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All About Cleansing (Skin Cleansing)
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All About Cleansing

Stuart Maddin, MD, FRCPC

Why cleanse?

  • The surface of the skin often clogs due to sweat, debris, excess oil, and bacteria.
  • Soap can be inadequate for certain skin types. Soap can remove grease from your skin, making it dry and flaky. This is especially true for people with sensitive skin.
  • A gentle cleanse can remove excess dirt and skin oil, bacteria, as well as cosmetics, and exfoliated skin cells.
  • Proper care for facial skin and the hands is especially important as these areas are the most vulnerable, being exposed the most. 

How do I cleanse properly?

  • First, wash the hands thoroughly to prevent bacteria from being moved over to the face.
  • Start cleansing the hairline first as hairstyling products attract dirt, then slowly work down the face, and then the neck.
  • Massage the cleanser gently into the skin for a minute, and then wipe away excess dirt and pollution away. Cosmetics can be removed using a cotton ball instead.
  • Use cool water to rinse away the cleanser. Excessively hot or cold water can increase broken capillaries and cause flushing.

Does my skin type matter?

Definitely. Different skin types require different products, and have varied needs. Finding the right cleaning product is important to maintaining a great looking skin.

Normal Skin: If you have normal skin, you are neither oily or dry, and most skin care products should suit you well. Soap is fine for the hands, but mild cleansers should be used elsewhere. Choose a mild cleanser or a gel cleanser and rinse with tepid water. Experiment with various products until you find the right one for you.

Dry Skin: If you have dry skin, your skin is lacking in oil, and prone to losing moisture, especially during the winter. If you have dry skin, use a cleansing cream without detergents, and ones that rinse off easily. Stay away from harsh products, and ones that may strip away the oil in your skin, drying you out even more. Hard-milled cleansing bars, and face cleansers designed for those with dry skin are recommended. Avoid hot water as it can also drain your skin of moisture. If you suffer from eczema, and have dry skin, emulsifying ointments may also be an option for you.

Oily Skin: If you have oily skin, your sebaceous glands are overactive, often producing excess oil, which can lead to blackheads and whiteheads. If you have oily skin, use gentle foaming facial washes to remove dirt and excess oil from your face. These will maintain fats that are essential in maintaining moisture. Wax or oil based cleansers should be avoided as these can easily clog the pores.

Combination skin: If you have combination skin, some areas are oily, while others are dry. Most people have combination skin, and will need to use different products for different parts of their skin. The forehead, nose, and cheek area, which tends to be oily, can be treated with products for oily skin, while creams can be used for the dry areas.

Sensitive skin: If you have sensitive skin, you will often overreact to strong overpowering products, and may be prone to irritants more than other skin types. Cleanse using gentle water-soluble lotions, and do not use hot or cold water. Gels or soaps containing alcohol, acids, or preservatives should be avoided, as these can all be irritants for sensitive skin. Exfoliating scrubs or astringents can also cause inflammation.


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