So many of us focus on the skincare products we apply after washing our face without realizing that cleaning is not only the first, but perhaps one of the most important skincare steps.
Your cleanser is responsible for clearing away dirt, makeup and oil that accumulate on our skin throughout the day (and night), and without proper cleansing, you’re getting your skincare routine off on the wrong foot.
How to cleanse
It may seem rudimentary, but how you wash your face is important. Whether you use a washcloth (if you do, please wash it every day or two) or not, you should use a circular motion that follows the lymph flow of your face—this means using your hands in an up-and-out motion.
Choose the right cleanser for your skin type
If you’re oily, use a foaming cleanser to help strip excess oils from the skin. And be sure to use hot or warm water to open the pores. If your skin is not sensitive, it will respond well to a scrubbing salicylic acid cleanser like Vivite Exfoliating Cleanser or Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Wash Daily Scrub.
After cleansing, rinse with cool water to close pores, and keep in mind your skin may feel tight for about 45 minutes—this is how long it takes for your oil glands to get going again.
If you’re sensitive and oily, go with a salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide cleanser (benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria and salicylic acid helps clear excess oil out of the pores).
If you’re dry and acne-prone, glycolic acid cleansers help clear dead cells off the surface of the skin that can lead to clogged pores. Dry skin should be cleansed with tepid water and minimal friction, and avoid scrubs if your skin gets red and sensitive. Mild flaking (not soreness and redness) can be alleviated with a mild scrub like Clinique 7-Day Scrub Cream or La Roche Posay Physiologic Gel Scrub.
Rosacea requires special care during cleansing as not to aggravate the skin. Don’t use hot or cold water—instead aim for tepid. Use gentle cleansing motions as friction only makes matters worse. Look for anti-inflammatory ingredients like feverfew, green tea and oatmeal, and avoid glycolic acid and vitamin C.
You can also skip cleansing in the morning if you aren’t oily and it makes your skin red, but cleansing at night is a must to remove sunscreen and makeup.
Those who experience burning and stinging shouldn’t use toners, and should avoid alcohol, witch hazel, glycolic acid, lactic acid, benzoic acid and other ingredients that sting.