For the series “skincare basics” I want to give you some advice on how to wash your face, what products to use, and what to avoid.
I hate introductions… so let’s get right into it.
By the way, if you prefer to watch a video , here you go.
Washing your face the right way- why is it so important?
The most common mistakes:
- Overdoing it. You don’t need to wash your face more than twice/day – if you don’t wear makeup stick to once a day.
- Using the wrong products. This habit can lead to skin dryness and damages to the barrier which turn into more skin dryness (when the barrier is damaged the skin can’t keep moisture inside). See down below for what the “wrong products” are. Using the wrong products include using the same products you use for the body (body washes or even shampoos).
- Not using anything at all. While this might be better compared to using a bar soap it is still not ideal. Tap water it is definitely not ideal plus it doesn’t remove pollutants and other impurities.
How often should you wash your face?
You don’t need to wash your face more than twice a day and if you don’t wear makeup stick to once a day.
Are there exceptions to this rule?
Yes, if you sweat a lot gently wipe off sweat each time. Because sweat is rich In salts it can lead to skin dryness unless you wipe it off.
It’s like when you eat chips and your lips become super dry.
The concept is the same.
What ingredients should you avoid ?
For the face it is better to avoid all anionic surfactants.
Let me give you some definitions and name to make things clear.
What are surfactants?
Basically surfactants are the ingredients that are able to clean and wash. They’re detergents and foaming agents present in shampoos, body washes, face washes, micellar water cleansers but also in dish detergents, laundry detergents and so on.
Are they all the same?
Clearly they’re not or else I would’t be here on Halloween Saturday morning writing this article 😃
A practical way to classify surfactants is based on the charge on their molecule.
Anionic: negatively charged.
Cationic: positively charged.
Amphoteric (Zwitterionic) : both (positive charge is on one part of the molecule and negative on a different one.
Non -ionic: no charge.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Anionic surfactants are the most effective in cleaning which also makes them the most aggressive. These can be used on the body (they’re mitigated by the association with less aggressive agents).
They can be recognized by the name and by the fact they’re the ones that make the most foam. Anionic surfactants include the “famous” sulphates which have a bad reputation (although for the wrong reason).
The list of the most common includes ammonium and sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium dodecyl sulfate, sodium laureth & Myreth sulfate, sodium stearate, sodium lauroyl sarcosinate.
- Cationic: very common in conditioning products rather than cleaning ones. They include chemical classes such as Amines, Alkylimidazolines, Alkoxylated Amines, and Quaternized Ammonium Compounds (or Quats). Attention: cationic surfactants can cause irritation.
- Amphoteric surfactants. These are mild and are often used to clean while also conditioning. Very common in baby products. Amphoteric surfactants do not exist as “natural”. This is something to keep in mind if you’re looking for a 100% natural product (which you shouldn’t but hey just saying).
- Non ionic. Very low foaming properties. The most common in cleansers are polisorbate 20, sorbitan stearate and decyl glucoside (considered natural).
How can you pick the right surfactants?
A simple way to establish whether your product is too aggressive for your face -even if you don’t know anything about surfactants ingredients is to see how much foam it makes.
The less foam the better and don’t worry it can still clean efficiently.
How should I clean my face?
I’m happy you finally asked :S
The best way to clean your skin is to use a micellar water cleanser.
Micellar water is a very diluted cleanser that contain structures called micelles. Micelles are clusters of surfactants into water.
The benefits of micellar water
The benefits of micellar water over traditional cleansers are
1) It’s a multipurpose product. While it cleans and removes makeup, it also contributes to skin hydration.
2) It avoids the skin the contact with tap water which most of the time has high levels of hardness and can contain contaminants. The water In the micellar water is deionized and purified and the product is buffered at the best pH level.
3) It allows you to clean and refresh when on the go. Together with the hyaluronic acid serum, a micellar water cleanser is one of my staple for when I’m traveling or can’t get enough sleep. Both give my face a boost of freshness and I don’t need a sink.
How to wash your face: NORMAL SKIN
If you have normal skin I feel for you. How to articles on skincare rarely pay much attention to normal skin because, you know, you can use a vast range of products. You get the best from both worlds.
So how do you wash your face properly? Your skin is a bit more tolerant. That doesn’t mean you can wash it with bar soaps (the worst ever)! Micellar water or a lightly foaming milk cleanser is the way to go.
How to wash your face- DRY SKIN
A Micellar water cleanser is still the way to go. But you also want to consider cleansing balms which work like a charm on dry skin.
My favorite cleansing balms are (not sponsored by anyone- just what I like )
- Clinique: take the day off
- Then I Met you living cleansing balm.
How to wash your face: OILY SKIN
When you have oily skin you need to avoid oil AND you need to avoid products that completely remove it.
Oil (sebum) production is physiologically regulated through glands. Using cleansers that strip away your skin natural oils is a short lived solution. Your body will respond by producing even more oil and you will never solve the issue.
Excessive oil production has an hormonal cause. So what are you supposed to do?
You can effectively clean your skin using micellar water.
26 thoughts on “[Guide] How to wash your face (for each skin type)”
How about salicylic acid cleanser for oily skin?
Cleansers that get rinsed off after a few seconds can contain all ingredients you want BUT none of those is gonna be effective as it gets removed from the skin right away. Conversely leave on cleansers can contain active ingredients such as salicylic acid. My point is that if you want to use salicylic acid it should be in a leave on product.
my skin is dry sensitive acne prone skin which cleansers are best for me? one with active ingredients or the hydrating ones? i use salicylic acid cleanser. plz explain and tell me. i have salicylic exfoliant paulas choice as well. which is use twice a week only…. but for cleanser which should i choose? with the active ingredient or the hydrating one?
Rida, you definitely want to check out our micellar water. Micellar water is the staple cleanser for dry and sensitive skin.
Should we rinse it off though? Your article says micellar water is anionic, which makes it an aggressive cleaner. Thoughts?
Hi Leslie, there’s no need to rinse it off but you can do it if you prefer. Micellar water doesn’t contain anionic surfactants so no it is not aggressive.
i suffer from hormonal acne each time i get my period 🙁 is micellar water enough to clean my face ? and what product should i use to clear the pimples/spots ?
The micellar water won’t clear your acne which like you say it has an hormonal component. No skincare product will.
What do you think of Dove Bar for sensitive skin?
Not a fan os soap bars.
I do have reoccurring acne that pores out each time. I just started a new product hopefully I see changes
My skin is oily and has pimples what do I use to clear pimples and locally available things
Try a salicylic acid based product
Hello from Dubai!
I have been following you on intsagram and quora and on you tube. I am learning so much about skin care and products to use. Im surprised at how much I have actually abused my skin over the years…😞
I want to try the products that you formulate but they are not available here in my part of the world!- or are they???
Keep doing what you are do, Luisa you are amazing!
Thank you Kareen, I’m so happy you enjoy my content. Keep taking care of your skin and don’t go back to old bad habits haha. Yes, we do ship to Dubai.
I hope positively impressed :))
Kindly tell me… actually i have super dry skin and when i drink alot water like 2-3 litres then i feel hydration inside my skin otherwise my skin feels dry and patchy….so is it related to internal dehydration….or wrong skin care can also be a contributing factor…
Wrong skincare products are probably the cause since you drink enough water!
I have a lot of acne. I tried everything facial wash, eskinol, benzoyl peroxide 10%, but still its not working to remove my acne pores. What should I do? And what product should I use?
Cleansers won’t do much for acne because you rinse them off right away. Try some leave on product that contains , for example, salicylic acid. If the acne is severe you probably want to consult with a dermatologist! Good luck and take care!!
Luisa, you’re simply awesome cos I’m confident in your advices. I’m a Nigerian, I’m 61 year old , don’t have pimples. I just need advice on how to maintain my facial skin and to keep it supple
Thank you for saying that! If you don’t have any particular issue use serums with vitamin c and retinol and a moisturizer on top of them. Also protect your skin from the sun. Take care!
I purchased several months ago your bundle kit. So far, love how they don’t have a perfume smell and go on so smoothly on my face. One of the products that I am particularly amazed with is the micellar water! I use CeraVe hydrating facial cleaner (normal to dry skin) and then use a cotton ball with micellar water after that. It is crazy amazing how after ‘cleaning’ my skin, the cotton ball is showing dirt (or whatever is still on my skin!) that apparently the CeraVe didn’t remove! So, should I just not be using CeraVe? Thanks!
Hi Carmen, yes the micellar water is pretty amazing. I don’t think you need to clean twice, stick to the micellar water. Eventually remove makeup residues etc (if using) with a drop of oil. Best,Luisa