How to Pick the Perfect Cleanser - PureSkin Dermatology

How to Pick the Perfect Cleanser

Cleansing is the first (and arguably, the most important) step in your skincare routine, yet often overlooked in many discussions about skincare.  Cleansing is essential in unclogging pores, removing impurities, dirt, old skin cells, makeup, sunscreen, bacteria, viruses, you name it.  Yet, if your skin is cleansed too frequently or with the wrong cleanser, you can strip your skin barrier, leaving it dry, irritated, and vulnerable to the elements. So, let’s set your skin up for success and pick the right cleanser for your skin type.

Step 1: Identify your skin type.
To do this, we recommend performing a wash test. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser, pat dry and wait 30 minutes.

                  If it feels tight and flaky, you’ve got dry skin

                  If you are oily in your T-zone only, you’ve got combination skin  

                  If your skin feels hydrated and comfortable but not oily, you’ve got normal skin

                  If your skin is shiny throughout, you’ve got oily skin

                  If your skin feels tight and is red/blotchy, you’ve got sensitive skin

Step 2: Pick the right cleanser for your skin type.

Some basic tips: choose a gentle cleanser that is alcohol and fragrance free. The point of cleansing is to remove make-up, sunscreen, oil, dirt, without disrupting the balance of your skin. You don’t want to disrupt your moisture barrier.  pH balanced cleansing is an important consideration – our skin tends to be acidic, so the goal pH is 5.5-6, rather than common detergents that have a higher, more basic pH.

  1. Dry Skin. Consider a creamy, gel-based cleanser; look for hydrating cleansers and pH balanced; ingredients: fatty acids, humectants such as glycerin, avoid foaming/stripping cleansers; use a cleanser once a day – usually at night.
  2. Normal/Combination Skin.  Pick a creamy or gel-based cleanser, pH balanced, non-stripping, gently, fatty acids, glycerin, avoid foaming cleansers; use a cleanser once a day – usually at night.
  3. Oily Skin.  Opt for foaming or gel cleansers; removes excess oil without being overly stripping; avoid oils and balms; cleansers with actives such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, sulfur; use a cleanser at least once a day in the evening; if you’re extremely oil, use it twice a day. If you over strip your skin, it may cause more oil production.
  4. Sensitive Skin.  Stick with creamy, gel and maybe foaming cleanser; gentle, non-irritating and not over stripping; avoid physical scrubs or harsh actives.

Step 3: How often should I wash my face?

The short answer: at least once a day.  Most people can get away with washing their face once a day, and if that’s you, we recommend cleansing at the end of the day to get rid of all the build-up accumulated during the day.  You could add in a morning cleanse with either water or your preferred cleanser, but it is not essential.  If you are more acne prone or have oily skin, consider cleansing twice a day with a suitable cleanser. More than that can be stripping and may cause worsening of underlying skin conditions.

FAQ: Should I be double cleansing?

Maybe.  If you have dry or sensitive skin, double cleansing may aggravate your natural skin barrier and is not recommended.  However, if you have oily or combination skin, or if you have a lot of build-up from sunscreen, make-up (especially water-proof formulations), double cleansing may be right for you.  Consider an oil-based cleanser or micellar water (if you’re more acne prone) for your first cleanse to help remove excess sebum, make-up and dirt.  Then follow up with gentle cleanser to help de-clog your pores and remove any remaining impurities.