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Cleansing is the first and possibly the most important step of your skincare routine. It sets the tone for everything else that follows. Unfortunately, it is also the step that often gets paid the least attention! Sure, it only stays on your face for a couple of minutes before washing off. However, we also know that cleansers are essential for us to rid our skin of makeup, oils, SPF, and unwanted dirt and bacteria. It is the foundation for the skincare that follows. So, we have decided to give cleansing a leg up in the skincare chain and help you determine what to look for when it comes to choosing the right cleanser for you.

pH is king

Healthy skin normally has a pH of around 5.5, which means it is slightly on the acidic side. This acidity is known as the skin’s ‘acid mantle’ and it is what protects your skin from pollutants and keeps bacteria from flourishing on the surface. For this reason, you should protect your skin’s acid mantle at all costs! Stick to a cleanser with a pH of between 4.5 and 6 to avoid stripping your skin of goodness.

Avoid sulfates

Cleansers should never make your skin feel squeaky clean – your face is not a pot! It should feel fresh, clean but not stripped or dehydrated. If you get that dry and tight feeling, consider this a warning because it is a sign that your cleanser is throwing your skin off balance. To avoid encountering this problem, we recommend that you stay away from cleansers that contain sulfates, which are often added to cleansing products to encourage foaming. We recommend avoiding products which include the following in their ingredients list: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, or Ammonium Laureth Sulfate. Your face will thank you for it!

Avoid granular exfoliants

Regular exfoliation is necessary to keep your skin clear of dead skin cells and to prepare your skin for active ingredients and hydration, however we recommend chemical exfoliants containing AHA and BHA acids (such as salicylic, lactic, and glycolic) instead of abrasive granular scrubs. They help to gently remove pore-clogging dead skin cells but also improve the texture of the skin and work to repair acne scars. If you have acne-prone skin, it is best to avoid abrasive physical exfoliators with harsh grains, sugar, or salt, or facial brushes as much as possible. If you have dry skin, you can use a gentle exfoliator with either very fine grains in a creamy, lotion texture or one that’s honey-based or which contains moisturizing oils.

Double cleanse!

Cleansing done twice! We can’t stress this one enough – brought to you by Korean women and their gorgeous skin, and now loved all over the world. You begin with an oil-based cleanser or balm to remove make-up, SPF and oils, and follow it up with a water-based traditional cleanser, such as a cleansing gel or foam, to remove dirt and bacteria. If you are longing for clear, radiant skin, this is the way to go!

Bonus: Avoid face wipes

We know this is the easy option but resist at all cost! Cleansing wipes are loaded with chemicals which, sure, will dissolve your makeup, but surfactants and emulsifiers also aggravate your skin. Not to mention the scrubbing involved on a stubborn scrap of mascara, all that pulling is a massive no-no around your delicate eyes.  Be kind to your skin!