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How To Nail Your Cleansing Routine

Feature: Long Read
Words by Anna Lao-Kaim

As skincare priorities go, there’s one crucial step in your regime that experts agree is fundamental – cleansing your skin. Exactly why is washing your face properly so important? Leading facial aesthetics doctor and founder of MZ Skin, Dr Maryam Zamani, says that the benefits of cleansing skin go far beyond basic hygiene. "Cleansing is an integral part of your skincare routine because it helps to remove oil, dirt and make-up, as well as pollution, debris and dead skin cells.”

It turns out that skipping a twice-daily cleanse has some pretty significant skin-plications in terms of our skin health too. "As the body’s largest organ and its first line of defence, the skin is exposed to numerous pollutants, viruses and bacteria throughout the day", says Dr Zamani. "It’s imperative to remove what becomes a barrier so as to allow skincare ingredients to properly penetrate and be absorbed into the skin."

The right cleansing routine won’t just make your skin look and feel fresh either; the more diligent your cleansing habits, the better any subsequent skincare you apply afterwards will work. Margaret De Heinrich, founder of Omorovicza, explains that effective cleansing is key to maximising the efficacy of the skincare you’ve invested in, as "no serum or moisturiser– no matter the quality – can work its magic if you are applying it over dirty skin and clogged pores."

For a simple, non-negotiable skincare step, however, there are a myriad of ways to wash your face, so let us break it down.

How to wash your face in four steps

1. Cleanse morning and evening


The ‘glow’ you’ve woken up with is more likely a sheen of sweat and pore-blocking sebum, so a gentle cleanse in the morning is a must. Your evening cleanse may require a little more dedication, but taking the time to conscientiously wash your face can have youth-boosting benefits too according to Dr Zamani, as “pollutants and environmental toxins are known to accelerate skin ageing”. Lurking bacteria also aggravates inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, so washing your face well is the first step to avoid breakouts. 


2 Don’t cleanse too often
2. Don’t cleanse too often


Unless you’re working out frequently or live in a very hot climate, cleansing twice a day will suffice. Aggressive cleansing can disturb the skin’s delicate lipid barrier, making it more vulnerable to the damaging impact of bacteria, pollutants and the elements – and your skin microbiome must be protected at all costs!  


3 Keep water tepid
3. Keep water tepid


Like overcleansing, washing your face with excessively hot water can compromise the skin barrier, triggering that tight, dry feeling. Using lukewarm water with clean hands or a washcloth will help to prevent redness and irritation while still effectively melting away your cleanser of choice. 


4 Add massage to your cleansing routine
4. Add massage to your cleansing routine


Not simply to transform the daily ritual of cleansing your face into a mindful moment but also to reap some serious skincare rewards. The action of massage alone can reduce water tension and resulting puffiness while working your cleanser meticulously into skin will ensure that every scrap of make-up and grime is whisked away.  


Which cleanser is best for my skin?

There’s a face wash formula to suit all skin types and needs – here’s your basic cleansing routine.

Cleansing oils and balms
Cleansing oils and balms
Best for: Removing impurities, make-up and debris

Oil and balm textured cleansers not only leave skin soft and nourished but they’re also renowned for their ability to dissolve and fully remove make-up, sunscreen, pollutants and dirt. Assume that you should avoid oil-based cleansers if you have oily skin? Think again, says reconstructive surgeon and founder of of RéVive , Dr Brown. "Sebum, our skin’s natural oil, is lipid soluble, so it only stands to reason it can be better removed with a lipid-soluble (oil) cleanser." 


Cleansing oils and balms are the perfect partner for facial massage. Try new Dior Prestige Le Baume Démaquillant for a seriously relaxing rose-infused cleansing ritual.  


How to apply: Apply to dry skin, add water to emulsify and remove with a damp face cloth. 

Shop Cleansers
Cleansing gels and creams
Cleansing gels and creams
Best for: Deep cleansing

Generally speaking, gel and cream cleansers are packed with nutrients or high-performance ingredients that penetrate deeper into the skin to kick-start regeneration and healing. Cleansing gels are ideal for oily to combination skins while cream formulations help to moisturise and well as cleanse dry skin.  


How to apply: Start with clean skin, so if you’re doing an evening cleanse this would be the second stage of your double cleansing routine (after you’ve removed make-up). If you’re washing your face in the morning, this is the only cleanser you need. Massage product into damp skin and remove either with a splash of water and clean hands or a face cloth.  

What do toners do?
What do toners do?

The final stage in your face cleansing routine, toners have thankfully undergone a much needed makeover. Gone are the days when alcohol-based toners claimed to 'close pores' and would strip the skin with harsh ingredients. "Toners play a vital role in helping balance the pH of the skin and adding extra moisture after cleansing," says Dr Brown. They also often contain acids to slough away dead skin cells to exfoliate skin after cleansing.  


Water-like formulas such as Fresh Deep Hydration Facial Toner, infused with real rose petals, soften skin and clear any lingering residue. Thicker essences and lotions like La Mer The Treatment Lotion provide instant hydration and form the first step of your moisturising regime. 


How to apply: After washing your face and gently patting skin dry, sweep watery toners over skin with a cotton pad or massage in silky or creamy textured essences with clean hands.  

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