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Everything You Need to Know About Facial Cleansing
Cleansing should seem straightforward. It’s a natural action we do almost every day and have been doing probably since before we even knew the ins and outs of skincare. You feel sweaty, you wash your face. You’re in the shower, you wash your face. Simple, straightforward.
Now, of course, we know it isn’t so. If you’re lucky and have genetically very healthy skin, that soap and water combo you’ve been performing forever has probably kept your skin nice and healthy. But for many people, especially those with more sensitive or acne-prone skin – what we call problem skin – that can spell disaster.
This is because the skin on our face is typically more sensitive than the skin on the rest of our bodies. It needs constant cleansing, nourishment, and protection in order to look and feel healthy. This skin is also prone to collecting a lot of bacteria and impurities which can clog the pores and result in breakouts.
That’s why cleansing is an important step in every skincare routine. It’s not something you can skip just because it’s not a serum or an exfoliator. In fact, there can be consequences to your skin if you stop washing your face regularly.
In this guide, we talk about how to properly wash your skin, what kind of facial cleanser suits each skin type the best, and the consequences of not washing your face.
Maintaining Clear Skin, Removing Dead Skin Cells, and Other Benefits
As you can imagine, cleansing the skin properly has a lot of benefits. There’s a reason you start your skin regimen with a cleanser, and washing your face is pretty much the foundation of a solid routine.
Some of the best benefits of skin cleansing are:
- Removing dead skin cells
- It helps remove makeup which can clog pores
- Helps remove dirt, bacteria, sebum, and other impurities
- Prevents clogged pores
- Allows other skin products to penetrate into the skin effectively
- Important in maintaining healthy skin pH
- Boosts skin hydration through regulating skin’s pH levels, which improves water retention
- Removes excess oil
- Important for all skin types
As you can see, cleansing your skin helps it stay hydrated and free from dirt that can clog your pores and eventually lead to breakouts. And it has benefits for ALL skin types, even though those with dry skin can sometimes feel irritated. We talk more about the nuances of proper cleansing for each skin type below.
How often should I wash my face?
But first, how often should you actually wash your face? Is it possible to wash your face too often? We take a look at what skincare experts like Dr. Saya Obaya have to say.
“You should wash your face both morning and night because the skin creates sebum and oil throughout the day,” according to Saya Obayah, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist residing in Texas, United States. She agrees that the safest rule is to cleanse your face at least twice a day.
So, it makes sense to start cleansing first thing in the morning since your skin builds up oil while you’re asleep. It also helps if you need to remove an overnight skincare product. Those who like using serums in their morning skin routine can also benefit from cleansing first thing since it allows the product to penetrate deeper.
As for a nighttime routine, cleansing helps with removing makeup – an essential step if you want clean skin. Makeup is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to clogged pores. The oil and residue get trapped in the skin and can become hard to remove. That’s why many skin experts recommend light makeup unless necessary.
When you are wearing multiple layers of cosmetics on, it’s important to double cleanse with an oil-based cleanser or makeup remover and a water-based cleanser. The first step can remove makeup efficiently while the second step helps in cleansing other dirt and pollutants that may have settled on your skin.
Even if you rarely wear makeup, facial cleansing is still a vital nighttime step. Natural oils, dead skin cells, dirt, bacteria, and impurities build up on the outer layer of your skin throughout the day. A good cleanse does an excellent job of removing all this dirt and bacteria. Consistent washing also prevents such dirt from clogging your pores and causing irritation, breakouts, and acne.
What would happen if you stopped washing?
Have you ever stopped to think about what would happen if you stopped showering? Most likely your skin would feel sticky, develop an odor, and generally feel uncomfortable. The same can be said for cleansing your face.
If you stopped washing your face completely, your pores will get blocked with all sorts of dirt, oil, and bacteria. Your skin won’t be able to shed these blockages and it could lead to the development of acne.
Another problem would be irritation and dryness, along with severe redness or itching due to lack of hydration. Cleansing is known to balance skin pH levels, which in turn helps skin retain moisture better. If you stopped washing your face, it would dry up and even cause you to constantly scratch your skin. The scratches could become entry points for other bacteria to penetrate your skin as well.
Finally, you’ll also probably notice that your skin will appear much more oily and greasy if you stop washing it.
Obviously, none of us want this to happen to our skin. It would undo the work we’ve been doing to keep our skin healthy and soft! The best thing about cleansing is that it doesn’t take more than a few minutes, so it is completely doable.
The tricky thing is finding a cleanser that works with your skin type. More on that in the next section.
What Facial Cleanser should I use?
There are all types of cleansers that suit different skin needs. In a previous blog, we break down the different types of cleansers and when to use them.
This time, we take a look at the best facial cleansing habits for each skin type, how often to wash your face, and the kinds of cleansers you should look into.
Cleansing for Oily Skin or Acne-Prone Skin Type
If you’ve been washing your face at least two times a day and have oily skin, then you’re on the right track.
“If you have acne-prone skin, you should wash your face at least twice a day,” adds Dr. Obayah in an article with Yahoo!. “A foaming cleanser can be helpful for oily skin and it’s important not to skip out on using moisturizer when you have oily skin (lack of moisture can lead to your skin overproducing oil to keep it hydrated). Look for water-based moisturizers with hyaluronic acid that can hydrate without adding oil to the skin.”
So, there you have it. Look for a facial cleanser that is both gentle and cleansing. Foaming facial cleansers work well at keeping your skin soft, healthy, and free of the uncomfortable greasy feeling. Your skin type would also benefit from a gel-based face wash for its deep cleaning and hydrating properties that can keep your skin barrier strong. Paired with anti-acne skincare products, you should have a pretty robust routine.
Cleansing for Dry Skin and/or Sensitive Skin
If you have dry or sensitive skin, then the standard of washing your face twice a day can lead to irritation. That’s why it is highly recommended to pair your cleanser with a moisturizing skin care product. People with delicate skin, dehydrated skin, or a damaged skin barrier will also want to go for cleansers with hydrating and reparative ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides to avoid stripping skin of its natural oils.
Using micellar water in place of a gentle cleanser can also be beneficial if your skin is too dry after a regular facial wash. Micellar water is excellent at washing your face in a soft way, lifting impurities on your face with each wash rather than scrubbing them off like other cleansers.
At the end of the day, though, if you belong to the group of sensitive skin types, you’re most likely going to have to go through a trial and error stage with cleansers. And that’s okay! Washing your face is an important step to overall skin health, so finding the right wash is an investment of both time and resources.
For Combination Skin
Now, if you have combination skin, it can be a little tricky. Combination skin types generally have really acne-prone or oily skin in the T-zone area but a dry complexion on the cheeks. It’s tricky because certain facial cleansers that are excellent at washing off oil and grease can actually be irritating to dry skin. Look for products with glycolic acid or lactic acid for a mild yet effective cleanse.
Dr. Obayah still recommends cleansing twice a day, but taking a break when you feel like your skin is starting to get dry, flaky, or irritated. Also, the best cleanser would be a gentle one – something like gel-based, cream-based cleansers, or micellar water – so you’re not stripping off natural oils from your face. Then, follow up with a really thick moisturizer and air dry.
Tips for Washing Your Face the Right Way
You don’t have to be a board-certified dermatologist to know that washing your face is also how you wash it as it is what you wash your face with. Whether you have oily, dry, or sensitive skin, these tips will help you maximize the benefits of your cleanser when you’re washing your face.
1. Clean your hands before washing your face.
Face washes remove the outer layer of dirt on your skin, but imagine using dirty hands to apply them – it doesn’t make sense. Always wash your hands before using your face wash!
2. Remove makeup slowly and gently.
Don’t be harsh when using cleansers for removing dirt or makeup. They’re not physical scrub cleansers so being too rough won’t actually make them more effective. Instead, massage the product in slow, gentle circles from your chin to your forehead in order to enhance blood flow.
3. Rinse with lukewarm water, not hot.
Steamy water may feel super relaxing, but it can actually stress out our skin and strip it of essential oils. Always rinse with lukewarm or room temperature water for the best results.
4. Don’t rub your face with a harsh towel.
Finally, use a microfiber face towel and blot your face dry instead of using a rough cloth.
And that’s it! We hope this guide was helpful. Let us know in the comments what you think – you can even share your best skincare hacks below!
Joey is an AB Psychology graduate of the University of St. La Salle – Bacolod. Her life’s passions include writing, film, and spending hours on end binge-watching fashion vloggers on Youtube.