I was recently asked for my take on facial cleansers, or rather the facial fluid-cleansers as opposed to washing ones face with soap. I’ll put it plainly for all that may wonder: Soap is NOT for the face, I repeat NOT for the face! It should solely be used on areas of intense perspiration and odor making such as arm-pits and, ehm, groins.
With that said, following are my tips for optimal facial cleansing:
Tip number 1: Soap and facial cleansers are not one and the same. Soap has a pH of around 8-10, meaning it is alkaline, or basic, as opposed to our skin which holds a pH of 5-5.6 making it an environment of acidity. The low pH of our skin inhibits the growth of unwanted bacteria, and serves as a form of protection. Facial cleansers are not soap in the way of their composition, and optimally have a pH beneficial for the barrier function of the skin, ie. acidic. If you use soaps to wash your face, you will disrupt this acidic environment, which may lead to overgrowth of hazardous bacteria. Not only that, but the salts found in soap dissolve lipids, and not only the ones of your facial products, but also the ones found in your skin itself. This may lead to barrier-function impairment as your skin is stripped of its protective lipid layer. Dry skin or, eventually over production of sebum and thus overly oily skin and acne breakouts may occur. Long-term, a habit of barrier-function disruption leads to increased inflammation, wrinkle development and premature-aging.
On a side note: Some of you may be asking: “But then what about the facial soap bars?” And I totally get your confusion, I myself am often confused, and this was no exception. Facial cleansing bars are not soap (not in the traditional sense anyway) and so may be safely used on face. One famous example is the clinique facial soap-bar, and although it looks like a soap it is formulated to mildly cleanse without stripping the skin dry, or disrupting its microenvirnoment.
Tip number 2: Use tepid water to cleanse, rather than hot. Hot water dehydrates the skin, and as soap may disrupt the lipid layer of it, making it dry and itchy, and may eventually lead to a compensatory war by raging sebocytes, resulting in weapons of mass destruction, such as explosive acne lesions and volatile inflammation (giggles).
Tip number 3: Use a cleanser formulated for your specific skin concern. Finding the right cleanser is a small step for man, but a giant leap in the direction of clear glowing skin. Formulations vary in regards to skin concern, and so choosing one for your skin type is the first step on the road to a glorious complexion.
Favorite for normal- dry skin: dermalogica essential cleansing solution
Favorite for aging skin: dermalogica age smart skin resurfacing cleanser
Favorite for Oily- combination skin:
Skin Ceuticals Simply Clean Pore Refining Gel Cleanser (For Combination/ Oily Skin) 240ml/8oz
Tip number 4: Invest in a clarisonic facial brush. I’ve said it so many times now, and I’ll say it again- the Clarisonic facial brush will make a difference on your skin, and has been proven to decrease acne breakouts, pore-size and skin flaking. It also ensures that you spend one whole minute on cleansing so as to let the cleanser really get down to business, and because debris and dead skin cells are so effectively cleansed away, will help product absorption and let ingredients reach levels within your skin deeper, faster, and so exert effects better. Found here: Clarisonic facial brush .
Tip number 5: Use cool water to end your cleanse seance. This ensures that your pores close, and leaves your skin fresh and perky. Closing the pores minimizes their appearance, and make them less obvious long term. Use more water than you think you need, cleanser residue may clog pores, and leave it lacking luster.
Tip number 6: No rubedidub, but pat pat dry. Rubbing your skin dry with a towel puts extra strain on it, which stretches your skin and encourages wrinkle formation. Also, leaving your skin damp and not dry enables your moisturizer to glide on with minimal effort, and increases absorption. Also you get away with using less product, or just the right amount, I should say.
Tip number 7: Wash your face maximum 2 times a day. Some expert even argue that once a day is enough, but because I thoroughly enjoy cleansing, and the way it makes my skin feel after, I tend to do it morning and night, rather than just at night. After researching for my post about how skin changes in regard to pollution levels, I started cleaning my face after having been out and exposed to the London-smog, which I felt made matters better, but you have to make sure your cleanser is very mild for this purpose, and slather on ample amounts of a good moisturizer after.
Tip number 8: Tone. But, as a matter of fact toning is not absolutely necessary unless you have oily and acne prone skin. I tend to tone to make sure residue of cleanser is removed properly, balance my skin after washing with hard water, and the prep my skin for my moisturizer. There are toners that contain oils for dryer skin types as well (a good one is this one: L`Occitane IMMORTELLE ESSENTIAL WATER), and should help in regards to minimizing pore size.
Tip number 9: Opt for a refreshing facial spritz like Avene Thermale Spring Water Spray , instead of a toner, if you feel your skin works best without one. The spray will balance pH after washing with hard, and alkaline water, and also ensures good product absorption, and the correct use of product amount.
Tip number 10: Add an exfoliating cleanser to your routine 1-2 times a week. Preferably in evenings, and before facial mask application. Exfoliation ensures the appareance of new skin, increases cell turnover, removes dead skin cells and so gives an instant glow, and with regular use, improves pore size,general appearance, skin tone, and even collagen formation (especially the chemical exfoliants- glycolic and retinoic acids). I like to use Mario Badescu glycolic foaming cleanser 1-2 times a week for this purpose.
What is your cleansing ritual like? Any favorites?