It’s a shame that cleansers aren’t considered the most exciting products in the world of skincare. We still cleanse out of a sense of duty and responsibility, but cleanser doesn’t get the same hype as serums, oils, or more treatment-focused products. This attitude of perfunctory cleansing misses the point in celebrating life’s simple pleasures. A good cleanse can feel like a fresh opportunity.
Cleansing sets the foundation for your whole routine—if you’re not doing it well, then every subsequent product you layer won’t perform optimally. The key lies in choosing a cleanser (and cleansing method) that’s appropriate for your skin type. There’s a handy guide on different cleansers below, but I also have a few quick tips to keep in mind:
Squeaking is for cheese curds and dog toys, not for your skin. A squeaky-clean feel means you’ve over-cleansed. Cleansing too much or using a cleanser that’s too harsh can strip your protective acid mantle and lead to surface dryness and irritation. Irritating your skin in the first step of your routine isn’t exactly setting yourself up for success.
Under-cleansing isn’t ideal, either. If you don’t cleanse thoroughly enough, you’ll leave behind excess oil and grime that prevents any products you layer on top from absorbing fully.
I strongly recommend a non-foaming cleanser. Depending on your skin type, that might be an oil cleanser, a milk or cream cleanser, a balm cleanser, or a non-foaming water-soluble gel cleanser. Non-foaming cleansers tend to strike a good balance between gentleness and effectiveness, leaving skin soft and supple. Don’t be fooled by the lack of suds—the surfactants in a non-foaming cleanser are still capable of getting your skin ultra-clean.
Your cleansing product of choice is only half of the equation. How you cleanse (and how frequently you cleanse) matter, too. You may want to experiment with cleansing twice a day vs. only at night, using a single cleanser vs. double cleansing, and comparing a wide variety of different facial cloths. Check out my earlier posts on washcloths and double cleansing for more info.
Most importantly, play around with your products and experiment to find what works best for you! Remember that you aren’t beholden to any popularly held cleansing standards–you don’t have to follow an oil cleanse with a water-soluble cleanse just because someone said so. Be creative and break some rules!