How to choose the right facial cleanser

Facial cleansing has become more than just a practice of hygiene. It has become a relaxing ritual for many people with the goal to improve health and appearance.

Why do we cleanse?

Many of the pollution and cosmetic products are not water-soluble so water is not enough. Ingredients in cleansers are capable of turning fat soluble impurities to water soluble. Facial cleansers have substances that are active on the skin’s surface that lifts and removes dirt, sebum, oil from cosmetic products, bacteria, and dead skin cells. In contrast, a good cleanser should also keep the skin surface hydrated to prevent skin barrier damage.

What happens if we stop cleansing?

Our pores will become clogged which may turn to serious acne. Without cleansing, our face will look greasy and aged. Some people may not experience it at the moment, however, inadequate attention can result to cumulative long-term effects.

Skin care products are ubiquitous and most of them advertise promising results. While there is plenty to choose from, there is no denying that choosing the right product for your skin type has become a difficult conundrum especially that not only our skin, but also our budget is on the line.

Do you know?
In order for the skin surface to maintain a healthy barrier, it has to maintain a physiological pH of 4-6.5. The naturally acidic environment protects the skin from harmful bacteria invasion such as Propionibacterium acnes.

How to spot a harsh cleanser?

  1. “Squeaky-clean feeling” or sensation of tightness after wash. This happens because of TEWL (trans epidermal water loss) which is the rapid evaporation of water from the skin surface. This can eventually lead to dryness, scaling, and/or flaking skin.
  2. Irritation as evidenced by redness and itching after use of cleanser – an indicator of damaged skin barrier.
  3. Cleansers with fragrance, dyes, and preservatives can cause allergic contact dermatitis
  4. Cleansers that are not easily rinsed – the potential for a product to cause irritation is if the residual cleansing agent is left on the skin for a long period of time.

How to choose a cleanser?

  1. Know your current skin concerns. While there are different skin types (dry, oily, sensitive, combination), I would like to keep it simple and broke it down into two:
    1. Acne-prone skin a.k.a. oily skin – keep routine simple, use medicated cleansers with salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that deeply penetrates into the pores of skin. It is a potent ingredient that targets clogged pores by dissolving “glued” skin debris. But be warned. Salicylic acid can cause side effects such as redness, irritation, and dryness. According to studies, experiencing these side effects is a common reason for noncompliance. It is recommended to start with the lowest potency (2%).
    2. Sensitive skin – avoid irritants or ingredients that are known to cause sensitization in the skin: fragrances (natural in the form of essential oils or synthetic) and dyes are often sensitizing substances.
  2. Whatever your skin type is, choose a simple cleanser that:
    1. Targets clogged pores.
    2. Reduces oil production.
    3. Keeps the skin hydrated – read product ingredient list and be on the look out for: sodium hyaluronate (also known as hyaluronic acid), glycerin, dimethicone. These substances help to retain moisture after cleansing.
    4. Does not irritate the skin.

Please share your favorite cleansers on the comment section down below and which product helped with your skin troubles.

Send me an email at for feedbacks, suggestions, and queries.

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