words Alexa Wang
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The purpose of a cleanser is to remove dirt, oil, and makeup from your skin, so the other products in your routine can do their job. For this reason, your cleanser is the foundation of your skincare routine. Using the wrong product could interfere with optimal skin functioning.
However, picking the right cleanser is no easy task. You’ll find everything from bars, creams, balms, and gels on drugstore shelves, which can feel overwhelming at first. Moreover, some facial cleaning products such as a specialty scrub cleanser are best used as enhancements to your beauty routine in addition to daily-use products. If all this seems a bit confusing, don’t worry. Shopping according to your skin type will weed out a lot of products that won’t work for you.
How to Choose a Cleanser for Dry Skin
Dry skin can be prone to eczema, so creamy formulas without any exfoliating beads, clays, or acids will help prevent dry, itchy patches from forming. Humectants, like sodium hyaluronate and hyaluronic acid, can bring water to your skin. Hydrating masks can keep water in your pores.
It’s a good idea to use a glycolic exfoliating cleanser on dry skin. As glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (or AHA), it offers exfoliation without needing to use beads, sand, or coffee. AHA can effectively remove the top layer of dead skin cells, which purifies the skin without irritating it.
How to Choose a Cleanser for Oily Skin
Reach for a gel cleanser that contains lactic acid. Lactic acid can break down and help prevent excess oil production without completely stripping your face of it. Cleansers that contain alcohol will trigger more oil production, so stick with anti-pore cloggers like shea butter or coconut oil.
We understand the need to use drying cleansers, but it isn’t a good idea. It’s better to use products that contain AHA in a low strength. Sometimes glycolic acid can be low enough to use on oily skin but stick to salicylic and lactic acid if you’re just adding AHA to your routine.
How to Choose a Cleanser for Combination Skin
The majority of us have combination skin, which is a little harder to treat. Gel and creamy cleansers are effective for oily areas and won’t irritate dry patches, but watch your skin as you add new products. Ingredients like aloe vera and vitamin C work great for dry and oily skin.
Look for products that bring attention to its balancing effects or state they’re good with readiness. Manuka honey and calendula flower oil are two ingredients that almost always work for combination skin types as long as the cleanser is gentle and at least contains BHAs.
How to Choose a Cleanser for Acne-Prone Skin
Salicylic acid-based cleansers are perfect for acne-prone skin because they’re oil-soluble and can deeply penetrate the epidermis. Salicylic acid can also dissolve dead skin cells and sebum that clogs pores. If you have oily or dry acne-prone skin, cleansing oil will work wonders.
When shopping for a cleansing oil, make sure to find one with naturally-derived ingredients, like rose oil or almond oil. Cleansers with salts, alcohols, and detergents will dry out and irritate your skin. Only organic, high-quality cleansers can keep your skin’s acid mantle balanced.
How to Choose a Cleanser for Mature Skin
As our skin ages, we start to lose elastin and collagen. Turnover starts to decrease, leaving us with saggy, dull skin. You can increase cell turnover and collagen production by exfoliating twice a week and using thicker cleansers that contain vitamin A, B5, C, E, AHA, and retinoids.
Mature skin will benefit from moisture retention. Even if you didn’t have dry skin in the past, mild cleansers specifically made for sensitive skin types is the safest option. Or, you could find a light enzyme or cream cleanser that keeps the moisture in and reduces skin irritation.