Our Best Cleansing Advice For Your Skin Type
Because without proper cleansing, your skin will never (we repeat, never) live its best life.
Cleansing: not really that important in the grand scheme of things, right? Wrong. Very wrong. In fact, cleansing is just as important as moisturizing, treating and protecting your skin. Maybe even more so. Not convinced? Then ask yourself this: how is your skin supposed to function properly if it’s being ‘suffocated’ by layers of oil, dirt, makeup, sunscreen, sweat and bacteria? Answer: It can’t. Not only that, but how’s the rest of your skincare routine supposed to go about its business if it has all that nasty, pore-clogging stuff to get through? Again, it can’t.
So, if you feel like your cleansing routine isn't up to scratch, now’s the time to change that. Here’s what you need to know to ensure you get it spot-on.
The Three Golden Rules Of Cleansing
Before we get into the best cleansing tricks for your skin type, there are a few important rules to have up your sleeves…
Rule 1. Cleanse Twice A Day
Always cleanse your face and neck every morning and every evening – stat. Your morning cleanse is important to prep your skin for what’s to come from the rest of your daily skincare routine, while the nighttime one is essential for whisking away the woes of the day. If you go to the gym during the day, it’s also a wise move to cleanse after exercising, so all that sweat doesn’t sit on your skin and clog up your pores.
And where do we stand on double cleansing? Truthfully? We don’t believe it’s necessary unless you have super oily skin or wear a lot of heavy makeup. We said it!
Rule 2. Make Good Product Choices
Whether you choose a lotion, micellar water, foam or face wash is up to you and your skin type (more on that in a minute), but to get the best results, choose a gentle formulation that isn’t jammed with unnecessary chemicals and synthetic fragrance.
Sulfates, for example, are often found in cleansing formulations because they do a great job of cleaning your skin. But they can also strip away skin's natural oils, which ends up drying out your skin and causing irritation. We don’t like sulfates. Neither should you.
Rule 3. Perfect Your Cleansing Technique
When washing your face with water, never go too hot. Just like nasty chemicals, hot water sucks away natural oils and upsets your skin’s barrier function. It’s one of the American Academy of Dermatology’s (AAD) biggest cleansing no-nos and we totally agree.
Finally, take your time when you cleanse. Apply your product all over your face (not forgetting your neck) and work it all over for at least two minutes. Use gentle, circular motions and think of it as a mini-massage – your skin will love you for that.
How To Choose The Best Cleanser For Your Skin Type
Now that you have a basic understanding of the best cleansing practices for ALL skin types, here's how to tailor-make them for your own personal needs...
As we just mentioned, our number one rule for all skin types is to choose the gentlest cleanser you can. And this is never more important than if you have dry skin. Dry skin has little to do with water (that’s dehydration rather than dryness), but rather it lacks the natural oils needed to lock in said moisture to keep your skin soft and supple.
When choosing the right cleansing formula for dry skin, look for soothing products that contain humectants to draw moisture to the surface, and emollients to hold it there. Ingredients like aloe vera, glycerin, hyaluronic acid and fatty acid-rich oils are perfect for helping to reduce dryness, dehydration and irritation.
Good on you if you have balanced skin. (Jealous, much? Us?)
But seriously, very few people have perfectly balanced skin, so if you count yourself in this elite group, you’re very lucky. This skin type can get away with using foams, lotions, micellar waters or gels (whatever floats your boat). Just remember to look for antioxidant-enriched cleansers to help protect your skin from environmental damage, and continue to avoid harsh ingredients. Otherwise, you might find your balanced skin pays you back – and not in kind.
Try: Any one of our awesome cleansers!
Oily skin is due to overactive sebaceous glands that produce more sebum than your skin really needs. Sebum is super important because it contains several types of complex oils and lipids such as triglycerides, fatty acids, cholesterol and squalene, which work together to lubricate and support the health of your skin. It also plays an essential role in maintaining a slightly acidic pH level to prevent bacteria and viruses from penetrating the skin. But that being said, overly oily skin can be a real pain in the butt to deal with.
Good news and bad. Oily skin is usually genetic (sorry about that), but while you can’t change what you were born with, you can manage and control it. And cleansers are probably one of, if not the most important ways to do that. The biggest mistake is to strip your skin of oil which, contrary to popular belief, will exacerbate oil production. So, don’t do that. Instead, look for ingredients that whisk away dirt, oil and impurities without sucking every last drop of life from your complexion. We love tea tree oil, which does all that while purifying and nurturing skin to reduce inflammation and minimize pesky breakouts.
Combination skin is oily in certain areas and dry in others due to unbalanced sebum production. Again, it’s hereditary and never the same for everyone, but the excess oil is often concentrated around your t-zone where the sebaceous glands are usually more active. Dry patches, meanwhile, tend to be found on the cheeks or around the eyes.
Depending on your ratio of oiliness to dryness, you’ll probably have a tendency to concentrate on oily areas while you cleanse, and dry areas when you moisturize. Try to avoid this. Instead, use pH-balanced cleansers and light, non-comedogenic moisturizers all over to help stabilize your skin.
Also, make sure to steer clear of drying alcohols and unnecessary fragrances which will do nothing but dry out your skin further and exacerbate oil production around your t-zone.
About Georgia Gould
Georgia is an award-winning beauty writer who has been in the business for over 20 years. British-born, she began her career as a magazine beauty editor in London before moving to San Francisco, CA in 2012 where she now continues her love as a freelance writer and editor. As well as her editorial work, Georgia has created content for many high-profile beauty brands, including Clarins, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Simple and TRESemmé. Her passions include retinol (obviously), golfing, skiing and walking her beloved Schnauzer, Dave.