Home SKINCARE Things you never know about cleansing your face – Face Cleansing 101

Things you never know about cleansing your face – Face Cleansing 101

by Kylie Nguyen

Hello beautiful!

Welcome to my first post in Brighty Skin and hope that we can have a really really good time together with sharing and learning and being friends here with our best interest in skincare. When we talk about skincare, we may think about moisturizing or acne treatment. However, today, I want to mention about washing face, not moisturizing it. Simply because you may want to get right in bed after your long tired and cold day outside, and then wondering why your skin breaks out. First thing first, to have really healthy skin, the most important step is to keep it clean.

Even though cleansing your skin is the most critical step in every skincare routine, it is the step that only a few people would really care about. Choosing products, processing, spending time and even budget for this step are all less than the other steps in the daily skincare regime, while it is the step that will directly affect the whole outcome. 

Face cleansing 101
Washing your face properly helps you to have glowy skin

We will consider choosing the double-cleanse or triple-cleanse method for this step, depending on how much make-up you put on during the day:

  1. With suncream only/light make-up (Double cleansing):
    Oil-based cleanser —> Water-based cleanser
  2. With heavy make-up/heavy polluted environment (Triple cleansing):
    Micellar Water/Make-up Remover —> Oil-based cleanser —> Water-based cleanser 

This post today we will discuss how to choose the right water-based cleanser (cleansing foam/milk/gel/cream/powder etc.) to maintain the best condition of your skin


The elements to consider whether the product is good and suitable for you or not are:

  1. The need for hygiene: This actually is about your health, based on the dermatologist’s prescription ^^ Cleansing your face is necessary to remove dirt, oil, and makeup, which can build up and prevent other products to working on your skin, and not congesting your pores to cause breakouts.
  2. The requirement for protecting the skin barrier (epidermis): Every cleansing form should be cautious about how it will affect the skin barrier, try not to damage it, to ensure its protection capability.


Choose suitable products

The way how we can recognize that cleanser is right for you will be mentioned right below in the next section.

Choose a not-too-cold or not-too-hot water to clean your face

Have you ever heard that we should use hot water at first to wash our face to enlarge our pores then clean them up, then we should use cold water to tighten the pores? It’s just so wrong! May you also hear that we should use only use cold water to wash your face? This is also wrong. The sudden change of water temperature in such a short time on the skin will only cause our skin to suffer from thermal shock. The worse case is that it will break the bonds in our skin, making our skin drier after washing. The cold water is neither better because it cannot help us to remove all the residue oil on our skin surface. The best water for this step is the warm water with a temperature around 86-87°F or 30-31°C, which may sound hard to estimate. However, we can adjust the temperature by using our hands to test the water until we don’t feel the coldness anymore. That’s the right temperature you should use for your skin.

Gently cleanse your face

Please gently massage our skin! I know there are some beauty bloggers instructing us to use our pinky finger to massage our entire face during cleansing, to limit the force while rubbing or to stretch the skin and make our skin saggy and wrinkled. If we are accustomed to the right force while cleansing, it is not necessary to use the pinky finger, but still can use our hands to do this. The circular motion should be from the inside out to follow the natural curve of the muscle. However, the circular in the counter-wise direction will help better clean the pores in the T-zone. Don’t ever forget your jawline, hairline, and neck. Someone may think about using a facial cleansing machine or cleansing brush and it’s totally fine if it’s made of silicon to keep hygiene. I am using FOREO Luna Mini 2 and really enjoy it.

Face cleansing 101
Best temperature of the water should be around 86-87°F or 30-31°C

Take enough time to cleanse

Taking not enough time for this cleansing step is a common mistake. Ideally, we can spend around 1 minute to massage with cleansing foams, and spend the next 1 minute to splash water onto our face to wash everything off. Every facial cleansing machine has the default time at 1 minute so that it’s easier for us to follow up with the process. In case we use the brush or hands, we can set the timing for the 1st and estimate by ourselves in the next time.

Wash your face once or twice a day, no more!

Of course, we all know that we should only wash our face maximum twice a day. However, some of us misunderstand that it is only been counted if we use cleansers. In fact, we actually shouldn’t wash our face with water too many times during the day, because when the water evaporates, it can lead to dryness on our skin. Besides, washing face many times a day can also strip away the natural oils on the skin to keep it moist. Nevertheless, it is recommended to remove all make-up before and cleanse our face after we are heavy-sweat from physical activity, playing sports, to limit clogged pores and reduce skin inflammation.


Cleansing ability

We’re so familiar with the double-cleansing method, so the cleansing ability of a face cleanser is less concerned compared to before. Basically, all the face cleansers can do the job since all the work of removing dirt or excessive oils has been moved to the oil-cleansing step. 

Ingredients, ingredients, ingredients!!

Sodium-Lauryl-Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and Ammonium Laurel Sulfate (ALS) or other surfactants are the must-have ingredients in all cleansing products (includes all face cleansers, shampoos, shower gels, soaps, dish washing soaps etc.). However, if possible, we should try to avoid this ingredient.

Surfactant (surfactant) is a foaming agent when it gets wet and contact with the skin surface, the surfactant will soften the epidermal and penetrate deeply into this layer to remove dirt, excess oil. Hence, this process is easy to cause itching and skin irritation. Surfactant also affects the proteins in our skin barrier that reduces its ability for water retention and elasticity. Therefore, after using products with SLS, SLES, our skin tends to feel stretch and dry.

In addition, these surfactants cannot distinguish between the dirt and excess oil on our skin with important lipid-based substances (ceramides, cholesterol, free fatty acids) on our skin barrier/epidermal. Therefore, during a chemical reaction, the surfactant also reacts with these essential lipids and takes them away from our skin, which causes an increase in transepidermal water loss (TWEL) and elimination of the skin natural moisturizing factors (NMFs), makes the skin surface lumpy, less glowy, and therefore less smooth and looks dull.

The ratio of Natural Moisturizing Factors in our skin – Source: Medium

Although we cannot get rid of or deny the cleansing effect of the surfactants in our products, scientists haven’t found any better option beside its sodium to minimize its irritation effect on the skin or the amphoteric active substances (eg: Cocamidopropyl betaine) that you can find in several cleansers for sensitive skin. Some safer alternatives you can look for in your products include SLSA (sodium lauryl sulfoacetate), Sodium Cocoyl Glycinate, Disodium / Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Decyl glucoside, and Lauryl glucoside. Therefore, we still have the ability to choose a cleanser that does not contain SLS / SLES to minimize irritation and damage to our skin barrier.

One more notice about the ingredients in face cleanser is that adding some nutrients such as ceramides, fatty acids, triglyceride, cholesterol into the face cleansers neither help to minimize the impact of SLS / SLES nor help to protect the skin barrier due to the short time the products stay on our skin during cleansing.

The pH level of face cleanser

If we talk about the pH level of the face cleaners, I must say that we are quite subjective in choosing the right products with a suitable pH level. Knowing that our skin’s natural pH is 4.5 (quite acidic), we should use a cleanser with a pH as close to this natural pH level of the skin as possible, which should also be a little acidic as well. There are many companies that have used this pH factor to advertise or PR for their products, but in fact, the real pH level of that product is not what it is claimed on the package, so we should also be alert. 

As we know, actually, there is no substitute for surfactants, the face cleanser has the right pH for the skin is the product whose ingredients are the combination of the surfactant sodium with pH adjuster to make it less alkalic. In any way, it is better than not adjusting anything like thousands of other products on the market hihi ^^

Image result for ph level color scale skincare

The water solubility of face cleanser

This requirement is added by myself. Although this is not a prerequisite for a face cleanser, it is an important note for us, the users. Please DISSOLVE THE FACE CLEANSER TO FOAM IT UP COMPLETELY BEFORE MASSAGE THE FOAM ONTO OUR SKIN. We don’t want any remains of the cream or gel to be applied to the skin and can’t be completely washed off with water, do we? So the face cleanser that can be dissolved easily in water will help us save up time foaming.

The texture of the face cleanser

The form/texture of a facial cleanser is quite a personal interest. There are many types available on the market: water, gel, milk, cream, mousse, powder, etc. We should be noted that there is no guarantee about the non-foaming cleansers will not contain SLS / SLES or will have a suitable pH level for your skin. Many brands advertise that kind of non-foaming face cleanser is the mild kind for sensitive skin, but we cannot be sure about that. We must always be smart shoppers in these cases, ok? ^^

That’s all for this note about what we should know about face cleansing or how we can choose the right face cleanser. In the next topic, I will briefly test some of my current face cleansers to figure out which one is the right one we should use as a case study for your reference. ^^

Have a beautiful day, my ladies!! ^^

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