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Choosing the Right Facial Cleanser

Updated: Jan 22, 2023

With so many products to choose from, how do you know what type and brand is best for you?

This is an informative article based on my own experiences with my clients and as an Aesthetic Nurse, and Esthetician. I have included several tips to help you pick a facial cleanser that can work for you. Also at the end of this article is a quick poll for you to submit a response. I love discussing wellness, health and skincare, so please reach out if you have any questions. Happy reading!

- Jenica

Nurse Injector | Esthetician

Cleanser Basics

Skincare cleansers can be broken down into several types, such as bar soaps, foaming, cream cleansers, cleansing cloths, and makeup removers. Each product offers benefits (with the exception of most bar soaps) for different skin types, and addresses a variety of skin concerns. Some cleansers also contain exfoliating elements (like a scrub), or an additive (such as salicylic acid), to help dissolved superficial dead cell layers. Below are some tips for finding what types of skin cleansers can work best for you. There is a special section for acne-prone skin below as well, so read on fellow skincare enthusiasts!

Tip #1 - Ditch the Bar Soap!

At least on your face.

Every skincare professional will cringe if you say you use bar soap, but why? Bar soap tends to leave a residue which can potentially strip the skin of it's natural oils. We need (some) natural oil to act as a moisturizing, protective barrier that prevents water from within the skin from evaporating. Excessive clarifying, in combination with the leftover film, can cause your skin to feel tight, dry, and irritated. This leads to a dull appearance, and potential breakouts caused by the soapy residue clogging pores.

I hate to say this... but, you know that expensive beauty counter facial bar soap? The one that is sold by sales people dressed in lab coats at the mall? Well, in my professional opinion it is one of the worst bar soap offenders that I have tried! It leaves behind an obvious film on the skin that can be slimy feeling after washing. According to the sales people (they are not skincare professionals by the way), you are supposed to follow this bar soap with an alcohol based astringent. Between you and me, that's a really harsh combination and I would absolutely avoid it!

Tip #2 - Foaming Cleansers

For most skin types

Foaming cleansers were typically formulated for oily or acne-prone skin. However, there are several gentle foaming cleansers on the market now for those of you who have sensitive skin, and like the foamy feel.

Exceptionally Oily Skin - You'll want a cleanser that is clarifying and helps remove excess oil, and any any makeup residue, but one that doesn't leave your skin feeling tight. I recommend NOON Aesthetics Cosmo Clear foaming cleanser. It is a pharmaceutical-grade cleanser that combines with their DermShield™ technology. This technology allows for the cleaner to complement particularly high acid concentration products. It helps improve your skin’s natural moisture and washes away makeup and impurities without drying your skin.

Dehydrating acne-prone skin can lead to cellular build-up that covers the pores. This covering over the pore prevents natural oil from leaving the along the facial hair strands. Clogged pores = more pimples!

Normal and/or Sensitive Skin - Look for a gentle foaming cleanser that is formulated specifically for sensitive skin. The biggest concern here is that you do not dehydrate your complexion. Dry skin for sensitive and normal skin types can lead to irritation and inflammation, increasing sensitivities and discomfort. If your face feels tight after washing, the product is too harsh for you. NOON Aesthetics' C-Cleanser Foam (click the link to visit their website) was created specifically to gently remove debris and leave your skin feeling soft and hydrated.

Tip #3 - Cream Cleansers

Perfect for maintaining the moisture barrier

This is usually the best choice for most skin types. Great for maintaining the moisture barrier with dehydrated skin, cream cleansers offer a moisture-rich alternative to their foaming cleanser counterpart. Cream cleansers can also contain exfoliating elements, like jojoba beads, that gently remove superficial cellular debris without scratching or injuring your face, neck and décolleté (upper chest).

Exceptionally Sensitive Skin - As few ingredients as possible for this skin type is recommended. Cetaphil is a very popular grocery-store brand that has been recommended by dermatologists with no fragrance. If you prefer a professional quality product, than my recommendation is NOON Aesthetics Micro-Soft Cleanser. This product has few ingredients, and little to no fragrance. It is a clean and simple product for sensitive types that also works great as a make-up remover.

Dry Skin - Cream cleanser should be your go-to! Maintaining your natural moisture barrier is crucial to keeping a healthy glow. You likely produce very little oil (sebum) of your own, leaving you vulnerable to excessive moisture evaporation. A cream cleanser will remove surface debris without removing your protective skin oils that help keep you hydrated.

If you have dry, sensitive, or aging skin, then a good option is HydroPeptide's Cashmere Cream Cleanser. Like their Exfoliating Cleanser, it has a wonderfully creamy feel, but without the exfoliating beads. It leaves your skin hydrated, and soft.

Normal or Combination Skin - You likely have oilier areas around the T-zone (nose and forehead). You may find it useful to use a cream cleanser most of the time, while substituting with a foaming cleanser occasionally when you feel too oily.

Tip #4 - Cleansing Cloths

Gentle exfoliation + cleansing

Makeup wipes make quick work of removing makeup and environmental pollutants accumulated throughout the day. Be sure to look for (and avoid!) dehydrating ingredients such as alcohol. These ingredients can cause similar issues as the foaming cleansers, leaving the skin tight and dry feeling. If you have any skin sensitivities, I would suggest looking for a cleansing cloth that has as few ingredients as possible, and one that is unscented.

One more mention about makeup wipes... be careful with the delicate skin around the eye. To remove eye makeup, I would recommend using a cleansing balm first, than follow that with the makeup wipe.

HydroPeptide and Neutrogena both make a slightly exfoliating cleansing cloths which are easily packable. Great for a quick post-workout cleanse, these cloths remove debris without drying the skin

Tip #5 - Makeup Removers

Balms or oils work the best!

Makeup that lasts all day is fantastic, until you want to wash it off. Lets face it, those of us that wear even the minimalist of makeup can struggle to get rid of "raccoon eyes" from mascara or eyeshadow that just will not come off! My favorite products to help with this are balms and oils. These products have the ability to break-up even the heaviest of makeup applications allowing for easier cleansing. Plus, they leave delicate skin around the eyes hydrated.

Balms - Look for a product that is specifically formulated as, "safe for the eye area," and apply gently after first warming the balm to body temperature with your hands.

Oils - If you're looking for a natural product over a formulation, my favorite is plain Jojoba oil. Jojoba oil is very similar to the skin's natural oils, and is gentle enough for most skin types. Of course, be careful around the eyes as you gently massage makeup off your face.

After using an oil or balm to remove makeup, cleansing the face with a gentle facial cleanser or cloth helps remove not only remaining makeup, but also any buildup of oils from the makeup remover.

Tip #6 - Professional vs. Grocery Store Brands

Is there really a difference?

Absolutely there is a difference! The biggest difference is in the quality and concentration of the ingredients. Professional products, and I do not mean the cosmetics counter at the mall either, contain higher quality ingredients at a higher concentration. Period. With that being said, if you are on a budget, then cleanser is the product where you can save some money.

Think of it this way, after washing, it all goes down the drain. So if you have to choose where to spend some funds, I would splurge on a serum and moisturizer every time, and not cleanser. One of my favorite grocery store brands is Earth Sciences. It is a very budget friendly line, and I really love the texture and feel of their ADE Creamy Cleanser. Earth Sciences makes several other skincare products as well, and I would definitely recommend this brand if you're on a budget.

If you're looking for a professional brand, then of course I recommend NOON Aesthetics!!

With NOON skincare, you get professional dermal treatments without having to compromise the quality of treatment. WIth the DermShield, a proprietary breakthrough approach to skincare, NOON Aesthetics empowers professional skincare providers to deliver highly effective, safe, and irritation-free treatments leading to healthy & beautiful skin for all. DermShield technology enables the use of high concentration levels of active ingredients without the risk of side effects on all skin types, all year round!

If you are sensitive at all to fragrance, even natural fragrance, then MDPen Skincare is the line to go with! MDPen Skincare is fragrance-free, and formulated with as few ingredients as possible to get the job done. This line in particular was created to support the skin's natural healing abilities following Microneedling treatments, so it is great for sensitive skin types!

Look for more information about Microneedling (my specialty service) and its incredible healing benefits in a future blog post!! Or, follow the link to the Microneedling page on the Array Beauty Company website for more information.

Tip #7 - Acne Concerns

We can go into a lot of information here, but that is for another article. For now, I'll stick to just acne cleansers.

You likely have excess oil production combined with poor exfoliation habits, and maybe even dry, tight-feeling skin under all the grease. Or frankly, you have a situation that may require medication. So of course, my first recommendation would be to speak with your medical provider, preferably a dermatologist, if you have any serious, on-going acne concerns.

The biggest piece of advice I can offer with acne is please don't pick at your face. It leads to scarring, and creates more inflammation and damage. A skincare professional can help you with safe extractions, along with reducing pustules and blackheads for easier management of your acne. An Acne Clarifying Peel my be best for you to get started on healing your complexion. You can book an appointment with me following the link below and we can put together a treatment plan for you using pharmaceutical-grade skincare from NOON Aesthetics.

For those of you have a more moderate situation you'll want to look for a cleanser that clarifies, but one that does not strip too much of the natural oil away. Stripping the skin leaves it vulnerable to dehydration causing debris and build-up in the pores = more pimples! Acne cleanser formulations usually contain some sort of chemical exfoliant which is preferable to a mechanical one (a scrub). When we have breakouts, it is really tempting to be overly aggressive with a mechanical scrub and cause more harm. Skin suffering with acne should be handled delicately and with care.

One of my favorite ingredients for gently dissolving debris from clogged pores is Salicylic Acid. Salicylic Acid dissolves the cellular debris that covers the pore, and allows the trapped oil to escape down the hair strand. My favorite is NOON Aesthetics Cosmo Clear Cleanser.

It contains alpha and beta hydroxy acids (glycolic acid, lactic & Salicylic acid); is formulated with pH 4.0 and DermShield™ technology, making it ideal for treating acne-prone skin. With a complex of moisturizing components and Chamomile, CosmoClear has excellent cleansing and degreasing properties.

IMPORTANT Considerations for products that contain Salicylic Acid: Do not use if you are pregnant, nursing, or have an aspirin allergy. Always use a high, broad spectrum sunscreen when using these products as they can cause sun sensitivity.

Final thoughts...

There are a lot of great products out there and it can be difficult finding the right fit for you and your budget. Remember to look for non-irritating ingredients, avoid bar soap, and keep you skin hydrated. I hope you found this article helpful in your quest to find the right cleanser!

Do you need help with a more personalized approach? Book a complimentary consultation with me and we can create a specific skincare treatment plan just for you!

Please leave your thoughts and comments below. I would love to hear from you! Also, take the cleanser poll below. I'm curious about what products you like best for washing your face. In the next article I'll talk about exfoliating products, stay tuned!

- Jenica

Nurse Injector | Esthetician

Do you like the feel of cream or foaming cleanser the best?

  • Cream Cleanser

  • Foaming Cleanser

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