When did cleansing get so complicated? Gone are the soapy flannels of childhood and the simplicity of our Clearasil years. Now, the possibilities are endless – beauty shelves are heaving with balms, oils, creams, gels and micellar waters, and then there’s a surfeit of advice. A recent study by Simple found that 79% of British consumers feel overwhelmed by the skincare industry, citing misinformation and over-complication as their biggest bugbears.
So, if you are still hooked on the double cleansing routine social media sold you back in 2017, but can’t face diving into the black hole of Google to figure out your next move, consider this your cheat sheet. Here’s how to wash your face, according to the experts...
CLEANSE TWICE A DAY
Turns out forgoing your morning cleanse isn’t the done thing. ‘It’s important to cleanse skin twice daily,’ says leading dermatologist Dr Alexis Granite. ‘Cleansing in the morning removes the remnants of overnight skincare and excess oil, clearing the way for your morning products and helping them penetrate more deeply.’ Granite recommends a light one-step cleanse in the morning (a gentle foam or a cream cleanser if your skin is prone to dehydration) followed by a deeper cleanse in the evening.
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TURN DOWN THE HEAT
‘When you wash your face with hot water you risk stripping your skin of its natural sebum, which is necessary for healthy skin,’ says GP and skin expert Dr Sonia Khorana. ‘This is why washing your face in the shower can often do more harm than good.’ Over time, washing your face with hot water can weaken your skin’s barrier and lead to moisture loss and sensitivity. Unless you’re willing to commit to lukewarm showers for the foreseeable, stick to sink-side cleansing and keep the tap running tepid.
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REVISE YOUR DOUBLE CLEANSE
First, ask yourself if you need to double cleanse. 'If you have rosacea, eczema or particularily sensitve skin, avoid cleansing twice in the same session - it can strip your skin of moisture and cause more issues,' says Khorana. 'If you wear make-up or an SPF daily, though, it’s a must.’ The first cleanse should break down make-up, SPF, excess
sebum and daily grime on the surface of your skin and the second cleanse should whip away any residue. Khorana advises those with dry skin to start with a nourishing cleansing balm or oil before reaching for a gentle rinse-off cleanser to preserve the integrity of their skin barrier, while those with oily or combination skin should use a no-frills micellar water followed by an exfoliating face wash made for daily use.
‘It’s never a good idea to overcomplicate cleansing, especially when it comes to incorporating gadgets and tools,’ says Khorana. ‘Often, these cleansing devices can exfoliate skin too much and cause irritation.’ Instead, Khorana recommends applying micellar waters and cream cleansers with reusable pads, massaging in foaming cleansers with your fingertips and rinsing them off with a soft cotton flannel. ‘Simply massage your cleanser on to a wet face and neck for 20 to 30 seconds, then take your wash cloth and rub in a circular motion from the forehead, around eyes, down the cheek, finishing at the chin,’ says Khorana. ‘And always wash your washcloth after every use to avoid spreading bacteria.’
Don’t get stuck in a rut with your cleansing routine and be prepared to change up your products according to the season. ‘When it’s hot, many of us will benefit from bringing a deeper, more penetrating cleanser into play,’ says Granite, ‘one that sloughs away those extra layers of sun cream and sweat without stripping the skin.’ Look for exfoliating acids that deeply cleanse without disrupting your skin's barrier. 'As the months get colder, it's a good idea to use a hydrating cleanser instead,' advises Granite. 'Ingredients like niacinamide and hyaluronic acid draw moisture into the skin, protect that delicate skin barrier and work well for all skin types.'
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