Hydropeptide’s Cleansing Gel ($44 for 6.7 fl oz) does such a good job that I sometimes forget that I haven’t yet completed the rest of my regimen. My skin feels super smooth and soft and looks incredibly clean.  It removes makeup effectively and is one of the better open pore closers that I have come across. And it achieves this without being at all drying or stripping – in fact, the opposite. Hydropeptide’s Cleansing Gel is so nourishing and leaves my skin so glowing and comfortable that I almost don’t feel the need to put anything else on it.

Having said all that, there is one thing that got in the way of me liking this cleanser from the get go – the smell. I don’t know what’s behind it. Its kind of sour and musty and, even though I’m generally not super sensitive to smells, it almost caused me to give up on the product altogether. I stuck with it though and about three weeks on I am very glad that I did. Funnily enough, the smell isn’t so bad now – but whether it has dissipated or I have simply got used to it, I can’t really tell.

Hydropeptide Cleansing Gel is rubbed on to a dry face with wet hands. A small squirt is enough and, although $44 is pricey for a cleanser, the six ounces or so are likely to last a really long time. As well as cleansing, Hydropetide says the gel also acts as a toner and removes makeup. I can certainly attest to the latter as, poured directly on to a damp cotton ball, it removed some serious mascara with a couple of swipes and without stinging my eyes at all.

Massaging the cleanser on to dry skin makes a lot of sense as it has some ingredients that are serum-worthy. Most of these come together as something called Trylagen a combination of two peptides tripeptide 10 citrulline (which is relatively new and supposedly fools aging collagen fibers into thinking they should still be productive) and tripeptide-1, with pseudoaltermonas ferment (a collagen boosting bacteria), hydrolyzed wheat protein, and hydrolyzed soy protein). Trylagen seems to be particularly good at promoting collagen III.

Exfoliation is provided by apple and lactic acid, and toning by astringent witch hazel and geranium. Other useful ingredients include soothing chamomile, hydrating sodium hyaluronate, and antioxidant green tea.

Mercifully, Hydropeptide has chosen mild foaming agents, but there are a few things that I don’t like. PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate should not be used on broken skin and there are the potentially toxic preservatives triethanolamine and phenoxyethanol and the irritant, methylisothiazolinone.

Ingredients: Water, Decyl Glucoside, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate, Glycerin, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Sodium Hyaluronate, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple Green) Extract, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Tripeptide-1, Tripeptide-10 Citrulline, Lactic Acid, Sebacic Acid, Pseudoalteromonas Ferment Extract, Calendula Officinalis (Marigold) Flower Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Geranium Maculatum Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Allantoin, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Coco-Glucoside, Glyceryl Oleate, Butylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, 10-Hydroxydecanoic Acid, Lecithin, 1,10-Decanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Methylisothiazolinone