CHOOSING THE RIGHT CLEANSER FOR YOUR SKIN
by CLEF Skincare on Jul 27, 2020
“Cleansers don’t really matter—I’m just gonna wash it off anyway!”
Does this sound familiar?
We’re all guilty of prioritising our topical leave-on products like serums and moisturisers, but having that “whatever works” mindset when it comes to picking a facial cleanser. Well, it’s time to change that.
Cleansers remove dirt and oil from the skin while emptying the pores of unwanted debris. Doing so allows the skin’s natural oil to reach the skin surface freely, which maintains healthy, clear skin by preventing clogged pores and acne. Given that cleansers play such a huge role and are the first step in any skincare routine, it’s important to choose the right one to start things on a good note. Cleansers essentially prep our skin to receive all the leave-on products we’re going to apply next.
Find the Right Balance
Using a cleanser that’s too drying can leave you with irritated or tight skin. While we’re generally accustomed to being “squeaky clean”, stripping all the skin’s natural oils to the point of actual squeakiness actually does more harm than good. This leaves us relying on creams to add that hydration back into our skin—a never-ending cycle that could have been avoided if we didn’t dry it out in the first place. Drying cleansers can also cause rebound sebum production, leaving your skin even oilier than before.
On the other hand, using a cleanser that’s too rich leaves a layer that could clog pores and trigger breakouts. "Nourishing" cleansers may seem ideal in preventing dryness, but certain ingredients actually make skin even drier by forming a barrier that disrupts the skin's natural regeneration process.
A good cleanser should clean dirt and excess oil from your skin while hydrating it. For an even more streamlined routine, we recommend opting for a cleanser that offers other skin benefits as well. Our Hydrating Cleansing Gel, which deep cleans pores without drying out the skin, contains effective, multifunctional ingredients that are moisturizing, repairing, and anti-aging.
Identify Your Skin Type
Familiarising yourself with your skin type is crucial since this will allow you to create a routine that specifically targets your areas of concern. Normal skin has the ideal mix of moisture and oil. Oily skin becomes greasy soon after washing and often has large, visible pores. Dry skin lacks oil and can often be flaky, itchy, or tight. Combination skin is when some parts of the face are oily, while others are dry. Take note if your skin is sensitive too—look out for whether or not it’s prone to irritation and redness.
Despite the straightforwardness of these classifications, deciphering our skin types based on these descriptions can be difficult since skin types actually exist on a spectrum. In fact, our skin can sometimes be a mixture of two or three of those within a single day! If this seems to be the case for you, your safest bet would be to opt for products that are marketed to be suitable for all skin types. These products were carefully formulated to meet the fine balance between each skin type, meaning they won’t be too mild or too extreme (and they’ll be hassle-free too!).
Stay Away From Sulfates
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are detergents used in cleansers because they produce a lather that lifts oil away. All that foamy, soapy action may feel satisfying in the moment (especially if your skin is oily), but this actually ruins your skin barrier.
Your skin barrier is the outermost layer that keeps moisture in and protects you from dirt, bacteria, and pollution. Sulfates are so strong and so alkaline that they can temporarily damage it—causing irritation, itching, dryness, redness, or excess oil production. Upon exposure to sulfates, it can take hours for your skin's pH to go back to normal. Given that the average person cleanses twice daily, imagine how much stress sulfate exposure places on your skin.
Fortunately, you can still get a satisfying cleanse with sulfate-free (also referred to as "soap-free") products. A good substitute is cocomidopropyl betaine, a compound derived from coconuts that cleanses gently and effectively, without causing dryness (psst, our Hydrating Cleansing Gel contains this ingredient!).
Look for pH Balanced Cleansers
Our skin is protected by an acid mantle, a protective barrier on the skin’s surface made of sweat, skin oils, and dead skin cells. This acid mantle is what gives our skin its pH (which ranges from 4.0 to 7.0) and protects our skin from bacteria, fungi, environmental pollutants, and keeps it moist, soft, and supple—it basically does everything. Would we go so far as to say that we are nothing without our acid mantles? Yes. Yes we would.
Disrupting your skin’s acid mantle is plain bad news, which is why opting for pH balanced products should be a top priority when choosing a cleanser, a.k.a. the most notorious acid mantle destroyers. A cleanser that is pH balanced simply means it has a pH similar to that of skin (pH 4-6). Generally speaking, 5.5 is a safe number to aim for.
Want a cleanser that fits the requirements above? .. Try CLEF Skincare today