Seven Rules for Effective Anti-Acne Skin Cleansing

Close-up portrait of young beautiful woman with cotton swab cleaning her face

Fight acne and bring out your natural skin tones with 7 new skin cleansing rules!

Surely everything that could possibly be said about skin cleansing is already somewhere on the Internet, right? We don’t really think so. In fact, we have come up with seven new rules for fighting acne and bringing out natural skin tones with skin cleansing, starting with one rule you might be surprised to see on a site that offers acne products.

1. If you’re spending more on your cleanser than you are on moisturizers and sunscreen, you’re spending too much on cleaners.

We don’t recommend especially pricey skin care products, preferring to go with acne treatment systems that offer the best value. But if you buy skin cleansers, toners, exfoliants, sun screen, and other products separately, skin cleanser should be the least expensive item in your shopping basket. Why? All those great ingredients for treating your skin, like alpha-hydroxy acids or salicylic acid or healing herb essences in cleansers don’t actually stay on your face long enough to do your skin any good. You quickly wash the product down the drain. When it comes to cleansers, simple and inexpensive is usually best.

2. Different skin types require different cleansers.

If you have active acne, you really ought to get your cleanser as part of a complete skin care package. It will be less expensive, and it will be coordinated with other products you need. But if you are buying your cleanser off the shelf in between breakouts, here are some suggestions tailored to specific skin types:

If you have dry (sometimes flaky) to normal skin, try Neutrogena Extra Gentle Clean. It’s non-drying, it’s fragrance-free, and it truly is “noncomedogenic,” meaning it won’t clog pores to start another round of zits.
If you prefer a cleansing bar, Cetaphil is a standby. Basis Sensitive Skin Bar is a good choice if you tend to break out when you have allergies or after you eat certain foods. Just remember, use the beauty bar to make a lather of soap you apply to your face. Don’t rub the soap directly on your skin. That would clog pores.
Need a cleanser for “just a little” breakout? L’Oreal Paris Go 360 Clean Anti-Breakout Facial Cleanser and RoC MMmulti Correxion Exfoliating Cleanser both contain just a little salicylic acid. This won’t really make a difference on your acne, but it will definitely lift any makeup and dead skin over areas of your face that aren’t affected by acne yet. You’ll have better skin tone, even if you need a more comprehensive approach to treating a full-fledged breakout.

3. Getting rid of makeup and cleansing your skin aren’t the same thing.

If you ever appear on TV, which is now all high-definition, bringing out every tiny facial flaw for the big screen, you’ve probably been slathered with thick makeup to mask imperfections. Or if you are just starting out using makeup, maybe you’ve used a little too much, too. Don’t worry. It’s not that hard to get it all off. And even if you aren’t putting on the thick layers of makeup required for appearances on TV, even little bits of makeup need to be removed every night.

Be especially gentle removing makeup from around the eyes. Be careful to blot up cosmetics where they tend to accumulate, such as in and above the eyebrows and in the creases around the nose and mouth. And unless you have especially dry, sensitive skin, use toner and little squares of cotton to get every last bit of makeup off your face.

When you have done all this, however, you are not finished. You still need to go through your regular cleansing routine to prevent acne breakouts. Removing makeup just removes the added risk of breakouts that can occur at any age when products are put on thick.

4. Wash your hands before you wash your face.

Fingers don’t really get your skin clean, and trying to cleanse your face with dirty fingers can make acne problems even worse. Wash your hands and inspect your nails, taking care of any obvious deposits beneath your nails, before you touch your face. After you do this, it’s OK to use your fingertips to apply cleanser to your face, but it’s even better to use a clean, soft wash cloth (which you use only once before it is laundered) or cotton swabs to apply cleanser to your skin, splashing it away with warm water.

5. Try sonic skin care.

A great way to get rid of dirt, grime, and dead skin on your face is using a sonic cleanser, such as Clarisonic Sonic Skin Cleansing System. It vibrates dead skin away, and it creates microscopic channels in the skin that are large enough to let the individual molecules of cleansers and nourishing serums into the skin, but too small to let viruses, bacteria, or dust particles into the skin. Just be sure to change the brush head every 60 to 90 days.

6. Make skin cleansing a twice-a-day habit.

Keep acne away by cleansing your skin twice a day, in the morning and in the evening before you go to bed. In the morning, cleanser you face and use toner (if you need it) and sunscreen before putting on makeup. In the evening, absolutely every evening, cleanser your fact to remove any products you put on during your morning cleanse to ensure that pores aren’t clogged overnight. Always make sure that you are the only person who uses your wash cloths and towels, and change bath linens regularly.

7. Bring out natural skin tone by exfoliation.

Exfoliation is the process of removing plugs of sebum from your pores and dead skin from your face. It’s not something you need to do twice a day, but it is something you need to do two or three times a week to keep your skin from looking dull. Even if you cleanse your skin well, its natural tones won’t come through that dull layer of dead skin cells unless you exfoliate on a regular basis.

If you don’t have sensitive skin, and especially if you have recently recovered from sunburn, you will probably do best with a very gentle scrub, such as Avène Gentle Exfoliating Scrub. If your skin is sensitive, you may do better with cleansing pads impregnated with alpha-hydroxy acids or salicylic acid.

After you loosen up all that dead skin, get rid of it with a toner. A toner is applied to the skin once and wiped away once—that’s it. If you have blocked pores, tone with Stridex Maximum Strength Pads. If you have oily skin, try La Roche-Posay Effaclar K. And if your skin is currently in great condition, try Clinique Mild Clarifying Lotion or L’Oréal Pure Zone Continuous Action to keep your skin tones rich and deep and your pores open but not enlarged.

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