(As featured today on Birchbox’s fabulous blog. !!!.)
Many do not realize that cleansing is a delicate balancing act, yet also the foundation of great skin. Your skin, although tough enough to withstand blistering heat, pelting sleet, and withering looks from haters, is actually a microcosm of cells and structural elements that require a very specific environment to thrive. Just think of it as layers upon layers of the very finest cashmere that together form a protective barrier. It wouldn’t make sense to try to restore the beauty and softness of that cashmere with a rinse of pure acid and a few passes with a sand blaster, would it?
Although using the same reasoning to get your kitchen counter clean and your face clean is easy to do, they are both completely different endeavors. Using harsh cleansers (a la 409 or ProActiv) and exfoliants dries your skin out and disrupts the delicate, slightly acidic pH balance that allows your skin cells to function so well as a barrier. Large grainy exfoliants can actually cause tiny abrasions and cause more harm that good. Less is more!
A good cleanser contains a mild cleansing agent, called syndet, that effectively remove dirt and oil from your face without disturbing the zen and lower pH of your skin. Dove was the first product to contain this, making it great for sensitive skin, and is present in many gentle cleansers, including my personal favorite, Boscia Purifying Cleanser. I swear, using it will momentarily teleport you to washing your face in a refreshing Swiss mountain stream.
Non-foaming cleansers, like Cetaphil, are great for the even more sensitive, poetic, skin types, especially those with eczema or psoriasis. They do not foam very much, but can remove that grime without too much irritation.
Remember, this is all a balancing act. I know I need a little fire power to squash those occasional blemishes. A regimen using a face wash containing benzoyl peroxide, an anti-bacterial agent, in the evenings, and then in the AM, giving my face the gentle treatment puts my skin in a very happy place. Everyone is different though, so play around, and you will find that sweet spot, achieving that glow and incredible lightness of being fabulous.