Sometimes it’s the last thing you want to do at the end of a long day, but washing off a day’s worth of grime, makeup, dirt, and oil is EXACTLY what your face needs… every day. But how do you know if you’re using the right cleanser for your skin type, or skin concerns? Should you use different cleansers based on the time of day, or time of year? How often should you cleanse the skin, and when is it just overkill?
Read below to find out what type of cleansers are best for you, what ingredients to look for when shopping for a new cleansers, and how to properly cleanse the skin.
Why you should cleanse your skin:
Cleansing and washing your face is key to everyone’s skincare routine and overall health. Cleansing the skin removes the toxins, dirt, and impurities collected throughout the day allowing the skin an opportunity to heal and repair itself faster. It also gives additional serums, treatments, and moisturizers the ability to penetrate deeper into the skin and work better because the surface of the skin is clean and able to absorb the beneficial ingredients easier.
When to cleanse the skin:
In the morning for oily and/or combination skin…
If your skin is oily or oily/combination, a mild gel cleanser with VItamin C is recommended. This will help remove excess oil, while keeping the skin protected and pH balanced, allowing other products (like serums) to absorb better into the skin.
Another option is a charcoal based cleanser. This is recommended for oilier skin types, or breakout prone skin. The charcoal in the cleanser will help draw out excess impurities and oil in the pores, leaving skin feeling refreshed.
Need help choosing between a gel-based or charcoal cleanser? This video should help.
In the morning for normal, dry, and/or sensitive skin…
If your skin is more normal or sensitive and dry, simply washing the face with warm water and following with a toner might be sufficient.
If the skin feels like it needs a bit more love, try a simple gel-based or milky cleanser. Foaming and oil-control cleansers are NOT recommended for dry or sensitive skin types.
Regardless of skin type/concern, gentler is better for cleansers in the morning. Avoid over-stripping skin, over-scrubbing, and irritating the skin first thing in morning.
Regardless of skin type or concern, not all cleansers are makeup removers, and no makeup remover is a cleanser. Make sure to use a micellar water, oil-based makeup remover, or makeup removing wipe in the evening before cleansing the skin. Most cleansers won’t completely remove makeup residue so use a makeup remover first.
In the evening for oily and/or combination skin…
Splash the face with warm water, and use about a pea-sized amount of either a gel-based or charcoal cleanser in circular motions on the face. It’s completely OK to use the same cleanser you used in the morning, or to mix it up. Use a warm, damp washcloth to gently remove excess product from the face.
Following with a charcoal mask 2-3 times a week, after cleansing the skin, is a great way to keep skin feeling clean and balanced and helps control excess oil production.
In the evening for normal, dry, and/or sensitive skin…
A cream, milky, or gel-based cleanser is recommended for those with normal, dry, or sensitive skin. These cleansers will effective clean the skin without stripping it of needed oils or hydration.
Can you “over cleanse” when washing your face?
Yes, you can over cleanse the face.
The main sign that skin is over cleansed is when it feels tight, itchy, and red in places.
Here are 3 tips to not over cleanse the face:
- Do NOT wash the face with very hot water, it can burn and irritate the skin. Instead, use warm/tepid water
- Avoid scrubbing the face excessively with washcloths or cleansing sponges/brushes. Usually, using gently pressure with fingertips and following by gently wiping the face with a warm washcloth is sufficient to clean the face
- Change up your cleanser. Even if your skin is oily or breakout prone, avoid washing it with medicated and oil-stripping products every day. For example, if you have acne and are using a benzoyl peroxide wash and skin starts to get red or flaky, use that cleanser every 2-3 days. On other days, use something gentler like a Vitamin C Cleanser.
If skin is over cleansed, make sure to show it some love with a hydrator and a moisturizer. Learn more about the difference between a hydrator and a moisturizer to choose which products will work best for you.
How is a cleanser different than an exfoliator?
Simply put, a cleanser cleans the face of dirt and impurities and an exfoliator scrubs or disintegrates dead skin cells from the surface of the skin.
There are 3 main types of exfoliators:
- Physical; uses rounded beads to physically remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin
- Chemical; uses mainly plant-derived ingredients like citric or glycolic acids to dissolve and eat away at surface skin cells
- Enzymatic; typically plant-based enzymes that also dissolve the gunk sitting on top of the skin. Enzymatic exfoliators are typically gentler than chemical and recommended for all skin types, especially sensitive
Sometimes, exfoliators will use a combination of different types physical and chemical exfoliants, like a 2.5% Glycolic Facial Scrub.
Need help choosing between the two? No worries! This video will help.
Now that you’re armed with all this fabulous cleanser and exfoliator knowledge, feel free to shop with a more educated approach.