You’re Doing It Wrong: How To Wash Your Face Properly

By Diane Small

I know what you’re thinking: “Oh wow. ‘How to wash your face,’ really? What’s next? How to tie your shoes?” Ok, dear reader, I feel you. But the fact is, most of us stick to the same dull beauty routines out of habit – and as a result,  our skin may lack radiance. So why aren’t our typical routines working? In my case, I was taking makeup off every day, pretty thoroughly, too – what I wasn’t aware of was the fact that sebum was blocking my pores.

I discovered this when I visited the Dermavita salon in London  for a facial.  I washed my face thoroughly before arriving for my treatment, but nonetheless, the salon’s owner, Anna, examined my skin and declared it ‘congested’ with loads of blocked pores – not so clean after all!

So how is that possible? Apparently, the way I was cleansing  my face may have been at the root of the cause.

She explained that whilst I was indeed washing off the top layer of grime (think: makeup and pollution) pretty well, my skin was naturally producing sebum from deep inside which, as I got older, was not being expelled at the rapid rate by my body like it used to do, and it needed a bit of a boost via an exfoliating process.

I suggested that perhaps I should see her for weekly dermabrasion, but she refused, explaining that yes, we  want skin that’s clean, but not like, you know – a kitchen floor or something. Our skin has natural bacteria that it needs to maintain its protective barrier. Too much cleansing and exfoliating can kill that barrier, leading to premature ageing caused by free radical damage.  While it’s fine to occasionally exfoliate – even deeply, with a peel – this can’t be done with too much frequency, or the skin won’t have time to regenerate.

Want to  how to wash your face properly? Anna gave me a load of great tips I’d like to pass on to you.

Water Matters

The water you use to wash your face makes an impact. Anna explained that unfortunately, in London (and Paris), it’s super ‘hard’ water, with a lot of calcium and lime which can dry skin out. In fact, in the UK, the NHS says water hardness can inflame skin, making it red, and even trigger eczema. Our  skin requires a certain level of moisture, fats and oils to lubricate the skin, retain water and keep it firm and plump.

Eczema sufferers often don’t produce the necessary levels to maintain healthy skin, and when the skin is dry, gaps can appear between the cells, allowing germs, bacteria and allergens to get through and cause irritation. It sounds very ‘let them eat cake’, but honestly, if your skin is red or if you have eczema, you may want to consider washing your face with bottled water, and avoid having too much water hit your face in the shower.

If you’re on the tap, ensure that you watch the temperature: it may feel nice, but hot water dries out the skin and encourages blood flow. Hemals that are located at the nose, cheek and under the eyes hence become apparent, the skin appears reddened and irritated. Lukewarm water is a better way to cleanse your face in the morning without stressing the protective layer of the skin. A few cold splashes  at the end of your  routine will refresh the face and close the pores.

Going Deep

Changes in weather can affect your skin and sebaceous glands – they’re  more active during summer, and – water alone can’t help you clean that out. And the worst part is: if the pores stay blocked up with that junk, it  interferes with the skin’s essential nighttime repairs and regeneration, which in turn results in more clogged pores and inflammation. The solution? You need to go for a deep cleanse here with a cream or gel that has a slight peeling effect, or a highly penetrative mud mask. Alternatively, if you’re skin isn’t too sensitive, you could try a mild glycolic peel at home.

Again, it should be stressed that these treatments can harm the skin if done too frequently. Something relatively mild, like a mud mask or gentle scrub, can be done weekly, but for others, such as glycolic exfoliation done in a salon, chemical peels or dermabrasion, you should consult a skincare expert.

Mel Mills Peel

Named after its gentle main ingredient – honey – this peel is gentle enough to be used once a week. Packed with Amino Acid Peptides clinically proven Bio-Actives and Prebiotics, it works to remove tired skin cells, remineralise and strengthen the skin, whilst plumping up fine lines and wrinkles.

Perhaps its most important ingredient, though, is Alpha Hydroxy Acid, which allows the active ingredients of Hyaluronic Acid and Whole Plant Extracts to penetrate the epidermis with their cell rejuvenating properties, stimulating and increasing collagen levels and skin density to leave skin with a brighter, smoother, more youthful complexion.

How To Wash Your Face Properly

Turbliss Toning Facial Mask

This rich mask stimulates collagen production with Humic and Fulvic Acids derived from natural Balneological Peat, which boost cell renewal and tone and firm the skin. Other ingredients include Melissa Water distillate, Citric Acid and Rose Water. The mask also has a deep cleansing effect, and can be used 1 to 3 times a week.

No soap operas!

Facial cleansing is usually more demanding than cleaning your  body, and with its high pH value, soap just isn’t mild enough to be part of our facial cleansing routine. It dries out the skin and reduces its protective barrier – this is bad news for even the oiliest of skins. Special facial cleansing bars and gels however, are based on especially gentle tensides and are adapted to the pH value of the skin; this protects the skin from draining and the epidermal barrier function is maintained. Whilst these products work for normal, mixed and oily skin, dry, mature or sensitive skins could benefit from an oily or milky textured cleanser.

FOM London Anti-Pollution Cleanser

Apply this gentle cleanser with the fingers, massage and rinse off. Contains Neroli Flower Essence and skin softening Rosehip oil to deeply hydrate, whilst detoxifying Dandelion protects and re-energises the skin thus encouraging skin’s own renewal process to promote radiant, healthy complexion. Perfect for all skin types.

Trilogy Balancing Cleanser

This is a cleansing gel that will leave your skin feeling soft, instead of tight.  It’s a  sulfate-free facial botanical containing extracts of Elderberry and Comfrey to purify, Certified Organic Rosehip Oil to moisturise and Aloe Vera to refresh,  perfect for even dry skin.

InstaNatural Micellar Water

Micellar Water is the perfect solution for those looking for a gentle and natural cleanser to incorporate into their skin care regimen. It’s basically a bit of oil suspended in water that uses the power of micelles ito lift away oil, dirt and debris to leave the skin feeling clean without irritation. Containing soothing Cucumber, Sage and Calendula, this formula works on all skin types, including oily.


Equipment for perfectly clean skin

There’s a huge trend towards electric skin cleansing; these sonic facial brushes combine various functions and are more effective than manual facial cleansing. Besides removing dirt and makeup, these vibrating conjurers can also improve skin quality by stimulating circulation. These little machines also have a powerful exfoliating effect – so be sure that you don’t use this every day. For a more gentle alternative, try using a Konjac Sponge. Made from plant fibres, these naturally contain minerals and antioxidant ingredients  like vitamins (A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, D, & E), proteins, lipids, fatty acids and natural minerals such as copper, zinc, iron and magnesium, all of which serve to protect your skin each time you cleanse.

Still not convinced? Try going for regular deep cleansing facials by a professional instead.

Clarisonic Cleansing Brush

Clarisonic is a skin care tool sold at specialty beauty stores that uses a soft, gentle brush that oscillates back and forth over the skin. It claims to “remove six times more makeup than cleansing by hand.” Yet to me, Clarisonic is really just an exfoliating tool to physically lift off dry skin cells and, in the process, remove dirt and makeup. Exfoliation is the action that the bristles create when rubbed over the skin. My problem with Clarisonic is not the brush itself, because the exfoliating benefits are very important, but I have a serious concern with how often they recommend using it. They say it’s gentle enough to use twice daily, but it is my belief that this is way too much when combining with other exfoliating products you are probably already using.

The Konjac Sponge Co

Suitable for even the most sensitive skin, this unique sponge gently massages the skin, stimulates blood flow and new growth of skin cells. You won’t need any soap if you use one of these sponges: they leave the skin extremely clean and refreshed naturally, but if you do choose to use additional cleansers or soap, you can use a tiny fraction of your usual amount, as the sponge will generate more bubbles and spread the cleaner further than usual.


Eye, No!

Compared to the rest of our body, Anna told me our visual organs indeed have a very thin skin: With about 0,5 mm it is especially tenuous and highly sensitive. Moreover, it has very few sebaceous glands. The appearance of our eye area is largely influenced by various internal and external factors. Sleepless nights, hours spent sitting in front of the computer, low-nutrient diets …all of them leave their mark. On top of that, influences of UV radiation and other environmental impacts produce so-called reactive oxygen species that affect the skin structure negatively. They attack essential nutrients such as proteins, lipids and saccharides. The skin appears dull and dry, looks tired and lacks flexibility and firmness. What it needs is a special care that serves all of these needs: Hence, eye cream reduces dark circles, reduces puffiness, revitalizes and sustainably moisturizes skin tissue – only then can tired eyes sparkle again!

In order to gently free our eyes from makeup, a soft bamboo cloth or (less eco friendly) single use organic cotton balls or pads are the best choice. Remember to thoroughly wash your hands before starting to cleanse you face, then drench the cloth with your product and place on closed eyes for about 30 seconds to help dissolve makeup better. Always make sure to remove mascara in a vertical direction; this way, thin, budding eyelashes are protected from falling out.

Liz Earle Cleansing Cloths

Ultrasoft and easy to wash, these 100 percent cotton cleansing cloths gently exfoliate and thoroughly remove all traces of dirt, oil, and makeup, as well as increase circulation. Tightly woven fibers are gentle enough to lift away all traces of makeup from all over the face, including the eyes. After just one use, you’Â’ll wonder how you ever washed your face without these!

Organic Cotton Balls

The only thing gentler than a cotton ball to remove makeup? An organic cotton ball! It’s a shame to have to throw these away, but if you do prefer a disposable method of removing makeup, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Melt It Away

Maintain the moisture level and elasticity of your skin by removing eye makeup with a gentle, natural product such as my very favourite: cheap, basic coconut oil. This works like a dream to remove all traces of makeup – it just melts it off! If you don’t like the oily feeling that remain around your eyes, you can gently dab the oil away with a warm cloth. Argan or sweet almond oil also work, and all oils condition the eyelashes, too. Bonus!

Daily  makeup application and removal does put some stress on delicate eye skin. Younger women can benefit from using a light eye cream that is rich in vitamin A and E. From 30 onwards, eye care should ideally contain collagen stimulating components, antioxidants and vitamin A, C and E. Women aged 40+ can rely on anti-aging formulations that help restoring the skin with hyaluronic acid and ceramides – just ensure your products for the eyes are always all natural or organic, as chemicals placed on the skin here can easily irritate and cause inflammation, which ultimately accelerates the signs of ageing.  Whether you’re removing makeup, applying a cream, gel or serum, use your fingertips to softly pat around the eye area until the product is fully absorbed by the skin.

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Cleansing Oil

A  natural blend of organic oils, fruit stem cells, and antioxidant-rich vitamins, this cleansing oil can be used to remove makeup all over the face, and is definitely gentle enough for the eyes. All the ingredients combine to rid your complexions of impurities, whilst working to brighten tone and texture and firm. The result is a more luminous, healthier-looking appearance of the entire face, including the skin around the eyes.

Coconut Oil

The biggest secret about makeup removal is that you don’t have to spend a mint to get an organic, gentle product that will melt away every trace of dirt on your face. Coconut oil will do all that for you, and costs pennies to the dollar. My preferred method of removing eye makeup is to take a slightly dampened organic cotton pad, apply a drop or two of coconut oil, and stroke from the lashes downward, then dab under the eyes until you’re clean.

For more information on organic and natural facial cleansers, please click here.

Diane Small

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