Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cleansing your skin is one of the most important and predominantly overlooked parts of your skincare routine. You spend untold amounts on moisturisers and serums, but then you penny-pinch when it comes to removing your make-up, cleaning and preparing your skin for all the good stuff you have spent the rest of your dosh on. Men are even worse – they don't have the slightest problem washing their faces and their, erm, nether parts with the same bar of soap! So why is it so important and what is the best way to get the job done?

Wipes – Very popular at the moment - particularly among the chronically lazy! Cleanser, toner, and eye make-up remover in one, wipes come in a pack of about 30 and you simply pull one out and wipe it over your face to remove the slap. Wipes are actually, all joking aside, quite handy for active people, gym enthusiasts, and those who wear minimal make-up.

Balms – Solid oil cleansers that need fairly warm water and some sort of cloth to remove them. These are great for congested and oily skins, but because the oils don't strip, they are good for dry skins too. The most famous of these are the Eve Lom and Amanda Lacey cleansers, though many companies are jumping into the fray: Liz Earle, Boots Time Delay, Lotions+Potions, Bobbi Brown, etc...

Creams – Traditional cleansers usually fall into this group and are most popular with those who have dry complexions, sensitive skins and with those who don't really like the feel of water on their face. They are like a cream-weight moisturiser, which is usually spread on to dry skin and then removed with tissues, cotton wool and sometimes rinsed.

Bar – Like a bar of soap without being a bar of soap. Great for anyone who has always used whatever is on the side of the tub. Some bars still contain soap and others are more like a solid cleansing cream in bar form. There is not a better or worse, again, it will simply be what works the best for you.

Lotions – More of a liquid weight than a cream. Most skins can use a lotion cleanser and they tend not to leave as much residue as a cream. Application of a lotion is much the same as a cream cleanser, too.

Gel – A clear cleanser normally packaged in a tube. You wet the skin first, add a bit of water to the product in your palm, foam it up and wash your face. There are a few gels that get applied neat to the skin, get worked around to dissolve make-up, and then get rinsed with no lathering involved.

Foam – Sort of like a gel, but the product is usually more creamy looking on taking it out of the tube or bottle. Foams are nearly always water-activated, applied to damp skin and rinsed.

Liquid foam – This is a fairly new cleansing format, usually best suited to slightly oilier skins. The product looks like water in the bottle. A pump is depressed and the liquid turns into a mousse as it comes from the spout. It's then used like foam on damp skin and rinsed off. Liquid foams are quite trendy at the moment because they are a bit different.

Cleansing water - This also looks like water, but there is no foaming involved. It most resembles an eye make-up remover and you use it on cotton wool to replace cleansing and toning. What you have in the bottle is very near to what is on the little cloths of the cleansing wipes. Very popular again with younger people, gym-o-philes and those who don't wear much make-up.

While you're out and about looking at cleansers, you'll find that some companies advocate what is called a 'double cleanse'. This may involve using a cream or lotion first to remover the make-up you have worn, then following that with a wash-off product like a bar, gel, or foam to clean your skin. The thought behind this is that the first one is likened to taking off your clothes and the second is like taking your bath/shower.

Personally, I would only ever recommend this if you wear a great deal of make-up or if you are neurotic about having clean skin. Keep in mind that over-cleansing the skin can create all sorts of untold problems: excess oil production, dry patches, redness, itching and, even worse, areas that are both dry and oily at the same time. Keep it gentle, but make sure that it is thorough and, above all else, choose a product that will ensure a better-than-even chance you will actually use it. Now, let's go clean up!


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