Every routine should begin with a cleanser to wash off daily grime accumulated on the skin. Consider all the products you apply, the microbes and contaminants in the air, and all the times you touch your face in a single day! Your face gets dirty. And not just from the dirt in the environment. In addition to all that, your skin itself accumulates sweat, sebum, and dead skin cells.
Of course, long-term buildup of dirt on the skin can cause clogged pores, acne, irritation, and even premature aging. The good news is that all you have to do is simply wash your face. So, here’s how to do it properly!
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Choose The Right Cleanser
Cleansers are composed of molecules called surfactants. These molecules have a hydrophilic head (loves water) and a hydrophobic tail (hates water but loves oil). So, when you apply a cleanser, the hydrophobic tails attach to oily molecules like sebum, contaminants, makeup, and sunscreen. Next, when you rinse your face with water, the heads of the molecules can attach to water and be removed, leaving your skin free of dirt.
Although all cleansers are formulated with surfactants, some can be too harsh on the skin. Using a cleanser with a high pH (usually between eight to 11) can lead to dryness, and irritation, and worsen conditions like acne or rosacea.
That’s why you should never clean your face with traditional soaps. Soaps are made through a process called saponification that results in a product with a high pH. Instead, look for cleansers that have a pH between four and six, which is approximately the normal pH range of the skin.
A quick way to determine if your cleanser is a traditional soap or a mild cleanser is to check the ingredient list. If sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide is among the first three to four ingredients, it’s a traditional soap with a high pH. If not, it’s likely a mild cleanser with a pH between four and six.
Also, consider your skin type while choosing your cleanser. If you have dry to normal skin, it’s best to use cleansers with oil or ceramides in the formula to compensate for all the lipids removed while cleansing. On the other hand, if you have oily skin, gel cleansers with active ingredients like salicylic acid are a good option. Salicylic acid keeps pores unclogged and prevents breakouts. If you have combination skin, cleansers for oily skin can work for you too.
Cleansing Your Skin: The Right Way
- Always wash your face with lukewarm water, because hot water can cause dryness and strip away all your healthy skin lipids. Also, remember to use a clean towel to dry your face. Dirty towels will just reintroduce bacteria to your skin.
- Try to keep cleansing to max twice a day. Washing too often can throw off your skin’s moisture needs, and those are important, too. You can also toss a micellar water in your gym bag for a quick, post-workout cleanse.
- If you have dry or normal skin, you can skip morning cleansing if your skin doesn’t produce much sebum overnight. Evening cleansing, however, is a must for everyone.
- Consider double cleansing: Double cleansing is the method where you start with an oil cleanser, and then finish with a gentle water-based cleanser. The oil is a cleanser that helps remove all dirt, sebum, sunscreen, and makeup. The water-based cleanser then helps take off any excess grease from the oil cleanser.
What is your favorite cleanser? Let us know in the comments!