I remember when I found it horrifying to spend $34 on a face mask. Fast forward two years, and I'm at the point where the prospect of shelling out $52 for a cleanser isn't overly ludicrous. I mean, it's still an unbelievable amount to pay for something that washes off my face after 2 minutes, but I'm able to bite the bullet through seemingly rational justifications. Firstly, I do find it hard to find an affordable (primarily morning) cleanser I genuinely like that doesn't dry out my skin. On a cost-per-use basis, I know a 120ml tube will last me at least several months, so $52 spread over that time doesn't seem too bad. Especially since I barely blink an eye spending the same amount on stuffing my face.
I'd just run out of my small tube of Alpha-H Balancing Cleanser from the Anti Ageing Discovery Collection and was keen to try something new. Enter Radical Hydrating Cleanser. I'd heard it mentioned before on Amelia Liana and I Covet Thee, but browsing the Mecca Cosmetica website late at night and reading all the glowing reviews was what finally persuaded me. It seemed to tick all the boxes: non-foaming, not a cleansing milk (shudder), not a clay (too catered to oily/combo skin), not a clear gel but not a watery, "natural" cream cleanser (somewhere in between), something that would nourish and hydrate the skin rather than leave it feeling dry and stripped, and a product that could actually remove makeup. The latter was more a hope than a requirement, since it's surprising how many cleansers simply are unable to get rid of makeup properly, especially ones that purport to be gentle and kind to the skin.
Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Isododecane, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Potassium Palmitoyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract, Coffea Arabica (Coffee) Seed Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Niacinamide, Camellia Sinensis Leaf, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Fruit, Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Peel Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Cetyl Alcohol, Squalane, Triethanolamine, Allantoin, Propylene Glycol, Carbomer, Disodium Edta, Ethylhexylglycerin, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Pca, Sodium Benzoate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ascorbic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Lecithin, Tocopherol, Limonene, Linalool
I've been using the Radical Hydrating Cleanser almost daily for three weeks now, and I've been thoroughly enjoying it. The scent reminds me so much of Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask oddly enough, with a bit of Antipodes Reincarnation Pure Facial Exfoliator. A refined, subtle, sweet orange, botanical scent. I use a larger than pea-size dollop every morning (maybe 60% of a Malteser ball?) and work it into my skin in sections, eventually massaging my whole face with it. The routine of it all is therapeutic and it feels instantly soothing and nourishing in my bleary-eyed, just awakened state. Washed off, my skin feels balanced, gently cleansed (goodbye skin care gunk from the night before and morning eye poo), and most importantly, not stripped or irritated or dried out in any way. There's no residue left either, which can sometimes occur with a richer cleanser loaded with oils like Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm (love the stuff, but it gets into the eyes and I always need to ensure I wash it off thoroughly).
I did try the Radical once for makeup removal, and it fared better than expected. It dissolved most of my face paint, though mascara needed a bit more attention and could've used the help of a micellar water first. I'd say in terms of makeup removal effectiveness, it's on par with something like the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish, though probably a step up as the majority of my eye makeup was removed more easily with the Radical. However, given I need to use 2-3 times more than the amount I use in the mornings, it wouldn't be my makeup remover of choice (I'm on my second bottle of DHC Deep Cleansing Oil for that).
Overall, despite the steep cost, I'm happy with the Radical Hydrating Cleanser. I'll continue to use it in the mornings until it runs out, which I don't foresee happening any time soon given I use a modest amount each time and I don't intend to waste it. When it runs out (or perhaps before, let's be real, most likely before), I'll probably finally buy the Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel I've been meaning to try for years. Unless I happen to discover a non-foaming, hydrating cleanser that does everything the Radical does but for a fraction of the price. I tried Sukin Cream Cleanser and it was only okay, I tried Moreish Euphoria Cream Cleanser and it covered my face in welts. Antipodes Juliet Skin-Brightening Gel Cleanser was too drying for me. Cetaphil is too boring. If anyone knows what could fit the bill, I'm all ears.