Get cleansing wrong, and it's very hard to get skincare right. It’s a fundamental step in your skincare routine but there is often confusion about how to cleanse properly. From double cleansing to electronic cleansing devices, getting caught up in skincare trends and multi-step rituals s rarely leads to skin success. Simplicity is key but even more so when it comes to cleansing. So let's think about why cleansing is so fundamental to our skincare routine.
When we cleanse in the morning, we’re getting rid of the excess oil, any residue of our night-time skincare routine and dead skin cells. However, at night it’s more complex as we’re removing products we've been wearing on our skin during the day such as makeup and sunscreen but also elements from the environment such as particulate matter found in air pollution that has collected on our skin over the course of the day.
Incorrect cleansing can cause a host of issues including a disrupted skin barrier, clogging and congestion and may even reduce your capacity to use active ingredients. So in today’s blog, I want to share my favourite products, the best technique and importantly, what not to do when it comes to cleansing.
What’s the best cleanser?
The reality is all cleansing methods deplete our skin's essential barrier. In fact, even simply rinsing your skin with water does this.
The goal, therefore, is to keep your cleanser as unchallenging as possible, when it comes to irritancy. I recommend a fragrance-free cleanser because so many people are irritated or develop allergies through exposure to fragrance. If you want to enjoy a fragrant cleanse, burn a candle instead! I also avoid oil and balm cleansers as I recommend opting for a non-comedogenic cleanser as it reduces the risk of clogged pores or congestion that your skin perhaps wouldn’t ordinarily have. Equally, foaming cleansers often deplete too much of the skin’s natural moisture barrier leaving it feeling dry and tight.
A gentle wash-off gel cleanser serves most people as over 60% of us have combination skin. I created Flawless Cleanser because I wanted an effective but simple cleanser that doesn’t clog pores or cause unnecessary problems. It sits quietly in the background of your skincare routine and makes everything else easier. For dry or reactive skin, I recommend using a wipe-off cleanser that’s both fragrance and preservative-free. Both La Roche Posay and Avene have good options. And if the skin is very oily, I add in salicylic acid - Cerave SA Smoothing Cleanser is affordable and effective.
It’s also important to be realistic about what a cleanser can achieve. It’s a functional step to remove things from the skin that shouldn't be there. It’s also important to appreciate what a cleanser can’t achieve - I don’t expect a cleanser to sort out skin concerns such as rosacea, acne, or pigmentation.
How To Use A Cleanser
The details are important when it comes to cleansing. Here are the 6 steps to cleansing success:
Step 1 - Make sure your face and neck are clear of anything that would impede you from being able to cleanse thoroughly. That may involve taking off jewellery, tying your hair up or using a headband to get it away from your face.
Step 2 - If you're using a wash-off gel cleanser, you're going to want to wet your skin first. Water temperature is key. Not too hot, not too cold - tepid is best.
Step 3 - Take the right amount of product. With Flawless Cleanser, the pump is designed so you can consistently use one pump in the morning and two pumps in the evening. If you’re using a different cleanser, you want a 10p-sized amount in the morning and double that amount at night.
Step 4 - Try to avoid cleanser travelling too close to the eyes if using a cleanser with active ingredients. Opt for a dedicated eye makeup remover to remove cosmetics at night.
Step 5 - Use your hands to massage your cleanser into the skin - your fingertips are the best cleansing tool around. Cleansing devices or cloths invariably introduce a degree of friction and potential irritation that is undesirable. If you have to use something to lift the cleanser off, opt for a very fine-textured wet muslin cloth or wet cotton pads. Remember the aim is to remove the cleanser so resist the urge to exfoliate!
Step 6 - Finally, gently pat your face dry with a clean towel. It can be tempting to be rough when drying but think of your skin as precious silk and handle with care.
Fundamentally, cleansing is key - whilst we often perform our cleanse on automatic pilot, with a bit of thought it can be done safely and effectively without doing harm. Building healthy cleansing habits leads to daily incremental gains which stack up over weeks, months and years to deliver beautiful skin for the long term.