Proper cleansing: The fastest route to better skin

If you wear make-up, cleansing twice is essential and oil-based products are a good start

By far the least sexy and most neglected step in the average skincare routine, cleansing is also the step which  makes the most visible difference.

By far the least sexy and most neglected step in the average skincare routine, cleansing is also the step which makes the most visible difference.

 

If there were a key to good skin, and in reality there are several, it would be cleansing. By far the least sexy and most neglected step in the average skincare routine, it is also the step which, when performed correctly, will make the most visible difference to your skin texture and quality.

When you go to remove your makeup, cleansing twice is essential. If you’re not a wearer of makeup, cleansing once is sufficient. I don’t faff about with dedicated eye makeup removers – nothing breaks down makeup anywhere on the face like oil, so and I’ll opt for an oil cleanser like Superfacialist Vitamin C + Skin Renew Cleansing Oil (€14.99), which smells a touch like orange calpol (I rather enjoy that) but is the best cleansing oil in its price range.

A cheaper oil or balm cleanser is ideal for the first cleanse; follow that up with something more luxuriant like Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil (€35), or the best product within your budget, for the second. This saves money and feels less like washing actual money down the plughole – you’ll breeze through an expensive cleanser relatively quickly using it twice daily. Though a muslin or a flannel will remove your makeup nicely, I prefer an old-fashioned flannel. I’ll buy cotton ones relatively cheaply and subject them to a screaming hot wash after each use.

Though everyone’s skin has different needs, oil is the best makeup remover for most people. It soothes dry skin and discourages oily skin from overproducing sebum. If you’re prone to congestion or breakouts, avoid essential oils and your skin will benefit from a cleansing oil.

For morning, a cleansing cream or wash will do. I like Clinique 2-in-1 Cleansing Micellar Gel + Light Makeup Remover (€23) for its gentle effectiveness, or the pleasant and entirely inoffensive Bulldog Sensitive Face Wash (€7.39) for men or cleansing-averse teenage boys. If skin feels ‘squeaky clean’ post-cleanse, chuck your cleanser into the bin with unbridled abandon – this sensation indicates it has been stripped, and flaking, greasiness, or both are imminent. After a cleanse, skin should always feel clean, soft and comfortable – never tight or itchy. If at all possible, avoid cleansing wipes at all costs.

If you are a regular user, parting ways with those alcohol-laden sheets of mediocrity will have immediately visible benefits. Cleansing with a wipe is the equivalent of cleaning out a deep fat fryer with a muttered prayer and a quick run over with a soiled J-Cloth. If you must use a wipe –  there are occasions when it seems inevitable; hospital stays, flights and festivals to name some, invest. Estée Lauder Double Wear Long-Wear Makeup Remover Wipes (€25) are quite oily, meaning they break down makeup well while being less drying than standard wipes, and hold their moisture for a long time. They are also €25, which discourages flathúlach overuse of them. Wipes are an emergency cleanser. Sometimes, when exhausted, I’ll consider using one, but the cost will often help me drag myself to the sink.

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