facial-cleansing-1Facial cleansing has evolved dramatically over the last thirty years.  Once, it was believed that you wanted tight squeaky skin after washing your face.  Of course, we know now that the tight squeaky is not as much a sign of cleanliness as it is dryness.  Fortunately, today, we have many options of cleansers formulated to gently clean our skin without stripping it of its natural suppleness and glow.  It is important to select cleansers that are appropriate for your skin type as the formulations vary dramatically.

Cleansing Oily Skin

Individuals with oily skin need to use oil-free and wax-free cleansers and products that are non-comedongenic.  These products won’t clog pores leading to breakouts.  Many facial cleansing formulas include acne-fighting chemicals such as salicylic acid and hydrogen peroxide to help stave off breakouts of black heads or white heads.  Cleansing oily skin is not just about the cleanser, but also the technique.  While it may be tempting to use hot water, a washcloth and to really scrub, resist the temptation.  This process can actually lead your pores to produce more oil.  The best way to cleanse your face is with warm water, your fingers, and gentle pressure.  Massage the cleanser into your face and neck and then rinse gently with either a warm washcloth or by splashing water onto your face.

Gently Cleansing Dry Skin

Cleansing dry skin requires moisture inducing cleanser and regular exfoliation.  Gentle cleansers rich with moisturizers help to remove the dirt, bacteria and grime of the day without leaving your skin stripped and dry.  Look for cleansers with glycerin, aloe, coconut oil, jojoba oil, or other moisture rich ingredients.  After cleansing, apply a toner.  Toners with cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol or cetearyl alcohol are fine for individuals with dry skin, or you can opt for an alcohol-free toner such as witch hazel.  Once or twice per week, use a natural facial formulated from apricot pits, lava, or other coarse ingredients.  Stay away from products that use chemicals to exfoliate, as these will leave your skin extremely dry and flaky.

What About Combination Skin?

Cleansing combination skin is a challenge; the oily T-zone calls out for harsher cleansers while the dry cheeks call out for gentle moisturizers.  Generally, you can choose to cleanse with an oil-free cleanser and then moisturize the dry areas, or wash with a moisturizing cleanser and treat the T-zone with a toner or acne cream.  Many dermatologists believe that the best course of action is to use a gentle cleanser and then to moisturize the dry areas and use a toner on the oily areas.

Facial Cleansing Options

In addition to facial cleansers, there is a variety of tools available to clean your skin.  For convenience and saving washcloths from makeup stains, toweletts are ideal.  They are formulated with the cleanser built in, and they just need to be moistened to activate.  Power-operated sonic cleansing systems use sonic waves and the attached soft brush to cleanse the skin gently and thoroughly.  Studies indicate that when used as directed, these sonic cleansers remove up to six times more dirt than normal facial cleansing.  These are considered safe and effective for all skin types, however individuals with sensitive skin should use products designed for sensitive skin with these systems.

The Oil Cleansing Method

The Oil Cleansing Method is a system of cleansing your face in a manner that is counter-intuitive.  Instead of using typical cleansers, oil is used to cleanse the skin.  The belief is that traditional cleansers strip the skin of natural oils leading to dryness or acne.  With OCM, natural oil such as avocado, sunflower, almond, olive or jojoba is mixed with castor oil and massaged into the skin for five to ten minutes.  During this process, the oil dissolves the hardened oil in the pores and is sloughed away.  Once the massage is complete, place a hot washcloth over the face for a couple of minutes, the steam will loosen any remaining dirt and oil.  Wipe face, pat dry and moisturize as normal.

Beautiful radiant skin requires gentle cleansing, toning, exfoliation, moisturizing and sun protection.  When cleansing, remember to be gentle and to use cleansers that are formulated for your skin type.  Avoid over scrubbing your face as this can lead to excess production of oils leading to acne and other skin problems.  As part of your overall beauty routine, remember to wear sunscreen every day to prevent harmful UV rays from causing fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, and to prevent against skin cancer.

Additional Reading & Sources

Discover Fit & Health:  How To Wash Your Face

Ecolife:  A Guide To Natural Skin Care

BeautyStat:  Dermatologists Tips:  Why Washing Your Face Is Important

Livestrong:  Dermatologist Recommended Cleansers

WebMd:  Clean Routine:  The Right Way To Clean Your Face

Natures Nurture:  Natural Skin Care:  Oil-Cleansing Method


Kathleen McCoy is professional beauty, education and healthcare analyst and writer. A University of Maryland graduate, Kathleen has traveled and studied extensively throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa and North America covering skin care and natural beauty techniques from around the globe.

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