Cleansers 101

What every teenager should master since it is one of the most important steps in any skincare routine.  CLEANSERS.

You can spend a few dollars on cleansers to several hundred and everything in between. What you use to wash your face with sets the tone for how effective the rest of your skincare is going to be or not be, that is the question. And that’s a really bad joke.

I have a plethora of cleansers.  I don’t need to buy cleansers for the next several years, but I will.  I have creamy cleansers, powder cleansers, thick cleansers, oil based cleansers.  There are products I use in the morning only and those I use in the evening only.  So let’s break it all down.

An Ode to Cetaphil. According to Cetaphil, it’s every dermatologists dream.  In fact, mine suggested it to me when I was a teenager.  I used it faithfully for a year and I’ve never used it again.  It makes a great shaving lotion though.  Cetaphil always left a weird film on my skin that I can’t figure out. Some people swear by it.  I’ll never buy it again.  My mom has dry skin and she had the same issue.  I had oily skin.  It never felt like my face was ever fully cleaned either.  There are other drugstore cleansers I prefer, Neutrogena is one of them.  They have some really good cleansers and my husband uses them.

Before we hop into the different styles of cleansers, if you are a teenager and reading this. HI!!!!  Welcome!  If you are using a full coverage foundation, please stop.  You have no idea how amazing your skin really does look right now.  If you have an acne spot you need to cover up use a concealer.  The full coverage foundation everywhere is making your acne worse. And toothpaste at night doesn’t work. The purpose of a foundation is to even your skin tone, with a few exceptions your skin is the most even it will ever be in your adult life.  If you are acne prone I’ve got you covered.  I highly suggest using Maybelline’s Dream Pure BB Cream Skin Clearing Perfector because it has salicylic acid.  I use it because I like the Light coverage and the salicylic acid. It’s also easy for your cleanser to penetrate and actually clear out your pores. If you’re dead set on using full coverage get a product like a Clarisonic cleansing brush.  It really does do a better job.  After I bought my Smart I noticed an immediate difference in how clean my skin is after cleansing. It actually squeaks.

So back to cleansers.  If you are using a full coverage foundation or waterproof/long-wear makeup an oil based cleanser is going to need to be a must.  Do not skip this step.  And do no use straight coconut oil.  Oil-based cleansers contain emulsifiers that make it easier to rinse with water.  Oil and water doesn’t mix.  Without the emulsifiers it beads the water away from the skin thus the oil and makeup are still on your face. Oil-based cleansers come in two forms, balm and liquid. I prefer balms, but that’s a personal preference.  For oil based cleansers, I use about 1 tsp. Regardless if its a balm or liquid and rub that into my face and neck.  If you have eye makeup that is waterproof concentrate on your eyes. I use a downward motion starting at my eyebrows and go straight down, obviously with my eyes shut.  When I get to my eyelashes, I use a couple of side-to-side motions to cleanse my eyelashes. And then I repeat this a few times.  For waterproof makeup, get a good makeup remover or micellular water and use that to get the majority of your makeup off.  Once you get the oil based cleanser rubbed around and very likely look like a raccoon you’ll put some water on your hand and start rubbing again.  If you feel resistance, get some more water and keep rubbing, and more water and more rubbing.  Your face should feel slippery and lubricated, if it doesn’t you need more water.  You’ve probably also seen your cleanser go from clear to a very opaque, milky color and consistency.  That color shift if the emulsifiers working.  All of that dirt is being picked up and brought into that milk solution.  Now you can rinse.  While you rinse keep rubbing the cleanser around.  You won’t remove it all immediately but you should get about 90% of your cleanser off.  Don’t use your Clarisonic or similar product with an oil based cleanser, it gets clogged for some reason.  Now onto the next step.

  • Oil cleansers I’ve loved
    • Banila Co. Clean It Zero line
      • Clean in Zero Nourish $25
      • Clean it Zero Purifying $25
      • Clean it Zero Revitalizing $25
      • Clean it Zero Original $16
    • Clinique Take the Day Off Cleaning Balm $29.50
    • Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm $34
    • Garnier Micelluar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Waterproof makeup remover $8.99
      • This is the one with the blue cap
  • Oil Cleansers I’ve not liked
    • Bare Minerals Oil Cleanser – way too perfumed, poor cleaning power

If you did your oil-based cleanser you’ll need to use another ‘water-based cleanser’ in order to remove the rest of the oil residue and remainder of your makeup.  Not all makeup is oil-soluble. I don’t recommend using powder based cleansers here, they just don’t pack enough umph to remove the oil residue.   Most cleansers are water based. If it doesn’t say ‘Oil Cleanser’ or ‘Waterproof makeup remover’ its most likely going to be a water based cleanser. If it says ‘foaming’, it’s water based. I don’t think I need to give instruction of this type of cleanser.  Use a pea sized amount if using a creamier consistency cleanser, lather, rinse.  If you have a Clarisonic type product use it here.

Right now your skin should feel super squeaky clean.  If it doesn’t, use your water based cleanser another round.  Sometimes I don’t do a good job of emulsifying my oil-based cleanser so it doesn’t rinse well, which means I have to use my water based cleanser twice. If I’m not wearing makeup, I skip the oil-based cleansers.  If I’m just wearing mascara and eye makeup I’ll use some micellular water for waterproof makeup removal and still skip the oil based cleanser.  If I use a foundation and bake my concealer I’m using an oil-based cleanser.

The biggest issue with cleansers is the presence of sodium laurel sulfate or something similar.  It’s the big ingredient people are turning away from in hair care.  It can also be found in less expensive cleansers.  They do strip oils. It’s uncommon to find it or a similar chemical in facial cleansers because it is such a harsh cleanser.

My favorite water based cleansers:

  • Shiseido Ibuki Gentle Cleanser $30
  • Clinique Rinse off  Foaming Cleanser $21
    • I’ve been using this since I was 16 off and on.  I keep going back to this product.  It’s stayed a good cleanser for over 20 years.
  • Shiseido BENEFIANCE Extra Creamy Cleansing Foam $36.00
    • I’ve also found this at TJMaxx for $17 or so.
  • Shiseido Pureness Deep Cleansing Foam $22.50
    • A little stronger than the Ibuki Gentle Cleanser for those oily days
    • Is also at TJMaxx for $13.00
    • Sephora says you can use this with dry skin, I Do Not Recommend This.
  • Neogen Dermatology Real Fresh Foaming Cleanser - I use one full pump of this product.  It seems like a bargain but it’s mostly water in order for it to be pumped like into a foam.  Doesn’t mean i don’t like it though!
    • Cereal - $19.00
    • Green Tea - $19.00
      • I bought both of these from, Sephora only has the Green Tea cleanser and Ulta doesn’t carry Neogen products yet

The feeling of tightness doesn’t mean your face is cleaner.  It’s drier and you’ve over cleansed your face.  You may need to find a different cleanser because the one you’re using is too harsh.  What works well for oily skin will not work well for drier skin types.  Right now we’re transitioning from summer into winter.  I’m still a combination skin type. So my T-zone is oily but my cheeks are on the drier side. As we move into the winter I’ll transition into full dry skin.

Hopefully this helps understand cleansers a little bit more.  Sound off in the comments section if you like this post and want to see more of them!

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