Although we now associate “cleansing” with detoxing, deprivation and green juice, this is about the OTHER kind of cleanse, the one you should be doing twice daily on your face.
Healthy, smooth and vibrant skin is the basis for beauty at any age, the canvas upon which we build the face we present to the world. And it all starts with thorough but thoughtful cleansing.
By this I mean, there is more to cleansing than picking up any old bar of soap. There is technique to consider including cleansing devices and a plethora of products to choose from.
Some things to consider before you lather up:
- Pick the right product for your skin, age and time of year. Changing conditions call for different products.
- Wash twice daily. More can dry and irritate your skin.
- Hot water can lead to over production of sebum AND over drying, as well as redness.Use lukewarm water and rinse with cold water for a bracing, pore closing finish.
- Do exfoliate but no more than 2-3 times a week using your hands and plenty of water. Be careful with scrubs that can scratch and irritate sensitive skin.
- Rinse well, not to the Erno Laszlo extreme (15 times!) but enough to remove all product. Years ago I heard a model with glowing skin say she swore by using a clean white wash cloth each day. I went out and bought a dozen and have lived by this maxim ever since. Some even favor baby wash cloths. The cloth itself helps exfoliate and changing daily avoids bacteria.
- Avoid irritating ingredients like colorants, parabens, sodium laurel sulfate and fragrance, if you are sensitive to it.
- After cleansing, pat, don’t rub the skin dry. Apply your moisturizer or serum immediately for maximum absorption. But let skin dry thoroughly before applying retinols or AHA’s.
- Don’t overspend on cleanser. It is only on your face for a minute. Save your money for serums and moisturizers which stay on the skin.
- Unless you are overly oily, try the latest trend, cleansing oils, which dissolve skin oils, dirt and makeup. Massage into skin and wipe away with a warm, wet washcloth. They may be the perfect antidote to winter dry or sun baked skin.*
I am a fervent fan of cleansing brushes after jumping on the Clarisonic bandwagon years ago. Having had problem skin for much of my life, I thought it worth the investment and have never regretted it. My first Clarisonic lasted 6+ years until it failed to charge and has now been replaced with a spiffy new Mia. The benefits of a cleansing brush are many. It simply does what hands alone can’t, oscillating 300x/second, all while stimulating the skin and dislodging 6 times the debris and makeup of the manual method. A little timer beeps to tell you when to move from forehead (20 seconds) to nose and chin (20 seconds) to cheeks (10 seconds each). Clarisonic has developed a number of interchangeable heads for normal, sensitive, acne, deep pore and now radiance cleansing. $100-125
DDF Revolver 500x micro is a polishing system that combines micro- dermabrasion and cleansing features. It has 3 speeds, multiple brush heads and comes with polishing crystals and an exfoliating pad. The Revolver is battery operated in contrast to the Clarisonic which comes with a charger. $119
The newest entry in the cleansing brush market is the Clinique Sonic System Purifying Cleansing Brush. The instructions recommend removing makeup first, which disqualifies it as a true cleansing tool in my book and adds an extra step. It has one brush head; the white portion for gentle massage and the green bristles for deeper pore cleansing. $89.50
The least expensive and most portable way to get your feet, er, face wet in the cleansing brush game is the Olay Pro X Advance Cleansing System. It is a small, battery operated device that comes packaged with Exfoliating Renewal Cleanser. The Pro X offers one very soft brush head and two speeds. I picked up the system one day at Costco and have tucked the little guy into my travel bag over since. $31.50
All the brushes offer cleansing products that work with them but you can use the (no-gritty) cleanser of your choice.
But which to choose? Cleansers fall into several categories: gel, cream, scrubs, deep pore cleansing and bar soap.
Gels – I like the consistency of gels and the squeaky clean feel they give. Look for ones with glycolic acid for exfoliating and stimulating and hyaluronic acid which is an effective humectant and healer. My current fave: Green Tea Citrus Antioxidant Cleanser by SkinScript, available through aestheticians. I like to alternate a gel cleanser with….
Creamy cleansers – Creams are gentle and soothing and perfect for sensitive or dry skin. Look for nutrient rich formulas with hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C to stimulate collagen as well as anti oxidant packed Vitamin E. I like Prescriptives All Clean which has a fresh, tangerine scent.
Scrubs – Because my skin tends to get congested and needs exfoliation, I keep a scrub in my arsenal. I love Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Scrub (don’t be put off by the acne nomenclature). It is pumped up with salicylic acid and micro beads which exfoliate and grapefruit extract which smells fresh and energizing. Another drug store favorite is St Ives Apricot Scrub with 2% salicylic acid and all natural exfoliants. The gentlest scrub ever is PUR Attitude’s Purifying Rice Face Wash. Soap free, the rice beads will leave even sensitive skin immaculately clean and gently exfoliated.
Bars- My first facial cleanser, and now a classic, is Neutrogena’s clear amber Facial Cleansing Bar bar. Glycerin rich, it has no detergent and rinses super clean. Dove is another oldy- but- goody with ¼ moisturizing cream so never leaves you feeling tight or stripped. And let’s not forget the doctor’s favorite, Cetaphil, so gentle and non- irritating that my derm ordered it for after procedure use. Its non soap formula is antibacterial, detergent free and moisturizing.
Deep Pore Cleansing- Sometimes I feel like such a sweaty grease ball that I need to call in the cleansing cavalry. That’s when I reach for Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser. It cleanses, purifies and detoxifies with minerals and Amazonian White Clay. Trust me, it’s like a facial in a tube.
Cleansing Oil – After my last close encounter with a laser, pal Stacey gave me her Origins Clean Energy cleansing oil. This high tech formula combines olive, sunflower, sesame and safflower oils with Kukui nut, Macadamia and Vitamin E. It was the only thing that really soothed my ravaged face. When you need ultra gentle, reach for an oil.
*Adapted from Women’s Health