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Everything You Need to Know About Cleansing

Cleansing is the first and the foundation of every skincare routine. It is so important to properly cleanse your skin to remove impurities and keep your skin healthy.

The Importance of Cleansing

Cleansing your skin daily are the absolute fundamentals of any skincare routine.

Cleansing removes impurities from the skin such as:

  • Excess sebum (oil)

  • Dust

  • Bacteria

  • Dead skin cells

  • Makeup and other cosmetics

These should be removed from the skin in the morning and at night to make sure that the pores of the skin are not being clogged up, to regulate sebum production and prevent bacterial growth.

If cleansing is not performed sufficiently and regularly, it could lead to serious skin concerns such as:

  • Acne, which can later develop into cystic acne. This happens when the pores are clogged and from excess of the microorganism p.Acnes.

  • Excess oily skin. If you don't remove sebum from the skin, it can lead to changes in sebum production over time.

  • Poor microbiome of the skin. If there are too many harmful bacteria on the skin, this can lead to infections.

Types of cleansers

There are many cleansing products currently available to us on the market. Each product is made to suite different consumer needs and expectations.

Types of cleansers include:

Water-based cleansers:

  • Cream cleansers

  • Bar cleansers

  • Gel cleansers

  • Foam cleansers

  • Micellar waters

Oil-based cleansers:

  • Oil cleansers

  • Balm cleansers

Cleansing ingredients


Surfactants are the cleansing agents in water based cleansing formulation.

Surfactants are molecules with a 'tail' and a 'head' which emulsify impurities on the skin so that they can be later rinsed off.

There are many different types of surfactants, and different cleansers will use different ones or combinations of surfactants.

  • Anionic

  • Cationic

  • Non-ionic

  • Amphoteric

The 'head' of the surfactant is hydrophilic (associates with water), whereas the 'tail' of a surfactant is hydrophobic (associated with oil).

Because there is no oil in this formulation, the surfactants form micelles. Where the hydrophobic tails associate with themselves, to avoid contact with the continuous phase (the water system they're in).

When a water based cleanser is used, the surfactants mix with the water. Because the tails are hydrophobic, they associate with any non-polar compounds on the skin (which are the impurities stated earlier), this emulsifies these compounds which can then be rinsed off easily with water.

Cleansing oils

Cleansing oils are oils which will dissolve any impurities on the skin.

You may think that adding more oil onto the skin is wrong, however oil cleansing is the most gentle form of cleansing.

The impurities are hydrophobic, meaning they will readily associate with the oils - once they are in the oil phase, they can be washed off.

Issues with cleansing

Use of poor surfactants

Surfactants can be pretty harsh and stripping to the skin, that's why it's important your cleanser is using the right types of surfactants.

You should avoid ionic surfactants (cationic and anionic), as they have proven to be the least gentle to the skin. Instead, look out for anionic and amphoteric surfactants which are much more gentle to the skin.

Removing makeup and deeper impurities

It's very important that we remove all the makeup and harder to take off cosmetics (such as sunscreens).

For this, it's it's advised to use a double cleansing method.

A double cleanse involves using an oil cleanser to dissolve all the makeup and other impurities, and then using a water based cleanser to ensure all residues of the oil cleanser have been washed away.


Cleansing your skin too often and with harsh products can leave a compromised skin barrier.

It's important to cleanse enough to remove impurities but not so much that the skin barrier is damaged, this often leaves the skin red and dehydrated.

Everyone will have a different cleansing routine based on their skin type.

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