A lot of thought goes into the simple act of washing your face. What kind of cleanser or cleanser(s) should you use? Are you even doing it right since your towels are still covered in makeup? What should you be doing afterwards? And no, not just drying your face and going to bed. It’s a lot more complicated than you think! That’s why we put together a guide covering everything you need to know about getting the job done right.

Facial Cleanser Guide

Best Cleanser for Your Specific Skin Type

Oily Skin: Because your skin already produces an excess amount of sebum, you want to find something that’s still hydrating, but won’t leave you feeling greasy OR strip the skin of all its natural moisture. It’s really easy to go one way or the other here — so finding the perfect balance is essential. An exfoliating gel cleanser will break down oils, makeup and other impurities, while leaving skin feeling refreshed and congestion-free.

Gel Cleansers to Try: Clarisonic Refreshing Gel Cleanser, Garnier Clean+ Shine Control Cleansing Gel, SkinCeuticals LHA Cleansing Gel

Dry Skin: It may seem like nothing is working to treat your poor, flaking skin. In fact, you may even skip cleansing sometimes because you feel like it dries your skin out even more. Steer clear of stripping or harsh cleansers (usually formulated for problematic skin) as they can make matters worse. Instead of using a soapy or lathering (detergent-like) product, look for a richer formula. Cream or mousse-like cleansers will replenish skin with much-needed moisture — without leaving it with that tight, post-wash feeling.  

Cream Cleansers to Try: The Body Shop Vitamin E Cream Cleanser, Biotherm Biosource Mousse Dry Skin, Decléor Aroma Cleanse 3 in 1 Hydra-Radiance Smoothing & Cleansing Mousse

Sensitive Skin: We get it. You’re not just trying to get your skin clean, you’re trying to keep it from flaring up on contact. It’s important that you start by looking for a cleanser that is fragrance and paraben free, as both can cause serious irritation. Milky-textured formulas — especially ones with glycerin — are ideal for your skin type since they work to sooth and treat your delicate skin.

Milk Cleansers to Try: Lancôme Galatée Confort, Giorgio Armani Regenessence [3.R] Velvety Cleansing Milk, La Roche-Posay Toleriane

Acne-Prone Skin: While using a basic “for all skin types” cleanser may not do any harm, it definitely won’t help treat your main concern — acne. Finding a cleanser with acne-fighting ingredients like tea tree oil, salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide will help kill blemish-causing bacteria, remove excess oil and exfoliate dead skin cells. However, if skin starts to feel dry, lower use to three-to-four times per week instead of daily. For off days, use a mild, pore-cleansing formula like SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser.

Treatment Cleansers to Try: Kiehl’s Blue Herbal Gel Cleanser, L’Oréal Paris Go 360 Clean Anti-Breakout Facial Cleanser, The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil Skin Clearing Facial Cleanser

For more in-depth cleanser breakdowns based on your skin type, look here.

How to Cleanse Your Skin Properly

While hot water may feel amazing, it can actually lead to problematic skin and even broken capillaries. So, steer clear of piping hot or freezing cold temps — lukewarm water is just right. Using circular, upward motions, apply cleanser to your entire face AND neck! Lather up using gentle motions — never scrub skin harshly or pull down on it — you don’t want wrinkles, right?

RELATED: The Right Way to Wash Your Face

Before & After Cleansing Rules

Wait, so there’s pre-and-post cleansing rules? You got that right. Wearing waterproof makeup? Or just loads of makeup (*cough, cough* who, us?!)? Before cleansing skin, use either a makeup removing towelette or waterproof makeup remover like Urban Decay Meltdown Makeup Remover on a cotton pad to remove eye and lip makeup before cleansing. This way, you can remove stubborn makeup with harshly tugging on your skin, lashes, eyelids, etc.

RELATED: How to Remove Waterproof Makeup

Once you’ve removed your makeup and cleansed your skin properly, it’s time to layer on the skincare treatments, like, right away! While skin is still damp, swipe it with your go-to toner, next comes your serums, eye cream and moisturizer. Doing this while your pores are still open will allow your products to penetrate deeper and quicker — making the most out of their use!  

Cleansing Trends You Need to Know About

Double Cleansing:
Removing every last bit of sunscreen, makeup, dirt and other gunk at the end of the night is extremely important since skin repairs and regenerates itself while you snooze. The art of double cleansing involves using a cleansing oil on dry skin, and following up with a water-based face wash to leave skin perfectly clean and clear before bedtime.

Oil Cleansing:
Oil cleansing has gained more popularity than ever in the last couple of years due to its many benefits. Cleansing skin with oil can help combat acne, dryness, wrinkles, sensitivity and leave your complexion feeling radiant and glowing. While it may not be for everyone, we think it’s worth a shot!

Micellar Water: In a pinch? Cleanse your skin and remove ALL makeup without a sink in sight. Micellar water contains tiny, round cleansing molecules that work by breaking down oil and dirt without the need to rinse. Just soak a cotton pad with some of this solution and swipe your way to clean skin!

Product Recommendations: La Roche-Posay Physiological Micellar Solution, Vichy Pureté Thermale 3-in-1 Cleansing Solution, Decléor Aroma Cleanse Soothing Micellar Water

To learn more about micellar water and all of its wondrous powers, look here!

Shape-Shifting Cleansers: Is it gel? Is it oil? It’s kinda both! Shape-shifting cleansers transform on contact with skin and can go from oil to milk, gel to oil, cream to oil … we could just keep going. Not only is it pretty awesome, but different textures offer added benefits!

Product Recommendations: Giorgio Armani Crema Nera Extrema Gel in Oil Cleanser, Lancôme Crème Douceur, Garnier Clean+ The Radiance Renewer Cleansing Gelee for Dull Skin

We’ve got more amazing skincare tips for you here!

Photo: thinkstock

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