Serums, masks, and moisturizers are often called upon to be the heavy hitters of a skincare routine. They certainly receive the bulk of marketing attention, and the highest price tags. People often assume that only products that you leave on your skin can have an affect enough to justify paying for a quality product.
Facial cleansers are often the underdog in a skincare routine. Overlooked and underappreciated, people will often skimp on face wash products. They would never expect that by doing this they are subtly sabotaging their skin health.
Have you been guilty of this? That's not to say that your cleanser needs to be the most expensive product in your routine. You do need to choose carefully, though, and it should be one that really works with your unique skin type and needs. If you've been using a drugstore detergent bar for your face and your body STOP NOW. This could be the beginning of a whole new chapter in your happiness with your skin.
The importance of skin care and cleaning your face with the right product
Many people may realize that their skin gets dirty on a daily basis, but many people also have tendencies towards inflammation and imbalance that the right skin care can help correct. Your skin care routine can be a crucial part of not only removing irritating dirt and toxins, but also providing nutritive compounds that can keep your skin happy and glowing.
Acne, eczema, dryness, and other environmental damage sustained by skin like sun exposure are ongoing problems with which your skin may be struggling. Conditions like acne, eczema, and rosacea tend to be chronic and have their roots inside the body with the immune system or hormone imbalances. People prone to these kinds of skin disruptions will often go through phases of flareups or calm, but the tendency towards disruption is always there. That means that what you put on your skin needs to help you keep things calm instead of irritating it further. The right skin care can provide beneficial nutrition that helps build healthier cells, and keeps skin better balanced and hydrated.
When people skimp on their cleanser they often choose something cheap, assuming it isn't worth being picky about since it's not staying on the face. This is a major mistake. Mass market facial cleansers generally contain detergent compounds that strip the skin of its natural oils, perfumes that can cause allergic reactions, and, if it's a liquid cleanser, preservatives that can cause inflammation and redness. Even with just a minute or two of exposure the wrong product can do immense and chronic damage, especially to sensitive skin.
All it takes is a moment of contact for an allergen or irritant to set off a cascade of reactions in your body. Your skin is literally an organ of your immune system, and should be treated as such. (source) Immune cells called Langerhans cells reside within the skin and communicate with the microbiome on the surface and the deeper immune system. When disruptions occur this system starts sending messages at lightning speed. Invaders! Foreign substances! Sound the alarm! Inflammation is the body's natural emergency response to tissue damage, and if you irritate or damage skin in the process of cleansing you set off your own emergency system. Even if it is on a subtle level your physical resources are now being spent repairing damage from a momentary cleanse instead of fighting aging or engaging in deep healing.
Constant challenges erode your energetic resources, and degrade the health of your skin. After years helping people change their skin routines we are able to confidently say that many people have low grade inflammation and irritation of which they are simply unaware. They may just believe that their skin is rough, slightly red, or slightly dry when actually those things are signs that their skin is irritated! A lot of this irritation comes from using the wrong skin care products. The facial cleanser is often a major culprit in this irritation. Ongoing skin irritation makes people look less radiant on a daily basis, plus chronic inflammation actually speeds the aging process in the body!
Not only do most mass market cleansers contain compounds that actively irritate and degrade the skin, but they often contain absolutely no beneficial compounds. What if your facial wash could actually help with rebuilding and nurturing the skin instead of harming it? Beneficial facial cleansers do exist in natural skin care, and your washing process can be truly nourishing. Some skin care companies take the time to build their recipes around plant-based ingredients that bring a bevy of antioxidants, vitamins, and phytonutrients to the recipe instead of just using lifeless petrochemicals.
One good quality herbal ingredient can add dozens of phytonutrients to a product. Imagine coating your face with herbs that make your skin cells get excited in a good way. Skin is hungry for additional nourishment that really works with its life processes. Additional Vitamin E, A, minerals, omega fatty acids, and antioxidants all help it improve the work it needs to do anyway. Providing biocompatible, nutritious compounds makes cleansing your face an integral part of your total skin health, and the first step to creating the balanced and beautiful complexion you desire.
Every part of your skincare routine will benefit from having the right starting step. The rest of your skin care products will layer on that much better when your face wash is beneficial and balancing. Your expensive serums and moisturizers will get to do the deeper work they are really meant for versus simply trying to negate the irritation from cleansing.
Even more problems can occur when you wash your face with the wrong cleanser
Another imbalance that you may inadvertently cause yourself when using the wrong face wash is that you may imbalance skin's sebum production. Detergent and petroleum-based facial cleansers go to extremes and either strip the skin or coat it in a smothering layer of petrochemical oils, which sends your cells another message that something has gone wrong.
Too much removal of skin's natural sebum causes reactions at both ends of the spectrum, so your skin may end up overly dry or overly oily. Your skin may end up horribly tight, dry, and flaky, or you may end up with a constant oily sheen from skin overproducing sebum to try to replace what was lost. Some unlucky people end up with both results - tightness AND an oil slick. Petroleum-based oils also do not absorb into the skin well. Instead they sit on top of the skin's surface and form a film. This petrochemical film clogs and confuses the skin which can result in additional breakouts or imbalanced sebum production. This is all totally avoidable if you use a cleanser that provides breathable, plant-based oils and does not strip the skin.
The skin absolutely must have some oil content. Sebum and natural oils keep skin comfortable and flexible, and keep water loss from occurring throughout the day. Oil is your friend, and so you need to use a mild cleanser that removes dirt without overly stripping oils. Even better, if it can add back some healthy, vitamin-rich oils you are getting ahead of the game. By providing some oil you tell your skin everything is situation normal.
Yet another misstep many people make is in using a cleanser that changes the Ph of the skin. Ph is a measure of acidity or alkalinity. A substance like vinegar is acid. Baking soda is alkaline (or basic). Distilled water is neutral Ph at 7. Your skin has a natural Ph of about 4.8 to 5.5 which makes it slightly acidic. It is constructed of proteins which are made up of *amino acids* so an acidic environment is how it thrives best.
Soap based cleansers have an alkaline Ph generally around 8 or 9. When you wash with a basic cleanser (including homemade baking soda washes) you cause the skin's Ph to rise because of exposure to the alkaline substance. Studies have shown that when the skin's Ph drifts above 7 significant changes occur. (source) Skin becomes more prone to inflammatory eruptions like acne or eczema, is more prone to extreme dryness, and because the protective acid mantle is gone skin is more prone to be irritated by other substances it may contact which means more allergic reactions or irritation. For some people their skin may not be able to correct its Ph for up to 12 hours! (source) That is a lot of time spent disrupted, unprotected, and uncomfortable.
Some people have very resilient skin and can use a natural soap to wash their face with no problem, but for those who have any kind of leaning towards skin irritations or breakouts a soap based face wash is a big nope. This rules out even a lot of naturally based cleansers, as the natural skin care world loves its soap in bar and liquid forms. Always be sure to check the ingredients label. If a liquid cleanser says "Saponified oils of...." then it's a liquid soap and you may want to choose something else, especially if your skin is not in optimal health already.
Reasons to wash your face
With all these complications you might start to wonder if it's even worth washing your face at all? The answer is absolutely, yes, it is worth it when you use the right skin care product. Dirt, pathogens, and pollution all can get stuck to your skin's sebum throughout the day, especially depending on where you live. The more urban your environment the more chance you are surrounded by car exhaust, industrial pollution, and other nasty airborne compounds. You may also come into contact with all kinds of chemicals during the day that can transfer from your hands to your face. All those things need to come off to avoid irritating your skin.
Many women wear makeup on a daily basis, and the makeup may interfere with the skin's ability to shed dead skin cells properly, and can be an additional breeding ground for the wrong types of microbes. Makeup should be removed on a daily basis to make sure that your skin can "breathe", exfoliate itself, and to reset the microbiome.
Your facial cleansing routine is also a wonderful time to give yourself a mini facial massage, which can increase your total skin care benefits by increasing circulation and flushing toxins from cellular fluids. Many people rush through cleansing. Instead we advocate spending at least 3 to 5 minutes gently stroking the face. This works the healthy cleanser deeper into the skin, releases tension from muscles, and encourages new nutrients to be delivered to the cells. Sluggish skin can often be improved just by this simple bit of time spent.
The benefits of cleaning your face with the best face wash in the proper way are tremendous! The importance of skin care cannot be understated if you want to look your best each day.
Results you may see from using the best face wash for your skin may include:
Better comfort and hydration of skin all day
Less redness, flakiness, itching, or other irritations
Moderation of oil production
Better texture to the skin
Better tone over time
Reduction in the appearance of fine lines
Better resistance to irritation and allergens
A healthy glow
Facial cleansing tips:
1. If you have acne, eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea do NOT use a natural soap on your face. Choose an acidic cleanser with a Ph between 4 and 6.
2. Choose a cleanser with no scent or only natural essential oils. No synthetic fragrances whatsoever.
3. The best face wash will have herbs and raw, fresh, natural oils to nourish your skin while you cleanse.
4. Avoid synthetic preservatives as they may irritate the skin, or damage the skin's microbiome. Choose natural, mild preservation methods or waterless products.
5. Foam is not necessary to wash your face. Using a cream, oil, or non foaming gel can give facial skin a healthy cleanse without creating imbalance.
6. Choose a product that makes your skin feel comfortable and hydrated after washing, not "squeaky". That squeaky feeling is a sign that you have removed too much oil from your skin.
7. Spend 3 to 5 minutes massaging facial skin and working the face wash in. Stroke skin gently from center to sides, and down the neck.
8. If you are removing makeup use a gently textured washcloth to rinse the cleanser. This will pick up more of the makeup than just using your hands.
9. Consider doing a double cleanse if skin is exceptionally dirty. Start with a gel based face wash and then use a more nourishing, creamy face wash for the second step. This will maintain balance while cleansing thoroughly.
10. We advocate washing skin twice per day - once in the morning and once in the evening. However, if you choose just one time to wash then evening would be the preferred time to remove irritants and makeup before bed.
Overall cleaning your face is a crucial part of your success in achieving healthy skin. We have seen so many people achieve incredible improvements simply from switching to a good quality face wash. Washing your face properly is the base for everything else you do for your skin, so don't write it off just because you wash it off! Make a switch to a well-designed facial cleanser and see what happens for you.
One last consideration - You may want to investigate the quality of the water where you live as a vital part of your facial cleansing experience. Water quality varies drastically depending on your locale. It could contain impurities that may irritate sensitive skin. You can address this problem by getting a water filtration system either directly at your tap or installing a whole-house water filtration system if you own your own building.
Salmon JK, Armstrong CA, Ansel JC. The skin as an immune organ. Western Journal of Medicine. 1994;160(2):146-152.
Lambers H1, Piessens S, Bloem A, Pronk H, Finkel P. Natural skin surface pH is on average below 5, which is beneficial for its resident flora. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2006 Oct;28(5):359-70
M.-H. Schmid-Wendtner, H.C. Korting. The pH of the Skin Surface and Its Impact on the Barrier Function. Skin Pharmacol Physiol 2006;19:296–302
Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is general in nature and for informational purposes. It is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. None of the statements on this site are a recommendation as to how to treat any particular disease or health-related condition. If you suspect you have a disease or health-related condition of any kind, you should contact your health care professional immediately. Please read all product packaging carefully and consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise, supplementation or medication program. Cosmetic products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.