My skin isn’t naturally sensitive, but a bad habit puts it at risk. I overwash, to the tune of four or more times a day. That’s because my skin is oily, no matter how hard I try to balance it with toners, or neutralize it with blotting papers and powders. I cleanse in the morning and before bed, but also after the gym and typically when I get home in the evening. None of that is accounting for what I do on hot or humid days, either — or the fact that I test products for my job and often have to have a clean surface to do so.
So it’s better for me to use a gentle cleanser instead of one targeted for oily skin — I tend to use something engineered for sensitive or dry skin instead, since that’s the territory into which I’m teetering with this frequent washing. It’s not a habit I intend to stop, either. It’s just how I choose to cope with my own genes, and my job.
In my six years of doing this, I have never pledged loyalty to a cleanser. They’re more interchangeable to me than most other grooming categories. Aesop’s latest launch, however, is changing that. Today, the company is launching its Gentle Facial Cleansing Milk, which has been thoroughly scrutinized over in its labs under the supervision of Dr. Kate Forbes, who is the Aesop’s General Manager of Product. If you’ve got dry or sensitive skin, or if you’re a habitual over-washer like me, then Aesop’s cleansing milk is something you should try, too.
The Good: Before you even learn about the product’s ingredients, you can tell from its consistency that this product is more soothing and far less abrasive than a garden-variety cleanser. It’s milky, as the name states, and feels more like you’re applying a serum than a cleanser. For that reason, it’s a little harder to lather, and won’t require as much water when you apply it. This is largely because the formula is rich in olive oil, which helps gently pull oil and grime from your skin without dehydrating it, while giving the formula a silky texture. (Maybe don’t apply actual olive oil to your face, and leave it to the pros like Aesop who formulate their products using the best recipes and ingredients.)
Its other key ingredients include grapeseed oil, which preserves moisture levels in the skin during the wash; provitamin B5, which lingers after the cleanse to do the same; as well as sandalwood and lavender which soothe the skin while banishing dryness and irritation.
Who It’s For: There are four key categories of people whose skin would benefit from this cleanser:
People with dry skin who need a gentle cleanser — one that adds moisture instead of stripping it.
People with sensitive skin who often get irritated by harsher, moisture-depleting formulas.
People who wear makeup and need a safe and efficient cleanser, especially considering that they’ll likely wash their face twice in one day, both before and after the makeup is off.
People who overwash their faces, out of necessity or bad habit. They need a cleanser that preserves moisture levels, given that the frequent washing will put them at risk of blemishes, breakouts, and rough patches.
Watch Out For: The too-generous pour. It comes with a screw-off lid, so don’t overdo it. It’s good that it doesn’t have a pump, though, because that would be too generous, too. Try to land with a dime-size amount in your hand, unless you’re doing something more tedious like removing a bunch of grime.
Alternatives: OSEA’s Ocean Cleansing Milk — which, despite its name, doesn’t fix oil spills or save the coral reefs, is also a good option. It uses algae and amino acids to hydrate and prevent further signs of aging. It’s a little tougher and more familiar than Aesop’s cleansing milk. Both are great; I prefer Aesop’s.
Review: I’ve been using this for a week straight, and am only a fraction of the way through the 6.8 fl. oz (200 ml) bottle. I have washed an estimated four times per day, and have earned no new breakouts or blemishes. It’s one of those products I proudly display on my sink ledge, and that I genuinely look forward to using. (It’s not like it “makes grooming fun,” but it is a soothing process that allows me to appreciate and savor my skincare regimen.
I think the one person it is decidedly not for is the oily-skinned man or woman who only cleanses once or twice per day. You might require something more powerful—Surprise! Aesop has that too.
Verdict: I’m all in. If you’re near an Aesop store, test one out. You can also opt for the smaller bottle (3.4 fl. oz, $35) if you want to give it a test run for a couple months, instead of investing in the 6.8 fl. oz one at $53. But you do the math: The larger one is a great bargain, especially if your daily face-wash count is a higher count than most.
Key Ingredients: Panthenol, grape seed, sandalwood
Texture:Non-foaming, water-soluble emulsion
Aroma: Woody, herbaceous
Dosage: Half a teaspoon
Aesop provided this product for review.
Hot takes and in-depth reviews on noteworthy, relevant and interesting products. Read the Story
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.