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What you really need to know about cleansing - from how often to wash to why you should avoid face wipes

Mirror logo Mirror 9/10/2018 Lynne Hyland

a close up of a persons face: Woman cleansing © Getty Woman cleansing Remember when cleansing used to be a simple matter of soap and water?

These days, the first step of your regime has turned into one of the most baffling, with a mind-boggling array of products to pick from. How did taking our makeup off get so complicated? And are we being sold complex cleansing ‘rituals’ we don’t actually need?

We asked the experts to wash away the confusion and reveal what we really should be doing.

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Do I actually need to cleanse my skin?

In a word: YES. ‘If you don’t properly remove pollution, bacteria, dirt and oil from your skin it triggers inflammation,’ says cosmetic surgeon and international aesthetics lecturer Dr Jonquille Chantrey. ‘As well as causing irritation and congestion, this creates free radicals, which damage and age skin.’ Leaving your face caked with makeup also stretches and enlarges your pores, warns Dr Sarah Shah from Artistry Clinic.

How bad is sleeping wearing makeup?

‘A one-off isn’t the end of the world,’ says dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting. ‘But in the long-run, not cleansing properly can speed up the ageing process, in particular pigmentation.’ Research shows people living in cities have more age spots, triggered by pollutants like nitrogen dioxide. Not the stuff you want settling down for a cosy night’s kip on your face, basically.

a person posing for the camera © Credits: Image Source How often should I cleanse?

Cleansing at night is THE biggie, but you should do it in the morning too. ‘You want to remove inflammation-causing oil that’s produced overnight, as well as residue from night creams, which can leave a film on the skin’ says Dr Shah. If you need to cleanse more than twice a day (eg, after the gym) always apply cream afterwards to avoid moisture loss.

Can a cleanser give me younger skin?

Yes, indirectly. As well as removing ageing particles, you’re also helping your whole skin regime work better. ‘If you take away dirt and dead skin cells, your anti-ageing products are more likely to penetrate more efficiently,’ says Dr Chantrey.

Can I clean my skin too much?

Yes, says Dr Chantrey. ‘Over-cleansing can make tiny holes in your skin barrier and trigger sensitivities, even to products you’ve never had problems with before.’ (FYI, that happened to us. A dermatologist advised us to stop washing our skin and use an eczema moisturiser, Dermol 500, as a simple wipe-off cleanser while our skin barrier repaired. It worked.)

Can cleansing help my spots?

If you are prone to acne, you need to be extra vigilant about cleansing, says Dr Shah. ‘You can make the condition worse by not cleansing at night due to spreading the bacteria on to your pillows which means it can spread to other areas of the face causing more congestion.’

a close up of a persons face © Credits: AntonioGuillem Are face wipes OK to use?

Our experts agree wipes are far from ideal. ‘There’s always dirt left behind,’ says Dr Chantrey. ‘The wipes deposit trace chemicals, which can cause dehydration and irritation, so you need to remove them with a second cleanser.’ If a wipe is the only thing you have, rinse it in water and go over your face again to take off some of the chemical residue.

How can I tell if my cleanser suits my skin?

Your skin should be clean and silky, without a hint of tightness, says Dr Bunting. ‘If your skin feels uncomfortable it suggests you’re stripping its protective barrier. This is most commonly seen with foaming cleansers.’ Dr Chantrey reckons foaming cleansers might suit oilier skin types, but are better avoided if your skin is dry or sensitive.

Is it worth investing in a cleansing brush?

It depends. ‘A gentle brush assists a deeper clean, but if you have sensitive skin they can cause irritation if used too frequently,’ says Dr Shah. And watch your hygiene, adds Dr Chantrey. ‘If brushes are dirty, you’re putting pollutants back onto your skin.’

Related: Exfoliation: Good for the skin? (Provided by Cover Video)

Does older skin need a more gentle cleansing technique?

Whatever your age, you don’t want to be scrubbing away at your delicate eye area. ‘However a bit of stimulation is good, as it promotes blood flow to the area, which can stimulate collagen,’ says skin specialist KerryLou Herbert at Omniya Clinic. She advises massaging cleanser in for 3-4 minutes.

Is double cleansing helpful or just hype?

Using two cleansers (often a pure oil, followed by a water-based product) is a big Asian trend, but Dr Bunting isn’t convinced.

‘It’s arisen as a consequence of wearing high-coverage foundation to hide blemishes and pigmentation. Unfortunately, the products used for double cleansing, such as balms or oils, aren’t formulated with problem skin in mind. The cumulative effect is evermore bumpy, clogged-up skin. Cleansing should be straightforward: just one cleanse to remove makeup, SPF, excess oil and grime.’

The key thing, says KerryLou, is to have no residue still coming off a cotton pad. ‘Depending on how much makeup you wear, you might need to use the same cleanser twice, if it’s a non-exfoliating type.’

Best cleansing products for you

Wash-off cleansers

Dr Sam's Cleanser © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Dr Sam's Cleanser Both Dr Bunting and Dr Chantrey believe nothing beats these for dirt removal. Look for ones to suit your skin: for instance, salicylic acid formulas for acne-prone skin, and a non-foaming version for drier, sensitive skin. Try: Dr Sam Bunting Flawless Cleanser, £16

Micellars

Boots Micellar Water © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Boots Micellar Water These ‘waters’ contain tiny oil particles that shift even waterproof mascara, and are a makeup artist’s staple. They suit most skin types, and there’s no need for running water. You just need a cotton pad, making them a more skin-friendly alternative to wipes. Try: Boots Expert Skincare Micellar Water + Soothing Aloe Vera, £2.50

Modern oils

a close up of a device: Trilogy Cleansing Oil © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Trilogy Cleansing Oil Unlike pure oils, these emulsify when you add water, so you can wipe everything off with a damp cotton pad. A Notebook fave for dry skin, and they have the advantage of removing eye makeup too. Try: Trilogy Rosehip Transforming Cleansing Oil, £21

Wipe-offs

Avon Cleansing Balm © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Avon Cleansing Balm These creams or balms are smoothed on then wiped off with a cloth, taking the day’s dirt with them. They’re a fave of many facialists, but if you use them, ensure you change the cloth daily, otherwise you’re putting muck back onto your skin. Try: Avon Transforming Cleansing Balm, £7

Related: 5 tweaks you should make to your summer skin-care routine (Provided by Insider)

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