The Correct Cleanser

cleansing face
Seems simple doesn’t it. You just get up in the morning and wash your face. You don’t even give it much thought. Well actually there are a lot of options out there and since washing your face sets the stage for the rest of your meticulously planned skincare routine it’s important to prepare your skin properly for what comes next.

Using soap to cleanse your skin each day is a colossal faux pas if your goal is to achieve  great looking skin. Bar soaps contain binders with a higher pH than your skin can handle. They strip your skin of it’s protective lipid barrier which results in dehydration and irritation. This is still a problem for oily skin types because stripping your skin revs up your oil glands to ultimately produce more sebum. Plus, dehydrated cells on the skin’s surface create a hardened layer of oil and dead cells which trap in oil that leads to clogged pores and blemishes.

If you have oily skin consider a sulfate free gel cleanser. Although most gel cleansers contain harsh detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate, you  can find gentler, substitute surfactants (the bubble makers and cleansing agents). A good one to look for is cocamidopropyl betaine (made from coconuts). For oily skin, you need to find a formula that will cut just enough oil without over dehydrating your skin.  Try the bubble test. If your gel cleanser foams up a lot it probably has too much surfactant. If it foams up a just a little it probably has way less.  And remember, your skin should never feel tight after cleansing

No matter your skin type, if you wear makeup you need an emulsifying cleanser to melt that makeup for easy removal. Gel cleansers can leave pigments from your makeup product trapped in your pores. For a better clean, choose a light weight milky cleanser and us it first to liquify your makeup for a better cleansing. Then follow up with your gel.  A double cleanse is the solution for most makeup wearers.

A word about using a cleansing oils. Don’t!

Oh the buzz…  When using a cleansing oil it may make you feel like you are melting away your makeup but the net result is a greasy residue that actually attracts dirt and clogs the pores. This goes for makeup wipes as well. And think about this: the layer that’s left on your skin creates a barrier that prevents the absorption of those expensive performance ingredients in your treatment products from getting into your skin –  you know, that serum you blew  your vacation budget to purchase.

Many of my clients who have combination skin just use their gel cleanser in the warmer months.  Most use their gel in the morning, perfect for removing toxins perged from your skin during the night while you sleep. They reserve  their milky cleanser for night as a makeup remover.

If you have very dry skin skip the gel cleanser altogether. Find a nice emollient cleansing milk that still washes off with water. I love dry skin cleansers that are rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3s help reinforce a weak barrier function by not over cleansing the skin.

When using a gel dampen your face first before cleansing. With a milky cleanser take advantage of the fact that it’s an oil in water emulsion.  Start with a dry face and dry fingertips. Massage the cleanser in circular motions for about 30 seconds. At this point your cleanser is oil dominant and will easily soften and remove oil soluble impurities.  Then add moisture to your fingertips and massage again to remove water soluble dirt. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry.

Here’s a valuable anti-aging beauty tip.  Wash and rinse first with warm water, the follow with several splashes of icy cold water. The celebrities do it. Some even submerge their faces in an ice bath after cleansing   Why? Because science has revealed that cold stimulates little organelles in skin cells called mitochondria the produce energy. This energy is used to repair and replace damaged skin cells.  This is a primary goal of many skin treatments.  You can do it right at home – and it’s free!


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