Facial Cleanser

Facial Cleanser Cleans Skin

We’ve all heard the age-old beauty advice: you have to cleanse, tone, and then moisturize. Exactly in this order. And at least twice a day. What exactly does cleansing and toning even mean? Moisturizer, at least to me, is the only step that makes sense just from the name. If you’re feeling clueless about how to set up a worthwhile beauty routine, you’re in luck! Today is the first part in a series about the topic of facial cleanser, toners, and moisturizers. Let’s dive right in with the first step, cleansing.

What can you expect to learn about today? We’ll dive into the details about soaps, syndets, lipid-free cleansers, cleansing creams, facial cloths, and facial brushes.

From what I can gather from my research, cleansing is essentially washing your face. It removes the dirt and oil accumulated on your skin – whether it is from make up, sweat, or your normal day to day grind.

However, you don’t have to wash your face in order to wash your face. Wait, what? You read that right. There are many ways to cleanse the skin, and they don’t have to involve just soap and water.

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When cleansing, you shouldn’t feel “squeaky clean.” We all know and love the feeling of using a harsh bar of soap on our faces. Resist the temptation! Body soaps are meant for the body. When used on the face, soaps have harsh detergents that strip away the natural oils present on your skin. Remember that stratum corneum I kept mentioning in my last article? It likes its natural skin oils.

Your skin also prefers an acidic pH. Soaps are inherently basic compounds. When the basic soaps meet your acidic skin, the result is that your natural oils are washed down the drain.


Syndets are the term used for synthetic detergents. They are like soap’s milder cousin. They are recommended for sensitive skin, even baby skin. Syndets have a pH closer to the natural acidic pH of the skin. Products are usually not marketed as syndets. The products will use terms like “cleansing bars,” “dermatologic bars,” or “beauty bars.” Some of the most popular brands are Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar, Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar, and La Roche Posay Lipikar Surgras Cleansing Bar.

Lipid-Free Cleansers

Lipid-free cleansers are cleansers that do not contain fats. These are good for people with extremely dry or sensitive skin because they are not very good at removing oil and dirt. The most common ingredients in these products will be glycerin, cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, and sodium laurel sulfate. These work better at moisturizing the skin than cleansing it. Try Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser.

Cream Cleansers

Cleansing creams are made of water, mineral oil, petrolatum, and waxes. These are oily compounds so they can also help with dry skin. Cleansing creams can be used to both remove makeup and cleanse. This type of product is popular with older women who didn’t have as many choices in facial cleanser outside of soap growing up. You can look for Pond’s Cold Cream Cleanser.


Scrubs can do the double duty of cleansing and exfoliating. The scrubbing action is due to the abrasive ingredients used in the product. These are usually polyethylene beads like in Clean & Clear Morning Burst Facial Scrub, or ground fruit pits like in St. Ives Apricot Scrub. The scrubs can cause irritation and redness if you are too vigorous. Be careful not to over do it.

A sidenote on the polyethylene beads, congress recently passed a law requiring manufacturers to stop using beads of microscopic plastic (such as polyethylene) in their products by 2017. We will have to wait and see how manufacturers respond with new products.

Facial Cleansing Cloths

Facial cleansing cloths are the best invention in cleansing for those of us who are too lazy to wash our faces with water every day. The cloths come with all of the ingredients you need. They can remove your makeup and dirt with one easy swipe. Some of the most popular products include Pond’s Original Fresh Wet Cleansing Towelettes, Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes, and Sephora Express Cleansing Wipes.

However, cloths aren’t better than good old-fashioned water and cleanser. There is always a residue left behind. But if it comes down waking up with raccoon eyes the next day or using a cleansing cloth, reach for the cleansing cloth every time! You’ll be glad you did the next day.

If you don’t want to use your hands for cleansing, don’t worry. There’s a product for that.

Facial Cleansing Brushes

Facial cleansing brushes, like the Clarisonic Mia 3 Cleansing Brush or the Proactiv Deep Cleansing Brush, are also helpful for cleansing. These products are motorized brushes that help you deliver the cleansing product of your choice to the skin. Instead of using your hands to try to evenly spread a product, the brushes can deliver a deeper clean. Be forewarned that using a cleansing brush more than 2-3 times a week can backfire. Don’t push too hard on your face or use the brush for too long. Other downsides to the facial cleansing brushes are their upfront cost and need to replace the brushes regularly.

Tips on How To Cleanse Properly

Before cleansing, take a moment to wash your hands with regular old soap and water. Your hands contain a lot of bacteria. Think of all things your hands touch on a daily basis. Don’t transfer all of that onto your face.

Don’t dial up the temperature to scalding when washing your face. Hot water can irritate and overdry your skin. Stick to lukewarm.

Use gentle circular motions for at least 1 minute while cleansing. Get the product out onto the edges of your face like the hairline and jaw.

Rinse thoroughly. You don’t want to leave facial cleanser remnants, oil, and dirt behind. When drying use gentle patting. Don’t wipe aggressively.

Less Is More

As for having to do this routine of cleansing, toning, and moisturizing twice a day, that might be a little bit excessive. Depending on your skin type, your skin may not tolerate this level of irritation or abuse. People with acne prone skin tend to want to scrub away their pimples, but that plain old doesn’t work. Excessive cleansing and scrubbing can irritate skin further, dry it out, and lead to more acne. Your skin will always try to balance itself out.

For example, I always notice that after I use one of those Biore pore strips my nose feels greasier throughout the day. How could that be? I just removed all of my blackheads and greasy tidbits, didn’t I? Yes, but the action of removing all that gunk makes your skin dry. The cells in your skin then ramp up oil production to make up for the fact that you just removed the oil you had.

Do you always cleanse, tone, and moisturize? What’s your favorite facial cleanser?


  1. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/american-academy-of-dermatology-cutting-through-the-clutter-making-the-most-of-your-facial-cleansing-routine-66336867.html
  2. http://www.anothermaria.com/2014/09/best-syndet-bar-brands-skin/
  3. http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304402104579149542082224218

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