So you think you know how to cleanse your face? Wait until you’ve read this article to see if you’ve been making the same mistakes most of us make without even realizing it.
If you believe the whole process is self-explanatory and pretty straight forward, experts and dermatologists share a few guidelines that might convince you otherwise.
If you want to have impeccable skin, knowing how to properly cleanse your face, is of vital importance to your skincare routine. Cleansing regularly and correctly can save you from pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and dark patches on the skin.
Isn’t cleansing just a fancy word for washing or cleaning?
Well, not quite. Washing becomes cleansing when you’re using a cleanser, which is a specifically designed product to remove makeup, oil, dirt, and other types of pollutants from the skin.
It’s a far more effective way to clean your face since the active ingredients in the product work their way deeper into the skin, soak up all impurities, buildup sebum, and debris that are trapped into the pores and bring them up to the surface.
Washing your face with water is great, but it might not be effective enough, which can lead to even more blackheads, whiteheads, or acne overtime. Using a standard bar soap, on the other hand, can be really destructive since soaps can destroy the natural acidic mantle of the skin, and throw the skin’s pH levels way out of balance.
As it seems, the best way to protect your face and prevent common issues is to use a gentle but potent product that works well for your skin type.
There are many brands on the market today, offering many different product formulations. This can be a little overwhelming, but overall, it’s definitely a good thing. You can be sure there’s at least one product that’ll work perfectly on your face.
Misumi, for example, offers two gentle cleansers for oily and acne-prone skin. You have the AHA 10% Skin Perfecting Cleanser, with glycolic acid, rosehip, chamomile, and sunflower seed oil, and, the superstar Clear Skin Salicylic Cleanser, made of salicylic acid, lactic acid, and lavender flower oil.
Yes, you should, regardless of your skin type. Even if you have dry, oily, acne-prone, or combined skin type, cleansing is a must. Just be careful, don’t mistake it for exfoliating. You cleanse daily and exfoliate weekly or less.
Exfoliating involves the removal of the outermost layer on the skin’s surface to remove dead and damaged skin cells, promote faster turnover and uncover new cells. The goal is to peel off the damaged surface and reveal your newly improved complexion.
The main objective of cleansing, on the other hand, is to clean the pores, by collecting all kinds of junk and washing it away. Additionally, cleansers aim to remove bacteria.
This is why you should exfoliate only once a week, maybe even less (leave time for the skin to recover), while you should cleanse daily. You can check out our guide on how to properly exfoliate to avoid the consequences of over-exfoliated skin.
If you cleanse your skin daily, you’ll prevent dirt, debris, oil, makeup and skincare residue to buildup inside the pores and clog them. This can prevent acne, blackheads, and whiteheads caused by clogged pores.
If you thought that cleansing is not for people suffering from dry skin, you couldn't be more wrong. Cleansing will bring water inside the skin’s pores and improve hydration. Finish your skincare routine with a high-quality moisturizer to lock-in the water, and you’ll feel fresh, hydrated, and glowy throughout the whole day.
Once you start cleansing daily your skin will start to clear out from frequent blemishes, pimples, and other forms of acne. Your skin’s appearance will improve and you’ll get a natural glow and brightness.
There’s no such thing as “side-effects” from cleansing daily since this is highly beneficial for all skin types. Cleansing is not an optional step in a skincare routine - it’s fundamental and essential for each and every one of us.
Problems, such as dryness, irritability, redness, and itchiness might happen if you’re not cleansing properly and you’re making the same cleansing mistakes most people do, which we’ll discuss in the next paragraph. All of the adverse reactions you’ve experienced can be prevented with the right cleansing tips and the right steps.
So, let’s go over them.
Cleansing is called cleansing because you’re using a product (a cleanser) specifically designed to cleanse your skin. Some people use wipes, wash the face with their hands, or just splash water and dry with a washcloth and call that cleansing. But, to really see a difference and get noticeable results, you need a real product - a real cleanser, which takes us to our next tip.
Experiment and invest time to find the right product. Low-quality cleansers might be high on abrasive chemicals that will strip the skin away from its natural oils and overdry it. The pH levels on some products, like bar soaps can also be a major problem. Choose cleansers that have balanced pH levels suitable for the acidic mantle of the skin, so as not to disturb its protective barrier.
One of the biggest cleansing mistakes people make is using the wrong formula. You can choose a strong formula to really attack and soak up all the excess sebum from your face. You can use a gentle formula to make sure you don’t irritate your sensitive skin. Or, you can choose a creamy, gelly cleanser that will soothe your dry skin.
Every skin is different and you can easily adjust your cleansing methods to suit your skin’s needs. Don’t repeat the same thing over and over again if you feel like your skin is not reacting positively. You shouldn’t be afraid to try new methods and products.
Like we already said, cleaning your face with facial wipes is not cleansing. This habit can be destructive if you’re replacing cleansing with just wiping your face.
Don’t get us wrong, there’s nothing bad in using facial wipes in certain situations. For example, they can be quite beneficial if you’re out and you’re sweating, or you get your face exposed to dirt or other pollutants and you don’t want to wait until you get back home to wash it. Nevertheless, wipes are a short-term solution and they aren't completely effective at getting rid of excess oil, which can lead to clogged pores and breakouts if you’re using them regularly.
Cleanse your face with a good cleanser and bring facial wipes in your purse in case you need immediate action.
Additionally, a lot of facial wipes contain fragrances or other chemicals that can irritate. Be careful, and always check the product’s label.
This doesn’t mean that cleansing is not good, but that the ingredients must pass through the skin’s barrier and penetrate the surface if you want, to get everything out of the pores. The cleanser's ability to soak and absorb oils and debris can interfere with the optimal functioning of the skin’s barrier. Even gentle cleansers can cause slight disturbances.
It’s important to learn how to nourish the skin after cleansing. Toners are specifically designed to fix and bring back in balance the skin’s pH levels.
And, of course, you should always moisturize when cleansing. This can come after using the toner, or at the very end of your skincare routine.
Exfoliating and cleansing in the same day might be too much for some skin types. There’s no need for both steps at all times - that’s simply overkill. When you decide to exfoliate, whether it’s with a homemade scrub, chemical peel, or a professional exfoliating facial treatment, skip the cleanser. Instead, prepare the skin for exfoliating by simply washing it with warm water and gently tap it dry with a washcloth.
Cleansing, followed by exfoliating, can irritate the skin, cause redness, inflammation, damage, and sores, especially when dealing with sensitive skin.
Cleanse daily, except when exfoliating.
I’m sure you’ve already heard that hot water is the skin’s worst enemy. And we’re here to tell you about this again because it’s that important and can tamper with your cleansing.
Hot water can irritate the skin, strip it from its natural oils and cause dryness, irritation, and redness due to dilated blood vessels and capillaries. If you combine this with the active ingredients in cleansers that are designed to soak up impurities and oils from the pores, you might end up with extremely dry and irritated skin.
For best results, use lukewarm water. Test it on your wrists when the skin is most sensitive. It’s should feel comfortable and pleasing.
It’s not the worst sin you can do, but experts agree that skipping the washcloth can be more beneficial for the skin and lead to better results.
Instead of drying your face, you should splash water, wait for a minute or two and then apply cleanser. Wash off the cleanser completely and wait a few minutes for the water to absorb in the skin and apply a toner while your face is still damp. Repeat the same procedure when applying a moisturizer. This will maximize hydration and prevent transepidermal water loss.
In any case, if you like to dry your face, always use a soft washcloth and gently tap it. Don’t ever rub your face since you can easily cause irritation, redness, and even inflammation.
This tip almost goes without saying but let’s face it - many of us are not really gentle with our skin, especially if we are frustrated by new pimples, more intense blemishes or never-ending imperfections which we’re desperately trying to hide.
It’s a tough-love, we know, but it’s important to be aware of how much pressure you’re applying while cleansing, or how fast you’re rubbing to get your skin dry.
Pressing hard won’t make the active ingredients go deeper into the pores and be more effective. Quite the contrary, it’ll irritate the skin, cause redness, and inflame the pimples even more. If you’re dealing with an acute, inflamed acne breakout, the pressure and the rubbing can lead to infection.
The cleanser will do its work if you just follow the instructions - apply it really gently by slowly massaging it in a circular motion. You can finish off by leaving the water to absorb and dry on your face, or gently tap it dry with a soft washcloth.
Cleansing is so important that now dermatologists recommend the method of double cleansing to tackle different impurities.
Double cleansing is a method where you’ll be cleansing your skin twice in one sitting. This is particularly effective for cleansing before going to bed when you’re wearing a lot of makeup (usually after going out). It can also help a lot for people dealing with oily and acne-prone skin or suffering from frequent acne breakouts, as well as people wearing a lot of sunscreen and makeup products.
The procedure typically involves cleansing with an oil-based cleanser first and continuing with a water-based after. Oil-based cleansers are great at dissolving all of the makeup, dirt, and pollution on the surface of your face. The second cleanse with a water-based cleanser is meant to remove any lingering dirt and deep clean your pores. You’re basically making sure you’ve removed everything your skin could’ve absorbed during the day (makeup, sunscreen, grime, and dirt).
While double cleansing can be a lifesaving tip for people with oily and acne-prone skin,, in specific situations, double cleansing on a daily basis for people with dry or extremely sensitive skin can be too much and cause irritation.
Don’t push it. Observe how your skin reacts, and learn how to give it the treatment it deserves.
First, it’s likely the water in the shower will be too hot for your face, and you’ll need to do something to prevent its damaging effects. Cleansing with lukewarm water can be a good balance.
Additionally, dead skin cells, debris, impurities from the hair, makeup and skincare residue, and excess oils can stay stuck in certain areas of the face since the main focus while showering is not to clean the whole face completely. This is why it’s a good idea to continue with your skincare focusing only on the face. Cleanse, tone, and moisturize.
We talked about how you need to cleanse daily, and now we’re going to talk about how you need to cleanse twice a day.
It’s a common mistake to think that cleansing in the morning after waking up is enough, but this is completely wrong. If you were to choose to cleanse only once a day, then it’s more important to do it before going to bed.
During the day, your skin suffers a lot of damage, faces pollutants, and endures skincare products and makeup application. You don’t want to leave all that on your skin for eight hours - it will only clog the pores and lead to new breakouts.
Cleanse your skin at night, before going to bed, and again in the morning before applying more skincare products and makeup.
Not all cleansers might not be effective in removing waterproof makeup. It’s important to use a gentle makeup removing wipe, micellar water, or an oil-based makeup remover before you wash. And using just makeup remover is also wrong since they mostly consist of oil, water, and a preservative. Makeup removers won’t be much effective in deep cleaning your face and removing all impurities.
In short, everything has a purpose. Use a makeup remover to remove makeup, and then use a cleanser to completely clean the skin on your face.
Physical cleansers are basically cleansing mitts, cloths, and sponges. They are considered cleansing agents because they work to remove impurities from the skin’s surface. But, unlike other types of cleansers, physical cleansers provide mechanical exfoliation of the skin’s surface. Personally, we don’t like physical cleansers since they can be irritating and cause redness. In any case, they can give a cleansing advantage when used in combination with a chemical cleanser and boost product absorption and circulation.
The biggest disadvantage to physical cleansers is how easily they can work against you if you’re not using them properly. Cleansing mitts, cloths, and sponges need to be cleaned really often, if not every time after using them. Everything that wasn't washed away will stay on the cloth. With time impurities build up and your sponge becomes the perfect environment for growing bacteria.
Just because it says “gentle cleanser” on the bottle, doesn't mean it’ll be good for your skin. Alternatively, only because your friend has this really great cleanser that makes her skin look radiant, it doesn't mean it’ll have the same results on your skin as well. We’re all different, and even though good reviews indicate the product will likely be good, you should always check the ingredients before buying. You might be allergic to something or it might not be suitable for your skin type or skin in general. Also, the specific formulation of the product might cause adverse reactions on your skin.
The good thing is, with time you’ll learn which ingredients your skin loves, and which you need to stay away from.
Should we really go over this?
Let’s go over this, just in case. It’s self-explanatory, but still, you should never ever cleanse your face without fist cleaning your hands.
Our hands carry the most bacteria. We touch everything with our hands, and the chances are you’ve touched your phone before coming to cleanse the face. It’s not just ineffective, but it can also be dangerous and cause infections. Our hands might be immune to the bacteria living there, but our face isn’t. Plus, the cleanser can only open the doors for the bacteria to penetrate deeper into the skin and cause additional complications.
To consider every tip and mistake on how to cleanse your face, we’ve made a little summary with a few guidelines on how to properly cleanse your face.
Step 1: Clean your hands. Pull your hair back (tie it in a ponytail or use something to keep your hair away from the face) and wet your skin with lukewarm water. Wetting your skin before applying cleanser will help the product slide more easily across your skin (unless your cleanser’s instructions say otherwise).
Step 2: Apply your cleanser. Put a small amount of the cleanser on your hands and apply it to your face by massaging in a circular motion, making sure each spot gets covered. Gently cleanse for about 30 seconds to one minute.
Step 3: Again, splash lukewarm water on your face to remove any cleanser residue that hasn’t absorbed into the skin.
Step 4: Let the water dry on your face, before continuing onto a toner, or gently pat it dry using a soft washcloth. Don’t rub the towel off your skin.
Step 5: Apply a toner and continue with your regular skincare routine.