What You Must Know about Basic Skin Care: Cleansers and Skin Types
"...Your skin's the inspiration for cocoa butter, you provoke a brother...
I discover when I bring you through my people say true,
All I can say is all praise due, I thank God for a beauty like you."
~Talib Kweli "Brown SkinLady"
I thought it was best to start at the beginning: with the most basic, inexpensive skin care regime that will provide the best results. The majority of women I know are unsure of which products they should be using on their skin, and how. Just as every woman is an individual and is beautiful in her own way, she will have a unique set of conditions regarding what skin care regime is right for her. That's why it's always best to see a skin care professional in order to know what is truly best for you. This post will provide a pretty good guideline as to which cleanser a woman should be using and why.
Why is the right cleanser important?
Basic skin care consists of a cleanser, moisturizer, sunscreen, and exfoliant. Each of these is equally important to keep skin at its healthiest (i.e., young looking). Cleansing your skin properly is the first step in any skin care regimen. A cleanser should thoroughly remove excess oil, dirt, and makeup, but be gentle enough to not remove what needs to stay in your skin to keep it healthy: water and some oil. Many of my clients use Dove, Dial, Clinique, or Neutrogena soap to cleanse their skin, because marketing has led them to believe this is the right thing to do. The reality is, these soaps (or any typical grocery or drugstore soap) are one of the worst things you can do to your skin. These traditional bar soaps (or liquid soaps like Neutrogena) completely over-strip your skin, leaving you with blotchy redness, flakiness, wrinkles from dehydration, and more blackheads and breakouts. Sure, your skin might feel clean, but these soaps make you look older and will speed up your skin's aging process. Never, never use them. There are two basic cleanser types, and which one you choose depends on your skin type:
For combination or oily skin use a foaming cleanser.
What is a combination skin?
~It has larger pore size on the nose, chin, and forehead (T-zone) and there is typically a slight to substantial 'greasy' feel to this area at the end of the day. This is the most common skin type.
~Common issues: Blackheads in the T-zone, and a 'clogged' feeling to the skin. The 'clogged' feeling is actually skin dehydration, which is caused by aggressive over-cleansing to remove perceived excess oil. Dehydration is one of the skin's worst enemies...it increases fine lines and wrinkles, and increases blackheads in addition to making them more difficult to remove. A healthy skin needs some oil to stay hydrated, soft, and radiant. Dehydration is such a huge and common problem, I'll be writing a whole separate post on it in the near future!
What is an oily skin?
~It has larger pore size on the cheeks and jaw, in addition to the T-zone, and has a substantial 'greasy' feel and shiny appearance all over at the end of the day.
~Common issues: Acne breakouts and blackheads, which are often increased due to aggressive over-cleansing, leading to a deeply dehydrated skin. A dehydrated skin is much more likely to breakout, which makes a woman cleanse even harder, and so on. It's a vicious cycle.
The first step to fixing all of this? Cleansing properly.
Why use a foaming cleanser?
~The purpose of the foaming is to lift away and remove oil from the skin, like dish soap when washing a greasy pan.
Which inexpensive foaming cleanser is best?
~Nubian Heritage African black soap. I have used this soap from head to toe every day for over ten years. I've tried many other foaming cleansers on my face, and I always come back to this one! It costs about $3-4, is available at Whole Foods and online, and is completely natural and cruelty-free --which goes without saying if I'm recommending a product. ;-) It cleanses deeply and thoroughly without stripping skin, and contains a very gentle exfoliant to keep skin clear and radiant.
~How to use: Cleanse entire face, morning and night. Using gentle pressure (aggressive pressure stretches your skin, which over time, will break the support fibers under your skin, leading to wrinkles and sagging), circulate over skin (including eyelids) for at least one minute, concentrating on your oiliest areas. Rinse with warm water.
For dry or normal skin, use a creamy cleanser.
What is a dry skin?
~It has teeny tiny pores in the T-zone, possibly with a few little flecks of blackheads. It never looks of feels greasy. Because the skin produces too little oil, there is no need to use a foaming cleanser to remove oil that isn't there. A dry skin should always use a creamy cleanser. *Mature skin (over 50 years of age) often becomes dry as time goes on. I will be writing a separate future post about mature skin.
~Common issues: Flakiness, red blotchiness, and a 'tight' uncomfortable feeling to the skin, caused by over cleansing and under moisturizing.
What is normal skin?
~Normal skin is a misnomer. It's actually extremely rare, almost mythic! Out of the thousands of faces I've seen, I can count on one hand the number of people with normal (i.e., perfect) skin. It has little to no visible pores, no blackheads, breakouts, redness, or dehydration. It's buttery soft and luminous. If you're fortunate enough to have normal skin, thank your genes, and stick to a creamy cleanser to best maintain what nature has blessed you with.
Why use a creamy cleanser?
~They do not foam up at all, and are much more gentle than foaming cleansers. They still thoroughly cleanse the skin, in addition to keeping it moisturized and better protected.
Which inexpensive creamy cleanser is best?
~Aubrey Organics Sea Ware Facial Cleansing Cream is by far the best, most affordable, creamy cleanser I have ever used. It costs about $8 and can be found at Whole Foods or online. It has a wonderful fresh scent, and leaves your skin feeling clean, nourished, and soft. This cleanser is also perfect if you have rosacea since it will decrease redness and inflammation.
~How to use: Cleanse entire face, morning and night (it can be applied with or without water). Using gentle pressure, circulate over entire face and neck (including eyelids) for at least one minute. Rinse with tepid water.
If you have any questions, please respond in the comments, and I will answer them! My next post will be on another extremely important skin care topic: moisturizer.