- Cleansing improves skin health and prevents breakouts by keeping your face clear of dirt, makeup and other impurities.
- With many different cleansers on the market, choosing the right one will depend on your specific skin type and skin concerns.
- It is important to choose the correct cleanser to receive the most benefits and to minimize any potential side effects, such as overly dry skin.
Cleansing plays an important role in your skin care regimen. Maintaining clean and healthy skin reduces the risk of clogged pores, helps improve skin tone and allows other skin care and beauty products to work more effectively.
While there are hundreds of facial cleansers on the market, not all of them are suitable for your skin. To achieve the best results, It is important to find a product that is right for your skin type.
What Is Cleansing?
Cleansing is the act of clearing your face of unwanted substances from the skin’s surface. It is one of the key steps in a successful skin care routine.
There is a range of products available to cleanse your face, including cleansers, facial scrubs and face washes. However, these products cleanse the face in different ways and work best when paired with the appropriate skin type and skin issue.
Facial cleansers work by dissolving impurities such as dirt, oil and other debris that may settle on your face over the course of the day. This helps unclog pores and reduces the risk of an acne breakout.
Cleansers are nonfoaming and simply need to be wiped off or lightly rinsed off after use. They are typically gentle on the skin and can usually be used twice per day. Cleansers are available in many different forms and while they all ultimately serve the same purpose, they are each best suited to different skin types.
Cream cleansers have the strongest moisturizing properties of all the cleansers. They have a thick, creamy texture that gently cleanses and hydrates the skin, making them an excellent option for people with dry or sensitive skin.
Powder cleansers have seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years. These types of cleansers are powdery when dry but take on a creamy texture when mixed with water, which cleanses your skin while providing a gentle exfoliation.
As they are manufactured without water, the ingredients in powdered cleansers maintain their potency significantly longer than diluted ingredients. Powdered cleansers are also highly customizable, as additional powdered ingredients can easily be added to the mixture to bolster your cleanse.
Clay cleansers are formulated with different types of clay to help draw out excess oil and other impurities from your skin. These types of cleansers are best suited to people with oily or combination skin.
It may sound counterintuitive to cleanse your face with an oil-based product, but oil cleansers are an effective way of removing contaminants from your skin without being overly drying. Oil cleansers are naturally attracted to facial oil which is then easily rinsed away, leaving skin soft and moisturized. Oil cleansers are suitable for both dry and oily skin types.
While you may see the terms face wash and facial cleanser used interchangeably, the two are traditionally seen as separate types of products.
Like face cleansers, face washes are also designed to remove contaminants from the skin. That said, face cleansers are typically wiped away after use while face washes must be thoroughly removed using water. Similar to soaps or bath gels, face washes foam up when used which helps remove deep-seated dirt and grime.
Washes also tend to be stronger than cleansers and therefore harsher on the skin than cleansers. To get the benefit of both products, many people choose to use a face wash in conjunction with a facial cleanser.
Gel face wash
As the name suggests, gel face washes have a thick, gel-like consistency. They tend to produce a small amount of foam and are designed to keep your skin clean without stripping it of its natural oils. Gels are often a good option for people with oily or acne-prone skin.
Foaming face wash
These products emphasize their foaming qualities to help remove impurities and excess oils deeper in the skin. These washes are either available in a foamy mousse-like form or expand as they lather. They are typically recommended for acne prone and oily skin.
Facial scrubs do not remove impurities from your face in the same way as washes and cleansers. They contain fine pieces of abrasive materials that help to physically exfoliate the skin.
By removing dead skin cells from the outermost layer of your skin, facial scrubs reveal the smoother, healthier skin that lies beneath. These products are suitable for normal and oil skin types but combination or sensitive skin types may find them too harsh.
Natural face scrubs
Although microbeads were a commonly used synthetic facial scrub option, they have been banned in the United States and other countries in recent years due to their environmental impact.
As a result, a number of natural alternatives have grown in popularity. Some of the key exfoliators used in natural face scrubs are oats, salt, coffee grounds and sugar. Beads made of biodegradable components such as jojoba oil and beeswax have also increased in popularity.
Facial Cleansing Benefits
If you are new to cleansers or have been using the wrong cleanser for your skin type, you may notice some significant improvements when you start using an appropriate product.
Using the wrong cleansers can lead to overly dry skin or excessively oily skin and breakouts.
By using an effective cleanser at the start of your skin care routine, toners, moisturizers and lotions are able to penetrate the skin more deeply. As a result, you may find that switching to a new cleanser will clean your face gently and effectively plus improve both the tone and texture of your skin.
How to Choose a Facial Cleanser for Your Skin Type
Facial cleansers are formulated using a wide range of ingredients. These ingredients can have a big impact on how the cleanser interacts with your skin.
People with oily skin should look for a cleanser that helps manage excess oil without being overly drying on the skin. While alcohol-based cleansers are effective at removing oil, they can cause the skin to dry out, which causes the body to react by overproducing oil.
Instead, look for a noncomedogenic gel-based cleanser that contains salicylic and glycolic acids, which help break down impurities and prevent breakouts. You may also choose a cleanser that contain humectants such as glycerin, which helps your skin retain moisture.
Many of the cleaning agents found in facial cleansers can be too harsh on dry skin, and may leave your skin feeling tight and flaky. Dry skin types should avoid facial cleansers that contain alcohol and soap.
Cream cleansers are often the best facial cleansers for people with dry skin. Look for products that are formulated using glycerin and emollients such as petrolatum, ceramides and lanolin, which help your skin retain moisture.
As previously mentioned, many cleansers contain cleaning agents that can potentially damage sensitive skin.
With this in mind, those with sensitive skin should choose a gentle cleanser with a light-weight formula. Avoid common skin irritants such as fragrances, dyes and soaps.
You will also want to avoid alcohols, including isopropyl alcohol, SD alcohol 40 and ethyl alcohol, as the safety of topical ethanol-containing products has still not been established.
Finding the right cleanser for combination skin can be challenging. Ideally, you should focus on finding a product that both hydrates and moisturizes.
With this in mind, a mild, balanced cleanser is the best choice for combination skin. Soap- and alcohol- free gel cleansers are a good place to start, but it may take some trial and error to find the product that addresses both dry and oily areas.
If you have normal skin (skin that is not easily irritated and rarely breaks out), it will probably react favorably to a wide range of cleansers.
How to Apply Facial Cleansers
To get the most benefits from your daily facial cleanser, it is important to use your product properly.
- Wash your hands thoroughly
- Wet your face with warm water
- Apply a small amount of facial cleanser to your fingertips
- Apply the cleanser to your face; gently rub in a circular motion and pay special attention to oily-prone areas such as the T-zone
- Rinse your face with lukewarm water; pat dry
If you want an even deeper cleanse, you might want to consider double cleansing. This process involves cleansing your face first with an oil-based cleanser to remove makeup, sunscreen and excess oil, followed by a water-based cleanser, which helps remove any residue sweat and dirt.
Double cleansing only needs to be performed in the evening to remove the dirt and pollution that has accumulated on your skin throughout the day and is not necessary in the morning.
Those with dry and sensitive skin should avoid double cleansing as the deep cleansing action can be overly drying.
Skin care routine considerations
Cleansing is the first step in your skin care routine and should be done twice a day. After completing the above cleansing process, you can begin applying your other skin care products. Start with your toner, followed by eye cream, serum, moisturizer and sunscreen.
Facial Cleansers for Acne and Acne-Prone Skin
Contrary to some beliefs, acne is not caused by poor hygiene, therefore cleansing your face cannot eliminate acne. Nevertheless, maintaining clean, healthy skin is a key step in managing acne and can help your acne treatment products work more effectively.
There are several key ingredients to look for when choosing a facial cleanser for acne and acne-prone skin:
- Salicylic acid
- Glycolic acid
- Benzoyl peroxide
There are also a number of ingredients you should avoid, including:
- Exfoliating beads
- Coconut oil
Choosing the best cleanser for acne-prone skin depends on a number of factors, particularly the type and severity of the acne. Each active ingredient is best suited to a specific type of acne; cystic acne responds well to glycolic acid.
As with choosing any cleanser, your skin type should factor into your decision-making process. Selecting a cleanser with the right active ingredient but the wrong supporting ingredients can lead to overly dry or oily skin, worsening your overall complexion.
Facial Cleansers for Rosacea
Regularly cleansing helps remove the dirt and oil that can irritate rosacea-prone skin. However, people with rosacea need to be particularly careful when choosing a cleanser as there are many ingredients that can trigger a flare-up.
Many of the cleansers that are made for sensitive skin will be suitable for people with rosacea. Look for products that support your skin’s natural pH balance and avoid fragrances and alcohols, as these ingredients are common triggers that may exacerbate your rosacea.
Are DIY Facial Cleansers Worth It?
In theory, making your own cleanser gives you more control over the ingredients your skin is exposed to and allows you to create a product that is tailored to the specific needs of your skin.
However, making an effective DIY cleanser is easier said than done. Commercial cleansers are backed by years of scientific research and formulated using very precise processes and ingredients that are made to be used topically.
In contrast, DIY cleansers are made using readily available ingredients, which may or may not be suitable for use in topical applications. For instance, many DIY cleanser recipes are based on olive oil, coconut oil or castor oil, which are not intended to be used topically and can clog the skin.
It may be possible to create an effective DIY cleanser, but for most people, particularly dry and sensitive skin types, choosing to use a commercial or dermatological cleanser is often the best choice to obtain optimal results.
There are many benefits to incorporating cleansing into your daily skin care routine. When choosing a cleanser, it is important to remember that the ingredients used to formulate a product can have a big impact on your skin.
Facial cleansers are available in a wide assortment of formulations to meet the specific needs of each skin type. Choose the one that is tight for you by reading the product label ingredients to help you decide.
Those with oil skin would benefit from a noncomedogenic gel-based cleanser containing salicylic while those with dry skin should choose a cream cleanser formulated with glycerin and emollients.
Everyone’s skin is different, so it is important to understand your skin type and choose a facial cleanser that best suits your unique needs.