Cleansing is probably that part of your skin care routine that you don’t pay much attention to. Sure, you’ll wash your face morning and night, but chances are that you’re more focussed on getting skin benefits from your essences, serums, treatments, eye creams and moisturisers than your cleanser.
In reality, cleansing is actually the unsung hero in your skin care regimen.
“Cleansing your skin is the most important step in your routine! Ensuring that your skin is clean and exfoliated helps to prevent breakouts, removes surface dry dead skin cells – which stimulates cell turnover, and reveals fresher skin that looks smooth and dewy,” says facialist Jocelyn Petroni.
She adds, “Thoroughly cleansed skin acts as the perfect base for active and results-driven eye creams, serums and moisturisers to penetrate the skin and do their job more effectively, and for an even and lasting makeup application. Until you've cleansed your skin, nothing will penetrate the dirt, makeup and excess oil sitting on your skin.”
If ignored or done improperly, “surface impurities can be pushed deep inside the skin where they are not wanted and furthermore, [become] a major cause of skin problems,” says Amy Erbacher, skin care expert and founder of skinCLEANSEsystem.
So instead of giving your skin a quick 10-second wash, here are six ways you can improve your cleansing routine.
Do the double cleanse
Double cleansing may seem like an unnecessary step, but not so, says Petroni. “Your first cleanse removes oil and dirt – you would be surprised how much bacteria accumulates on your pillowcase – as well as makeup and pollution debris after a long day. Your second cleanse actually cleans your skin and pores and helps remove dead cell build-up.
Use an oil or cream cleanser for your first cleanse to emulsify and get rid of all the makeup, oil, pollution and sunscreen from the day. Follow this with a gel or foam cleanser for your second cleanse to deeply cleanse and purify the skin.”
Use the proper cleansing technique
How wrong can you go with cleansing, right? While cleansing in general will do good things for your skin, using the proper technique can do great things.
First, use the right amount of cleanser. According to Erbacher, all you need is a small amount: “Apply one to two drops of [your] cleanser, [and] add a little water.”
Then, it’s all about your technique.
“With product in one hand, gently rub both hands together and place hands on your cheeks, forehead, chin, neck and décolletage. With light pressure applied by your fingertips, in gentle circular swift movements gently massage the product into your skin,” says Erbacher.
Yep, you should be massaging in your cleanser. Why? “This not only ensures that the skin is thoroughly cleaned, it also helps to stimulate blood flow and lymph drainage, which brings oxygen-rich blood to the skin’s surface and drains toxic build-up from within,” says Petroni.
Make sure you’re cleansing for long enough
Just like your cleansing technique, dedicating enough time to washing your face can do wonders for your skin health.
Petroni says, “The ideal time to dedicate to cleansing your skin is for around 60 seconds twice a day.” Again, this will ensure a thorough cleanse, which will help the efficacy of the rest of your skin care products.
Erbacher adds that it’s also a good idea to take your time before bed. “It’s very important not to rush your cleansing regimen in the evening. Think of it as your ‘winding down’ ritual from a hard day in the office.”
Pick the right cleansing ingredients
If you’re only looking for active ingredients in serums, treatments and creams, you’re missing a trick.
“Having active ingredients in your cleanser will kickstart your beauty regimen and enhance the effects and active ingredients in the rest of your beauty routine, allowing them to absorb more efficiently into the skin,” says Petroni.
So what ingredients should you be looking for in your cleanser?
Salicylic acid can help clarify skin and clear blocked pores, making it great for oily, congested or problematic skin, but it also has huge benefits for those with dry, pigmented or ageing skin. Lactic acid is a great one for those needing to smooth out skin texture, as it can help dry dead skin cells. Seabuckthorn and jojoba oil can be beneficial for ageing skin, while AHAs and BHAs (like salicylic acid) can help improve a lack of radiance and congestion.
Cleanse beyond your face
Your cleansing shouldn’t end at your jawline.
“I always say to my clients ‘Your face finishes at your décolletage’. Anything you use on your face should be applied all the way down to your neck and décolletage, as well. The neck and décolletage area are the first to show signs of skin ageing, so making sure these areas are thoroughly cleansed will prep them for active anti-ageing and hydrating serums and moisturisers that should always follow your cleansing routine,” says Petroni.
Rinse your cleanser off properly
Washing off all of your cleanser is just as important as the cleansing process itself. If you don’t remove all of your cleanser, “Makeup residue, sunscreen, and environmental pollution such as grime and your sebum will be left on the surface of the skin. If this gunk is left on the skin and not attended to, environmental pollution such as free radicals may cause premature ageing and even skin sensitivity. You may also experience congestion,” says Erbacher.
To ensure you’re removing all of your cleanser, both Erbacher and Petroni recommend using a face wash in warm water to gently wipe and remove excess residue from your face. Petroni also suggests using a cotton pad soaked with toner or facial essence between cleansing and applying your serum.
Carli was BEAUTYcrew’s Editor from launch in 2016 until May 2020. You can find her words right here on BEAUTYcrew, and previously on beautyheaven.