Friday, May 8, 2015

The Big Cleanse

 Kate Moss with Lucie de la Falaise & daughter Ella, Bruce Weber, 1997
By the big cleanse, I don't mean nutritional detoxes or cleanses (fashionable 'detoxes' are dangerous and can do the body more harm than good - more info here). I'm talking SKIN! We all know that cleansers are a key component to good skin. "It is practically impossible to have good skin long-term without good cleaning...I've said it a million times, but cleansing is, in my opinion, the most important and transformative part of your skincare routine. Those who cleanse thoroughly, in general, have brighter, smoother, healthier-looking skin than those who use wipes ...or, worse still, sleep in their makeup." Sali Hughes, Guardian beauty columnist and author of Pretty Honest.
I've used a multitude of different kinds of cleansers since my early teens. At high school I used 'spot control' foaming gel cleansers to my face clean until my face felt 'squeaky clean'.  I thought tight, shiny skin was a good thing, but a few hours afterwards I could feel the oil building back up. By morning, my skin would be even more greasy and oily. Later I discovered that this technique was frustratingly making my skin even more spotty. These cleansers were likely highly alkaline - like soaps, this upsets your skin's pH balance. Stripping your skin squeaky clean causes it to freak out and think "Ooh, I'm too dry!" and therefore ramp up the oil production to over compensate. I am sure they made them so harsh that your skin got even more spotty, and you had to use and buy more product!
"The skin is acidic by nature, sitting between 4.5 and 6.0 on the pH scale; therefore, the pH of a cleanser should also be slightly acidic. When a cleanser is too alkaline, or above 7.0 on the pH scale, the natural oils are stripped, leaving the skin feeling tight and dry. The best course of action is to choose a cleanser that is pH balanced for the skin and formulated with mild cleansing agents. Additional support ingredients may include low percentage alpha hydroxy acids to encourage cellular turnover, nourishing essential oils, free radical-quenching antioxidants or antibacterial components, depending upon the skin condition being treated."
I moved on from these 'spot control' gel cleansers but was still a loyal foaming cleanser fan. The thick blanket of foamy bubbles made my face feel like it was getting a really great clean, although sometimes my face still felt a little tight afterwards. While working at Clarins in London the early 90's, I learned that all foaming cleansers are not created equal. You could get milder, 'gentle' foaming cleansers that were creams and balms. I found these still cleaned my face effectively with the foam I loved, but didn't leave my face feeling tight afterwards like some of the gel foaming cleansers I was using. “The whole point of a cleanser is to gently remove dirt, makeup, and sweat, without stripping the natural oils from your skin. It should be relatively simple and straightforward, and it should never sting or burn,” says New York City dermatologist Amy Wechsler, M.D., who stresses that what’s inside your cleanser is often less important than what’s not."
{TIP} I was taught when working for Clarins to work in or foam the cleanser, then push my hands to my cheeks 'Home Alone' style, and pull away to form a suction effect, then repeat on the chin and forehead. I still use this method now.
Oil cleanser, cream cleanser and a gel foaming cleanser
As well as choosing a cleanser to suit your skin type, your skin will also benefit from different cleansers to suit the environment. In Winter or on cold days,I use cream cleansers, which are gentle on skin that's been dried and stressed from cold outdoors and dry central heating. I love the soothing, velvety feel of cream cleansers. During Summer my shiny face and oily t-zone is in full swing, so I go back to a gentle foaming cleanser to get rid of sweat and sunscreen, still cream-based which leaves my skin feeling hydrated. I've recently become a convert to oil cleansers. They feel great to use and are super effective at removing make-up, sunscreen and excessive oil as well as leaving skin feeling hydrated (see more on oil cleansers below). It is also recommended to use different cleansers morning and night - morning cleansers should be soothing and hydrating e.g a balm or cream cleanser, to set up your skin for the day and provide a 'clean canvas' for your make-up. Evening cleansers should provide a deep clean to get rid of make-up, perspiration and build-up accumulated from pollution from the day - e.g. a foaming or oil cleanser.
I also like a cleanser that takes off my make-up at the same time swathing everything off in one fell swoop, rather than have to use make-up remover separately. Most oil and cream cleansers will do the job - just be gentle around the delicate eye area. Dragging or scrubbing skin causes wrinkles! Cleansing oils are brilliant at removing make-up, particularly in the Summer when you have make-up, perspiration AND sunscreen to deal with. When purchasing a cleanser it should say whether they are made to remove make-up as well. However if you've applied particularly heavy makeup (such as water-proof products), you will need to use a make-up remover as well.
So what is the go with cleansers? With so many great options on the market these days, it's really a matter of personal preference. Find a cleanser that you like the consistency of and that suits your skin type and your skin requirements. If it cleans your skin to your satisfaction and makes your skin feel good and not tight or dry afterwards - go with it. It's a win-win! Here is a run down of the main types of cleansers on the market right now.

Cleanser types

Foaming cleansers - Good for oily & combination skin
Foaming cleansers make your skin feel nice and clean and are especially good for teens and 20-somethings, younger (read under-30) skins. They are generally gels, sometimes cream. Some people like the feeling of a foaming, bubbly cleanser, but it shouldn't strip your face of natural oils leaving your skin feeling tight or dry. Cream-based cleansers tend to contain more oils and emollients, so are great for dry or combination skin.
Recommendations: I like Kiehl's Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash and Aesop's Fabulous Face Cleanser.
{TIP} Foaming cleansers aren't recommended for use around the delicate eye area, so you will need to use an eye makeup remover or a cream here.
Non Foaming and Cream cleansers - Good for dry, sensitive & combination skin
Nice and gentle, non-foaming cleansers come in cream, balm and gel formulas. Our skin loses collagen and starts getting drier from 30, so this is a good time to start looking at more gentle cleansers.
Recommendations: Cetaphil is a tried and true favourite, lovely and gentle and recommended by supermodels & celebs such as Brooklyn Decker, Irina Shayk,  Charlize Theron and Olivia Wilde. You can get gel or cream non-foaming cleansers.  I like Neutrogena's Extra Gentle Cleanser. It is effective and gentle on my skin, I can conveniently pick it up at the supermarket and it is great bang for your buck! For a splurge, I like Aesop Purifying Cream Cleanser and Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cleanser or Aesop cream cleansers .Clarins have always done great cream and gel cleaners, such as Pure Melt Cleansing Gel.
{TIP} When I've been caught short, I have found a moisturizer will act pretty well as a cream cleanser on the run, if you work it in well enough.
Cleansing oils - Good for make-up removal and all skin types
Cleaning oils are good for all skin types and are generally also highly effective at removing of make-up. Ironically cleansing oils are good for oily skin too, as oil cleans oil. They don't leave oil in your pores as oil is lifted away with the dirt out of your pores when you rinse. The oil attracts make-up, dirt and impurities which are drawn out. Simply apply to dry skin and emulsify, then rinse. (Some oils are emulsified using water /wet hands - check the instructions). I like cleaning oils and find I get a really good clean with them. Like cream or gel cleansers, you can get specific cleansing oils for dry, oily or combination skin.
Recommendations: I really like NZ made Lipidol Cleansing Face Oil, which retails at $NZ9.95.  Vogue recommends Bobbi Brown's Soothing Cleansing Oil. Zoë Foster Blake (beauty writer and author of the fab book Amazing Face) recommends Aesop Parsley Seed Facial Cleansing Oil* and Shu Uemura's High Performance Balancing Cleansing Oil. Shu Uemura do a wide range of cleansing oils, all non-comedogenic (don't block pores). Read more on cleansing oils on Zoë's blog here.
Micellar Cleansing Water - Good for all skin types
The new kid on the block, these cleansers are used with wipes and no water. They became popular in France and Paris to combat hard water. Tiny micelle particles draw impurities and dirt off the skin, eliminating the need for water. People love these as they cleanse and tone your skin in one go. Simply soak a cotton pad or ball in the product and gently sweep your face until the pad becomes clean. Recommended for dry skin or those on the go. Again if you have heavy make-up on, a separate eye makeup remover is recommended. I tried Micellar Cleansing Water once, but I'm not a fan. My mascara didn't come off properly and I couldn't help but rinse my face, I felt like I needed water on it as it felt like I had toner on. My skin also felt quite dry afterwards, but I have friends who love it and are converts.
Recommendations: For those on a budget, try Garnier's Micellar Cleansing Water which has had pretty good reviews. Bioderma's Sensibio H2O has also had good reviews. Apparently a bottle of this is sold around the world every 5 seconds!
Cleansing Wipes
Really convenient for camping, festivals or if you are caught short. I used wipes when I was in hospital having babies. However, wipes will not clean your skin as effectively as a cleanser, and aren't great at removing make-up. "I tested a great number over the course of a month and I must say, it shows. My skin is simply not at its best... Treat them like fast food – convenient, easy and functional, but a once in a while indulgence." Sali Hughes.
Recommendations: Sali's recommendations include Johnsons' Baby Skincare Wipes and Neutrogena's Hydrating wipes, which I like too.

Generally not recommended by beauticians and facialists, as soaps tend to alter the pH levels in your skin and leave it too dry - that tight, 'squeaky clean' feeling.
Some common cleansing queries

Q. Do I need to cleanse twice a day?
A. We all know that it's really important to never go to bed in makeup. It just sits clogging your pores and causing spots - not good! I also like to clean my "end of the day face". Whilst living in London I could literally scrape the "tube soot" off my face after a long day, and God knows what other pollutants from the smoggy CBD - yuk! But I also like to remove overnight oil and dirt build-up in the morning. Dermatologist Dr. Jeanine Downie recommends that if your skin is very dry or extra sensitive, cleansing once a day in the evening is fine as more than twice a day can cause irritation.

Q. Do I need to wet my skin before I cleanse?
A. Zoë says "Apply your cleanser to a dry skin. Wet your hands first for spread and emulsification, but apply it to a dry face. Facialists do this, right at the start of your facial. And they seem to know what they're doing." Amazing Face. Good to know!

Q. Do I need to apply cold water after cleansing to "close" my pores?
A. I have heard this advice a few times, so was happy to read this from Dermatologist Dr. Jeanine Downie: "Pores don't open and close," says Downie. In fact, extreme hot or cold can exacerbate problems like rosacea and redness.

Q. Do I need to use a face cloth?
A. In short - yes. Face cloths help slough off any dead skin and gently exfoliate. "It's a dreary but cast-iron truth that removing make-up before bed will make your skin look so much better... I mean a thorough clean with a proper cleansing cream or lotion, and a hot face cloth." Sali Hughes

Do I need to use 2 different cleansers for combination skin?
A. No you don't. I have combination skin, so I do concentrate more on my forehead, nose and chin area by working the product in, and just gently wipe my cheeks which tend to get dry. "Apply onto the t-zone (the forehead and bridge of the nose) first “because this area tends be oilier and traps more impurities,” she says. Starting from here, massage the cleanser softly moving upwards and outwards to the other parts of your face like the temples, cheeks and chin. " says Cheryl Yong from Clarins (Vogue Italy)

Q. What temperature water do I use?
A. Mild steam and warm water can loosen oil stuck in your pores, so cleansing in the shower is a good idea. Don't use water that is too hot - it can irritate your skin, and strip the natural oils.

Q. Should I massage my face while cleansing?
A. Massaging the product in helps it's effectiveness, but Dr Downie says that extra massage isn't necessary. "While it feels nice, massage doesn't do much. Exercise is what boosts your circulation."

Clarins face cleanser
46 NZD -

Kiehl s face cleanser
26 NZD -

Aesop face cleanser
78 NZD -

Origins facial cleanser
37 NZD -

Neutrogena face wash
7.92 NZD -

Aesop face cleanser
62 NZD -

Garnier face care
61 NZD -

Cetaphil face cleanser
99 NZD -

Shu uemura face care
59 NZD -

Dermalogica face cleanser
96 NZD -


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