Bliss Clear Genius Clarifying Gel Cleanser with BHA + Brazilian Sea Water


Clear Genius Clarifying Gel Cleanser with BHA + Brazilian Sea Water

6.40 fl. oz. for $ 13.00
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Brand Overview

Bliss’ Clear Genius Clarifying Gel Cleanser with BHA + Brazilian Sea Water (the latter offering no special detox benefit for breakouts or pores as claimed) is an OK option for oily skin. We just wish the brand had chosen a less drying cleansing agent than sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate, not to mention nixed a few other iffy ingredients.

Packaged in a clear bottle topped with a smooth-operating pump, this bubbly gel feels light and refreshing on skin as it combines with water to form a soft lather. The lather is courtesy of mild cleansing and lather agent cocamidopropyl betaine, an addition which helps to offset the drying nature of the stronger sulfonate cleansing agent mentioned above. We found this did a good job removing makeup and excess oil, but those with dry areas will likely find this cleanser doesn’t improve matters.

Bliss claims this cleanser contains BHA (salicylic acid), and it does, but as we explain in the More Info section, this anti-acne superstar isn’t all that helpful in a rinse-off product.

This cleanser also contains witch hazel extract and tea tree oil, two ingredients with anti-acne reputations but both capable of triggering irritation that can make acne worse. The witch hazel is a source of astringent tannins and fragrant components while tea tree oil contains volatile fragrance compounds that can irritate skin and eyes. Besides, anti-acne research on tea tree oil has confirmed that concentrations needed for antibacterial action are greater than the small amount this cleanser contains.

On the upside, this easy-to-rinse formula is laced with plant-derived skin soothers like willow bark and chamomile, plus hydrators such as glycerin and sodium PCA. Without the fragrance and strong cleansing agent, this would be a great option for those struggling with breakouts! As is, it’s a decent option for oily to very oily skin but you can do better (and gentler) than this, as evidenced by our list of best cleansers.

  • Water soluble gel produces a soft lathers and rinses easily.
  • Ably removes excess oil and makeup.
  • Nice mix of soothing plants and lightweight hydrators (but likely not enough to make this workable for dry areas).
  • Contains a drying cleansing agent that can be a bit too thorough.
  • Witch hazel extract and tea tree oil can irritate skin.
  • The salicylic acid is of little benefit to acne or clogged pores.
  • Brazilian sea water cannot soothe or detoxify skin.

More Info:

Cleansers with Salicylic Acid: This cleanser contains salicylic acid, an ingredient that when included in a well-formulated leave-on product work beautifully to gently exfoliate and promote clear skin. However, in a cleanser BHA is far less effective, if effective at all, because cleansers are rinsed off before they can begin to work.

So, if you’re hoping this cleanser will provide exfoliating benefits, think again. On the other hand, BHA can provide hydrating benefits during its brief contact with skin.

Some companies recommend leaving these types of cleansers on skin for a longer period of time so the BHA can absorb, but that means the cleansing agents also are left on longer, which can cause dryness and irritation.

Because Bliss makes acne-fighting and pore-reducing claims that are not likely to occur, its rating is not as good as it would have been. We don’t want you spending money on a product whose exfoliating ingredients probably can’t perform as claimed. Instead, look for leave-on AHA or BHA exfoliants.

Why Beauty Products Cannot Detoxify Your Skin: Despite the claims of many cosmetics companies, you cannot “detox” your skin. Brands that make this claim never really specify exactly what substances or toxins their products are supposed to eliminate, which makes sense, because your skin does not store toxins.

Toxins are classified according to whether they are produced by the body or are introduced into the body, usually through eating or inhaling. Toxins are produced by plants, animals, insects, reptiles (think snake venom and bee stings), and so on. Toxins also can be inorganic, such as heavy metals like lead, arsenic, and others.

When it comes to your skin, toxins cannot leave your body through your skin or sebaceous (oil) glands—it’s physiologically impossible. Other parts of your body, mainly your kidneys and liver, handle the process of “detoxifying” just fine, as long as you have a healthy diet.

There are a handful of studies indicating that sweat acts as a carrier in “detoxifying” by removing trace heavy metals from the body; however, the methodology of those studies is considered questionable when reviewed by third-party experts.

Nonetheless, if you choose to sauna, steam, or exercise to increase sweating, that’s a lifestyle option to discuss with your physician, but it does absolutely nothing as a purifying skincare activity.

Skin care products are not going to “detox” your body or skin. As we always say: Stick to what the research says really works, and ignore the fantasy claims because they aren’t going to help your skin or your budget.

References for this information:
Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, December 2015, pages 675–686
Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 2012, pages 1–10

Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: No

This pore-purifying cleanser goes deep to clean out pores and keep skin balanced for a clear, calm complexion - without dryness or irritation. BHA (salicylic acid) removes dirt and excess oil from deep within pores; Brazilian sea water helps detoxify and soothe.


Water (Aqua) (Eau), Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Acrylates Copolymer, Glycerin, Propanediol, Salicylic Acid, Sea Water (Maris Aqua) (Eau de mer), Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Leaf Extract, Zinc PCA, Sodium PCA, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Anhydroxylitol, Glyceryl Oleate, Xylityl Sesquicaprylate, Decyl Glucoside, Coco-Glucoside, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citric Acid, Sodium Hydroxide.

The story of Bliss starts in 1996, when personal trainer Marcia Kilgore opened a New York spa designed around no-fuss skin treatments and de-stressing regimens for busy lifestyles. Over time, clients asked for Bliss-branded skin care products, and so Bliss skin care was born.

Bliss enjoyed success for years, being sold in spas as well as online and at some brick-and-mortar retailers. Kilgore eventually sold Bliss, and after changing hands a couple more times, the brand began to lose some of its identity. Its most recent owners decided it was time for a back to our roots makeover, with lower prices across the board and a cleaner version of Bliss's iconic white with splashes of color packaging.

Bliss's biggest appeal is in providing people with a spa-like experience at home. The line features multiple masks, in addition to exfoliation treatments, moisturizers, and body care products for a variety of skin types and concerns. While there are some missteps in the line (including fragranced products and some instances of jar packaging), there are some gems to be found among Bliss's offerings you just have to know where to look.

For more information on Bliss, visit

About the Experts

The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.

Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.

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