I’ve been away with one illness after another but it’s time to finally do a skincare post! Skincare is such a subjective topic which I find quite difficult to write about. What may work for me might not necessarily work for you and there are so many external factors to deal with that writing about skincare in general that it feels like such a huge undertaking. There’s always something else that can be said, more advice to be given etc. But maybe I’m just ridiculously passionate about skincare and it irks me that there is so much misinformation out there. Now let’s see if I can curb my rambling.
Cleansing, in my humble opinion, is the most important skincare step. A poor cleansing routine leads to bad skin which leads to needing more makeup to cover it up and the vicious cycle continues. A poor cleansing routine can lead to redness, irritated skin, acne, clogged pores and rough, uneven skin to name a few. So remember, cleanse in the morning and double cleanse if you wear makeup or sunblock in the evenings.
Now, I’m no chemist so ingredients tend to look like gibberish to me but there are some that I do no want in my skincare, mainly Mineral Oil (Liquid Paraffin, Paraffinum Liquidum, Petroleum, Isoparaffin) and Sodium Lauryl Sulphate. There are always debates about what’s harmful and what’s not and research is slow or being cockblocked by the industry big shots but if you read enough articles, you can figure out a path for yourself.
In a nutshell, I wouldn’t wash my face with dish washing detergent which is why I won’t use products with Sulphates and I wouldn’t suffocate my skin with clingwrap either so Mineral Oil is out too. Caroline Hirons is the best and most honest skincare blogger in the world (in my opinion) so if you would like more detailed explanations, google her. Seriously. She is the skincare goddess and her advice has opened my eyes and made me revamp my skincare routine.
Moving on, let’s cover the main cleansing products, what you need or don’t need, when and why.
When? For emergencies. That’s it. They should not be the one and only step in your cleansing routine. I cannot tell you how much it makes me cringe when girls use makeup wipes as their only cleansing step and they wonder why their skin is in such bad shape. I use makeup wipes for when I take off my makeup to apply a fresh face of makeup when I’m not home or to clean my hands. That’s it. Wipes aren’t wet enough to really work into your skin and loosen up all the grime. They’re also usually full of alcohol which can dry out and irritate the skin. Makeup wipes aren’t the wallet-friendly either.
Micellar/Express Cleansing Water
When? Express cleansing, the name says it all. It’s a quick surface cleanse and it shouldn’t be your only cleansing step because it’s water-based. No matter what the claims are, water isn’t going to breakdown oil, grime and stubborn cosmetic ingredients. It won’t remove waterproof makeup easily. It won’t remove sunblock properly. When I was young and gullible, I completely bought into to it but I quickly realised that just using cleansing water to remove makeup absolutely ruined my skin. Now, I use it as a refresh cleanse before I apply makeup, as the first step of makeup removal or for travel. Cleansing Milks are kind of in the same boat, just not as convenient to use and hard to find one formulated without mineral oil.
When? Always. Even if you don’t wear makeup, an oil/balm is the best cleanser for skin. It removes everything with one product doesn’t strip your skin and it’s quick and easy for all skin types. And when I say all skin types, I mean it. They’re good for oily skin types because massaging the oil into the skin really helps to loosen up clogged pores. Oil/balm cleansers are also the best for deep cleansing which is better for sunblock/makeup wearers. You can use them day or night but I find it too much of a fuss for mornings. Also, I personally prefer balms because I find it less messy than oils that run through your fingers and drip everywhere. Does anyone else have the same problem?! I try (sometimes I’m lazy, i admit) to use a balm every evening even if I haven’t worn makeup or sunblock.
Bi-Phase/Bi-Facil Eye Makeup Remover
When? Any time you’re wearing waterproof eye makeup. Bi-phase eye makeup removers are the ones that are half oil and half water that you shake before using. For some reason, they’re almost always a half blue/half white liquid. This isn’t a must have product if you use a cleansing balm/oil but it’s a good product to have for makeup mistakes or to dissolve eye makeup quickly without rubbing your eyes and loosing precious eye lashes along the way.
Facial Wash/Cleansing Gel
When? I’m tempted to say never but I can’t give up facial washes as my last step in cleansing. The problem with conventional foaming facial washes is that either they are harsh, stripping detergents or they change the pH levels of skin, making it alkaline which is a breeding ground for bacteria. Basically, we’ve been lied to and exploited during our miserable pimply young adult years. Avoid the foam and the sulphates. Your skin will thank you for it. Try a clay-based cleanser or a cleansing gel for mornings and if you like, the last step of cleansing in the evening. Harsh, scratchy foaming facial scrubs are also another product to avoid. Over exfoliating the skin can cause micro-lacerations on the skin which can result in redness, bumps, pimples and broken capillaries. If you really must use a physical scrub, use one that has very fine micro-particles.
My Cleansing Routine
I have easily irritated skin that’s a combination of normal and ridiculously oily. My skin is also easily dehydrated so the oily areas get flaky.
For my morning routine, I use Trilogy Balancing Gel Cleanser. I just massage it onto damp skin, leave it for a minute or two to give the willow bark some time to work it’s magic then I rinse off. It’s soap-free and it leaves my skin feeling comfortable. The only downside is the price. When I first bought it, it was $38 (a bit pricey but Watsons had 20% off). A few months later when I went to repurchase it, the price had increased to $58 which is just…argh! Now, I order it from the UK because it’s cheaper which is ironic because Trilogy is made in Australia which is nearer to us.
For my evening routine, it gets a little bit OCD. If I’m wearing a full face of makeup (waterproof mascara/false lashes), I start with Lancome Bi-Facil Eye Makeup Remover. I just apply some to a cotton pad, hold it over one eye for a minute, sweep down and flip the cotton wool over and do the other eye. No excessive rubbing needed at all.
If i’m wearing more than a light amount of makeup, I use Bioderma Sebium H2O Micelle Solution on two cotton pads and sweep over the entire face to remove most of the makeup. This is just an extra step because I don’t like having too much makeup on my skin during the next step. I bought my Bioderma in France so it was about $11 for the big 500ml bottles so I’m not stingy with Bioderma at the moment. I also have the original Bioderma in the pink packaging but there’s barely any difference between the two.
I use Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm next and I massage it on to dry skin, then remove it with a warm wet face cloth. This step just makes sure I get all the remaining makeup off and I spend three minutes really working the balm into my skin to make sure the oil loosens up all the dirt and breaks down the daily grime. It leaves the skin soft and clean, with no residue. If I skip this step, I can pretty much guarantee that I will have mini acne breakout the next day.
Lastly, I use my Trilogy Balancing Gel Cleanser again as my last step because I’m obsessive like that.
Honestly, I don’t need so many steps. I could just use the cleansing balm twice (one cleanse to remove makeup, a second to cleanse the skin) but it’s just one of those weird personal quirks.
For more affordable versions of the eye makeup remover or the cleansing oil and balm, The Body Shop Camomile range has a pretty good selection.
Well, that’s the bare basics of cleansing done! I hope it helps some of you out. I’ve found that using a cleansing oil/balm free of mineral oil has made the biggest difference and I can’t recommend it enough.