I’ve lost count of the amount of times I have been asked that question. And like so many others I grew up believing that only people with dirty faces got acne. While this is simply NOT true; establishing a good cleansing routine will help prevent further infection.
When I first started getting spots in my early teens I never thought the skincare I used could actually do more harm than good. Whether you are new to breakouts or a long standing member of the cysterhood; this post tells you everything you need to know about cleansing.
Choosing your cleanser
Your skin type will determine what kind of cleanser works best for you. After years of using alcoholic cleansers and toners, my skin became dry, sensitive and oily which made for one hell of a combination! If your skin is as confused as my skin was, I would try treating one condition at a time.
Sensitive skin types
Understanding the cause of your sensitivity will allow you to prevent your skin from becoming irritated in the future. In my experience it is usually the combination of oral and topical medication that cause instant sensitivity. It is also important to consider how you remove your cleanser. Avoid scrubbing your skin to reduce redness and further aggravation. Instead you can find instant relief from using a clean, damp muslin cloth straight out of your refrigerator.
Remember, it probably wasn’t that long ago that you used nothing on your skin. Could your skin be overwhelmed by all the new changes? Once you have got your sensitivity under control you will be able to switch to a cleanser to combat your acne.
My top 3 cleansers for sensitive acne prone skin
Dermalogica - UltraCalming Cleanser £32
Tropic - Smoothing Cleanser Complexion Purifier £16
Pai - Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser £30
Oily skin types
This is the most common skin type associated with acne. While you will thank your overactive sebaceous glands in the future for keeping your skin youthful, right now it is providing the perfect environment for acne bacteria to grow.
Choosing a cleanser for this skin type is where most of us go wrong. Understandably a lot of people fall into the trap of buying alcoholic based cleansers for that squeaky clean finish. Unfortunately this encourages our skin to produce more oil to compensate for the sudden dryness. A much more effective way to cleanse this skin type is with a BHA based product. Beta Hydroxy Acids naturally dissolve oil deep within the follicle helping to reduce infection and neutralise acne bacteria.
To avoid damaging your skin, use your BHA cleanser as directed by the manufacturer. As most BHA cleansers can only be used up to three times a week; for in between uses I recommend a cleanser from my top 3 for sensitive acne prone skin.
My top 3 cleansers for oily acne prone skin
DermaQuest - Dermaclear BHA Cleanser £33
Dermalogica - Clearing Skin Wash £36
Environ - Sebu-wash Gel Cleanser $40
Dry skin types
In the same way an oily skin breakouts because of oil buildup within the follicle, a dry skin is prone to dead skin cells blocking the pores. In both cases the follicle can become easily irritated and inflamed providing the perfect environment for acne.
For this skin type I would recommend using a cleanser with Alpha Hydroxy Acids. AHA’s are naturally occurring acids that help exfoliate the skin’s surface whilst promoting collagen production and reducing pigmentation.
To avoid damaging your skin, use your AHA cleanser as directed by the manufacturer. As most AHA cleansers can only be used up to three times a week; for in between uses I recommend a cleanser from my top 3 for sensitive acne prone skin.
My top 3 cleansers for dry acne prone skin
Skinceuticals - Blemish + Age Cleanser £37
Mario Badescu - Glycolic Acid Foaming Facial Cleanser £14
Vichy - Normaderm Daily Deep Cleansing Gel £12
Using your cleanser
Before you can begin to apply acne fighting gels and serums, you need a clean, fresh surface to layer them onto. If like me you wear makeup to conceal your breakouts your first cleanse will always be superficial. It may seem excessive to wash your face twice but to keep your pores clean; that second cleanse is essential. No matter what your skin type, I would always recommend cleansing your face as soon as you wake up, just before bed and immediately after exercise.
When it comes to cleansing my skin I’m always in a bit of a hurry! One of my own personal goals at the moment is to take more time massaging my face as I cleanse; focusing on the areas where I suffer most with blocked pores. If this is something you are going to try to do more of I would love to hear about your results in the the comments below.
Removing your cleanser
How you remove your cleanser is as important as the cleansing itself. For the most effective removal, use a fresh, clean cloth or applicator each time to avoid adding more bacteria to your face. Take care wiping over pustules and broken skin to avoid spreading infection.
My top 3 removal methods
Tropic - Bamboo Face Cloth £5
Liz Earle - Pure Cotton Cloths £4.50
Clarisonic - Deep Pre Cleansing Brush
Beautiful by Breakfast is home to authentic, unaffiliated advice. The links I have provided are for your convenience only. If you have used any of the products listed, please share your opinion in the comments below.