Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser Review - The Acne Experiment

Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser Review - The Acne Experiment :: Crappy Candle

Dermalogica and I go way back. I started using their Special Cleansing Gel when I was about 21, enamored by it-must-be-good $50 price tag the fact that it was only available in exclusive stores. This was pre-internet shopping and pre-Ulta. The extent of my high-end beauty knowledge stopped at department store makeup counters and Beverly Hills spas that I've never actually been in. (You get into those places by pressing your oily face to the glass storefront and sliding to the right. That way they know you've chosen them and that you need help.)

Despite my skepticism of Dermalogica these days, I have a soft spot in my heart for the brand. It was my first luxury skincare product, after all. I wanted to give another non-foaming cleanser a shot, and because my skin is proving to be more sensitive with each passing day, their Ultracalming Cleanser seemed like the perfect choice.

  • Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser (Water/Aqua/Eau, Cetearyl Alcohol, Bisabolol, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Glycerin, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Fruit Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Extract, Salix Alba Bark Extract, Usnea Barbata (Lichen) Extract, Butylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol, Hydroxyphenyl, Ropamidobenzoic Acid, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Fumaria Officinalis Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Fumaric Acid, Echinacea Purpurea Extract, Panthenol, Acrylates/ C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate, Rosspolymer, Cocamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Disodium Lauryl Sulfosuccinate, Cetrimonium Chloride, Aminomethyl Propanol, Glyceryl Caprylate, Disodium EDTA.)
  • Tretinoin 0.05% cream (this trial was immediately after my 6mo Retin-A trial)
  • Jojoba Oil / Tea Tree Oil (10:1 ratio)
  • Aztec Healing Clay / ACV Mask
  1. Wet face.
  2. Put a chick-pea sized dollop of cleanser on your hand. (it has the consistency of vaseline)

    Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser :: Crappy Candle
  3. Resist the urge to taste this dollop.
  4. Apply the dollop to your face.
  5. Use a wet washcloth to towel the cleanser off your face.
  6. Rinse well.
  7. Apply your oil or moisturizer (if you like to do it pre-treatment to cut down on sensitivity).
  8. Wait at least 30 minutes to apply your treatment (mine is Retin-A).
  9. Follow-up with some more moisturizer if you need it.


Ok, what the hell Dermalogica. I counted 29 ingredients in this cleanser, with 1/3 botanical ingredients. For something billed as being for "sensitive" skin, it seems like overkill. Given the number of variables, there's a lot of room for irritation here for someone who reacts to lots of things – ie for someone with sensitive skin.

Here are the botanicals in order (most concentrated to least): bisabolol (chamomile), ginger, radish, cucumber, raspberry, lavender, white willow, lichen, lemon, fumaria officinalis, and echinacea. Some of these ingredients are anti-irritation, while others can be irritating to some skin. It's not an ideal combo, but doesn't necessarily spell doom for everyone.

All is not lost. This stuff has such an nice heft to it and has a very light herbal scent, kind of like soapy tea. I wasn't joking when I said I wanted to eat it.

I tested the cleanser for two weeks. Here are the before/afters:

Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser Before & After :: Crappy Candle

After week one, things looked clearer, but by week two, I was less enthused (hence my Chrissy Teigen face in the last pic).

Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser Before & After 2 Week Trial :: Crappy Candle

Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser Before & After :: The Acne Experiment

I did an acv clay mask on one night during the second week in an attempt to counteract any irritation. For my effort, I got more bumps on my forehead, and a friggin cranberry hanging from the bottom of my chin.

I realize some of this could be due to not having an optimal Retin-A routine in place. Ultimately, however, I decided this cleanser was not ideal for my skin. I might have extended the trial a bit to test other moisturizers or alternate Retin-A schedules, but I don't have enough of the product to do that. I plan to keep it anyway because I'm pretty sure it's edible.*

Up Next:  Bioderma Sensibio H20


*IT'S NOT EDIBLE DON'T EAT IT DISCLAIMER: It's not edible don't eat it.

PS:  Because it's prone to prone to counterfeiting and other shenanigans, Dermalogica is one of those brands that you should buy only from licensed sellers. I got mine from Planet Beauty because I wanted the bitty trial size and I have a store nearby (they don't sell the little bottles everywhere); Dermalogica is also sold at Ulta, Nordstrom, and straight from the Dermalogica site. I do not recommend buying this product on Amazon.

ALL Acne Experiment Posts are listed at The Acne Experiment MOTHER HUB.

Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser Trial + Review :: The Acne Experiment
Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser Trial + Review :: The Acne Experiment

All Images © Crappy Candle / The Acne Experiment

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