Multi-functional products – friend or foe?

Dear Miss Beauty Nerd,

What do you think of one-step facial cleansers? There’s one by Philosophy that claims to replace your make up and eye removers, facial cleanser and toner. What do you think? Is the result comparable to doing each step separately?


Hi L!

That’s a fantastic question! I’m sure this is one that many other Beauty Nerds ponder themselves. Personally, I don’t think every product functions well as a multi-functional product. Don’t get me wrong – this is not the case for all multi-functional products. For example, certain products such as a ‘hand + body cream’ or ‘moisturizer + face mask’ or ‘cleanser + exfoliator’ work well as multi-taskers. It completely depends on what products are being combined. However, when attempting to combine products such as a cleanser, toner and eye makeup remover, I remain a bit skeptical. Here are 2 reasons why: 1) You need to be extremely careful with what you put around your eyes – especially if you have sensitive skin 2) I personally do not believe that toners can do their job when combined into a cleanser formula.

Let me explain further. I assume that you are referring to Philosophy’s Purity Made Simple Cleanser, so my answers will pertain specifically to this product.

Eye Makeup Remover functionality: You will notice that the first two ingredients after water are sodium lauroamphoacetate and sodium trideceth sulfate, which are both mild surfactants (ingredients that cleanse the skin and makes the formula foam). I think these ingredients are suitable for cleansing your face, but I would try to avoid the use of surfactants around the eye area, especially if you have skin sensitivities. If your skin is very resilient, you may still be ok. Just keep in mind that surfactants have a greater potential to irritate the skin, and although the ones they have chosen are mild, the skin around your eye area is extremely delicate.

Toner functionality: I am guessing that their claim for a built-in toner is supported by the fact that they chose relatively mild surfactants (as opposed to regular surfactants that have a higher pH). One of the main purposes of a toner is to rebalance the pH of your skin. Most cleansers cause your skin pH levels to rise (which could be drying), so toners work to re-equilibrate your skin’s pH back down to around 6. By using a cleanser + toner combo, you technically are not rebalancing the pH of your skin. One could argue, though, that rebalancing the pH of your skin, in this case, is unnecessary because these formulas inherently do not raise the pH of your skin to the same extent as other regular cleansers. I guess I can buy that rationale. However, a cleanser + toner combo will not remove the last traces of your cleanser (since you are essentially eliminating this step), nor will it sufficiently prep your skin for better absorption of your moisturizer. Especially if you have invested in a good moisturizer, why would you not want to soften your skin beforehand, to maximize absorption and its associated benefits?

I know many of you are very busy and are looking for a quick and easy way to get your skin care routine down fast. And you may even be able to get away with some of these multi-tasking products, especially if your skin is pretty robust. If you are to use a product such as this one, however, I hope that you are using a good eye cream to rehydrate (you should regardless, but it is even more important to do so, if you opt to use surfactants around your eye area). Also, as mentioned earlier, I do not believe in combining cleansers and toners into one formula because I have seen subpar results in my own skin when I omit the toner step. Think about it this way, if you purchase a spray-on toner, it takes under 2 seconds to add that step to your regimen! So am I saying you shouldn’t purchase Philosophy’s Purity Made Simple cleanser? Absolutely not. It sounds like a good gentle cleanser with some very nice ingredients (I love that they used meadowfoam seed oil and a nice essential oil blend), but I would still use a toner and separate eye makeup remover alongside with it!

Whatever you choose, don’t take your skin for granted now (although I know you are still young and gorgeous!). Treating it with tender loving care will pay off later – and I promise that you will not regret it!

I hope that helps L! Happy Friday!


  1. Sources: Philosophy, Health Advices Blog, Rewaj

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