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No matter what your skin care goals are, everyone has to start with a clean slate–er–face. At this point in your life washing your face is probably the most optimized part of your daily routine. You may wash your face in the shower and it may take you less than 30 seconds to do it. Or you may have an elaborate routine that involves a cleanser, exfoliant, and moisturizers. Washing your face everyday is essential to getting that glow on the regular but many of us are going about it the wrong way. And what do we get wrong the most? Choosing the right face cleansers.

You might be surprised to learn that you probably shouldn’t be washing your face with the same soap you use all over the rest of your body (*gasp*), using an exfoliant everyday is also a no-no (*clutches pearls*), and using the wrong moisturizer for your skin type can actually have the opposite effect (*drops jaw*). The products we use in our daily skin care routine should be less about marketing departments dictating the latest beauty trends and all about our skin type or skin conditions. Face cleansers not only keep our faces clean but also help prevent us from troublesome skin issues and keep our skin balanced. The normal pH of our skin is typically between 4.5-5.5 and a good, general rule of thumb is to use a cleanser that is as close to that range as possible. Face cleanser and your typical bar soap are not the same. Most bar soaps have an average pH between 8.5-10, which can be too harsh for our skin. Read below to find the right type of face cleanser for your skin type.

If your skin is dry or sensitive…

Use a cream cleanser. Cream cleansers are gentle enough for most sensitive skin types and help dry skin types with much needed moisture retention. Some people are skeptical of cream cleanser because they don’t “feel” like they’re working but they do. The best way to use a cream cleanser is to apply it dry first (massaging it into your skin) then wet your fingers and repeat your motions until you have an emulsified effect. Use a facial wipe to remove the cleanser then rinse your face with water. With cream cleansers, you always want to follow up with a toner to ensure you don’t leave any residue behind.

If your skin is oily…

Use gel or foaming face cleansers. Back in the day, gel cleansers were very drying and high in alcohol content. These days, they’re a lot more gentle and water-based. Gel cleansers, once mixed with water and applied to your face, trap dirt and oil as it foams up. If your face is excessively oily, I’d suggest using a face cloth to gently remove the cleanser. This provides a light, non-abrasive exfoliation in the process. Otherwise, you can simply rinse the cleanser away. Gel and foaming cleansers tend to be a bit more aggressive than cream cleansers because they usually have active ingredients in them like glycolic acid or salicylic acid to help address oiliness. It’s really important to survey the ingredients within these cleansers and be sure you’re not allergic to anything.

If your skin is normal…

Use a “toner” as your face cleanser. It sounds crazy but, if you are not the makeup wearing type and your skin is that of an 8-year-old, toner is all you need. Using a toner like Micellar water (which is actually a water-based cleanser) or witch hazel (which typically falls under the astringent category) is great for removing everyday debris without over-drying your skin or being too aggressive. Simply dab a cotton pad with the toner of your choice, wipe across your face and voila! You’re clean. You’ll almost always want to rinse your face with tepid water afterwards and finish up with a good moisturizer though. Pro-tip: the ten second toner cleanse works best immediately after a shower as the steam has helped to make for the most efficient cleanse. And remember, this quick cleanse won’t be sufficient for removing makeup after a long day.

If you have acne…

Use a gel/foam cleanser with active ingredients like salicylic acid that help keep acne under control. Or use a clay cleanser with active ingredients that help to dry active acne breakouts and calm your skin. There are so many options for those with acne prone skin so which should you use? Well, if you have the occasional breakout, or if you used to have really active acne and now you’re just looking to keep things under control, go the gel/foam route and be sure to cleanse twice daily. If you have active acne with pustules and papules, go the clay route. To use a clay cleanser, mix with water and apply to your face. Massage the cleanser on the face for 1-2 minutes before gently removing with a face cloth.

Photo Credit: Model Reece King via Pinterest.

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