When we talk about cleanser, we mean an actual facial wash product. Not makeup remover. Not cleansing wipes. Not water and a wash cloth and not any other substitute for actually washing your face. Those things are more like pre-cursors for the big event. We need the ingredients in cleanser to actually lift dirt and impurities from the pores. There are lots of reasons why this step is important.
HOW TO CLEANSE:
Most of us know how to cleanse our face, but not everyone knows how to do so effectively. Because this step is the foundation of our whole skin care routine, we want to be thorough and really get into all of the small crevices where dirt, makeup and debris like to hang out.
Using gentle pressure, we ideally want to spend at least two minutes mindfully massaging our face before rinsing, to ensure that all the cleanser is removed. Use lukewarm or cold water, as hot water can strip the skin.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
Every skin type should look for a sulfate-free cleanser that is non-drying and avoid excess perfume or fragrance. For normal, combination or oily skin, we like a gel or foam cleanser. For dry, aging or sensitive skin, a creamy and/or oil-based cleanser is recommended. Remembering also that our skin changes periodically and we may need a mix of both. Another way to approach cleansing is according to timing. In the morning, you could opt for a gel cleanser with antioxidants to help protect the skin against the elements, then use a creamier or oil-based cleanser at night to remove makeup, cleanse away impurities and hydrate the skin before bedtime.
When implementing multiple cleansers, it's good to have one "active" cleanser in the routine. An active cleanser is one that contains active ingredients like glycolic or salicylic acid. These cleansers tend to be too stripping for every day use, but can make a great addition 1-3x per week.
TIPS & TRICKS:
If you've got your cleanser routine down and are ready to experiment a little, try one of these advanced cleansing routines to spice it up:
The Double Cleanse: Just like it sounds. Perform your cleanse, rinse, and then immediately follow with a second round using either the same cleanser 2x or a creamy cleanser followed by a gel cleanser.
The 4-2-4 Method: A favorite in Korean skin care, the 4-2-4 starts with a facial oil or cleansing oil, massaged into the face for four minutes. Add a creamy cleanser on top and massage for two more minutes to emulsify. Lastly rinse for four minutes, starting with warm water and transitioning to cold. This technique is said to promote detoxification and hydration for the skin.
Power Cleanse: Think of it as DIY Active Cleanser. Mix a little of your favorite facial scrub in with your cleanser during your first or second cleanse. The cleanser will dilute the scrub but the little bit of exfoliation will enhance your cleanse, getting rid of excess dirt and dry surface skin for a polished finish.