Dermalogica : Special Cleansing Gel

76 Reviews

Water (Aqua), Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Disodium Lauroamphodiacetate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, Hexylene Glycol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Extract (Lavender), Melissa Officinalis (Lemon Balm) Leaf, Quilaja Saponaria Bark, Essential Oil of Lavendula Angustifolia (Lavender), PPG 5 Ceteth 20, Citric Acid, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben.

Items marked with orange can be irritating and over-drying, especially to acne-prone skin.

The list of ingredients above is provided for informational purposes only. Always check the actual product label in your possession for the most accurate ingredient information due to product changes or upgrades that may not yet be reflected on our web site.


Used Dermalogica : Special Cleansing Gel? Rate It:

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July 13, 2018
Absolutely horrible
I have a history of cystic acne that cleared up with Accutane 2 years ago. My skin still wasn't nice enough that I felt I could go without make up, so decided to try a new regime. The regime caused me to break out in very small whiteheads, so I switched to this product. My skin looked better - for about 3 days. I then got my cystic acne back full blown. I'm absolutely hideous and broken out in painful fluid filled cysts all over my face again after TWO YEARS. I've had to go back on medication and restart my skin clearing regime from square one again. I shouldn't have even bothered trying to improve my skin more than it was.
August 5, 2017
acne is gone but not because of this stuff
I was hoping this would be the product that finally really cleared my skin. I wouldn't say that I had bad acne per se before I started using it but I had uneven skin tone, lots of blackheads on my nose and just kind of bumpy skin. It never felt beautiful. I bought the whole set when my cousin recommended it to me. So I am not really sure which of the products made my skin wig out. I got this stuff, the clearing lotion, the moisturizer and the mask. Anyway, I never felt a positive difference in my skin. My face never felt clean when I used it and about 3-4 weeks of use, my skin went nuts. Instead of the bad skin I thought was bad all my life, I suddenly had cysts, the 'volcanos' I call them but they never burst, just painful and so so ugly. At first I thought it was hormonal and because it was my time of the month but things just got worse after another 2 weeks. I literally didn't want to go out of the house. I was so embarrassed. I ended up giving my stuff to my cousin because it seems to work for her but I didn't want to touch it. The second I stopped using it, my skin got less inflamed but somehow it just triggered this cystic acne I had never had before. So those kept popping up and I was getting desperate. I went to the dermatologist and was expecting them to tell me to get on meds but she surprised me and asked me if I knew of a brand called Ninja that a lot of her clients had been telling her about. Of course she offered to write me a prescription but I wanted to avoid that if possible. I called Ninja right away and actually spoke to a real person!! Had about an hour phone call with them. I really couldn't believe how long they were willing to talk about my skin with me. They gave me a list of products they would suggest for me, I bought them right away. And now, 5 months later, I finally feel beautiful. My skin isn't bumpy any more, I don't have blackheads and thank GOD my cysts are completely gone. Oh and did I mention I am now 3 months pregnant?! I fully expected to have a monster breakout but it never came and now people are telling me I am 'glowing' which is wonderful to hear with my bad skin past. It's like a miracle really. So back to Dermalogica - try it at your own risk. I am sure it is ok for some people but it did absolutely nothing for me but bad things.
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October 31, 2018
There's nothing wrong with Special Cleansing Gel. It wasn't for you that's all. The stuff is awesome IMO
June 22, 2015
Holy grail cleanser
My fave cleanser ever. Before this, I was over washing my face because my face never felt clean and that was making my acne worse. Been using this solid for 2 and a bit years, occasionally in conjunction with the dermal clay cleanser also from Dermalogica. Amazing stuff, is so gentle but really does clean your face and helps calm everything down. Holy grail product.
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3 user(s) found this helpful

January 28, 2015
Life Changer
I've had mild to horrible acne that worsens hormonally each monthly my whole life, and this face wash changed my life. My face is so oily in some spots and dry in others, and this product completely cleans my face but leaves enough moisture so that my face doesn't over-actively produce excess sebum. My husband is so happy because I no longer go to bed with sulphur treatment dots all over my face... because it's completely clear! I really can't believe it. Everyone is different, but from a person who uses expensive make up, and has tried everything from Proavtiv to Differin gel, this stuff is a miracle for me.
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2 user(s) found this helpful

June 10, 2013
Special Cleansing Gel may not be suitable for acneic skin types.


Lasts for 6-8 months. Twice a day.
Good lather.
No salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide or sulfate.


doesn't clear acne for most
skin reacts when switching derm cleansers

Many of my clients love special cleansing gel. I prefer the clearing skin wash for hormonal acne. I have had great results with the clearing skin wash. I switched to the special cleansing gel to see how my skin would react. I started it around my menstrual cycle and used it for 2 weeks after. I noticed that I had a continuous pustular break out on my chin and lower cheeks. I discontinued the special cleansing gel because it seemed to not work for me. It's so hard to recommend products to people because everyones skin reacts so differently even though people have similar skin types. I've had people tell me that they break out from Active Moist. It's an oil free moisturizer. It's frustrating. I say "just stick with whatever works for your skin"! I hope this helps.
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4 user(s) found this helpful

January 1, 2013


No Scent
Not Oily/Creamy



Nice cleanser that leave skin fresh and never really dry. If left on the skin for too long can become drying over time. No scent is nice, and the gel doesnt feel greasy
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2 user(s) found this helpful

April 29, 2012


Smelled nice


Caused severe cystic acne around mouth
Made skin itchy and dry
My skin was far too sensitive for this product

I used this product along with the moisturiser and oil control lotion - Within three weeks of use I broke out and it just kept escalating from there. The combination of using all three caused my light/moderate acne (as in, a few pimples every few weeks) to ruptured into painful pustules and huge, painful cysts all around my chin, mouth and cheeks. I'm talking cysts the size of 20 cent coins... they took MONTHS to go away. I had always been acne prone, and this was when I was 16 so I'm sure hormones also contributed to it - clean and clear made me break out some years before. But it was NOTHING like this. I didn't want to leave the house, look anybody in the eye, it was horrid. I'm sure this product will work for some people, but I will never touch this stuff again.
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5 user(s) found this helpful

November 27, 2011


Very gentle
No smell or colours.
felt very refreshing
large bottle


Stopped working after a while
Drys skin
very expensive
Needs to be used with other Dermalogica products to be effective
Doesn't totally clear acne.

I got though one bottle of this stuff and I was amazed by how good it was. So obviously I bought another bottle - which disappointed me. The second bottle of the very same product didn't work very well.
August 18, 2011


Cleared up some acne
Mild smell
Reduces redness
Lasts ages
Soft skin


Dry skin
Doesn't remove make up

Very gentle and has a mild smell, which is good for sensitive skin. It's a bit pricey but lasts for ages. Helped to clear some of my acne after a few weeks. Unfortunately it doesn't cleanse well enough to remove make up.
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2 user(s) found this helpful

July 18, 2011


Soft fragrance
Foams easily


Caused severe breakouts

I never suffered from any breakouts and I only purchased this product to combat my oily skin. Within the three-week time frame that I used this product, my face broke out in very large, painful pimples that at first were isolated on my forehead, moved down to my nose, then around my chin. After I stopped using this product I had to aggressively treat my skin with BP for over four weeks to finally get my skin back to something that resembled 'normal'.
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