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Love to Scrub: Five Steps for Facial Cleansing

May 03, 2017 02:00PM ● By Becca Newell
By Becca Newell

Washing your face is something you’ve, hopefully, been doing daily your entire life. While the task itself is simple, there are elements that can lead to unclean or over-cleaned—read: irritated— skin. We broke down the process into five easy-to-follow steps to ensure an effective regimen. Happy cleansing!


What is Micellar Water?

You might have noticed a recent influx of facial cleansers labeled “Micellar Water.” These all-in-one alternatives to makeup removers and cleansers are basically a mix of oil molecules and water that draw out impurities without irritating the skin. Most formulas don’t require rinsing, making them a desirable product for those with sensitive skin—or those in a hurry! However, most solutions aren’t strong enough to fully remove heavily-applied or waterproof makeup, so an initial swipe with a makeup remover is often necessary.

1. Remove Makeup First

Use an oil-based makeup remover to completely expel any traces of makeup; product left on the skin may lead to blocked pores and irritation. If your cleanser is a two-in-one makeup remover, use a washcloth or sponge—and some light pressure—to wipe away foundation, mascara, and other cosmetics.


Twice a Day Keeps Acne at Bay

It’s long been the standard recommendation by dermatologists to wash the face twice a day and, in 2006, a six-week study was conducted to support this practice. The clinical trial observed males with mild to moderate acne—one group of participants washed their faces once a day, another, twice a day. Results showed acne conditions worsened with once-daily face washing, but improved when administered twice per day.

2. Pick the Right Product

It’s important to select a cleanser that fits your skin type. The product shouldn’t be too drying, too irritating, or too gentle on the skin. On the oilier side? Pick a foaming cleanser or cleansing oil. On the dryer side? A cream formula is better. If you’re in-between or unsure of your skin type, opt for a pH-balanced solution to keep skin looking and feeling its best.


The Acid Mantle

If your skin tends to scale towards acidic, it will appear red, irritated, and more prone to acne; if your skin slides towards the alkaline side, it will be drier, more fragile, and prone to wrinkle development. Ideally, skin should fall slightly on the acidic side with a pH of 5.5. If you can’t quite determine your skin’s pH from visual cues, testing strips can be purchased online or you can have your dermatologist take a look.

3. Use Warm Water

Like Goldilocks and her porridge, the water you use after lathering to rinse off your cleanser needs to be just right, temperature-wise. Water that’s too hot can irritate and dry out skin, whereas cold water isn’t an effective cleansing tool.

4. Rinse Thoroughly

It seems obvious, but it’s easy to miss certain spots—like the hairline and nose—when rinsing off your cleanser. Be sure to thoroughly remove the product, since residue may lead to skin dryness and clogged pores. Another repeated mistake? Rinsing the face with dirty hands. Be sure to thoroughly wash your hands before washing your face. And, if you use a washcloth to remove your cleanser, you might want to reconsider. Many experts suggest anything, but your hands may be too harsh for your daily regimen.


Don’t Over-Exfoliate

Exfoliating daily is unnecessary—and might even harm the skin! Limit scrubs to once or twice a week and use your fingertips, not a washcloth.

5. Drying (and Moisturizing)

The skin on your face is delicate, so it’s important to pat it, not rub it dry with a towel to prevent any irritation. And, since you spent time ensuring a delicate, yet effective cleansing ritual, be sure it ends with a clean towel, designated solely for the purpose of drying your face. Apply a hydrating cream or oil immediately—within 60 seconds—of patting skin dry to lock in moisture.

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