Updated: Jul 20, 2022
Picking the right cleanser for your skin can be tricky, especially when you're unaware of what your skin needs to thrive. This post should make it easier for you!
Cleansing is a Vital Part of Any Skincare Routine
The skin is the body's largest organ, and we need to use the correct products, to avoid compromising it. Cleansing is a vital part of any skincare regime because with incorrect use it causes an imbalance in the skin's acid mantle which leads to skin issues.
Let's Talk Skin!
On the skin’s surface, there is a fine and a slightly acidic film known as the acid mantle. The acid mantle is formed through the combination of epidermal lipids, sebum, water, urea and amino acids, giving the skin an acidic environment and a pH of 4.6-6. The acid mantle acts as a barrier to protect the skin from harmful bacteria and viruses. The acid mantle also retains water in the skin which supports hydration levels and gives us the dewy glow we all crave.
Why is pH Important?
For optimum skin health, the acid mantle needs to stay between a pH level 4.6-6, and your cleanser ideally should match it. Unfortunately, many cleansers are at pH levels 9-10 (more alkaline). Higher pH cleansers are still removing dirt and cleaning the skin, but they're also compromising the acid mantle's pH, therefore, making the skin susceptible to bacteria, resulting in acne, irritation, eczema, inflammation, and dehydration. The acid mantle can recover, but it's not in the skin's best interest to use high pH cleansers.
What Ingredient Should I Avoid?
The search for a cleanser’s pH can be a challenge in itself as it's not always stated, but we can look at ingredients, and one to avoid is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). Cleansers should be free from SLS.
What is SLS?
SLS is a detergent and responsible for the lather and foam a cleanser produces and leaves the skin feeling squeaky clean. (Your skin should never feel squeaky clean.) SLS is commonly found in cleansers, body washes, and shampoos.
SLS, causes a cleanser to become overly alkaline, resulting in an unbalanced acid mantle and depletes the skin of its natural oils leading to irritated and inflamed skin. When the skin's natural oils are removed, the skin will start to overproduce oil to compensate for what SLS has stripped away, which explains why the skin goes into a cycle of oily to dry because the acid mantle is repeatedly being compromised and in a state of imbalance, resulting in persistent skin issues.
Thankfully the skin is smart and recovers when you give it the right tools.
Start with washing your hands first before touching your face; this is probably second nature by now.
I recommend cleansing the skin morning and night with a pH balanced SLS free cleanser and always double cleanse at night as sunscreen and makeup stick to the skin along with pollution picked up throughout the day, so double cleansing is essential.
Try not to skip cleansing at night no matter how sleepy you are, sleeping with your makeup on goes far beyond clogged pores. Sleeping with your makeup on in the long term will prematurely age your skin due to the breakdown of collagen from environmental pollutants left on the skin.
The first cleanse will remove pollutants, excess oils, makeup, surface debris and sunscreen; the second cleanse will ensure your skin is clean ready for serums products to penetrate the skin effectively.
If you are exfoliating the skin, always cleanse the skin first, removing built-up debris, pollutants, makeup and oil, allowing the exfoliate to penetrate deeper into the skin.
Avoid hot water when cleansing the skin as it can compromise the skin's barrier and lead to tewl (transepidermal water loss) leading to inflammation, irritation, dehydration and sensitivity.
Avoid cleansing your skin in the shower, especially if you like them hot, the heat and the pressure can burst tiny blood vessels leading to broken capillaries on your face - not worth it!
Pat dry the skin, do not aggressively rub your skin with a towel - I hear too many times people rub their skin aggressively with a dry face cloth to exfoliate the skin - stop it. Be gentle with your skin; there are better ways to exfoliate your skin - trust me.
I always double cleanse at night, and I start with milk or oil cleanser; followed with a second cleanse using milk or a gel cleanser paired with either my Foreo Luna cleansing tool or the mini glove by Biologique Recherche. All of these products are pH balanced and SLS free.
Check out my go-to Ph balanced and SLS free cleansers. If you love a squeaky clean finish, it may take some adjusting but give it time, your skin will thank you in the long-term.
Tried And Tested Recommended Cleansers
Lait Vip 02 Biologique Recherche
Lait VIP O2, cleansing milk eliminates impurities, calms the epidermis, brightens and evens the skin while leaving it hydrated. I prefer to use milk in the winter months as I find it calming, soothing and hydrating for my skin. This is my go-to right now.
Lait EV Biologique Recherche
Lait E.V. is perfectly in harmony with epidermis. Its active ingredients maintain the integrity of the barrier function and protect skin from drying out. As well as providing nourishment and suppleness, the fluid gently removes impurities from the skin while keeping dryness at bay. Skin is cleansed, pure and healthy.
Lait U Biologique Recherche
Lait U gently removes makeup thanks to a formulation containing plant oils. It safeguards the barrier function of the epidermis by protecting skin’s hydrolipidic film. Its light and fresh formula allows your skin to breathe, with no oily film left behind.
Universal Cleansing Oil by Dermaquest
A pre-cleansing oil to remove makeup, dirt and impurities. A blend of jojoba oil and almond oil to nourish and protect. Keeping the skin balanced helping to prevent acne and dry skin. This non-comedogenic pre cleanser is a must for all skin types.
Purifies the skin of dirt and toxins while providing a gentle resurfacing with citrus enzymes and essential oils for a smooth, radiant finish.
Barrier-preserving enzymatic exfoliation
Rich lather detoxes impurities
Refreshes to reveal supple skin
Treatment Cleansers For Two To Three Times A Week At Night
The next two cleansers have more active ingredients like AHAs and BHAs and therefore are slightly more acidic than the ones I've mentioned above and should only be used as a skin treatment two to three times a week. They're not daily cleansers. I've added them in for those who are looking to add active acids into their skincare routine.
Peptide Glyco cleanser by Dermaquest Peptide Glyco Cleanser is the perfect treatment cleanser for two to three times a week for anyone looking to improve texture, fine lines and wrinkles and pigmentation. Peptide Glyco Cleanser contains 10% Glycolic acid, lactic acid and skin-boosting peptides for exfoliating, pore-refining and leaving your skin silky smooth and glowing. I recommend using this cleanser at night because of the active acids in the product, do not use it more than three times a week and use it as your second cleanse. DermaClear BHA Cleanser DermaClear BHA Cleanser works fantastically on skins dealing with acne, a build-up of oil and congestion on the skin, containing Salicylic Acid (not suitable for aspirin allergies) and Citric Acid. Salicylic Acid works like a little tornado working its way into the pore, helping to remove a build-up of oil and regulating the sebaceous gland activity while reduces inflammation in the skin. Citric Acid is anti-antibacterial and works perfectly alongside Salicylic Acid. I recommend using this cleanser two to three times a week at night because of the active acids in the product, also use this product as a second cleanser.
Don't forget to double cleanse
With Skin Love