Facial Cleansers: Find Your Perfect Match

cleanser purchased smallAn effective facial cleanser is the foundation of every good skincare routine. After all, it’s responsible for gently cleansing your skin, removing impurities and dead skin cells, preventing dryness, allowing for better penetrations of serums and moisturizers. That’s a large task for one product, and unless you find the right one for your skin type, it could be doing more harm then good. To help you find your perfect match, we’ve rounded up the best of the best cleansers to reach for right now.

Oily Skin 

Reach For: John Masters Organics Jojoba & Ginseng Exfoliating Cleanser, Image Skincare Ormedic Facial Cleanser, Burt’s Bees Orange Essence Facial Cleanser, Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser

Why We Love Them: all of these all-natural cleansers contain ingredients derived from renewable raw materials like coconut oil and fruit sugars. 

Dry Skin 

Reach For: Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Milk, John Masters Organics Linden Blossom Creme Cleanser, Suki Moisture-Rich Cleansing Lotion, Environ C-Quence Cleanser

Why We Love Them: All of these creamy, soothing cleansing lotions and milks contain higher concentrations of oils, water, and emollients like rosewater and glycerin and are specially formulated to keep mature, dry skin perfectly hydrated. 

Sensitive Skin 

Reach For: Green Beaver Daily Facial Cleanser, Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, Pangea Organics Egyptian Calendula & Blood Orange Cleanser

Why We Love Them: These all-natural cleansers are designed to soothe sensitive skin and contain ingredients like glycerin, which has been shown to encourage normal cell maturation, and aloe vera, which is excellent for combating swelling, inflammation, and redness. Steer clear of exfoliating cleansers and scrubs if you are prone to irritation or rosacea, and avoid products with alcohol at all costs.

Acne-Prone Skin 

Reach For: Environ Sebuwash Cleanser, Kahina Giving Beauty Facial Cleanser, Pangea Organics Egyptian Calendula & Blood Orange Cleanser

Why We Love Them: Foaming cleansers may be too drying for acneic skin, and can actually make the condition worse. These products are filled with an assortment of soothing ingredients—thyme, tea tree oil, aloe vera, kaolin clay, and witch hazel—that are proven effective for calming acne. If you have combination skin, it may take a bit of trial and error to find a cleanser that doesn’t strip your skin of its natural oils and leave your face feeling tight.

Washing Your Face 101 

The five rules to remember before you soap up, regardless of your skin type:

  1. Wash your face no more than twice a day: once in the morning (to remove oil, bacteria, and pillow-grime build up from the night before) and once in the evening (to remove makeup, sunscreen, and pollution).
  2. If you hit the gym, remove sunscreen and makeup before sweating it up and splash your face with water afterwards.
  3. A little dab will do: using a harsh cleanser can cause acne and all sorts of unwanted skin irritation.
  4. Steer clear of product with the words “foaming” and “gel” in their name— they’re likely to contain sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate, which strip skin of its natural moisture and can dry out your skin.
  5. Wash with lukewarm or room temperature water. Using very hot or very cold water can cause broken capillaries on your skin or lead to redness and overdrying.

Acne CPR

acne photo purchased

(C – CONTROL, P – PREVENT, R – REVERSE)

Think you said sayonara to pimples back in your teen years? Think again. Acne can be problematic, no matter if you’re 16 or 60.  Acne is caused by an overproduction of sebum—a mixture of dead skin cells and bacteria—and causes breakouts that can range from mild (acne simplex) to severe (acne vulgaris). Many factors can contribute to acne breakouts, including hormone fluctuations, diet, irritants, illness, and certain medications.

So, how can you help make sure you don’t experience an eruption? Follow these skincare strategies to CONTROL, PREVENT, and even REVERSE complications associated with acne.

Controlling Acne can be as simple as making changes to your skin care routine and learning good skin care habits.

Cleanse Your Face Sparingly

Think more is more when it comes to washing your face? No way! Excessive cleansing can aggravate and irritate the skin, causing it to produce even more acne-activating sebum, not less. For best results, wash with a mild cleanser no more than twice a day.

Don’t Sleep On It

Not removing your makeup before bedtime can be a nightmare proposition you won’t want to wake up to. Catching zzz’s with your face paint on can hinder skin renewal and leave you with clogged pores. Gross! Hint: keep a stash of makeup-remover wipes by your bedside table—they’ll come in handy on those nights when you can barely keep your eyes open.

Take Control (Of Your Birth Control) 

For women, fluctuations in hormone levels during their menstrual cycles may cause acne breakouts.   Because birth control pills cause testosterone levels to drop, many women notice that their acne breakouts are less severe when they are taking it.

You are What You Eat 

While it is tempting to reach for creams or potions to control acne, recognizing and improving your diet and lifestyle habits can make an even greater impact. High levels of blood sugar and progesterone, stress, alcoholic and sugary drinks, processed foods, and smoking are just a few factors that can cause breakouts, so taking steps to eradicate them from your daily routine is essential.

Trash 

Sure, you love your skincare products, but they could be doing more harm than help. Certain ingredients in moisturizers, toners, and sunscreens can be irritating to your skin and cause you to break out. Mineral oil, petrolatum, alcohol, lanolin, perfume, and artificial colors are the usual offenders. Read the labels on your products carefully (makeup, too!), and look for words like “non-­comedogenic” (does not clog pores), “oil ­free,” and “fragrance­ free.” These are keepers.

The Perfect Prescription 

Everyone wants acne to clear up quickly, so you may be tempted to slather on medicated washes or doubling up on acne medication several times (or more) per day. The truth is, over-using medications won’t clear up your acne up any quicker. But it will most definitely cause excessive drying, redness, peeling, and irritation. Always follow your doctors or pharmacists instructions to the letter.

Preventing Acne Complications such as acne scars and pigmentation is important, since it is one of the more difficult things to reverse.  Here are some of the do’s and don’ts.

Don’t Squeeze!

Tempted to squeeze a clogged pore or pop a ripe whitehead into submission? Don’t. Touching, picking, popping, or squeezing pimples not only brings more bacteria to the area, it also prolongs the healing process and can cause dark spots and scarring. The only manipulation methods recommended for skin blemishes and acne are deep-cleansing techniques carried out by a trained esthetician or a licensed physician.

Block Out the Sun

Excessive sun exposure and tanning doesn’t just increase your risk of developing skin cancer; it also triggers breakouts on those with acne­ prone skin.  Take steps to limit your sun exposure and apply an oil-free, non-comedogenic sunscreen daily.

The Dynamic Duo 

There are a number of active ingredients that are effective in attacking the root causes of acne and diminishing the chances of pigmentation and acne scarring, the most prevalent ones being benzoyl peroxide, which kills bacteria in its tracks, and salicylic acid, which expertly exfoliates pore-clogging dead skin cells. Some of these treatments are available over the counter (washes, creams, scrubs, and spot treatments), while others might need to be prescribed by your doctor.  But go easy—these acne killers can sometimes make skin dry and irritated when used in combination.

Retinoid Therapy

Medications containing vitamin A derivatives, known as topical retinoids, are often prescribed as a first-line therapy to treat inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne. Topical retinoids prevent pimples from forming by decreasing inflammation and helping oil move out of the follicle properly.

Reversing Acne Complications such as acne scars and pigmentation can be two of the most frustrating after-effects of acne flare-ups, but in many cases, the damage can be undone.

Reversing the Ravages

Medical therapy, including oral antibiotics, photodynamic therapy with blue light (LED), Isolaz treatment for acne (which provide anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits), exfoliations with specialty blended peels containing alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids, laser treatments, and medical micro-needling have all been shown to effectively combat acne’s most ravaging after-effects.