How to Pick the Right Cleanser

Guidelines for picking the best cleanser for your skin type |

Cleansers for your face

Some people have beautiful skin and do absolutely nothing at all. I'm super jealous of these types of people, but hey, they inherited good skin genes and I did not. So, it's especially important for me to have a good skin care routine to keep my skin looking good, and a good skin care routine starts with a good cleanser.

This section explores how to find the best cleanser for your skin type, broken into the following three parts:

Part 1: Cleanser Basics

Cleansers play an important role in the health of your skin by keeping your skin fresh and renewed. Besides having good personal hygiene, proper cleansing also ensures maximum performance from your other skin care products. For example, cleaning your skin will give treatment products and moisturizers a bare skin palette to go on, allowing them to penetrate deeply and be more effective. Washing your skin in the morning also gives you a fresh face for makeup application. While cleansing can do all of these things, it’s very important to not over clean.

You should generally 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 the day’s yuckiness). Sometimes I’ll wash my face an extra time when I hit the gym (I remove sunscreen and makeup before sweating it up and splash my face with water aftewards), but just make sure you don’t overdo it. I have learned the hard way that using a harsh cleanser can cause acne and all sorts of unwanted skin irritation.

You also want to wash your skin with lukewarm or room temperature water. Not because warm water will open your pores for a more thorough cleaning or because cold water will close your pores (your pores actually don't open or close), but because using very hot or very cold water can cause broken capillaries on your skin. Using really hot water can also be a bit drying and make your skin turn red.

I tend to wash my hands before washing my face. I remember reading that you need to wash your skin for a certain amount of time in order to kill bacteria. So, when I’m washing my hands and washing my skin, I wash for the amount of time it takes me to sing the ABCs. This just one of my quirks though. It doesn't necessarily make a cleanser clean your face more cleanly.

Picking the right cleanser for your skin type can get very confusing. The next section will hopefully make things a bit easier by explaining what to look for in a cleanser and how to choose the best one for your skin.

Last updated: September 19, 2012

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Part 2: Good Cleanser Guidelines