While washing your face might seem like one of the most basic elements of any skincare routine, getting it right (or wrong) can actually make or break the health of your skin. How you wash your face lays the foundation for your entire skincare regimen. Well-cleansed skin is more able to drink in vital nutrients, therefore boosting the efficacy of every other product you apply to your face. If you truly want to put your best face forward, cleansing the right way with the best cleanser for your skin type will deliver optimal results.
Why Should You Wash Your Face?
Cleansing is arguably the most important step in any skincare routine. You probably know that not washing your face can lead to clogged pores and pimples, but did you know that it also accelerates aging? Free radicals from air pollution collect on the skin throughout the day and, if not washed away, break down the skin's natural elastin and collagen, creating fine lines and wrinkles. Proper face washing reduces free radical damage and ensures that other skin-nourishing products penetrate deep into the skin.
Zeolite, a natural volcanic mineral, is an effective cleansing agent that reveals clear, refined pores. Thanks to negatively charged minerals that act as a magnet, zeolite pulls out the skin's toxins and free radicals. This is a wonderful ingredient for combination and oily skin as it binds to impurities and gently lifts them away. Two cleansers that contain zeolite are AnteAGE Cleanser and Rhonda Allison Citrus Gel Cleanser.
How Often Should You Wash Your Face?
A few of the most common skincare mistakes that people make are under-cleansing, over-cleansing, and also over-moisturizing. The recommended frequency for cleansing is twice a day, both morning and night. If you are very active and work up a sweat during the day, it’s a good idea to cleanse your face an additional time to wipe away pore-clogging sweat and dirt that can accumulate and harden on your skin following a workout. (We love the Michele Corley Cleansing wipes to carry in a gym bag for this very purpose!) Otherwise, cleansing your face more often than twice a day will only work against you as doing so can compromise your skin’s protective barrier. Over-washing your skin can create irritation and lead to an overproduction of sebum, causing oily skin that is difficult to bring into balance.
Neglecting regular facial cleansing does not prevent your skin from drying out, despite what some may believe. Washing your face actually increases the water content in your skin! When you skip washing your face in the morning, bacteria from your pillowcase remains on your skin throughout the day, increasing your odds of an acne flare-up. Under-cleansing your skin in the evening or falling asleep wearing makeup is not going to help matters, either. The goal of the entire body is to rejuvenate itself as we sleep, and the skin is no exception. If you like waking up to a face that is clear, renewed, and revitalized, going to bed with a clean face at night is your best ally.
How Do You Cleanse Your Face?
1. Choose the right facial cleanser
While “one size fits all” might work for that comfy t-shirt you love to sleep in, the same is not true for your cleanser. It’s important to remove the build-up from the day with a face wash that is best for your skin type and unique concerns. If you’ve been using a makeup wipe at the end of the day without any other cleansers, you’re only getting rid of exterior dirt and grime. Depending upon the brand of makeup wipes, you could potentially be leaving behind a residue of ingredients that aren’t good for your skin.
We understand that choosing the right skincare products to add to your cleansing routine can feel complicated, and we’re here to simplify that for you. Generally, the milk, jelly, and cream cleansers are for those who have less oil in the skin. Foaming cleansers that contain an exfoliating acid are usually liked best by those with an oily t-zone. For our healthy aging clients, I recommend a gentle cleanser containing anti-aging peptides. If you're looking for specific guidance regarding what to cleanse your face with, I recommend that you try out our personalized skincare consultation or visit our learn page that focuses specifically on the best cleansers for your skin type.
2. Start with dry skin and clean hands
With ANY cleanser, whether oil, cream, foaming, lotion, etc. you should always apply it to DRY SKIN first! Why is that? Well, the agents used to clean the skin (surfactants, oils, esters, etc.) are designed to adhere to the molecules being removed (oils, dirt, debris) and reduce the surface tension of the molecule. This allows for easy removal when washing your face. If you apply water to your face first, you will not give the cleansing agents the full ability to adhere. This doesn’t mean that your cleanser isn't working, but if you use the dry method you will maximize the performance of your face wash. Try it out! All you need to do is apply cleanser to dry skin and massage well for no more than a minute.
3. Massage with damp fingers, then rinse
After applying face wash to dry skin, dampen your fingers with warm water and massage the entire face using a circular motion. This will emulsify the cleanser and loosen up impurities and dead skin cells on your skin. Gently massaging the skin with your fingertips encourages circulation and collagen production, so feel free to take your time with this step knowing that your skin will benefit from the extra love. If you wear makeup, you'll want to remove it with an appropriate cleanser. For the eye area, apply cleanser to a dampened gauze pad or cotton ball and gently wipe makeup away, or try a cleansing pad that’s safe for the eye area. We suggest a few great products to remove makeup on this learn page. A studio favorite, particularly for acne-prone skin, is the Magic Mitt which removes makeup using NO cleanser.
4. Rinse well with lukewarm water
While it might feel good to use hot water on your face, doing so will disrupt the balance of natural oils that serve as a protective barrier against pollutants and cellular damage. Hot water can leave skin feeling both over-dry and overly oily as sebum production is thrown out of whack. It’s best to rinse your face thoroughly with lukewarm water to maintain the integrity of your skin. Extreme temperatures are not recommended. Many people believe that pores expand with hot water and contract with cold water, but this isn't the case. Hot water does soften the skin, making it easier to lift cellular oil and debris.
5. Pat dry with a clean, soft towel
This is a basic step that can be easy to undervalue. Now that you have fresh, clean skin, the goal is to keep it that way. Reusing a dirty washcloth or drying your face with your bath towel are two common missteps as both of these methods re-introduce bacteria and molds to the skin. Choose a washcloth that is both clean and as soft as possible. If you have acne-prone or sensitive skin, it’s also important to make sure that any fabrics that come into contact with your skin are free of residues from fabric softeners and artificial fragrances. Be careful that you don’t tug or pull on your skin, which can break down collagen and lead to wrinkles, sagging, and skin irritation.
6. Implement the double-cleanse method
I recommend double-cleansing in the evenings for all skin types, except those with particularly sensitized skin. Washing your face twice might seem like a lot of work, but the results are worth it. The first cleanse removes makeup and surface dirt while the second cleanse removes cellular debris that can clog pores, dull your complexion, and prevent the maximum absorption of your serums, correctives, and moisturizers. The choice of products that you double-cleanse with depends upon both your skin type and your goals. My personal favorite combination of cleansers are the Sorella Apricot Mango Cleanser mixed with Rhonda Allison Pumpkin Cleanser. I look forward to this soothing, aromatic experience every day!
7. Tone, nourish, and moisturize
Your skin should now feel clean and just a little tight, signaling that it’s ready to soak up the nutrients from the rest of your products like a sponge! Toners, serums, correctives, and moisturizers should all be applied immediately (and in this order) following your cleansing routine for optimal penetration and effectiveness. As is true with most things in life, consistency is key for best results!
What About Cleansing Devices?
There has been a lot of hype surrounding various cleansing tools recently, some of which come with a high price tag. Rotating brushes, in particular, are very bad for the skin. They create microscopic tears that damage the skin. At Art of Skin Care, we take a more gentle approach with a selection of highly effective ultrasonic cleansing devices. We have three ultrasonic products to choose from: My Skin Buddy, Le Mieux Derma Red, and Le Mieux DermaBlu. Each of these devices delivers ultrasonic vibration waves to lift impurities from the skin and pores. They also make any product you put on your face more effective. If you're looking for that extra boost when it comes to cleansing and healing your skin, this is the best way to go.