Let's talk about Cleansing!

Updated: Oct 17

Cleansing forms an important part of any skincare routine - the first step to getting a good skincare. In the previous article, we mentioned that washing your face helps to get rid of germs, dust, dirt, makeup, oil and other impurities that get accumulated on your face throughout the day. But truth to be told, this simple skin care step is more impactful than you might think and by simply lathering up or rinsing it all off is not enough.

Do you know how you wash your face can make a difference in your appearance and the effectiveness of how the other products can work on your skin?

Proper cleansing is anything but basic - a simple daily tasks for all. But as we get used to the norm of washing our face, we often don't put in as much attention and effort into this basic step - despite the amount of effort and time spent into finding the perfect skincare routine for ourselves.

All of us wants our skin stays at that optimal level that we hope that it will be. Unfortunately, it's something we can't control but we can prevent. To ensure that your face is thoroughly clean, you need to use the right kind of products with a proper technique.


  1. How often should we cleanse our face?

  2. Is cleansing face with water enough?

  3. How can we do it? Is there a specific methods/ways to make it optimal for our face?

  4. What type of cleanser to look out for?

Keep reading on to find out more :)

#1 How often should we cleanse our face?

Ideally for everyone, unless if it irritates your skin, you should be washing your face twice a day (once in the morning and once at night), according to Rebecca Tung, MD, chair of dermatology at Loyola University Chicago.

During the day, we are exposed to the environment, which means that dirt and pollution build up on our outer skin layer and causes natural oils and sweat accumulate on the skin. While at night when you're tossing and turning, bacteria from your saliva and oils from your hair are easily transferred to your face and eyes,

Sweaty occasions may call for a third wash and this should be the maximum times. When you work out, sweat and dirt accumulate on the skin. If you forget to cleanse your face afterwards, it can increase your risk of developing acne breakouts. So the next time you pack your gym bag, don’t forget your face wash or wipes.

You can refer to a summary chart on a rough guide for each skin type below:

#2 Is cleansing face with water enough?

Research studies have shown that just by cleansing your skin with water is definitely not enough. Reason being is that this way can lead to excess collections of acne-causing bacteria and yeast that result in Seborrheic dermatitis—sort of like dandruff on your face.

When you wash with water alone, you’re not sloughing away the dead skin cells on the surface. This leads to a build-up of excess dead cells, which will cause your skin to develop a dry, uneven texture. When your skin has a thick layer of dead skin on top of it, it’s unable to absorb product effectively. It has been proven that when removing lingering product, like sunscreen, on the skin, the cleansers and cleansing oils has proven to be the most effective.

However for a more dry and sensitive skin types condition, another study have found that water-cleansing might be suitable. This is because those with sensitive skin might be irritated by the combination of ingredients found in soaps or liquid cleansers.

So always find out what's your skin type to find your perfect skin routine!

NOTE: Do not over cleanse your face as it will strip off your face moisture which leads to irritation. This will in turn lead to overproduction of sebum.

#3 How to wash your face the right way? Is there a specific methods/ways to make it optimal for our face?

  1. Always remove your makeup first using a makeup remover before cleansing your face, especially before bed. Makeup isn't going to come off with cleanser alone and makeup can clog pores if not properly removed, causing breakouts that is applicable to all skin types even if you've got quite the resilient outer layer, says Dr. Jennifer Haley, a board-certified dermatologist from Scottsdale, Arizona. It is recommended to use a gentle makeup remover or an oil-based makeup remover.

  2. Choosing the right face cleanser. All skin types should use a gentle, fragrance-free, water-soluble cleanser that won’t irritate or dry out skin. But it should also not be greasy and clog pores. Normal Skin - Opt for gentle cleanser like a lotion textured cleanser, which keeps it trouble free and balance. Oily Skin - Opt for a foaming or gel based cleanser that is specially formulated for this skin type. As it deep cleanse without stripping off the natural oil from your skin. Dry/Sensitive Skin - Opt for an alcohol-free hydrating cleanser that restore skin's natural moisture factor and maintain PH level. You do not want your facial cleanser to dry out your skin even more. With cleaners specifically formulated for dry skin, you can be sure that you get clean skin that feels comfortable, and also leaves the natural barrier of your skin intact. Choose a creamy texture to nourish and hydrate dry skin. Combination Skin - Opt for a cleanser that is powerful for the oily parts of your skin, but also is gentle on the dry areas. A gel texture or one that slightly foams is best for combination skin.

  3. Make sure your hands are cleaned and your face is damp. Apply a coin-sized amount of cleanser onto your face - gently.

  4. Using three to four fingers, start to massage gently in circular motions upwards, working from the center of your forehead out, towards the temples.

  5. Next, massage from the center of your face over your cheeks, and then up, toward the temples. Repeat the above step along your jawline (Hot tip: NEVER tug or pull down on your skin—this creates wrinkles and sagging.)

  6. Finish your routine by moving down to the neck, using vertical strokes from the collarbone area, working upward. People often don't give proper attention to the skin on their chest, but it's often one of the first places to show signs of aging or sun damage. Czech is famous for saying, “Your face starts with the nipples and ends with the hairline.”

  7. Lastly, rinse off the cleansing oil with lukewarm water. The truth is water temperature extremes can cause irritation so it is best to stick to a middle ground. You don’t want to see flushed skin in your reflection when you look up.

  8. Once done, dry your face by patting using a clean towel. (Our skin is delicate. Do not rub your skin as it will cause wrinkle to form.)


Although not technically a step in face washing, many often miss the importance of what comes after: rebalancing your skin and keeps your skin moisturised. Remember to apply these while your skin is still damp, allows absorption and maximising effect of the active ingredients.

- Tone your skin using Toner

Toner are light, liquid formulas originally used to reset your skin’s pH so it can protect itself from bacteria and harm. Look for something that includes ingredients like:

  • rosewater, which has anti-aging properties

  • chamomile, known for its calming qualities

  • salicylic acid or witch hazel for fighting acne

- Moisturise your skin

Some people like the “tight” feeling after washing their face, but it’s actually excess dryness, according to Dr. Ilyas. “Your skin can start to feel sensitive afterward, or even peel or crack. Applying moisturizer protects your skin from over drying.” If your skin continuously feels dry after washing, look into switching cleansers. Opt for a mild cleanser or oil-based cleanser.

All in all, taking the few extra minutes to gently massage your face isn’t an overnight cure for skin woes, but as part of an overall healthy routine of hydration, cleansing, ample sleep, and using the right products, it can keep you at your glowiest and healthiest. Here’s to putting your best face forward!

Let me know in the comments about what you think and what you want to know more :)

Signing off,



Partha Mukhopadhyay. CLEANSERS AND THEIR ROLE IN VARIOUS DERMATOLOGICAL DISORDERS. Indian J Dermatol. 2011 Jan-Feb; 56(1): 2–6.

Wei Chen MD, Mei He MB, Li Xie MM, et al. The optimal cleansing method for the removal of sunscreen:Water, cleanser or cleansing oil?. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology 2020;19(1):180-184.

University of Wisconsin Health, May 2010, Which Chemical Peel Is Right For You? The Chalkboard, July 2018, Washing Face With Water Only? Here's Why!

Nast, C. (2021). 13 Easy Tips to Wash Your Face for Healthier Skin. Retrieved 27 June 2021, from

How Often Should You Actually Wash Your Face?. (2021). Retrieved 27 June 2021, from

15 Easy Rules for Washing Your Face the Right Way. (2021). Retrieved 27 June 2021, from

Good skincare starts with cleansing your skin | Paula's Choice. (2021). Retrieved 27 June 2021, from

Why You Should Start Massaging Your Face, ASAP. (2021). Retrieved 27 June 2021, from

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