Litsea Cubeba Fruit Oil (Litsea Cubeba), Cymbopogon Martini (Palma Rosa) Oil (Palmarosa), Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil (Geranium), Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Seed Oil (Carrot), Citric Acid (*), Potassium Sorbate

Ingredients in Epicuren

Distilled Water, Glycerin, Kukui Nut Oil, Helianthus Annulus (Hybrid Sunflower) Oil, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel), Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Macadamia Glycerides, Essential Oils, Centella Asiatica Extract, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Nymphaea Alba Flower (Water Lily) Extract, Evening Primrose Oil, Cinnamomum Camphora (Camphor) Leaf Extract, Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis), Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B5), Ruscus Aculeatus (Butcher’s Broom) Root Extract, Panthenol, Hydrolyzed Yeast Protein, Hydrolyzed Milk Protein, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) Extract, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Rosemary Extract.

Ingredients in Skin Nutrition

Water (Aqua), Sodium Peg-7 Olive Oil Carboxylate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Lauryl Glucoside, Glycerin, Peg-150 Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate, Peg-60 Almond Glycerides, Peg-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Glucose, Butylene Glycol, Glucose Oxidase, Citric Acid, Opuntia Ficus-indica (Cactus Pear) Extract, Vaccinium Angustifolium (Blueberry) Extract, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Leaf Extract, Lycium Barbarum (Goji Berry) Fruit Extract, Euterpa Oleracea (Acai Berry) Fruit Extract, Fragaria Vesca (Strawberry) Fruit Extract, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Fruit Extract, Lactoperoxidase, Vitex Agnus Castus Extract, Borago (Borage) Officinalis Extract, Phaeodactylum Tricornutum (Algae) Extract, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Tocopherol (Natural Vitamin E), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel, Glyceryl Caprylate, Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Sodium Levulinate SN-NPS™ * (Proprietary Natural Preservative System) *Patent Pending