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Facial Cleansing 101

Cleansing. It is an important part of our daily routine. In the morning, we cleanse to prep our skin for the day ahead, and at night, we cleanse the dirt from the day away. We not only need to cleanse away impurities absorbed by our skin, but we need to cleanse ourselves of the deceitful brands that greenwash, and the toxins that exist in commercial cleansers. For these reasons, we say choose your cleanser delicately. 

There are so many misconceptions about what a good cleanser actually is or what ingredients make up a good cleanser, and we’d like to clear that up for you.

Your Best Skin Begins with Proper Cleansing 

Our philosophy is that safe ingredients are the only option when it comes to healthy skin. There is a reason we don’t use the ingredients you often see on other labels that you can’t pronounce. The reason? They are not needed. These ingredients are shocking your skin and causing the reactions you are noticing that you can’t seem to pinpoint.

For a product that doesn’t spend much time on your face in comparison to something like a moisturizer, your cleanser will dictate your skin’s tone. It sets the mood. If you use something with too many chemicals, your skin will dry up and flake. You may experience uncomfortable tightness and redness. If the cleanser’s formula strips your natural oils, which most commercial cleansers do, your skin will overproduce oil to compensate. In fact, the most overlooked cause of skin irritation is your cleanser. Anytime we get a question about skin agitation, the first thing we ask is what type of cleanser you are using. There are so many options out there with an alarming amount of irritants and chemicals, but it doesn’t need to be that complicated. 

Your Cleansing Cheat Sheet
  • Ingredients 101: look for a cleanser with ingredients you can both pronounce and understand what they are with complete confidence. If you can’t pronounce it or have to Google it, it’s probably not the best choice for keeping your skin happy. Avoid alcohols, PEGs, ingredients that begin with “phe,” end in “exol” or “ol,” synthetic vitamin e and glycerin. These compounds are synthetic grease stripping ingredients, and they are designed to attack the grease on your skin, which gauges a reaction from your skin in an attempt to protect itself. In response, you’ll overproduce oil in certain areas or notice congestion. Rule of thumb: if you don’t know what it is, don’t put it on your skin.

  • Water Temperature 101: a common cause of agitation and dehydrated skin is scalding water temperatures. While it’s true that warm water is best at breaking down grime and removing it from your face, if your water is too hot you are parching your skin. This in combination with a harsh cleanser will only cause your skin to react more radically to protect itself and its barrier. Avoid water that is too hot, but know that cold water isn’t advised either. Cold water is not strong enough to break down and dissolve grease and dirt from your face. Use warm water, not too hot and not too cold.
  • Cleansing Technique 101: ditch the harsh scrubber or scratchy face towel. First wet your hands with nice warm water. Then apply a small amount of your cleanser to your palms and work into a nice lather Use your fingers! Now using only your clean fingers  gently massage onto and into your skin.  Be gentle. Your fingers offer a circulation-stimulating massage for your face, and your fingers are the perfect texture for you delicate facial skin. Small, inward circles are the best method of application. Be sure not to over-cleanse, twice a day is all your skin needs.
  • Exfoliation 101: if you notice your skin is a little oilier than usual, don’t punish it with harsh acids or walnut scrubs. These acids are drying your skin out immensely, and you will overproduce oil to compensate. The problem with walnut scrubs is that the particles are irregularly shaped and jagged. When you apply this to your skin, it creates abrasions which are called micro-tears. While you may not notice them, your skin does and it’s already reacting. These micro-tears impact your skin’s barrier, which is its way of protecting itself from the elements. Over time, your skin will lose its natural elasticity and may become more sensitive.
Damage Control

With the above tips in mind, evaluate your cleanser and think about your routine. Are you over-exfoliating? Does your cleanser have 20-30 puzzling ingredients in it? This is where we advise you to ditch the chemical-based cleanser and turn your attention to something more basic, like soap. Soap might sound drying or too simple, but the right soap is an incredibly effective way to cleanse your face. The purpose of your cleanser is to remove impurities and prep your face for the following steps in your routine. Impurities are deep in our pores, so let’s think about washing our hands for a moment: when we wash our hands, we use soap because the oils in soap work their way into our skin without attacking our barrier and lift germs so that we can rinse them away. We need this same functionality when we wash our face. The skincare industry has created negative connotations behind using soap on facial skin, which is the furthest thing from the truth. Soap is much gentler than we’re led to believe, especially soap that has been PH adjusted lower to be more facial skin-friendly, and plays a bigger role in balanced skin that you’d think. The skincare industry knows this. If you look at most commercial cleansers they are made to look like soap. The disappointing truth is that in the formulation process, characteristics are added, like bubbles, to make the cleanser look more natural and they adjust the PH to fit the consumers’ needs. The cleanser you use should be slightly alkaline. Optimally, your cleanser should fall into the low 7s on the PH scale. 

Oil cleansing

Another amazing way to restore the skin to its natural state and revitalize your complexion. A huge misconception behind using oil in your skincare routine is that it will clog your pores and make your skin oilier. When the right, non-comedogenic oils are used, this could not be further from the truth. Using oil-based cleansers can help reduce oil production by diving deep into pores and dissolving impurities more effectively than a product that functions to strip your skin of its natural oils. The known benefits of oil cleansing stem from a soothing Ayurvedic tradition that has been around for thousands of years.
The ritual begins with putting a very warm, damp washcloth on your face to open the pores. Once you’ve let that sit on your face for a few moments, begin massaging a small amount of what are rich, nourishing oils into your skin. The purpose of these oils is to detoxify the skin and maintain its health. Finish by reapplying the warm, damp washcloth to your face and gently wipe to remove the excess oil. You’ll notice your skin does not feel greasy or uncomfortable at all; instead, it feels refreshed and balanced. 

After switching to a more holistic way of cleansing, you’ll start to see your oily t-zone settle and clogged pores disappear. You probably didn’t have combination skin to begin with, it was likely your cleanser. You might also notice you don’t feel the need to exfoliate as often (which if you do, we recommend switching to a natural, enzyme-based exfoliant to prevent tears in the skin). By refraining from harsh synthetics, you are allowing your skin to restore itself naturally. 
See, the thing is, your skin already knows what to do. Your skin just needs a helping hand from you to do its job optimally. A delicate aid, if you will. Fortunately, we have a cleanser that lives up to this claim- both in function and name. We call it our Delicate Cleanser. 

The Inspiration Behind Our Cleansers

The inspiration behind our most famous cleanser Delicate Cleanser, which is a unique mixture of soap and oil, was to provide a safe alternative to chemical-laden cleansers that saturate the market. Glycerin is an extremely common ingredient in commercial cleansers, but this ingredient is not given the negative press it deserves. Glycerin severely dehydrates your skin, and if applied to your skin directly it would probably cause an allergic reaction. We have higher standards for our products, with the notion that every single ingredient is completely safe for your skin.

Our Bar Soap was the first cleansing product developed that men can use on their body and face. Women’s facial skin is more acidic, so while our bar soap is safe for use on the body, we needed to offer a soap that was PH adjusted lower. With
 a soap-based cleanser in mind, we were inspired by Ayurvedic medicine to incorporate oils and offer something both gentle and nourishing that won’t strip away hydration from the skin. We had sensitive skin in mind when creating this product, so this cleanser can be used universally by all skin types. Down to the water used, which, we use reverse osmosis filtered water, we wanted our cleanser to be pure. If you read the label, every ingredient is one you’ll understand, and one that nourishes your skin. This is true for all of our products.

For an even deeper cleanse, we developed Cleanse & Glow Oil. Using a rich fatty-acid profile, the cleanse and glow oil penetrates deep into pores to dissolve coagulated sebum. We especially like to recommend this in the colder, drier months to help replenish moisture to the skin that water alone cannot replenish. More attune to the Ayurvedic tradition, this is a purely oil-based cleanser that can also be used for a light moisturizer, or as the finishing step to your nighttime skincare routine. 

With ultra-sensitive skin in mind, we developed Cream Cleanser. The cream cleanser is a water-based lotion that you apply to your face like a cream and gently massage into the skin before rinsing away like a normal cleanser. While all of our cleansers can remove makeup, the cream cleanser makes it especially easy. It doesn’t lather like a traditional cleanser, but it does an exceptional job of gently cleansing and conditioning your skin. 

Thank you for tuning into Cleansing 101. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your friends at Luminance with any questions!