Philosophy Skincare Review: My Unbiased Purity Face Cleanser Review

April 7, 2022

This post may contain affiliate links. This does not change the price for you, but I will receive a commission. All opinions are still my own.

It is finally officially spring here in New York. Hopefully, these showers will bring May lots and lots of flowers! … That is, hopefully after my allergies get acclimated.

I’ve decided to offer my unbiased opinion and do a Purity face cleanser review. Of course, there’s a goofy little story attached to my decision to do this review, so here goes:

screenshot of the home screen notifications on LaDonna Takyi Taylor's iphone.
An actual screenshot of my home screen back in 2021. *YIKES*

It was nearing March 13th – my favorite day of the year… *wink* *wink* And I thought, “I’m supposed to get a birthday gift from Ulta.” I don’t shop in-store often, but any time I do, the lovely Ulta employees remind me to sign up for the rewards emails. Up until about a year ago, they’d ask if I have rewards, I’d tell them "no" because I’d never noticed any Ulta emails. Then, they’d ask if I wanted to sign up and I’d say “yes,” only to enter my e-mail address and find out that I do, in fact, already receive their emails. Haha.

And then they’d mention the FREE birthday gift as they’d proceed with my transaction. But when the notifications on your phone look like this screenshot (provided for medic effect 😅)

... it's easy to understand how I might have missed their messages. 😅

It’s 2022, though, and I’ve since learned out my inbox to make room for all the amazing messages that I get from my Glow Squad!

So, I searched my inbox and found that my Ulta birthday gift had been in my inbox since the 1st of March. Apparently, that’s how these things work. 😅 Whoops!

Big thanks to Ulta for a birthday freebie that I’ve never tried so that I can give an unbiased skincare review for anyone out there who may have been wondering, “is philosophy skincare good?”

Well, find out here on The Youth Amplified blog!

Image of the Philosophy Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser on a multi-color gradient pink/purple background. The Image is a link to the Ulta Beauty website where the product can be purchased.

I used the Philosophy Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser for a little under two weeks (about 12 days). I haven’t done very many product reviews here on the YA! Blog, so let’s clarify how I like to review products.

I’m going to give a score (1-5, 1 is the worst, 5 is the best) in five categories: sensory (First impressions. How does it smell? How does it feel on the skin? Is it sticky? etc.), efficacy (What are the benefits promoted? Did I notice that it provided that benefit for me?), ingredients (is it clean/green/vegan, etc.), accessibility (is the price point accessible? If not, is it worth it?), and my overall impression (Would I recommend the product to a friend? Would I purchase the product for myself? etc.).

Finally, I'll tally the scores and divide by 5 for an overall, final product score.

Senses Score: 3 out of 5

When I first poured the Philosophy Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser into my hand, I immediately noticed its thickness- mostly due to the amount of time it took to get the product out of the bottle. It’s super velvety and creamy. It glides on the skin nicely and removes any friction, which I think is good so that you can’t tug too hard on the skin. It doesn’t lather up very much at all. I squeezed a significant amount into my palm just to see what would happen and it was difficult to make it get foamy. It didn’t strip my skin or leave it feeling dry.

I was surprised that I didn’t notice any scent on my first use. I had just showered, so I assumed that my sense of smell was being overwhelmed by other scents in the bathroom, plus my allergies had been acting up and made my nose a little bit stuffy.

The next day, I squeezed some into my hand and added water, which did bring out the smell. While the smell is not overbearing or off-putting per se, the scent is very medical. Having worked in a lot of hospitals over the years, the smell – for me, was reminiscent of hospital or nursing-home cleaning supplies. After a couple of days of use, I opened the cap and took a big whiff to get a better sense of the smell. In the bottle it doesn’t smell like much of anything- it does give a faint scent of flowers, but again, not overpowering. I like that it’s not heavily scented, but I don’t love its scent once water is added.

Effective Score: 4 out of 5

According to the Philosophy brand website, the Purity Made Simple One-Step Cleanser is meant for normal-to-dry skin; it deep cleans the pores; conditions the skin; removed pollutants and prevents skin from becoming dehydrated. Their website also says that the product is safe to use as a makeup brush cleanser.

I have combination-to-oily skin, so this cleanser was not made for me. Upon seeing all of the consumer claims, I thought up ways to get a sense of those claims at home. Following a 10-hour day wearing a full face, I began my nighttime skincare routine using the cleanser. Normally, I would use a makeup wipe before cleansing, but the cleanser is supposed to break down and wash away "stubborn" makeup. After cleansing one time, I used a makeup wipe to see if there was residual makeup left on my skin. There was some residual makeup, like in the video below, but there was hardly any. I didn’t feel like I needed to cleanse again-, I just let my toner do the rest. Although, the Purity Made Simple Cleanser is also supposed to tone, so if you only wanted to use one step to wash your face, then a second wash or wipe with a makeup wipe would be necessary.

Additionally, for the sake of this Purity Face Cleanser review, I washed one of my makeup brushes with the cleanser. It’s my oldest makeup brush and it was always extremely coarse. After using the cleanser on it, the bristles have softened a little bit – that would be the conditioners in the product, which we want for our skin.

Ingredients Score: 3 out of 5

When it comes to skincare there are so many opportunities for manufacturers to be a little bit dishonest about the ingredients in their products… I mean, that’s basically what the clean beauty revolution is all about, right? Ingredient transparency... This cleanser is clean and safe, but not vegan. While there are brands for which I have the utmost trust, anytime I try a new product from an unfamiliar brand I’ve made a habit of scanning the ingredients into the INCI Decoder and Double Check Vegan just to be sure there’s no funny business amongst all the chemical names.

I was glad to find that the Purity Cleanser is marketed as being free of Parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, SLS, and SLES- SLS and SLES being the reason the cleanser doesn't lather up very much. Upon checking ingredients on, I noticed quite a few flags for perfuming agents and isopropyl alcohol. Further investigating on found 4 more flags specifically for the ingredients, polysorbate, glycerin, tocopherol, and methyl glucose dioleate. I’m less concerned about the vegan ingredient flags because some of my favorite and most trusted brands get flagged for glycerin (moisturizing agent) and tocopherol (antioxidant) every time – it’s just because the ingredient can be found in animals; however, most of those compounds are produced synthetically or are a bi-product of certain plants.

Generally, some products with a large amount of Cocamidopropyl (coconut alcohol), like this cleanser, irritate my skin after the second or third use. This product did not irritate my skin at all after almost two weeks of day and night use. INCI Decoder does a great job of breaking down the purpose for each ingredient in the cleanser and the following ingredients are used solely for perfuming:

• Isopropyl alcohol

• Linalool – (derived from lavender, bergamot, ylang-ylang, or jasmine)

• Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil – (essential oil

• derives from the flower of the geranium)

• Rosa Damascena Flower Oil – (rose essential oil)

Usually, a lot of flowery essential oils will cause my skin to become irritated, but again, this product did not cause any irritation for me. In the course of checking out ingredients, though, I was delighted to find that Philosophy has an oil-free mattifying formulation of this cleanser- I would consider trying that one out another time.

Accessibility Score: 4 out of 5

The Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser can be found at Ulta Beauty and on Amazon. Different size bottles are available at each retailer (see the table below)

Size             Ulta Beauty                       Amazon

3oz         $13 - $4.33 per oz                           N/A

8oz         $25 - $3.13 per oz                          $25 - $3.13 per oz

12oz        $30 - $2.50 per oz                         N/A

16oz          N/A                                               $36 - $2.25 per oz

22oz        $48 - $2.18 per oz                        $48 - $2.18 per oz

The cleanser is priced fairly, in my opinion. I have seen more inexpensive cleansers, but sometimes you get what you pay for. For this cleanser and at this price, I feel that’s true. One would be hard-pressed to find a comparable cleanser that removes makeup on sensitive areas like your eyes,- without burning or stinging, at a lower price. If you find one, though, mention it in the comments (at the bottom of the page) – I’m open to your suggestions.

Overall Impression Score: 3.5 out of 5

In this final section, I’m just going to discuss my overall likes and dislikes of the cleanser.

I do like the way the cleanser made my skin feel - smooth, not dry. I didn't necessarily feel more hydrated or anything - just, not dry. I came to find out in the middle of the timeframe in which I was using the product that I was sick with the flu, so for a while, I stopped trying to smell it. During the time that I wasn't feeling well, I also didn’t feel like doing my full skincare routine, or any part of my skincare routine, at all. For the most part, the only reason I was in the bathroom at any time was to turn on the shower and breathe in the humidity; so being on my feet for only a couple of minutes to wash and tone my skin in a single step was super convenient. The fact that the Purity One-Step Facial Cleanser doesn’t foam up very much came in clutch while I was sick. Extra foamy products often leave residue on the skin giving cause for the necessity of toners and mists and re-hydrating the skin etc. I never felt like there was any residue leftover on my skin after washing. There were a few times when I left the bathroom for a few minutes to let my skin dry, just to see if I felt residue outside of the shower-steamed bathroom -, but I never got that feeling. I mentioned before that I used the cleanser to wash one of my makeup brushes, and it did do a good job of cleaning the brush off; however, I don’t particularly like my makeup brushes to be too soft because softness and coarseness can affect makeup application, so I wouldn’t recommend using the cleanser on brushes unless you wouldn't mind potentially changing the texture of your brush. Finally, I was not in love with the smell. Even now that I feel better and I can smell better, whenever I sniff it, it still smells medical – unfortunately, I don’t have a better way of describing that scent. But one would think with all the essential oils and flowery ingredients, that it should smell better.

Taking the average score of each category, I give the Philosophy Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser a total score of 3.5 out of 5.

The Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser is an award-winning product, which is a part of the reason I was excited to try it. It has received the Reader’s Choice Award from Allure for several years running and is touted as the #1 Facial Cleanser in America. Have you tried it or any other Philosophy products? Let’s talk about it- tell me your thoughts in the discussion below!

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