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Skincare Routine Step 1: Cleansing - How Facial Cleanser Works & How To Choose One For Your Skin

There is nothing more relaxing than cleansing your face and removing all that grime after a tiring day. Cleansing the face is the first step of any skincare routine. No matter how extensive or how low-key your skincare routine is, cleansing the face is what we all start it with.

The cleansing process works differently for different individual. It can be a relaxation technique for you, a way to get away from the trials of the everyday life or the most common one, to cleanse the skin and improve the health of your skin.[1]

And if you go in blindly into this, it can do the opposite and damage your skin. With the market with numerous skincare products, we sometimes get fascinated and use the products without giving them any thought that they might harm the skin. This can be a dangerous practice and you need to stop it and be more aware of what is it that you're applying to your skin.

And so, to raise awareness, we are here to talk all things cleansing and tell you what to look for in your cleanser. Let's begin, shall we?

Why Do We Need Cleansers

Our skin comes in contact with harmful substances almost daily. Dirt and pollution can clog our skin pores and lead to various skin issues. Also, make-up has become a large part of our daily routine and it can also have a negative effect on your skin. All these impurities and debris are not water-soluble and thus splashing your face with water isn't enough. You need something extra.

The next thing that would come to your mind is using a soap. Well, using soap is one of the worst things that you can do to your skin. Our skin is acidic and that means it has a low pH value and to maintain the health the skin, it is important to balance the pH. An increase in pH irritates skin balance and composition. Soaps tend to have a high pH and thus it can lead to dry, irritated and inflamed skin[2] .

Cleansers are gentle on the skin and cleanse the skin without causing much damage. However, for those of you who use make-up and cosmetic products on a regular basis, simple cleansing isn't enough. Double cleansing can work for you in a more efficient way.

How Do Cleansers Work

To put it in simple terms, cleansers work by pulling out the dirt from your skin and thus performs a deep cleansing action. One consistent ingredient that you will find in most of the cleanses is surfactants[3] . Surfactants are behind the cleansing action of the cleansers. They are water-soluble and thus dissolve into your skin to pull out the dirt and debris from inside your skin.

But unfortunately, surfactants are also harmful to the skin. Surfactants can distort the components and thus the skin barrier function of the skin [4] . The best way to minimise the damage done by these surfactants is to look for a cleanser that has multiple surfactants. We know you might be thinking if that wouldn't be more damaging. But that's not true. Surfactants combine together to make spherical micelles in a solution and thus the more the surfactants, the bigger the circle. This will prevent them from easily penetrating the skin and distorting its components.

Other than that, skin cleansers contain ingredients like water, humectants, emollients, fillers and preservatives that help to nourish and soften the skin while cleaning it up.

Ingredients To Look For In Your Cleanser As Per Your Skin Type

Now that you know how a cleanser works, you must also understand that you have to be careful while choosing one for you. So, here is what you need to look for in a cleanser as per your skin type.

1. For oily skin

Oily skin is mainly characterised enlarged pores, shiny skin surface, frequent breakouts. This is due to the excess sebum production in your skin and hence you need a cleanser that can balance the sebum production and is non-comedogenic.

Ingredients to look for

  • Salicylic acid
  • Glycerin
  • Glycolic acid
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Niacinamide
  • Benzoyl peroxide

Ingredients to avoid

  • Alcohol
  • Isopropyl Palmitate
  • Sodium or Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Petrolatum
  • Mineral Oil

2. For dry skin

Dry skin is characterised by flaking, itching, roughness and dullness. To tackle dry skin, you need a hydrating cleanser.

Ingredients to look for

  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Ceramides
  • Petrolatum
  • Glycerin
  • Shea butter
  • Paraffin
  • Coconut, jojoba, sesame, almond and other plant oils
  • Triethylhexanoin
  • Beeswax
  • Urea
  • Propylene glycol
  • Sorbitol
  • Sodium PCA
  • Olive oil

Ingredients to avoid

  • Retinoids
  • Alcohol
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Fragrance
  • Parabens
  • Salicylic acid

3. For sensitive skin

Sensitive skin is characterised by itchiness, inflammation, burning sensation, dryness and patchy skin. So, you need to look for ingredients that are soothing on the skin and don't irritate and react with your skin.

Ingredients to look for

  • Aloe vera gel
  • Allantoin
  • Shea butter
  • Rosemary extract
  • Coconut oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Tea tree oil

Ingredients to avoid

  • Alcohol
  • Fragrance
  • Parabens
  • Mineral oil
  • Sorbic acid
  • Salicylic acid
  • AHAs
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Sodium laureth sulfate
  • Willow bark
  • Formaldehyde
  • Propylene glycol

How To Cleanse The Skin

Cleansing is an easy process that can be done in a few simple steps. Here are the steps to cleanse your face.

  • Pull your hair back and tie it up in a bun or ponytail.
  • Splash some lukewarm water on your face.
  • Take a small amount of cleanser, rub it between your palms and apply it on your face.
  • Massage your face for at least 30 seconds.
  • Rinse it off using lukewarm water and pat dry.
  • Carry on with the other steps of your skincare routine.

Double Cleansing - What Is It And How To Do It

Double cleansing is a cleansing technique that has gained a lot of popularity in the last few years. As the name suggests, it is a two-step method of cleansing your face. It is recommended for those who wear make-up and/or sunscreen on a regular basis. The cosmetic products are difficult to get rid of and thus you need an additional step to thoroughly cleanse the face.

Although it doesn't mean that you need to use a cleanser twice. Both of these steps need different ingredients. In the first step, you use a facial oil or balm to remove the make-up and other products you might have applied on your face. The second step just adds on to the first and cleanses the skin thoroughly.

Here is how you can double cleanse your skin.

  • Pull your hair back and tie it in a bun or ponytail.
  • Splash some lukewarm water on your face.
  • Take a facial oil/balm on your palms, rub your palms together and gently massage your face for a few seconds to remove the make-up, dirt and impurities from your skin.
  • Use a wet washcloth to wipe your face and remove the grime.
  • Now take some cleanser, preferably foaming cleanser and massage it into your skin for a couple of minutes.
  • Rinse it off thoroughly and pat dry.

That's all folks! That was all that you needed to know about the first step of the skincare routine. Hope you found this useful and know now what to look for in your cleanser. Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.

View Article References
  1. [1] Ertel, K. (2000). Modern skin cleansers.Dermatologic clinics,18(4), 561-575.
  2. [2] MARTIN-SCOTT, I., & RAMSAY, A. G. (1956). Soap and the skin; with an investigation into the properties of a neutral soap. British medical journal, 1(4982), 1525–1528. doi:10.1136/bmj.1.4982.1525
  3. [3] Mukhopadhyay P. (2011). Cleansers and their role in various dermatological disorders. Indian journal of dermatology, 56(1), 2–6. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.77542
  4. [4] Lemery, E., Briançon, S., Chevalier, Y., Oddos, T., Gohier, A., Boyron, O., & Bolzinger, M. A. (2015). Surfactants have multi-fold effects on skin barrier function.European Journal of Dermatology,25(5), 424-435.
Story first published: Friday, August 30, 2019, 16:17 [IST]
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