Tips & tricks

Cleansing – what exactly is it and why do we do it?

This is the first post in a series of three:

Cleansing – what exactly is it & why do we do it?
Toning – what exactly is it & why do we do it?
Moisturising – what exactly is it & why do we do it?

Why do we use cleanser and what is it for? What’s the difference between cleansers? What should I use for my skin type? And most importantly – can I afford it?

Answers –

  • We use cleanser to clean our faces
  • Cleansers can (generally) be split into two categories; oil based or cream based
  • No matter your skin type, you should be cleansing and there is something for everyone
  • Hopefully, yes – you don’t have to spend upwards of £20 on one item of skincare

There is a lot of information online and elsewhere about cleansing and how best to do it. It’s mostly peddled by corporations who want you to buy their products, and so a lot of it is targeted to magically cure all your very specific skin problems if you just spend several hundred quid on these great products.

Naturally, I’m quite wary of this, and have always found it difficult to access factual information without feeling like I’m being pushed to buy something I don’t need or want. On the other hand, a lot of non-corporation peddled information about skincare is very scientific and often leaves me feeling very stupid and out of my depth knowledge-wise. So I’m going to stick to skincare 101 here and talk you through what I know. By all means further research something if you don’t agree with the conclusion I’ve come to, but I’m not going to go back to the chemical formulations of different products because who has time for that?

Put simply, we use cleanser to clean our faces. Cleansers get rid of make up, oil, dirt, dead skin, and anything else that can end up on your face (such as the gross stuff in London’s polluted air, in my case). Some people argue that we only need to cleanse at night, but I’m firmly in the twice-a-day category, preferring a light cleanser in the morning and a heavier one at night. When we sleep we sweat and shed skin (gross but true) so you do need to clean your face in the morning – splashing it with water doesn’t count. Caroline Hirons (a skincare blogger who seems to know virtually everything) rightly pointed out that if we didn’t sweat/shed/etc. at night, then why would we need to clean our bedsheets? In my opinion, your face needs cleaned in the morning too.

Here are some tips/tricks/words of advice from my clean face to yours –

Morning cleanse – I generally recommend cream cleansers for morning, or for a first evening cleanse. They’re usually quite gentle, work for most skin types, and in my experience are moisturising without being too heavy.

At the minute I’m using REN Clarifying Clay Cleanser (£19 for 150ml) to help manage my break outs but as it’s pricey – I received it as a gift – I may not repurchase. Having heard nothing but praise for the range, I would tentatively recommend the Boots Botanics All Bright Gentle Cleansing Cream (£1.99 for 250ml) as an extremely affordable option (it’s on my to-buy list), and the REN Cleansing Milk (£16 for 150ml) as a more expensive option. I once got a sample size of the Aromatherapy Associates Hydrating Renewing Rose Cleanser (£26 for 200ml) and it was amazing, but clearly out of my price range (but if you can afford it I would definitely recommend it). I also received a few samples of the Aesop Purifying Facial Cream Cleanser (£25 for 100ml) and it’s lovely, but there’s no way I can afford to buy it myself.

Evening cleanse – you should always take your make up off using micellar water or make up remover before you cleanse. I find it useful to think of double cleansing as the first product taking off your make up, and then using another product to actually clean your face. I don’t think there’s much difference in micellar water (Garnier vis Nivea etc., though I’m happy to be proven wrong), and when I’m wearing my incredibly stubborn Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner (£16) I always follow it with the Suneeta Mandarin & Calendula Cleansing Balm (aka the best thing ever) I talked about in my last post.

After taking off make up I recommend following it with either a balm or oil cleanser – a little heavier, a little richer, and a little more nourishing. I use one every evening, and occasionally in the morning if I’ve used a harsher treatment overnight, like an overnight peel. I can personally recommend Lush Ultrabland (£7.95 for 45g) for all skin types, the Suneeta Jojoba & Apricot Cleansing Oil (£5 for 50ml), Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter (£10 for 90ml); and Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Oil (£12 for 200ml) and Lush 9 to 5 Cleansing Lotion (£5.25 for 95g) were recommended to me on Twitter.

  • As a rule I tend to avoid foaming cleansers because more often than not they contain a lot of alcohol and sulfates
  • If you are a big fan of foaming cleansers, make sure to avoid products containing sulfates (sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate) – they produce the lather in foaming products but are generally very strong and you risk over stripping your face, which can lead to your skin producing even more oil – a problem if your skin is too oily to begin with

I hope this has been helpful, may your faces be clean and bright – I’ll follow up with a guide to toning and moisturising, because every step is as important as the last 🌟




3 thoughts on “Cleansing – what exactly is it and why do we do it?

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