The majority of people don't actually cleanse their skin thoroughly, that may be you, maybe not and if it is, it's really not your fault and you're not alone!
Cleansing is one of the most important things you can do for your skin (as well as wearing SPF daily) but no one ever really focuses on this basic skincare ritual. Working in the beauty industry I know how undervalued cleansing is, so here is my guide to cleansing your face.
- Break the 20 second rule. Apparently people only cleanse for 20 seconds, doesn't seem like much but time yourself, 20 seconds while cleansing can actually feel like longer. If you've invested in a cleanser promising the world but you slap it on then rinse it off you're not going to get the benefits from those wonderful ingredients. Take at least 1 minute to massage your cleanser in to your face, I like to do sections - neck, cheeks, chin, nose, forehead, eyes (make sure the product is suitable for the eye area) don't see cleansing as a task, enjoy this mini pamper. Massaging your skin is going to stimulate the removal of toxins, reduce puffiness, get the blood flowing and oxygen circulating, all awesome things for your skin.
- Once is not enough. That cleanse that needs to last for at least 1 minute, you need to do that twice. One cleanse isn't enough to thoroughly remove pollution, make-up and SPF from the skin, double cleansing really will give you a much better complexion. Use an oil based cleanser for your first cleanse.
- Cleansing in the morning is wiping away all the good things that happened to my skin in the night. No, cleansing in the morning is wiping away the sweat and dead skin that's accumulated while you slumber. If you've thoroughly cleansed as above the night before, one cleanse should be enough in the morning.
- Apply Correctly. Forget adding a little cleanser to pads and rubbing over the face. Apply a good dollop of cleanser to cover your face and neck to your hands, apply to your skin while it's dry and massage. Remove with a flannel, not cotton pads, keep them for toner.
- Water is not cleansing! I hear it regularly, I cleanse with water. Imagine if you took a white tshirt covered in dust, cream and makeup then splashed it with a bit of water, would it be clean? No it would not and neither is your face.
- Cleanser makes my skin worse. That's because you're probably using the wrong cleanser. Choose a PH balanced cleanser for your skintype and not by it's brand/pricetag. It's usually soaps in a face washes that irritates the skin, make sure it's sulphate (SLS) free.
- Cleansing Wipes The main skincare product I wish was never invented. So many people use them, the adverts make them sound amazing, a quick way to cleanse, who wouldn't want that? Unfortunately they don't work well enough. Again my laundry analogy, imagine getting a wet wipe and rubbing it over a make-up stain on your clothes, you know it's not going to come off. Ok I know fabric will suck up the make-up more than your skin but seriously, sweeping a wipe over your face is not cleansing properly, you need an oil to break everything down and attract the oil and dirt from your skin (like attracts like so oil attracts oil) and then you need to wipe/rinse it all away. Wipes don't take everything off, they leave irritating chemicals on your skin and they also drag/irritate the skin. If you do only 1 thing for your skin, stop the wipes.
- I use soap but it contains moisturisers. It's also very drying and has a high PH. If you have dry skin this is just going to make your skin worse, if you have oily skin, to overcompensate for the soap stripping off your natural oil, your skin is going to create more oil, leaving you oilier with flaky skin; yes even oil skin can become dehydrated. And the high PH? A great breeding ground for bacteria.
- Face flannels are smelly and mouldy. When they're left in the corner of the bath for weeks yes they are. Fresh, clean flannels are heavenly and will help to give you a much deeper clean, they're also a tired person's best friend. But always take great care when using flannels, don't scrub at your skin, wipe as gently as though you were wiping a baby's face. Once you're done, leave it to air dry and pop it in the wash the following day, always use a clean flannel. Not everyone can tolerate face flannels, if you notice your skin gets dry or irritated, stop use, some people find muslin cloths gentler.
- I'm always too tired to cleanse. I hear you, this is why I cleanse early. Put the children in the bath and if they're old enough to sit unaided, cleanse at the sink while they splash around. Children learn from us, get them interested in cleansing from a young age and it won't be so foreign when their zits start erupting. Also try opting for a cleansing lotion and remove with a face flannel, I find when I'm tired the last thing I want to do is splash water on my face.
- I have problem skin so I need strong products. No you don't, again harsh products will just strip your skin and when your skin is irritated, it's going to cause further breakouts. Look for products that are PH balanced but suitable for problem skin. After cleansing use an acid based toner which will instantly lower the skin's PH.
- I use a cleansing scrub every day but my skin is still dry. Scrubs should only be used once or twice a week, using them daily will just irritate the skin. If you do like to feel exfoliated, use a chemical exfoliator, look for cleansers containing glycolic acid, lactic acid or salicylic acid or use an acid based toner after cleansing.
- Use fresh water. Don't fill up the sink and splash your face, you're splashing your face with dirty water, always use clean, fresh water. Same thing if you cleanse in the bath.
- You do have time. I regularly receive emails from mums who say they don't have time to cleanse. I have 3 girls currently aged 11, 6 (very busy) and 2 and I run a business, I get you, by the end of the night you're exhausted but you do have time. Cleanse as soon as they go to bed, the earlier you cleanse, the better it is for your skin. I NEVER miss a cleanse, no matter how tired I am, you can do it too, you deserve that mini pamper twice a day, enjoy it, take pleasure in it and don't add it as another chore.
- Cleansing is the shower is bad! If you take hot showers or stick your face under a power jet then yes, not good but that doesn't mean you can't cleanse in the shower. If your shower water is cool enough, just cup the water in your hand and rinse. If your shower water is hot (hot water really isn't good for the skin but I'm not going to teach you how to shower) take in your trusty, clean face flannel, rinse, shake it to cool and then use it to wipe over your face, repeat a few times until all traces of the cleanser have been removed. Cleanse right at the end of your shower to make sure no shampoo or conditioner is left on your skin.
- When should I start cleansing? If you've reached 16 without needing to, well done but now is a good time to start. If you're a parent reading this and have a youngster experiencing breakouts, opt for a gentle cleanser. My 11 year old has been cleansing with a gentle cleansing milk for over a year, if she misses a few days she has the most terrible breakouts, it may seem young but if your youngster is already developing a skin complaint, get them cleansing as soon as you can.
I do hope that helps you get the best from your cleansing routine and from your products. If you're hypersensitive or you're very conscious about using only natural ingredients please take a look at our First Cleanse Oil.