Cleansing is typically a first and very important step in any routine. It gets rid of dirt, sweat, and sebum, and preps the skin to receive the actives in other skin treats. Here are a few important things to consider when washing your face.
What to wash with:
Cleansers come in various forms: gel, foam, oil, milk, or cream. It doesn’t really matter the form it comes in, it’s more of a preference than anything else. The main function of a cleanser is to break down dirt so that water can wash it off easily. More important than the form your cleanser comes in, is its pH. The ideal pH is around 5.5 which is mildly acidic. So ensure that whatever type of cleanser you choose, the pH is right (see our blog post on pH basics).
How long to wash:
Cleansers really don’t get the love they deserve, for a lot of people it is almost an afterthought. The justification is usually that since it does not stay on your skin for a long period, it can’t be doing that much. Turns out a lot of us are missing a crucial detail when washing, not washing for long enough. For one, the cleanser should be left on long enough for the actives in them to do their job, ideally about 60 secs, but most of us only average between 10 to 20 seconds. This is one of the reasons we love double cleansing (see our blog post on double cleansing), it invariably allows us to be more deliberate with the washing process and we spend longer massaging and working the cleanser into our skin. That’s also why we get a more thorough wash when we double cleanse. The big takeaway here is that you should slow down the face washing process and give your cleanser a chance to work as it is formulated to do.
How often should you wash:
Now that we know how to do a better job of cleansing, the question of how often is also important and the answer may depend on how active you are. Ideally you want to wash at least once a day before bed, especially if you wear makeup. If you work out, wash your face afterwards, don't just sweat and go. Although sweating is great for your skin, the dirt from your pores accumulates on the surface of your skin and encourages the growth of bacteria if not washed off.
Fingers vs washcloth vs spin brush:
To be honest all three clean just as well, the difference is how diligent we usually are when using equipment like spin brush vs our hands or a washcloth. Most people use their spin brushes for longer than they would if washing with fingertips.
How to wash your face:
1. Start by wetting your face with lukewarm water and then use your fingertips to apply cleanser.
2. Gently work in the cleanser into your skin using an upward circular motion, making sure to get your entire face.
3. Do this for about 60 secs; set a timer, it is longer than you imagine!
4. Rinse with water and pat dry with a clean towel.