Your Skin Care Resource Center

Facial Cleansing 101

Cleansing the skin is one of the most important rituals we do on a daily basis to care for our health and well-being. The role of a skin cleanser is to clean the skin surface by removing dirt, sweat and excess oil, and to promote the skin's overall radiant appearance. Cleansing requires a fine balance between effectively removing impurities and carefully preserving the natural moisture balance of the skin.

How often should I cleanse?

Many people believe they have to wash their face twice a day to have clean, healthy skin. Unless you sweat while sleeping or have generally oily skin, washing once a day, at bedtime, is sufficient. Many will still choose to wash twice a day because they enjoy the ritual of cleansing or savor that "clean feeling". This is perfectly acceptable. However, keep in mind that excessive washing can harm the skin by removing natural oils that keep the skin hydrated.

What is the best water temperature for facial cleansing?

Room temperature or comfortably warm water is optimal for cleansing the skin. Using excessively hot water can be detrimental. It can aggravate certain skin conditions like rosacea or eczema and excessively dry out the skin.

Do I need to use a loofa or cleansing implement?

Excellent skin care can be achieved with the use of the simplest skin care tool of all-- your hands. However, some prefer the extra-clean feeling that is derived from using a skin cleansing tool. The options are numerous-- cleansing cloths, buff puffs, electric cleansing brushes, to name a few. All of these instruments are designed to exfoliate or remove dead skin cells, oils and environmental debris that collect on the skin's outermost surface. The decision to use a cleansing tool is a matter of personal preference. It should be based on what your skin tolerates and what produces the most beneficial results. Since needs differ, there is no one optimal choice. Be aware that using cleansing tools too aggressively can be harmful to the skin.

What is the optimal skin cleanser?

Skin care cleansers come in a variety of forms. There are cleansing bars, liquid cleansers, cleansing creams and foaming washes. All of them contain cleansing agents called surfactants that lift dirt and oils from the skin. A surfactant makes oils soluble in water, so they can be rinsed away. When we use cleansers, there is a risk of washing away the good skin oils along with the undesirable ones. This can lead to dryness and disruption of the skin barrier, which is why dermatologists often caution against over-washing of the skin.

Moisturizers are added to skin cleansers to decrease the drying effects of surfactants. Cleansing bars or synthetic detergent bars contain moisturizers, but they are generally not as effective as the ones in liquid cleansers. Liquid cleansers are considered gentler than cleansing bars because they also contain milder surfactants. Cleansing creams are excellent at depositing moisturizers on the skin, and often contain emollients like petrolatum, vegetable oils and waxes. Foaming washes are water-based cleansers that foam when dispensed through an aerated pump. They are cosmetically appealing because of their light consistency which allows them to be easily rinsed. Noxzema's products contain a variety of moisturizers (soybean and linseed oils, as well as glycerin) to keep the skin extra smooth and hydrated while you cleanse.