I needed a change of scenery to work today so I packed my macbook into my backpack and headed off to a bookstore in downtown Toronto.
I love working in bookstores. Apart from the delicious smell of the brand new books (or is that the choc-chip cookies in the attached Starbucks cafe?), I love how if I need to research or look up any information while I’m here, I have instant access to a huge range of quality resources. And before you roll your eyes and tell me “Um, that’s what the Internet’s for …” (duh!), bookstores are great because you don’t have to weed through all the junk that comes with researching on the net. So there.
So of course, one of the first things I did when I arrived (apart from order a green tea and drool at those choc-chip cookies), was to browse the well being and skin care sections of the book store.
Call it fate, or whatever, but every book that I picked up popped straight open to the cleansing page. And every book screamed one key point at me – “Do not over wash your skin”. So unless these skin care experts have formed some kind of special ‘elite’ group and are getting together for herbal tea and note swapping, I guess there must be some truth to this point if they’re ALL saying it.
Why it’s really bad to over wash your face
It’s kind of simple. We were all born with great functioning skin. Skin that left alone does a really good job at looking after itself.
Take how I wash my skin as an example. I probably shouldn’t be publicly admitting this on my blog … but I hardly use soap or any other cleansing method on my body in the shower. That’s right, for years I’ve ditched the body cleanser and I only have a bar of [natural] soap in my shower to cleanse the dirty bits. You know, underarms, feet, and that other bodily part that I won’t mention. The rest I just let the water run over. So why is it that I can get away with completely skipping the cleansing of my arms, legs, stomach, shoulders, etc without any negative effects? Why is it that when I stopped cleansing those areas my skin actually improved. My skin is rarely dry (unless I have super hot showers or I’m in Vegas), and no, it doesn’t smell, and it looks clean and healthy.
Then what is the deal with our face, why do we have such a strong obsession with spending so much time and money on it?
One book in particular claimed that over washing our face or using strong detergents actually strips all the natural oils off the skin. The book then proceeded to explain that stripping off the natural oils means a need to add more moisture on. So essentially we’re having to buy more products (harsh cleansers = buying more moisturizers) which is making beauty product manufacturers happy, that’s exactly what they want us to do. I don’t know if this is really what the manufacturers are trying to do, but it sounds sketchy so I want to rebel against it.
The right way to cleanse your face
Acne or no acne, the best thing you can do for your skin when you’re cleansing your face is to use a very gentle cleanser. That means something that will not leave your face feeling tight or dry. We want to keep as much of the natural oils on as possible. In fact, if you don’t suffer from acne, or if your skin is clear then you can get away with just washing your face with water (in addition to regular exfoliation). A couple of friends of mine, both beautiful girls, have only ever washed their faces with water. Both are over the age of 35 and both have fabulous skin. I asked what happens if the water doesn’t get all of the ‘stuff’ off, as in sunscreen, makeup etc. And they both said they didn’t care. I was truly inspired by their relaxed attitude and realized that if you’re holistically healthy, relaxed and happy and your skin is clear, then you can do this. You can be so gentle with your skin that you can skip the cleanser all together.
But I’m not quite ready for that myself. I’m still using Philosophy’s Purity Made Simple because it’s very gentle on my skin, but still strong enough to take makeup off. Purity Made Simple seems to be one of those love it or hate it products, so if you’re one of those ‘hate it’ people, then you can try looking for a cleanser that aligns with your skin type.
Finding the right cleanser
The experts in the books that I just read said that foaming cleansers are better. I personally disagree with this because every foaming cleanser I’ve ever used (natural or not) has dried my skin out, which is what we don’t want. But my skin type is dry, so if you have oily skin, you might want to give a foaming cleanser a go. Apparently foaming cleansers are the best at ‘cutting through the grease’ without being too harsh. I’m not entirely sure what that means but it would sound desirable to me if I had oily skin.
Finding the right cleanser for you may take a bit of trial and error. To minimize trips to the store and the dent in your wallet, do a little research first. Start by taking a trip to your local cosmetics, drug or health store, and browsing the skin care section to find a product that appeals to you. Then jump onto MUA and look up reviews of that product (that are over 1000,000 reviews in there!) to make sure that other people have said it’s a quality product. If people say that it dries out there skin or makes them break out, then don’t buy it ..because obviously it’s a bad product. However, if most of the reviews say it’s a quality product, then go for it.
When you start using the new product, make sure that it does not make your skin feel dry or tight. We want something gentle for our skin, something that keeps us hydrated and minimizes the amount of moisturizer we need to use. Also monitor your skin for any out of the ordinary acne breakouts. If you experience an unusual breakout within 3-5 days of using the new product, it may be giving you cosmetic acne.
Remember, to look after our skin and to help clear our acne if we have it, the key is to cut back and keep it simple. So be gentle with your skin, wash it only twice a day and do not scrub and scour at it. You’ll definitely notice the difference.