Skin Care 101: Cleansing

Your individual skin needs individual care. Proper daily, weekly and monthly care, combined with a healthy lifestyle will make your skin glow with youth and vitality.

But where do I start? There are so many products on the market, how do I know which ones are best for my skin?

Let’s start at the beginning.

Every skin care routine will begin with cleansing. Cleansing is important, it’s key to ensuring you get the best bang for your buck from your products in terms of the rest of your skin care regime. Cleansing is the first step in your skin-care regime, and you do this twice a day, morning and night. It is important to cleanse your skin every night to remove make-up, impurities, dead skin cells, and excess oil. But a morning cleansing is also beneficial, as it removes any toxins the skin eliminates during the night and refreshes the skin, preparing it for any make-up application.

Overnight, the skin needs oxygen to repair itself. And sleeping with your makeup on deprives it of this vital nutrient. “When makeup is left on, it blocks the natural exfoliating process, which can leave your skin looking dull”, says Dr. Robins Ashinoff, Director of Cosmetic Dermatology at Hackensack Medical Center in New Jersey.

For the removal of eye make-up, especially waterproof mascara, there are particular products specifically formulated for the eye area. However, some gentle facial cleansers can effectively remove all make-up, eye, and facial, as well as cleanse the skin. For the general or “all-in-one” cleansers, be sure that they are fragrance- and colour-free to avoid irritating the eye area. If you do not need to remove eye make-up, select a skin specific cleanser. For instance, use an oil free cleanser for oily skin, and a milky or creamy cleanser for drier skin types. A cleansing oil will remove makeup as well as cleanse away impurities, working on the principle that oil emulsifies oil.

The original use of a toner is to return the skin’s pH back to normal. It is also useful to complete the cleansing process, as it will remove any last traces of make-up and cleanser residue. Some toners have very beneficial ingredients that help certain skin conditions. As an example, ethanol will help with excess oil, whereas lactic acid or other alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) will help exfoliate and smooth the skin’s texture.

2.  Night-time cleansing is essential for letting anti-aging ingredients work.

Nocturnal blood flow in the skin is higher. And when blood flow is increased so is absorption and penetration of ingredients. So again, if you aren’t washing you can’t apply actives that will help fight aging (or acne or whatever your skin condition might be).

Thus, If you don’t wash your face before bed it’s a missed opportunity to do something great for your skin and to wake up with smoother, softer, clearer skin.

3.  Forgoing night-time cleansing regularly will give you larger pores.

First, consider that excess sebum (oil), dead skin cells, and pollution are sitting on your face. Not to mention makeup (and just because you don’t wear foundation is no excuse). A cleanser will emulsify all of these and remove them from the surface of your skin. According to Dr. Dennis Gross, M.D., when makeup is left on it can seep deep down, clogging pores. He also says that once your collagen levels start to decline (due to aging), the pores do not snap back as easily once they become enlarged. And, leaving makeup on can lead to inflammation that can generate free radicals and collagen breakdown.

4.  Night-time cleansing prevents skin dehydration.

Skin temperature rises overnight (Temperature of a Healthy Human) which leads to trans-epidermal water loss (evaporation).

This in part causes the skin to lose a significant portion of water at night.  According to an article, Nocturnal Itch, by the Departments of Dermatology and Neurobiology & Anatomy at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, transepidermal water loss (TEWL) is significantly increased during the night, which is why our skin can sometimes feel more itchy at night. Thus, if you don’t wash your face, you can’t apply a moisturizer which will help hydrate your skin while you sleep.

5.  Daytime cleansing prevents excess oil production.

I know what you’re thinking: So why then do I have to wash it again in the morning; I went to bed with it clean? As we just learned, overnight your skin recovers. Which means in the morning you have more dead skin cells to slough off. And more excess sebum to emulsify. These can’t be rinsed away with mere water. Here’s an analogy: I own 2 cats and I can tell you for certain that when my favorite sweater is full of cat hair I can shake it all I want, but that hair isn’t budging unless I take a lint roller to it. Same with dead skin cells and excess sebum…you need to dislodge them & then rinse them away. Water alone removes only about 65% of oil and debris from the surface of the skin (Livestrong Article). Think about what you’re leaving behind – yikes!

Do you really want to put your makeup on top of dead skin cells & excess oil? Would you skip brushing your teeth in the morning because you did it before bed? I think not…