During the course of the day, our skin is exposed to pollution, dirt in the air, make-up and sunscreen.
The skin produces oil and sweat throughout the day and there is also a layer of old, dead skin cells (stratum corneum).
Cleansing effectively removes all of this build-up which can:
- Improve the penetration of other products and active ingredients
- Prevent pores from becoming clogged
- Maintain surface pH levels allowing for proper moisture balance
When should I cleanse?
If you only cleanse once a day, do it at night.
I generally recommend cleansing in the morning as well, as it helps to remove any sweat, oil and dead skin cells. Again this will allow the other products you apply to penetrate more effectively.
If you exercise often, then get into a habit of cleansing after your work out. This is especially true if you suffer from breakouts/acne.
But you do not need to cleanse more than twice a day. In fact, cleansing too frequently can disrupt the skin barrier leading to over-sensitised skin
Which cleanser should I choose?
There are lots of options for cleansers… creams, gels, oils, balms, foaming, non-foaming etc… so it can be difficult to decide which will work best for your skin.
Cream cleansers are great for all skin types, particularly more sensitive or dry/dehydrated skin.
Balm or oil cleansers are great for removing makeup and sunscreen.
Foaming cleansers are more suited to oilier skin.
Cleansers with added active ingredients such as exfoliants can be a great addition to help with breakouts, and rough, dull skin, but don’t overdo it!
So how do I actually use my cleanser?
With your cleanser of choice apply a pump or two of cleanser to your hands and massage into the skin.
Some cleansers require water, so make sure it is lukewarm or cool rather than hot as this can irritate the skin barrier.
Make sure you thoroughly massage into all areas, particularly around the nose, chin, along the jaw line and up to the hair line.
If you can cleanse for 1-2 minutes this will allow the surfactants to dissolve the oil and dirt.
Use water in your hands, or a clean damp flannel (lukewarm water) to gently remove the cleanser.
Do I need to double cleanse?
Double cleansing has been over-complicated.
Essentially, double cleansing means removing makeup/sunscreen with your first cleanse and then cleansing the skin with your second cleanse.
For example, double cleansing can be:
- Removing eye makeup with micellar water, followed by a cream cleanser for the face.
- Using a cleansing balm followed by a foaming cleanser.
- Using a cleansing oil followed by a cream cleanser.
If it works for you, then great, but if your skin is more sensitive or you don’t wear lots of heavy makeup then you may not need to cleanse twice.
What about face wipes?
I’m not a fan of face wipes, and here’s why…
They just don’t do a very good job of cleansing!
They often require a fair amount of scrubbing to remove the makeup sufficiently which can cause irritation to the skin.
They are less environmentally friendly.
Some wipes contain other preservatives which can irritate the skin.
They may be convenient but they’re certainly not doing your skin any favours.
Can I use a facial cleansing device?
Cleansing devices use ultrasonic pulses or vibrations combined with firmer facial massage which they claim to remove more dirt from the skin.
As long as your device is kept clean in between washes, there isn’t too much of a problem with using it if it feels nice and your skin isn’t struggling with any concerns like sensitivity, breakouts or redness.
However, I do not think they are essential at all and would recommend spending your money on in-clinic treatments that are allowed to utilise a more effective technology to clean the skin, e.g. HydraFacial, peels, microdermabrasion, dermaplaning.
My favourite cleansers
Cream or lotion cleanser for all skin types/sensitive skin: SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser, CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, Epionce Milky Lotion Cleanser
Cleansing balms: Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm (if you have more sensitive skin, they do a fragrance-free version which is fab!)
Foaming cleanser suitable for normal/oily skin types: SkinCeuticals Simply Clean, Obagi Gentle Cleanser
Cleanser with salicylic acid for oily/breakout prone skin: Epionce Purifying Wash, CeraVe SA Smoothing Cleanser, Obagi Clenziderm Foaming Cleanser
Cleanser with glycolic acid for improving skin tone and texture in normal skin types: SkinCeuticals Glycolic Renewal Cleansing Gel