This is part 2 of [???] in my ongoing hunt for gentle, non-foaming cleansers. The surfactants that make the foam in foaming cleansers tend to be harsher and remove more oil than dry skin can tolerate. My skin is so dry and prone to flaking that I’ve sworn off foaming cleansers entirely, at least for the time being. My first review was a dud; in this second attempt, I review Too Cool for School Sitkoza Cleansing Gel.
Too Cool For School is a brand I’ve loved from afar. Aside from their much beloved, very moisturizing Pumpkin Sleeping Pack, I’ve mostly just admired their packaging and wished I owned everything in their Dinoplatz line.
So when I was trolling Korea Depart for non-foaming cleansers and came across this one, it was in my cart long before I had time to contemplate how weird and dark it is to have a literal spectre of death printed on my nightly facewash.
What it’s supposed to do
It’s a non-foaming second cleanser that claims to remove impurities and makeup remnants while leaving skin soft and moisturized. The descriptions all feature the words “gel” and “jelly” about twice per sentence, so the texture is a major selling point.
How to use it
If you double cleanse (which I highly recommend), start your PM routine with your usual oil cleanser to remove makeup and sunscreen. Then, on a damp face, take a blob of gel and gently massage. Rinse with warm water.
Water, cyclopentasiloxane, cyclohexasiloxane, caprylylmethicone, butylene glycol, cyclotetrasiloxane, alcohol, olive oil, PEG-7 esters, polyacrylamide, C13-14 isoparaffin, laureth-7, hyaluronic acid, dimethicone/vinyldimethicon crosspolymer, allantoin, beta glucan, carbomer, Prunus serrulata flower extract, Acacia seal gum extract, Rosa damascena flower water, Opuntia ficus-indica extract, sorbitol, Ascophyllum nodosum extract, Asparagopsis armata extract, triethanolamine, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, propylparaben, triclosan, fragrance
As a wash-off product, I don’t care a ton about the good stuff, since it’ll spend so little time on my face.
As you can tell from all the -xanes and –cones early in the ingredients list, this is a heavily silicone-based formulation. That makes sense – silicones generally have a gel-type texture, and Too Cool for School is very excited about the jelly-ness of this product.
Most importantly (at least as it relates to cleansers) is the pH. This clocks in at a beautiful pH 5.0. It’s actually the foaming surfactants in cleansers that tend to raise the pH, so non-foaming cleansers generally tend to be low pH automatically, but still, a pH like that is always good to see.
What it’s like in action
They weren’t lying about the gel jelly gel-type texture. It’s really nice – a sort of cloudy, semi-firm gel that provides plenty of slip and lubrication as you massage it on your skin.
It doesn’t lather at all, which might take some getting used to for people who expect clouds of foam from their face wash. But, unlike the Holika Holika cleansing lotion I reviewed, the Sitkoza gel stays on your face the whole time. You never feel like you’re just rubbing your face with water; the TCFS gives a slippery, moisturizing feel that lets you know it’s doing its job.
In my opinion, cosmetic packaging design is at its most important for second cleansers. You’ve already got a wet face and wet hands, and fiddling with fussy bottles while water drips in your eyes and down your neck is a uniquely unpleasant experience.
I’m happy to say that this is a perfect cleanser container. The squeeze bottle is easy to open and durable enough that you could leave it in your shower or take it with you to the gym. At 150ml, it’s big enough that you’re not gonna run out in two weeks, but small enough that it fits easily in your medicine cabinet. Plus, look at that face! Don’t you want that little punim greeting you first thing every morning?
As for the product itself, the Sitkoza Cleansing Gel is a delightful cleanser. It smells sort of like men’s cologne, which, from reviews I’ve read, is a common scent profile for Too Cool For School. It’s a strong fragrance, but not unpleasant, and it doesn’t linger after you wash it off.
It spreads easily across my face, and almost feels like a thick balm cleanser in the slip and texture it provides while I massage it around.
Unlike lotion and cream cleansers, where the fatty alcohols leave a film behind, this gel rinses 100% cleanly. My skin feels refreshed but not stripped. It’s not moisturizing, but it’s not drying, and that’s about all I can ask from a cleanser at this point.
Unlike the Holika Holika cleanser, which I noticed left me with more and more clogged pores over time, this TCFS cleanser does a great job removing dirt and oil (but not too much oil – my skin is dry, so I need that sweet sweet sebum where it is). My skin hasn’t become more congested as I’ve used this. In fact, my skin hasn’t become more anything – this product leaves my skin perfectly balanced. Nothing added, nothing removed. It doesn’t make me glow, but it doesn’t make me flake. It entered my skincare routine with a whisper and quietly kept the peace.
This is a very solid non-foaming cleanser. It’s easy to use and it works. What more could I want? While I didn’t find it moisturizing, nor did I notice any changes to my skin after a few weeks of use, it isn’t drying at all and so it’s a great option for dry skin. Although it’s not my favorite second cleanser right now (spoiler: rave review coming soon), I still find myself reaching for it on nights when I’m lazy and just want a quick and easy cleanse.