Many of my clients come in with skin concerns that can be corrected or improved simply by using a better method to wash their face. Cleansing your skin is the first step in every skin care regimen, and the cleanse must be done properly in order to set a proper foundation for the rest of the routine that follows.
The most common mistakes I find are that clients are not washing their skin thoroughly enough. Using makeup wipes, toner, or water alone are not sufficient methods of cleansing the skin. Makeup wipes can be a good start to the cleansing process, but they cannot be used alone. Makeup wipes will leave behind a residue, and they are simply unable to completely remove your makeup, oil, and daily pollution/debris; not to mention that most makeup wipes contain fragrance, which is the most irritating and reactive ingredient in skincare products. In order to have clean skin, debris must be lifted off the skin and washed away down the drain; makeup wipes just move things around. I do not condemn makeup wipes, and I personally like to remove heavier makeup before I begin cleansing my skin in the evening.
Now lets get to the right way to wash your face…
During a facial, estheticians always do what we call a “double cleanse,” which means that we wash our clients face two times. This is the same method I recommend for my clients at home.
The first cleanse removes makeup (or leftover makeup), oil, dirt and debris. The second cleanse removes anything on the surface that was left behind by the first cleanse (there’s always something left behind) and goes deeper into the skin, flushing out the pores and removing harmful bacteria. Again, the first cleanse removes the makeup, oil, debris, and general pollution remaining on our skin at the end of the day, while the second cleanse is then able to clean deeper into the skin and flush out the pores.
While cleansing the face, it is important to use circular movements to work up and under the hair follicles. As mammals we are covered in hair, and our oil glands live at the base of every hair follicle. These circular motions insure nothing is stuck under the hair and that we ensure a flushing of the source of oil.
Cleansing your skin can also be an opportunity to exfoliate. I will start off by saying that I do NOT recommend grit exfoliation or a cleanser with physical beads. The physical grit exfoliants found in most over the counter cleansers are way too aggressive for the face. While they may look and feel fine, if you were to look at these exfoliating beads under a microscope you would find that they have rough and jagged edges that can actually cause micro-abrasions or cuts to the skin. These micro-abrasions then become ways for bacteria to enter the skin.
What I have found to be the ideal method of home exfoliation uses a wet washcloth. It is a simple and effective means of removing dead skin cell build up, while also being gentle enough not to damage the skin. You can either use the washcloth to apply the cleanser, or to remove the cleanser, or both. When selecting your washcloth you want one that is a little rougher. Not a soft microfiber washcloth, but a washcloth with texture.
In summary this is my method: double cleanse using a non-grit cleanser, moving in circular movements, and then removing with a washcloth while applying enough pressure to exfoliate dead skin cells, but gentle enough not to injure the skin.