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By definition, cleansing means “to remove” impurities and makeup from the skin. This is the very first, and basic step in taking care of our skin. Because cleansers do not stay on our skin for a long time, many consider this step less important. The purpose of a cleanser is to remove impurities rather than improve the skin’s appearance.
In my years performing skincare treatments and consulting clients, I discovered that many skin issues come from the skin being out of balance, and cleansing is the first and critical step we need to consider.
Most cleansers are formulated with some type of a surfactant – surface active agent, the ingredient that makes the product cleanse and lather. Although we usually think that more foam will bring better cleansing results, this is not necessarily true. Not all surfactants, and especially in the later years, many natural surfactants do not create much foam in the product, although their cleansing efficacy is very effective.
Most of us are used to that squeaky clean feel after a cleanse, although this can aggravate our skin in the long run. So lets elaborate this according to each skin type:
The main rule is that we should cleanse morning and evening with a cleanser appropriate for our skin type. There are 4 main skin types: Oily, Dry, Normal, and Combination.
Face Cleansing for Oily Skin
Oily skin type is characterized by excess sebum (oil) production. Pores are visible, they get clogged easily from the oil build-up, and is prone to blemishes.
Usually, this skin type might feel the need to use “stronger” cleansing routine and may like that squeaky clean effect after a nice face wash. This might bring instant but short-term results.
The fact is that the more we scrub and rub, the more oils the skin likes to produce, as those natural lipids are there to protect it. We are born with our skin type, and as much as we would like to, we can’t change this. Skin wants to go back to its natural state.
Over-cleansing will strip away the skin from its natural protection, and will make matters worse.
Solution: Gel cleanser in combination with an oil cleanser. Oily skin loves gel cleansers that are oil-free or contain tiny portions of oil. This will bring the squeaky clean results and keep the pores clean, preventing them from clogging.
My suggestion is that gel cleansing should be combined with oil cleansing. In recent years there have been many natural oil cleansers on the market. Some of them have been formulated specifically for oily skin. When the skin receives oil, it pauses the need to produce more oils. It will have enough to balance and protect itself. In addition, the very first outer layer of our skin is oil-based. With the excess oil build-up that this skin type has, water-based products are often unable to penetrate past this very first layer. That being said, the oil cleanser will have much better results at binding with the skin’s lipids and lifting them up.
As a general rule of thumb, oil cleansing should be done at night since oils work amazingly at removing makeup as well. Gel cleanser should be used in the morning. This way, the skin will balance its lipid production during the evening and can be nicely cleansed in the morning for a “drier” feel during the day.
Each person should be addressed individually and according to the climate they are surrounded with. In warmer weather, we may find ourselves using gel cleansers more often, and in cold weather, it will be the opposite. Observe and study your skin for the best results.
There are specific plant extracts and essential oils that naturally balance the skin’s oil production, or have antibacterial properties and will be beneficial for this skin type.
Face Cleansing for Dry Skin
Dry skin is the opposite of oily where the skin does not produce enough oils. Pores are barely visible. This skin type lacks protection from natural oils; therefore, it needs extra love and care. The skin’s barrier can often be compromised because of a lack of protection.
Suggested cleansers for a dry skin are cream or oil cleansers. Cream cleansers will look creamy and milky. They are formulated as a combination of hydrating ingredients, oils, and milder surfactants. The key is to protect the barrier with minimal scrubbing and very gentle cleansing. With that being said, I am a big fan of oil cleansing for this skin type, as the most natural form of cleansing.
While dry skin can benefit from oil or cream cleanser alone, if used in combination oil cleanser should be used in the evening, and cream cleanser in the morning.
Face Cleansing for Combination Skin
Combination skin has oily t-zone with dry or normal outer areas of the face. T-zone consists of the forehead, nose, and chin. Both parts of the face have to be taken care of with their own needs.
Since the t-zone in combination skin type is always oily, the best and most straightforward solution is to use one of the two suggestions mentioned above and test what works best.
When we are younger, our skin tends to produce more oils. On this occasion, this skin type will benefit from a combination of a gel cleanser with oil cleansing methods.
Later, as we age and everything slows down, therefore our skin produces less oils, a combination of a cream cleanser with occasional oil cleansing routine should be considered.
Face Cleansing for Normal Skin
Normal skin type has a good lipid-water balance. However, it can fluctuate and sometimes be more dry or oily. This depends on the age and the surrounding climate. The best choice for cleansing this skin type is a cream cleanser combined with an oil cleanser. The goal is to maintain the balance that this skin type was born with.
With normal, and every other skin type, always consider the weather climate and the seasons.
When browsing for the proper cleanser, don’t get caught by a fancy long list of extracts. Cleansers do not stay long enough on the skin; therefore, many active ingredients will not have enough time to provide the desired results. The only active ingredients that are beneficial in a cleanser or a face wash are hydroxy acids and enzymes. These have exfoliating properties on the skin. They help break down the bonds between the cells, aiding the process of gently removing dead skin cells, resulting in a smoother, brighter skin complexion. Enzymes, AHA (alpha-hydroxy-acids), BHA (beta-hydroxy-acids) belong to this group. I do not recommend that exfoliating cleanser be used every day. Usually, they provide beautiful and instant results on our skin, but this may lead to over-stripping the skin’s lipid barrier creating dis-balance. Oily skin might get triggered to produce more oils. Dry skin may get overly dry, and since it usually has a compromised lipid barrier, exfoliating the skin too often may lead to sensitization.
On another note, consider calming and cooling ingredients like chamomile, aloe vera, colloidal oat, and cucumber. Every skin type benefits from little calmness. Even though your skin may appear resilient and never gets red or inflamed, our skin is under constant stress in our daily lives. Weather is the wind, the pollution, excess sun exposure, and stress. All of this affects our body internally that transfers to our skin along the way. Who doesn’t like a little calm after a long and busy day.
We are often bombarded with many great and effective products on the market, not knowing which one to choose. Understanding your skin’s behavior and learning about these three basic steps will guide you to what works best for your particular skin type and condition. This is crucial to create a balanced, radiant and supple skin.
The three basic steps for achieving healthy and glowing skin according to your skin type:
- Best face cleansing methods for each skin type
- The key to youthful skin barrier is balanced hydration
- Exfoliation brings smoother and brighter skin complexion
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