Even the best skin serum or cream can’t effectively treat your complexion if you don’t take the time to properly cleanse before applying it. A gentle, efficient wash twice a day keeps pores clear, removes excess oil, takes off makeup (before bed), gets rid of environmental grime, and paves the way for those topical treatments.
For best results, follow a simple but strategic regimen—one that thoroughly cleanses but doesn’t strip the skin of its natural, necessary oils. To ensure you’re washing and prepping properly, adopt these nine expert tips.
Stick to a regular schedule
As a rule, aim to wash your face twice a day—once in the morning and again at night. And if you exercise or sweat heavily during the day, cleanse again to prevent the perspiration from irritating the skin or exacerbating inflammatory conditions like acne or rosacea. The evening wash is typically the most important part of your routine because it eliminates all the gunk that’s accumulated on your face during the day (think: sebum, makeup, pollution, and sweat). Failing to remove that grime can cause irritation and acne flare ups—and it can inhibit the penetration of any serums or creams you apply afterward. The morning wash is also vital though because it helps get rid of anything that transferred from your pillow to your skin (e.g. hair oils) during the night. And it prepares the skin for your daytime skincare lineup.
Use cool-to-lukewarm water
Make like Goldilocks and opt for a water temperature that’s just right—not too hot and not too cold. Extreme temps can disrupt the skin’s protective barrier function, cause blood vessels to dilate (and broken capillaries to pop up on the skin) and strip natural oils, leaving your complexion feeling tight, dry and sensitive.
Choose a gentle formula
You want a cleanser that is effective—but not too aggressive. Just like extreme water temperatures, an abrasive formula can leave the skin feeling dehydrated and vulnerable to environmental aggressors. Ideally, look for a product that deep cleans and moisturizes. Neolastin’s new Wash & Refresh Cleansing Gel Cream is a unique gel-cream formula that combines a potent blend of sugar cane, sugar maple and bilberry to remove dirt, makeup, oil and other impurities, plus orange and lemon to soften the skin.
Stick to the basics
Most experts maintain that employing a soft touch while cleansing is the safest way to wash. Just dampen your hands in cool-to-lukewarm water, squirt a nickel-sized dollop of the cleansing gel-cream into your palm, and use your fingertips to gently massage into your skin using circular motions. Pay special attention to the T-zone (forehead, nose and chin) and the U-zone (around the jaw), where pores are most apt to become clogged.
Keep it short
Longer isn’t necessarily better when it comes to washing. Massaging a cleanser into the skin for 20 to 30 seconds is plenty of time; cleansing longer than that may start to strip natural oils and increase the risk of irritation.
Splash cool-to-lukewarm water over your face five or six times, until all the suds (as well as makeup and grime) are thoroughly washed away.
Pat, don’t rub
Gently dry your face with a soft, clean towel, using a pressing and patting motion (never rub or scrub). Note: Be sure to routinely clean your towels—at least once a week.
Take the time to tone
A facial toner is intended to be used immediately after washing your face—and before applying serums or creams. The purpose of a toner is to get rid of any remaining sebum, dirt or makeup—and to prep the skin for your treatment topicals. One purpose of a toner is to act as a backup plan to ensure your complexion is completely clean. Most toners also have additional skincare benefits as well; Neolastin’s new Exfoliate & Smooth Triple Hydroxy Acid Toner uses glycolic and lactic acids to smooth and polish the skin, plus niacinamide to support and protect skin cells from environmental aggressors. To use, douse a cotton pad, like Neolastin’s Reusable Cotton Rounds, with the toning solution then apply in a sweeping motion all over the face, neck and chest.
Slather on serums—stat
Applying your day or evening skincare serums and creams, such as Neolastin Face & Neck Regenerative Serum, immediately after the toner, while your skin is damp, is a smart strategy for two reasons. First, the wetness helps improve absorption of the treatment product. Second, applying a serum or cream over water helps seal in that moisture, keeping skin supple and soft until you wash it again.