Happy February! Here's a topic I've been wanting to talk about for a while: cleansing. By far the most important step in your routine. Everyone knows how to wash their face, right? My empirical research tells me otherwise (please take this humorously).
In Finland, make up wipes are not very common, but I've read this is a culprit in the US and UK. In here people sleep with their make up on, aggressively rub their faces with exfoliating beads or be content with washing their faces with soap. When I lived in Japan, double cleansing, a variety of pre-cleansers and a multi-step skincare routine was as common as bread and rice. Here I'll share with you what I've learned about proper cleansing. I hope this post helps you to define your own routine!
Feeling after cleansing
Feeling after cleansing should be clean, fresh, balanced - not stripped, tight or "squeaky clean". Very clean yes, but not squeaky. If it's one of the latter, you're most likely using wrong products for your skin type or wrong products all together. Check if your products is high on denat. alcohol, sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), strong acids or hard exfoliating particles. Personally, I'd let go of them.
You have the time
Sometimes when I'm dead tired the last thing I want to do is splash my face with water. But no way I want all that dirt, dust and grime marinate on my skin for the whole night. Think cleansing as a mini pamper instead of a task. Try cleaning with micellar water on your lazy nights before going in with an oil cleanser and a warm wash cloth. Once you've gently wiped your face it doesn't feel as bad to use another cleanser.
2 Minute massage
If you're invested in a cleanser there's no benefit if you rinse it straight away - all those wonderful ingredients go down the drain. Take at least 2 minutes to massage your cleanser in to your face. Massaging not only removes the dirt and make up efficiently but relaxes, improves the circulation, removal of toxins and reduces puffiness.
Please notice that over-cleansing and stripping your skin is never the goal. Your skin needs hydration and sebum (oil) in balance. Especially oily and acne prone skins should be mindful to not to over-cleanse, which can stimulate the pores to produce even more excess sebum and further block your pores. Harsher and harsher cleansers are not the answer to this dilemma - but being gentle.
The point of double cleansing is first to remove what's on top of your face and then actually cleanse and treat the skin. At first you want to break up any sebum, make up, sunscreen plus dirt and grime that has built up over the day. As like dissolves like, this step is most easily completed with oily cleansers. If you don't wear sunscreen already, I recommend you read this post of mine. The only time you "don't need to" double cleanse if you've been indoors with no make up or SPF all day. Then, you want to perform the second step, which is a gentle cleanser to actually clean your skin, plus remove any oil residue off your face. Only touch your face with clean hands!
Optional for heavy make up and SPF: pre-cleanse your face and eyes with a micellar water or eye make up remover. I recommend you won't use this alone as your 1st cleanse, but go in with an oil or balm afterwards. Let's not be lazy. Then clean your face properly from oil, remaining make up and sunscreen with an oil or a balm cleanser. Don't yank the skin but spread the product evenly, massaging the skin. Remove by emulsifying the oil/balm or gently wipe with a warm washcloth. 1st cleansers:
- micellar waters
- eye make up removers
- oil cleansers
- cleansing balms
- sherbet cleansers
Oil Cleansing Method (OCM)
This is how many cleansing oils function: You massage your cleansing oil on dry face - I start from eyes and centre of my face, moving outwards in round, circular motions. I avoid pulling my skin and move my hands in upward motion instead of dragging the skin down. After I rinse the dirty oil from my hands and place the damp hands back onto my face, massaging. The oil should emulsify to a milky texture, removing gently but efficiently your make up/SPF/etc. True oils won't emulsify and are easiest to remove with a damp washcloth.
After removing the majority of oil, dirt and gunk it's time to cleanse the face. Any light cleansing milk or gel for your skin type works: Apply to the skin, massage and rinse or use a washcloth if you need the extra exfoliation. Although the skincare goddess Caroline Hirons likes to say 'bubbles are for your bath, not for your face' I don't personally totally opposite foam cleansers. Especially in the Asian market I've found low pH, non-stripping cleansing foams that I enjoy. I also save any luxurious cleansers for this step - fancy oils and balms or cleansers with skincare benefits as I want them straight on my face and not down the drain while removing my make up. 2nd cleansers:
- (expensive) balms
- luxe cleansers
Morning cleansing routine
Do you need to wash your face in the mornings? Yes. Same as 2nd cleanse. Some of you might only want to splash your face with water, but personally I wake sweat on my face instead of getting that Victoria's Secret glow. I also use heavy occlusive moisturisers that may leave a film or traces of oil on my face, so I go in with a light foam, milk or a luxurious cleansing balm. It feels heavenly and washing wakes me up at the same time.
Washcloth or no?
All of my favorite British beauty bloggers seem to have adopted the habit of using a washcloth, muslin or flannel to remove their cleanser, but this isn't very common in Finland. In my local home textile store the SA didn't even know word 'muslin'. In Japan, where I used to live briefly, any friction to your skin is considered bad and causing wrinkles. As I have no data is Asian skin thinner than European, I just pay attention how much I pull and tuck my skin while washing. Using a hot washcloth can be a relaxing home spa ritual and a gentle way to manually exfoliate without beads (plastic beads are very polluting and some can cause micro cuts to the skin).
I hope this post was helpful! Finding the perfect cleanser will follow in my acid mantle & cleanser pH post. I'm curious to hear do you always double cleanse? How about use washcloths?