When it comes to facial cleansing, there are two schools of thought: old-fashioned soap-and-water or every-bell-and-whistle-at-the-beauty-counter. Turns out, neither is right.
Most of us assume that cleansing is a task so basic it can be
accomplished even when you're completely exhausted or slightly tipsy —
which, of course, it can. But with all the latest options (lotions,
milks, foaming mousses, oils, wipes, motorized brushes) and antiaging
ingredients to consider, there's a lot more to it than soap and water,
says Dr. Doris Day, NYC dermatologist and author of Forget the Facelift.
"With so many sophisticated, gentle cleansers that won't strip the
skin, using the right one allows moisturizing and antiaging products to
absorb more effectively." Clearly, an old-school splash and scrub won't
do. Here, the new rules for getting your freshest fase.
Myth 1: WASH AND GO It's more of a two-step process. "Remove your makeup before
you wash your face," says Montclair, New Jersey, derm Dr. Jeanine
Downie. "Many cleansers can't take off concealer or foundation
completely, especially around the eyes and nose." Use an oil-based
cream, an emollient wipe, or a cleansing oil to dissolve stubborn
sunscreen and makeup. Follow with lukewarm water and a dime-size amount
of cleanser (look for the ingredients cocamidopropyl betaine or caprylic
triglyceride, which are sulfate-free surfactants) on your fingers or a
clean, damp washcloth. Rinse and dry with a soft paper towel if you're
Myth 2: WASH TWICE A DAY While the jury is still out on
how often to cleanse (every a.m. and p.m. or just once at night), all
derms agree that over-washing can lead to irritation and a lack of
moisture. The rule is to use common sense: Always wash your face after a
workout to prevent breakouts, and wash excessively oily skin morning
and night. For very dry or sensitive skin, stick to cleansing once daily
in the evening.
Myth 3: CLOSE YOUR PORES Sorry, folks, but you can skip
rituals like massaging your face to increase circulation or splashing
with cold water to "close" your pores. "Pores don't open and close,"
says Downie. In fact, extreme hot or cold can exacerbate problems like
rosacea and redness. That said, mild steam can help soften hardened oil
in pores, so it's never a bad idea to cleanse in the shower. And "while
it feels nice, massage doesn't do much," adds Downie. "Exercise is what
boosts your circulation
Myth 4: BUY CLEANSER ACCORDING TO SKIN TYPE No
matter what kind of skin you have, make sure the ingredients list
doesn't contain fragrance, which can be irritating; parabens
(potentially toxic preservatives); or harsh soap (it's drying). "If a
cleanser fits that bill, the formula itself [cream, lotion, foaming,
etc.] is more a matter of personal preference," says NYC dermatologist
Dr. Brad Katchen. Of course, people with dry skin may prefer formulas
with added moisturizers, like glycerin or shea butter. And "if you have
oily skin, you might want a foaming wash that leaves skin feeling
superclean," says Day.
Myth 5: SCRUB TO EXFOLIATE AND SMOOTHA salicylic- or
glycolic-acid cleanser is gentler and more effective than grainy
scrubs, and both offer antiaging benefits and help prevent breakouts.
Alternate with your regular wash (start with three times a week), and
adjust depending on how your skin is looking and feeling.
Myth 6: USE TONER "An alcohol-based toner strips off
natural oils," explains Day. Not good. "Gentle toners calm the skin and
balance pH levels, but with the right cleanser, you don't really need
this step." Love the feeling anyway? Choose gentle, alcohol-free
Myth 7: BRUSH YOUR SKIN TO A GLOW EVERY DAY "A brush
removes oil, dirt, and dead skin better than your hands can, and it's
less aggressive than most exfoliating cleansers or scrubs," says Day.
"But it's not something you have to use every night, especially if
you're also applying ingredients like retinoids or acids. Too much
exfoliation can cause inflammation." Basically: Use, but use sparingly.
(Right now we're obses-sed with Clarisonic's new acne-cleansing brush
head, below.) To keep your brush bacteria-free, rinse and air-dry after
use. Oh, and hey, clean freak, like you do with your Brita, replace the
brush head every three months.
Myth 8: SPEND A FORTUNE Save your pricier
ingredients, like retinol or antioxidants, for leave-on products instead
of washing them down the drain. "They're most effective when they stay
concentrated on the skin," says Katchen.