How to cleanse your face the right way

Not sure how to wash your face properly? One of our Cosmetic Physicians shares her expert advice for cleansing your face so you can get the most out of your skincare routine and keep your skin healthy and beautiful!

Why cleanse your skin?

Cleansing the skin removes dirt, excess oil and dead skin cells. Improper cleansing leads to an accumulation of debris and oil in the pores, which makes the pores larger. Your skin will look dull and congested and will be more prone to acne breakouts.

How often should you cleanse your skin?

Cleansing your skin twice a day is generally advised.

  • AM: A simple wash in the shower or wipe with Micellar water is usually sufficient.
  • PM: A double cleanse is recommended.

If you wear make-up, work in a polluted area, or have oily/combination skin, double-cleansing should be an essential part of your evening routine.

The first cleanse removes make-up, pollutants and dirt from the skin. The second cleanse removes dead skin cells.

How to choose the right cleanser

Micellar water

Micellar water is made up of tiny balls of cleansing oil molecules suspended in water. The oil particles attract oil and dirt and help to break down and draw out impurities without drying out the skin.

  • Suited for all skin types.
  • Gentle and moisturising.
  • Can be used around the eyes.
  • Does not remove heavy foundation or waterproof eye make-up.
  • Good standalone cleanser for morning (but needs to be followed up by a second cleanse for night cleansing).

Foaming cleansers

Foaming cleansers are very efficient cleansers that can get rid of excess oil and sebum, debris stuck in pores, and can also remove make-up thoroughly.

Most foaming cleansers have an ingredient called SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) that can be very irritating to sensitive skin and if used on dry skin can strip it of its natural oils.

  • Suited for combination and oily skin.
  • Great for acne-prone skin (but usually not suited for dry and sensitive skin).

If you have dry or sensitive skin and like the foamy and sudsy texture of these cleansers, look for ones that don’t have SLS.

Cream & milk cleansers

Cream and milk cleansers use natural oils and emulsifiers that are gentle and hydrating.

  • Especially suited for dry and sensitive skin but can be used on any skin type.
  • Can fall short of cleaning heavy foundation.

Gel cleansers

Gel cleansers are gentler on the skin than foaming cleansers and clean better than cream cleansers.

  • Best suited for normal or combination skin but can be used on most skin types.

Oil cleansers

Oil cleansers are excellent cleansers capable of removing heavy make-up and excess oils.

  • Suited for all skin types.
  • Perfect first-step cleansers.

Make up wipes

Benefits:

  • Easy
  • Quick
  • Practical

Disadvantages:

  • Only provide partial cleaning
    Some of the chemicals used in the wipes stay on the skin which can lead to breakouts and irritation

Advice:

  • Occasional use is fine but don’t rely on them routinely!

Golden tips

  • If you don’t cleanse your skin properly, don’t waste your money on expensive skin products; they simply won’t be absorbed.
  • Use the right amount of cleanser before accusing the product of not delivering.
  • Don't rush it. A couple of minutes spent cleansing your skin is well spent time.

  • Don’t overdo it! It will do more harm than good.
  • Don’t use generic soaps; they alter skin pH which may be harmful.
  • Some cleansers incorporate acids such as salicylic acid. These can add value as they can increase cell turnover and curb excess oil production, thus contributing to a brighter complexion.
  • Cleaning brushes are a good tool, but be careful if you have sensitive skin.

My personal routine

AM: Wipe my face with Micellar water-saturated cloth.

PM: Wipe with Micellar water then thorough clean with foaming cleanser + warm water.

- Dr Maysa Abu Laban
Cosmetic Physician & Skin Cancer Doctor

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Written by National Skin Cancer Centres