skincare 101 : cleansers

There’s nothing like a new blog series to perk up a somewhat dreary Monday morning, am I right? I’m quite excited about this new addition because it feeds right into my absolute passion. As I’m sure you’ve picked up, I’m just a teeny weeny bit obsessed with everything skincare related. Each week, I will focus on a specific part of what a skincare regime could/should contain, you can then decide if you would like to include a specific product or step into your homecare routine. There is so much information that I could share but I’m going to keep it as simple as I can while still giving you all the vital information, plus some tips along the way.

Today we are going to chat about cleansing. Ah, it seems so simple but wow, people (including myself) can get it wrong! First things first, why is cleansing the skin so important? It is absolutely vital to our skins health– not only does it remove our make up that, by the end of the day has been sitting there for a good 12 hours, but it also removes debris, dirt, grit and grime. By not removing these, you are giving your skin every opportunity to become sensitive, congested or just icky in general. Not on anyone’s wish list! Ok, now that we have got that out the way, how should you cleanse your skin? I’m pretty sure most of us just go with the good ol’ once over and splash method, but here are two ways you might want to try out, it could be an absolute game changer!

Double cleanse – I am a big believer in this, especially if you wear a fair amount of make up or if you are prone to breakouts. You use an oil based cleanser first to remove oil soluble particles (including your eye make up). Apply this to a dry face with dry hands. Oil and water don’t mix remember? Once you have massaged your cleanser in for a minute or so, you can add a little bit of water to emulsify it and then rinse off. Next up you will use your regular cleanser and cleanse your face again. Now you can rest assured that your skin is completely clean and free from any pesky critters that could cause damage.

Hot cloth cleanse – I have really been enjoying this method especially while we are freezing our tooshies off here in Joburg. Because this is done best with a rich cleanser (like a cleansing balm or thick cream), it is not for everyone. After applying your cleanser and giving it a good massage, wet your muslin cloth (I’ll be honest, I just use faceclothes) with warm water, ring it out and then place onto your face for a minute or so. The warmth from the cloth will open up your pores like a steamer would during a facial so that the products that we apply to our skin afterwards, will penetrate and work effectively. Sometimes I lie in the bath with the cloth on my face for ages, it’s a pretty odd sight. After that, you can wipe away your cleanser with the cloth using gentle movements. This is great because it also gives your skin a light exfoliation. Two things to remember when using this method of cleansing: one, use a fresh cloth every single time that you cleanse. By using the same cloth, you risk cross contamination – yuck. Two, don’t use scalding hot water to rinse your face, especially if you have a sensitive or reactive skin. Hot water just opens the door for a damaged barrier function as well as broken capillaries both of which aren’t easily fixed.

Now that we are filled in on how to cleanse, let’s chat about the different types of cleansers. It feels like back in the day there were only two types of cleansers: cream and gel. Today, there are so many more choices which can make it a bit tricky when trying to decide what’s best for your specific skin type and concerns.

Cleansing gels – this type of cleanser is like my default. I always have one in my bathroom. Make sure when purchasing this cleanser (or any other cleanser for that matter) that it does not contain soap. If you are still using a cake of soap to cleanse your skin, get up right now, yes right now, go get that block of skin death and throw it into the bin where it belongs. Soap is incredibly damaging to our skins. It strips it and so in turn, damages our acid mantle (the protective layer in our skin that keeps all the baddies out that will cause problems like sensitivity). Right, now that that’s done, I can turn off my stern voice. Gel cleansers are generally for a combination to oily skin. They are also great to keep in the gym bag to give a quick rinse after you’ve sweated it out. You won’t believe how many people are actually allergic to their own sweat! The Nivea Daily Essentials Refreshing Facial Wash Gel is great and easy on the pocket as well. Remember, if after you have cleansed, your skin feels really tight, then your cleanser is probably wrong for you and you will most likely need something a bit more nourishing or hydrating.

Cleansing milks – these cleansers are aimed more towards a dehydrated or sensitive skin. I have found that 90% of the time, a sensitive skin is dehydrated, and a dehydrated skin shows signs of sensitivity. So it makes sense that they both use a milky cleanser. However, if you are more sensitive, be careful not to pick up a cleanser that is too rich as you may react to it. My all time favourite cleanser for a sensitive skin has to be the Dermalogica Ultra Calming Cleanser (the whole range is a winner actually). Ok, it’s not really a cleansing milk, but I had to give it a mention because it is that awesome. In terms of a cleansing milk, the Decleor Essential Cleansing Milk is good and the neroli oil gives it such a luxurious fragrance.

Cleansing creams –Dry skin is not something that we see often here in South Africa but when it does occur, its usually on a more mature skin and those are the people who will gravitate more towards a cleansing cream. These are thicker than a cleansing milk and really help give the skin back its suppleness, and often it’s comfort. Be warned, if you don’t suffer from a particularly dry skin, this type of cleanser could be too rich for you and cause you to break out. Don’t forget that there is a difference between a dry skin and a dehydrated skin. A dry skin lacks oil, a dehydrated skin lacks water. Because of my skin type (crazy and unpredictable), I have never had to use a cleansing cream. But if that is what you are after, an educated skin care therapist could definitely recommend one for you.

Cleansing oils – This is your first step in your double cleanse that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. It’s great because it will remove all traces of make up including your waterproof mascara! If you have lash extensions, do not use an oil cleanser over them as it will cause the glue to become, well, unglued. Also, make sure that the cleanser you are buying does not contain mineral oil. This is another no no when it comes to skincare and so if you are using baby oil (or anything similar) to remove your make up, best you toss it. The Dermalogica Precleanse is incredible and a little really goes a long way. I know it seems completely counter-intuitive for a person prone to oilyness to use an oil cleanser. But once you try it, you become hooked! After I have done a double cleanse, my skin feels not only clean, but supple and not stripped at all. It feels like it’s wrapped in a bubble of happiness floating on a pink fluffy cloud.

Cleansing balms – To me, these are great for a mature skin that is dry and a bit uncomfortable. The thick, rich texture of this cleanser will help skin regain its suppleness. These cleansers are also great to use during dry months when the skin can get a bit uncomfortable. I will definitely be using the Balm Balm Frankinsense Deep Cleansing Balm in my night time routine.

Cleansing wipes – A girl’s best friend! You will always find a pack of these lying around in my bathroom. I love using them when we travel and obviously they are great for when you literally have no time to get ready or are ridiculously tired and just want to snuggle in your warm bed. I have used quite a few different brands and have to say, there hasn’t been a stand out winner, they all function pretty much the same. I definitely don’t use cleansing wipes as an everyday thing, I think that the skin needs a thorough cleanse to keep it looking healthy and happy.

Cleansing water – I have to be honest, I haven’t used cleansing water before because I just don’t feel like it would be effective enough for me, but everyone absolutely raves about the Bioderma Sensibio H2O so it must be good. In my mind, these type of cleansers are ideal for someone who wears little to no make up and has more of a slightly dehydrated, sensitive skin. I think that a combination or oily skin craves a more gel type cleanser. What are your thoughts on cleansing waters?

Sho wee, I feel like I went into information overload today, but did you find this post useful? Leave a comment below and let me know! Also, if you have any burning questions, you are welcome to pop me a mail or ask away in a comment. If you want to stay up to date with what’s going on, you can subscribe to Mascara & Mimosas at the top of this page on the right hand side. Have a great Monday everyone!


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  • Reply
    Rivania Pillay
    June 8, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    Lovely post! This was really informative. xx

  • Reply
    June 8, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    Always enjoy reading your blog. I am using Ponds exfoliator at the moment but I’ve noticed little pimples forming on my forehead 🙁 not sure it the two are related though

    • Reply
      June 8, 2015 at 6:58 pm

      Hi Nihaad, thanks for the lovely comment! Typically breakouts on the forehead can be from stress or diet (especially between the brows). If you’ve only been using the exfoliator for a week or so, give it another 3 weeks to see if your skin settles – if not, your skin might not agree with one of the ingredients in that particular exfoliator. Hope this answers your question? I will be covering a whole lot more info in an upcoming post so look out for that!

  • Reply
    All That's Glamorous
    June 9, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    An awesome informative post and a great new series idea. I’m looking forward to reading it. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • Reply
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