Washing our face is the most basic thing that we do daily. Without even realizing it, this simple task might be the first-ever skincare routine that we developed at a young age. That being said, face wash is something that we should not overlook since it is considered one of the most fundamental steps in our skincare ritual. Even though it seems pretty straightforward, there are a lot of questions asked regarding this particular subject, such as "am I washing my face too frequently?", "Does water temperature matter?" as well as "Which face wash should I use?". No matter how easy washing our face is, a proper method and face wash cleanser are needed to maintain healthy skin.
Our face is exposed to pollution, sun exposure, and other external aggressors throughout the day. Not to mention SPF, makeup, yesterday's moisturiser, sebum and sweat that cover our face. Now, imagine the accumulation of unwanted debris that can clog our pores during the day. Sounds terrible, right? Even at night, when all we do sleeping, there can be bacteria and dead skin cells build-up. These can cause numerous skin issues such as acne flare-ups, irritation, premature ageing, etc. That's why washing our face is necessary. We all know how refreshing washing our face can be, especially in the morning, as it helps us feeling more awake. However, that is not the primary purpose of face-washing. What's more important is getting rid of dirt, sebum and other impurities on our skin; and preparing our face as a clean canvas for the next skincare regime, so other products can work their magic much more efficiently.
This is the simplest form of cleansing your face and is considered the OG method of cleansing that you should do every day, no matter what your skin type is. Single cleanse is especially suitable for kicking off your AM routine to remove overnight sebum and dirt build-up. You can also do it in the evening after spending your day at home without wearing any makeup.
Double cleansing has been all the rage over the past few years. It originally came from Japan to remove heavy paint-like makeup used by Japanese geisha. If you live in a polluted city, apply heavy makeup or do intense workouts, you might want to consider doing it. It is a two-step cleansing method using either cleansing oil, cleansing balm or micellar water followed by a gentle water-based cleanser. The first step is to break down makeup, sunscreen, pollutants, sebum and grimes that sit on the skin's surface layer. Then, you wash it off with a water-based cleanser that aids in removing residual oil and dirt for a more thorough cleanse. Everyone with any skin type can reap benefits from double-cleansing.
Another K-beauty inspired cleansing method, but instead of performing two rounds of facial cleansing, this routine takes things up a notch. Yes, you guessed it right; this method requires an additional cleansing product for an even deeper cleanse that cannot be achieved by double-cleansing. There are varying orders to triple cleanse. (Disclaimer: there are no fixed rules that you need to follow, as long as you combine water-based and oil-based cleansers in three different steps, it is considered triple cleansing.) You can begin with an oil-based cleanser, followed by a cream cleanser and finished with a gel/foaming cleanser. Or, you can also start with micellar water, then an oil-based cleanser, and finally a water-based cleanser. Triple cleanse is not recommended for those with dry and sensitive skin.
Reminder: Multistep cleansing routines, such as double and triple cleanse, are not compulsory. You don't need to arrange a specific schedule to do this every day or even every week; do it when you feel like your skin needs it. Let your skin be your guide.
Just like its name, this type of face wash has a clear, gel-like consistency. It is considerably more lightweight compared to other types of face wash. It helps remove excess sebum and clear out your pores, leaving the skin fresh and clean without stripping away its natural oils.
Suitable for: Oily, Acne-Prone, Combination skin
Texture-wise, it is thick and silky. It can come in the form of "lotion" or "milk". Thanks to its rich cream-based formula, this cleanser type tends to be more gentle and hydrating; hence your skin will feel soft and moisturized post-cleansing.
Suitable for: Dry, Sensitive skin
Among other cleansers, foam cleanser has a rather bad reputation for being too harsh on the skin, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin. The culprit is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), one of the most common ingredients in foam cleansers, which creates its rich, foamy lather. Fortunately, thanks to the advancement of science, it is no longer an irritating product it once was. All you have got to do is find one without SLS in its formulation. That way, you can get its pore penetrating capability to get rid of all the gunk without drying out your skin.
Suitable for: Oily, Combination skin
It comes in the form of powder, then you add a little bit of water, and voilà, it transforms into a creamy or foamy concoction. You can adjust this cleanser's consistency depending on the amount of water you mix with. Use less water for more exfoliation or add more water for a general cleanser; your call.
Suitable for: Oily, Combination, Sensitive Skin
This type of cleanser offers benefits similar to clay mask. It can draw out impurities in the skin, absorb excess sebum and thoroughly clean pores.
Suitable for: Oily, Acne-Prone, Combination skin
Using oil to clean our face may sound intimidating, especially for those with oily skin. But, the good news is, oil cleanser is suitable for all skin types. Cleansing oil will help attract excess sebum and debris on the skin. It is ideal for double cleansing in the evening after spending the day with heavy makeup. Apply to dry skin and massage gently. It will then emulsify by turning into a milky texture when you add a splash of lukewarm water. A proper wash off with another face wash is necessary afterwards.
Suitable for: All Skin Types, especially Dry skin
An ultra-gentle water-based cleansing liquid that features purified water and micelles—tiny oil molecules—that act like a magnet to attract dirt, oil, and makeup away from your face. Its formula is gentle and hydrating. When you're looking for a fuss-free cleanse, this is your go-to. All you need is a cotton pad and say goodbye to unwanted debris on your face. You don't need to rinse it off unless you're doing a double cleanse.
Suitable for: All Skin Types, especially Dry and Sensitive skin
This solid oil-based cleanser generally comes in tubs with a small spatula to scoop out some of the product out. You just need to massage the product on dry skin with circular motions, and as it warms up, it will melt into a creamier texture and emulsify into a milky liquid, then wipe it off with a soft wet washcloth or rinse with water. Like an oil cleanser, it is less likely to dry out or irritate the skin.
Suitable for: Dry, Sensitive skin
There are two forms of exfoliating cleansers: physical and chemical. Physical exfoliating cleansers are those with tiny abrasive particles (beads or scrubs) to slough away dead skin cells. Since physical exfoliants may be too aggressive, increasing the risk of irritation and compromising our skin barrier, chemical exfoliants are preferred. Chemical exfoliating cleansers contain mild acids such as AHAs (glycolic acid) and BHAs (salicylic acid). These active ingredients help keep pores clear and control breakouts. Chemical exfoliating cleansers are safe to use once or twice daily as long as your skin can tolerate it without getting irritated. Remember to always check the label instructions for usage frequency.
Suitable for: Normal, Oily, Acne-Prone skin
Best Ingredients in cleansers to Look For
Dry skin: look for ingredients that retain moisture, such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, ceramide, jojoba oil, coconut oil.
Oily or acne-prone skin: look for ingredients that help regulate sebum production and unclog pores, such as salicylic acid, activated charcoal, niacinamide, tea tree oil.
Sensitive skin: look for ingredients that soothe the skin and combat signs of irritation, such as Aloe Vera, Witch Hazel, Centella Asiatica, Green Tea Leaf Extract. It is advised to steer clear of cleansers that contain fragrance in their formula as it may be an irritant leading to redness and itchiness.
Suitable for: acne-prone, oily
This beauty award winner is a super gentle cleanser to keep your skin clean and fresh day and night. It doesn't strip your skin of its natural oil, so it won't make your skin feels tight post-cleansing. Even better, it has a slightly acidic pH level that is close to our skin's natural pH. It is packed with soothing ingredients (tea tree oil and saccharomyces ferment) and BHA to control sebum production.
Suitable for: combination, acne-prone, oily skin
A clear gel facial cleanser that removes makeup and impurities in one cleansing step. It is non-stripping and very gentle on the skin. It is enriched with quinoa, a nourishing superfood that supports collagen production. In addition, it contains anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and soothing ingredients such as Centella Asiatica, calendula, green tea, sweet almond oil, and so on. What's not to love?
Suitable for: dry, sensitive skin
Looking for a product to do your first step of double cleansing? This sherbet-like cleansing balm will glide smoothly on your skin and melts your makeup, dirt and excess sebum away. It contains rice water and fermented grains that nourish and retain moisture. Its chrysanthemum extract is rich in antioxidant that can soothe skin from environmental aggressors.
Suitable for: Sensitive, Oily
ACWELL pH Balancing Bubble Free Cleansing Gel is non-foaming cleanser which is suitable for those with sensitive skin and want to avoid foaming cleansers. It is formulated with 8 types of Hyaluronic Acids and licorice water to soothe inflammations in the skin.
Suitable for: oily, combination, sensitive skin
A cocktail of sunflower seed, grape seed, jojoba and black currant seed oils that remove all the excess dirt and grime from your skin. It emulsifies effortlessly to a milky texture and can be rinsed off in no time. On top of that, it has no fragrance that makes it also suitable for sensitive skin.
Suitable for: acne-prone, oily skin
An acne wash with a difference. With ingredients like liquorice root extract and salicylic acid, this cleansing foam will deeply cleanse and exfoliate your skin without stripping it of its moisture. It has a soft creamy texture that turns into a dense bubble that feels luxurious on the skin.
Suitable for: Normal, Acne, Oily Skin
Dr. Oracle Clear Enzyme Powder Wash is a water activated exfoliating cleanser which results in no accidental spills in your travel pouch. It uses the enzymes to gently exfoliate skin whilst the mild foam cleanses skin. To activate, simply add water and rub between hands to create a lather.
Suitable for: Dry, Sensitive, Oily, Acne
Beplain Greenful pH Balanced Cleansing Foam is a hydrating facial wash which effectively cleanses skin without stripping skin. It is formulated with Mung Bean Extract and fine Green Tea powder to detoxify, clear clogged pores and exfoliate skin.
Suitable for: Acne, Oily Skin
ITFER Everyday Balancing Low pH Cleanser is a budget-friendly cleanser which clears clogged pores without irritating skin. It is enriched with Bentonite Clay to absorb excess sebum and exfoliate skin. It also soothes skin with the plant extract, Mugwort, a common ingredient in Korea used to soothe acne inflammations.
Suitable for: All skin types
ATRUE's Double Cleansing Set is a match-made in heaven which includes the bestselling ATRUE Pure Balancing Cleansing Oil and the ATRUE Sweet Song Black Tea Cleansing Gel. End the day with a double cleanse to make sure all traces of the day has been washed away without irritating the skin barrier.
Suitable for: All skin types, sensitive
AXIS-Y Sunday Morning Refreshing Cleansing Foam is a mild cleansing foam which offers a deep cleanse whilst add moisturise back to its skin. Need a cleanser which does the job but does not damage the skin barrier? Look no further, try out the AXIS-Y Sunday Morning Refreshing Cleansing Foam.
Takeaway: Cleansing has been a part of our routine without thinking about the importance of this step. Many factors affect how effective this step is: how we cleanse and what we use. Now armed with all you need to know about cleansing, a curated face wash list for each skin type/ skin cocnern will you change how you cleanse? Let us know in the comments.