How to properly cleanse your skin – with no wipes in sight

It’s time to get acquainted with washes and water – because the wipes have got to go.

By now you surely know how terrible wipes and single use products are for the environment, so if you’re still using them, clearly that’s not enough for an incentive to ditch them.

But matters concerning the self usually are incentivising: wipes don’t work so well on your skin, reader.

Remember the viral tangerine cleansing demo that showed just how ineffective wipes are at removing foundation from pores?

Here’s a secret: some years ago when I used to work in beauty, I used wipes. Every time someone would pipe up about how terrible they are, I’d quietly sit back – until one day, they figured it out.

Armed with several bottles and tubs – from balm cleansers to gels and creams – I was asked to ditch the wipes. Laziness, I must admit, prevented me from doing it sooner.

My skin never felt so clean and refreshed. Now, I can’t imagine going to bed having just used a wipe to remove the day’s makeup and grime.

So, here’s what you need to know about proper skin cleansing and the options out there to suit your skin type.

Why should you ditch face wipes?

Face wipes are bad for the environment, bad for your pipes if you flush them (which you absolutely should not do), and bad for your skin.

Joanne Rendell, skin therapist at The Skin Experts tells us: ‘Although makeup cleansing wipes may come in handy when travelling or camping, if there isn’t clean accessible water, I have never understood why people want to use them on their face on a regular basis.

‘Wipes are designed for a quick fix, they contain huge amounts of chemical components to keep them moist, effective and preserved.

‘They are good for taking makeup off around the eyes but are not effective when it comes to cleansing.

‘They may remove a layer off the surface but following that only move dirt and remaining makeup around the face. Wipes strip your skin causing redness, irritation, acne and dry skin out if used regularly. Common skin issues can be easily reversed if you washed your face with cleanser and water and ditch the wipes.’

What should a good skin cleansing routine involve step by step?

Joanne recommends the following:

Morning cleanse

  • Apply cleanser to your face (oil, balm, gel or cream)
  • Emulsify with water if using oil or balm
  • Remove with chosen cloth

Evening cleanse

  • First cleanse: apply chosen cleanser (oil, gel, balm, micellar water) that will also remove makeup and SPF working it into the skin
  • Emulsify with water if using oil or balm
  • Remove with chosen cloth
  • Repeat steps this time either with same cleanser or one of your choice, not micellar water (oil, cream, balm) really working the cleanser into the skin paying particular attention to the nose, chin and forehead. Using your knuckles knead the product into the skin, along the jaw line and all the way down onto the neck and décolletage
  • Emulsify with water still working the product into the skin
  • Remove using chosen cloth

She continues: ‘Getting cleansing right is the most important part of your skin routine.

‘It doesn’t matter how expensive a serum or moisturiser is, if the blank canvas isn’t clean nothing will sit right on the top.

‘When cleansing becomes a daily routine, you soon begin to notice a difference.’

What should you keep in mind when cleansing?

First consider where you’re cleansing.

‘Water temperature plays an important part in any cleansing routine, so always cleanse your face at the sink and not in the shower – the water we wash our bodies with is too hot for the face,’ Joanne says.

Washing in hot water can aggravate sensitive skin and bring on dryness, so don’t think you’re doing your pores any good by washing with plenty of heat.

‘The cooler the water the better, and use flannels or cloths this helps exfoliate the skin,’ she adds.

Is double cleansing a myth?

In recent years, double cleansing has been popular and pushed by experts.

While it can do the skin a lot of good, those with drier types should be wary as skin can feel stripped afterwards.

Joanne says: ‘By double cleansing, you’re helping to lift and clear away all the dirt, makeup and sebum from your face from the day.

‘Your second cleanse then is able to clean the skin once everything else is removed.

‘If we just cleansed once all that would happen is removal of product, and you would still be left with residue on the skin.

‘It is always best to use an oil-based cleanser or a micellar water to remove your makeup. An oil-based cleanser is particularly effective at doing this, as they are great at dissolving all types of makeup and sun cream formula.

‘Once this is done you can either continue to wash with the same cleanser of change to another preferred cleanser for your second cleanse.’

If you have dry and tight skin, go for a more nourishing formula like a balm, milk or cream.

Are there better cleansing formulas for dry, oily and combo skin?

  • Dry skin: Micellar water, cream, oil, cleansing balm
  • Oily: Micellar water, oil, gel
  • Combination: Micellar water, oil, cleansing balm

Joanne says: ‘Not everyone can justify having more than one cleanser, so it is important that the one you choose covers all basis.

‘There is nothing wrong with using the same products day and night. Just remember that micellar water doesn’t clean your face so if you prefer this only use it to take your makeup off in the evening.

‘All other cleansers are suitable for morning and evening unless they contain acids, in which case only use once a day.’

Common cleanser formulas and what they’re best used for

  • Micellar water: ‘Use this cleanser to take your makeup off in the evening. Make sure you choose a different cleanser (oil, balm, gel, cream, foaming) to complete your second cleanse and morning routine. Micellar water does not clean your face, but is great for removing makeup.’
  • Balm: ‘Perfect partner for combination, dry and oily skin types. These cleansers are moisturising and nourishing. Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm is an amazing product and smells divine, working well for morning and evening cleanse.’
  • Gel: ‘Particularly effective for treating acne, and oily skin. Gel cleansers often contain ingredients that restore your skins pH balance. Gel cleaners are safe for sensitised skin and good for double cleansing because they remove makeup and restore hydration. Sk:n Vitamin Rich Gel Cleanser For Oily Skin lightweight gel formulation uses a blend of glycolic and salicylic acids to exfoliate and decongest the skin.’
  • Oil: ‘My favourite is oil-based cleansers – they are great for everyone and for your morning and double evening cleanse. So, if you can only have one this is the way to go. Oil based cleansers gently dissolve make up, grip excess sebum and sunscreen from the skin as well as deeply penetrating the pores to dissolve the “bad” oils and bacteria, as well as infusing the skin with essential vitamins. Medik8 Lipid Balance Cleansing Oil transforms with water into a milky emulsion that dissolves impurities and waterproof makeup to reveal radiant, refreshed skin.’
  • Cream: ‘Cream cleansers are a great choice for sensitive skin and clients with Rosacea. Many cream cleansers don’t rinse and can leave a residue on the skin. For some skin types this may cause problems as it could lead to irritation, clogging of pores and acne. Cream cleansers are very nourishing, they are gentler and more hydrating so often people suffering with dry, sensitive skin find this a benefit. Cream cleansers can remove makeup as similar to an oil-based cleanser they contain ingredients that help to soften and dissolve makeup residue but because this product doesn’t use water to rinse it may take a little longer.’

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