Cleansing is the first and possibly most important step in any facial skin care routine. It prepares the skin for whatever comes next and should never be overlooked or compromised on. Cleansing of the skin should take place morning and evening for maximum effectiveness.
My view of a perfect cleansing product is one that is firstly, pH balanced, secondly that offers something more than just removing your make-up or surface dirt and oils and lastly that doesn’t strip the skin of its natural pH. The skin’s pH is important, as it provides the first barrier or protective layer and thus allows the skin to function optimally. This pH is acidic at around 5.5 and should be kept at this balance in order to function at its best. This means that any cleanser with a pH above 5.5 going towards an alkaline pH will strip the skin of this protective layer and kick off a number of negative reactions. Like dehydration, increased oil production, sensitivity and redness.
A cleanser should never be confused with an exfoliator, one cleans the surface of the skin and the other removes dead skin cells. However, due to our wonderful and ever evolving industry, we have cosmeceutical brands that love to research and develop exciting new products and so we can now find products that effectively do both of these steps in one! I must point out at this stage that I am opposed to granular or abrasive exfoliation and so will always look for AHA’s (fruit acids) such as Glycolic Acid or Salicylic Acid. These acids will have an exfoliating effect on the skin by dissolving dead skin cells and expose new fresh and receptive cells, which is exactly what we want. Abrasive exfoliating will cause inflammation which leads to the breakdown of collagen and elastin (so it ages the skin) as well as fuels skin concerns like redness and/or broken capillaries.
A good pH balanced cleanser will leave the skin feeling clean and fresh, never tight and dry – this is normally an indication that the pH is not correct and the product is too astringent.
Lastly, remember that what works for you doesn’t always work for the next person. You need to find a brand that you trust, can afford, that meets your cleansing requirements and fits into your lifestyle and daily routine. It must work for YOU.