Ah, skincare! Is there a better way to pamper yourself? My journey in self-care has led me to the magical world of skincare and I admit that I have now become a major skincare junkie. During my research, I realized my whole routine was allll wrong. I was washing my face with harsh scrubs every day, I moisturized with coconut oil, never used sunscreen, and even slept with my makeup on more often than I care to admit. YIKES. With so much information and so many products to choose from, building the right skincare routine for you can be overwhelming. So where do you start? Let’s begin with step one, one of the most important steps: cleansing.
Why is cleansing so important?
Your skin is your body’s largest organ. It protects all of your vital organs and goes through quite a bit during the day. From stress to makeup and sunscreen to environmental factors like pollution, dirt, and bacteria, it’s very important to cleanse your face every day. These things, if left to sink into your pores, can lead to breakouts, hyperpigmentation, and signs of aging. Cleansing also preps your skin to soak up all of the products that follow.
What to use and what to avoid
There are a few different kinds of cleansers to choose from but gentle cleansers that won’t strip your skin are best. Contrary to popular belief squeaky clean is not a good thing when it comes to your face. Completely stripping your face of its natural oils can actually lead to more oil production, which can lead to breakouts. Harsh ingredients can also irritate your skin, damage your moisture barrier, and contribute to signs of aging. Stick to cleansers that don’t contain sulfates, drying alcohols or fragrance, all of which can irritate your skin. Avoid scrubs, no matter how gentle they claim to be, which are just too harsh for your face.
Choose a cleansing oil, oil-based cream, micellar water, and/or non- or low-foaming water-based cleanser. Wipes are super convenient but are often full of harsh ingredients and encourage rubbing, which is a no-no especially around the delicate eye area. If you choose to use makeup wipes try not to use them every day and pay close attention to the ingredients. Micellar water is a great option if you’re in the market for a quick and easy cleanser/makeup remover.
One cleansing method that I have been loving is double cleansing. Double cleansing is a technique that is very popular in South Korea/K-beauty and involves using two different cleansers to completely cleanse your face. Step one removes makeup, draws out excess oil, sunscreen, and pollution. An oil cleanser, cleansing balm, or micellar water can be used for this step. Be sure to remove ALL traces of makeup before moving on to step two (the cotton pad should be totally clean). Makeup can be stubborn and is really awful for your skin if left to sink into your pores, so it’s best to remove your makeup before double cleansing if you have the time/motivation.
When using an oil cleanser it’s best to use a designated oil cleanser, rather than regular plant-based oils like coconut and olive oil. Oil cleansers contain emulsifiers that enable you to wash the cleanser off properly. Oil and water don’t mix hence the need for an emulsifier (see science class did come in handy!), regular cooking oils don’t have these so they’re harder to wash off properly. Some oils, like the beloved coconut oil, can actually clog pores and cause breakouts.
Step two is a deeper cleanse with a water-based cleanser to wash away sweat and dirt, as well as any leftover residue from your first cleanse. Some people like to remove their makeup then use a water-based cleanser followed by micellar water.
Double cleansing twice a day is common but not necessary if that’s too much for you. People with oily skin have been known to benefit from double cleansing twice a day (yes even with an oil cleanser!). Hydrated skin actually produces less oil because your skin does not have to overcompensate for harsh cleansers stripping your face. If you choose to only double cleanse once a day include it as part of your nightly routine. In the morning some people like to use a mild cleanser, micellar water, or even just some regular water. I, personally, like to alternate between splashing my face with water followed with micellar water on a cotton pad, or using a gentle cleanser. It depends on how oily my face feels when I wake up.
The 60-second rule
Another trick I’m loving is the 60-second rule. The 60-second rule was created by LA-based esthetician Nayamka Roberts-Smith aka @labeautyologist on Twitter and Instagram. The 60-second rule is as simple as it sounds; wash your face, with your fingers, for 60 seconds before rinsing. Most people only cleanse for maybe 20 seconds tops, so cleansing for a full minute allows the ingredients in your cleanser to have time to actually work. The 60-second rule softens the skin and helps dissolve oil blockages better, which leads to improvements in overall evenness and skin texture. It also allows you to pay attention to your skin which may help you to remember to cleanse spots that are often overlooked, like your hairline, the edges of your nose, and under your chin.
What about cleansing brushes and facial steams?
Your fingers work perfectly fine for cleansing your face so brushes really aren’t necessary, but if you would prefer something else there are a few options. Washcloths and most brushes are too harsh for your face, but silicone brushes and something like the Clarisonic brush (if you’re boujee), with the gentlest brush head on a low setting, can be used.
The Clarisonic brush uses sonic frequency rather than regular mechanisms to spin the brush head around. It has been shown to effectively remove dirt, oil, makeup, and sunscreen, so it could, possibly, eliminate the need for double cleansing.
Facial steams feel so luxurious and are a great addition to a pamper session. Many people like to steam their face prior to cleansing to “open” their pores. While it is a myth that your pores open and close (genetics and skin damage play a big role in the size of your pores), they can appear smaller or larger depending on whether or not they are full of debris. Steaming can soften hardened oil in pores and make it easier to wash away.
So there you have it. Everything I have learned, so far, about cleansing your face. The most important advice I can offer is to remember that skincare should be all about self-love! Loving your skin, loving your beautiful face and loving your beautiful self, so the routine that works best for you is the best one. Check out the gallery to see my current favourite cleansers and some cleansers on my wishlist that people that are loving.