Washing your face sounds like the simplest of all beauty tasks. I mean, you've only been doing it your entire life. You work up a lather, splash with some water, and then dry off with a towel. What's the big deal?
Surprisingly, a lot of things can go wrong:
So many of us think we were born with certain skin conditions, when really, they could be caused by incorrect cleansing!
The whole point of cleansing is to remove any dirt, makeup, sunscreen and excess oil that has accumulated on your skin, and to prepare it to receive other skin treatments (such as serums and moisturizers).
Then what's the right way to wash your face? I recommend following these steps:
Step 1: Get Your Hair Off Your Face
First, tie your hair back and/or use a barrette, clip or headband, so your hair (including your bangs) is completely off your face. I'm partial to Sephora's Ribbon Hair Ties (they won't rip your hair!), and one of Eugenia Kim's Headbands would be super-cute.
Step 2: Wash Your Hands
It doesn't make much sense to try and get your face clean with dirty hands, does it? Wash your hands before you touch your face—you should be able to sing "Happy Birthday" twice while you're lathering up.
Step 3: Remove Your Makeup
If you wear makeup, it needs to be removed before you can actually cleanse your skin. This is known as "double cleansing," and is a key step in the famed Korean skincare regimen. If you're only washing once with a regular face wash, it's probably not going to get your mascara, foundation and concealer completely off. I would also recommend double cleansing if you wear sunscreen or any silicone-based skincare products.
Choose a cleansing product that is designed to dissolve stubborn makeup and sunscreen, and use it all over your face, neck and chest (yes, your face ends at your chest!).
There are a few formats that work best:
a) Cleansing Oils and Balms
Just about any cleansing oil or balm will be effective, although be aware that some people (including me!) are VERY sensitive to oils. Also, as you know, I'm extremely particular about oil safety—since unsaturated oils are less stable, they can promote premature skin aging. We'll be washing with another cleanser after this, so it doesn't really matter if you do want to use an unsaturated oil, such the sunflower seed oil in Erborian's Solid Cleansing Oil. (Just throw it away once it starts to smell "off.") I'd try to avoid mineral oil, a comedogenic ingredient found in many oil cleansers, including the overpriced Eve Lom Cleanser.
My personal preference? Coconut oil, ALWAYS. It's saturated and therefore the safest, most stable oil around. Skinny & Co. Skinny Coconut Oil is perfect as a makeup remover, or you can just pick up a bottle of coconut oil at the health food store. Jojoba oil, such as MV Organic Skincare Pure Jojoba, would be a fine choice, too.
I recommend removing your oil-based cleanser with a warm, wet, steaming cloth. Drape it over your face for up to 10 seconds. Then, use the cloth to gently remove the cleanser. Repeat up to four more times. The light steaming and gentle buffing will not only get your skin clean, but also give you a great exfoliation.
Make sure to use a fresh, clean cloth every time, since they can harbour dirt and bacteria, which you don't want to be putting back on your skin. I like the Pai Organic Muslin Face Cloth.
b) Makeup-Removing Wipes
If you prefer a cleansing cloth format, you can find oil-based ingredients in those, too. My top pick would be RMS Beauty's The Ultimate Makeup Remover Wipes, which are—you guessed it!—saturated in coconut oil. The Josie Maran Bear Naked Wipes are also very nice, although their ingredients are a bit less stellar (silicone, fragrance).