A skincare myth that boils my blood is the idea that cleansing isn’t good for the skin and that it can be skipped entirely or that it can be done just once a day.
If you are a regular cleanser, you may have dismissed this as something that your granddad believes but it is not an old-fashioned belief nor is it an uncool belief.
Plenty of specialists, experts and celebrities worldwide have decried cleansing in the usual style (in both the AM & PM) as unnecessary.
These people are not so much against cleansing as they are against “over-cleansing”, cleansing the skin to the point of stripping it of natural moisturising factors and its own protective barrier.
However, I don’t think this is a fault of cleansers in general.
Speaking as someone who has used thousands of cleansers at different stages in my life, some do leave you with that squeaky-clean, over-cleansed feeling but many others provide your skin with vital skingredients and can actually help to hydrate it.
Should You Avoid Foaming Cleansers?
Many aestheticians and dermatologists are critical of overly foamy cleansers due to the use of sodium laurel sulphate (SLS), a surfactant that is known for sensitising the skin by abrading its barrier over time.
It’s 2018, though, and there are plenty of foaming (or foamy) cleansers that foam through other means rather than SLS and in this don’t dry out the skin like traditional foaming cleansers.
If you use wipes or micellar water, I’ll come and shake you.
Not all with a foam should be tarred with the same brush… Us oily humans need something to regulate all of this sebum or we would be covered in spots and I mean both morning and night.
If you are a systemic sebum-overproducer like me, you’ll know how slippery your skin is when you wake up.
What type of cleansers should we be using? (and which ones to avoid)
I would agree with those who advocate for cleaning rather than cleansing that removing the makeup, grime, debris and oils that have been sitting on your face all day is the most essential step of cleansing.
Whether you do this with cleansing oils, balms or a Cleanse Off Mitt is up to you… but if you use wipes or micellar water, I’ll come and shake you.
Wipes and micellar water, especially when used alone with no follow-up step, leave a slew of alcohols and fragrances on your skin overnight as well as traces of your makeup and grime.
Wipes and micellar water don’t truly remove anything from your face, they just move it all around the face.
Protection from pollution-related damage is a major concept in the beauty industry at present and the majority of your pre-cleanse steps, the methods listed above, won’t do much to help you to rid your skin of pollutants that have collected on it during the day.
For this, I believe you need something that thoroughly cleanses with ingredients that serve the purpose of antioxidising, antibacterialising and clearing out the pores.
Maybe my adoration of cleansing comes from my aversion to toners. I don’t see the majority of toners as good for the skin, due to the usual astringent, drying nature of toners and the fact that I get a bundle of active ingredients from serums and the like.
Thus I see your cleanser as the first step to getting your actives onto the skin.
The correct way to use a cleanser is to massage it into pre-cleansed, makeup-free skin for one minute… so you’re not just rinsing your hard-earned cash down the drain!
Without cleansing, I wouldn’t be getting my initial daily dose of vitamin C, salicylic acid or whatever I’m using at any given time alongside the actives I get from my serums.
Many ask how the active ingredients in cleansers actually work if you’re washing them off straight afterwards. But if you’re cleansing correctly you’re not just rinsing your hard-earned cash down the drain!
What’s the best cleansing method?
The correct way to use a cleanser is to massage it into pre-cleansed, makeup-free skin for one minute.
A third of the time you should be spending brushing your teeth should be going into cleansing.
That one minute is all it takes for the active ingredients to penetrate into the pores – on top of that, the majority of active cleansers contain technology that allows the actives to continue working after removal of your cleanser.
In the end, I believe there is a cleanser out there for everyone. Like true love, it’s somewhere in the world just waiting for you… Skin consultations are essentially a successful match-making service.
If you’re prone to redness…
If you are prone to redness, the IMAGE Skincare Vital C Hydrating Facial Cleanser (€35, skinshop.ie) may be your dream date.
It contains vitamin C and E, potent antioxidants, as well as soapwort extract, a plant ingredient that soothes angrier skin.
If you’ve sensitive skin…
If your sensitive soul needs soothing, try Avène Extremely Gentle Cleanser Lotion (€14.99, boots.ie) which is free from fragrances, drying alcohols and colourants and contains soothing, healing Avéne thermal spring water.
This is also a fab one if you HAVE accidentally over-cleansed and you need a soft, irritant-free cleanser for a while.
We’ve all overdone it before at one point or another but remember to speak to whoever recommended you your cleanser if there is ongoing irritation or if you suspect it may be a reaction.
If you like all-natural beauty products…
Some cannot be dragged from formulas that focus on botanicals and the more natural side of things…
For a cleanser that finds its key ingredients in the plant world, look to Yon-Ka’s Gel Nettoyant (€30.50, millies.ie).
This is packed with red algae which hydrate and condition the skin as well as essential oils such as lavender and geranium that refresh the skin gently.
The One Product Everyone Should Use…
In my opinion, everyone should also have a Cleanse Off Mitt (€5, cleanseoffmitt.com). However, take this with a pinch of salt as I founded the product.
The Cleanse Off Mitt is made of microfibre and gently removes makeup by breaking the surface tension between it and the skin – it’s reusable and it’s suitable for all regardless of age, skin type or gender.
Much preferable to drying, skin-stripping wipes!
Jennifer Rock is the founder of The Skin Nerd online skin consultancy and online cosmeceutical skincare store. If you’re interested in having a consultation with one of her expert Nerdettes, click here for more information.