Why and How Skincare Series: Cleanser

Skincare is a passion of mine so I’m super excited to share the “Why & How Skincare Series” with you! In this series, I’ll go through each step of my daily skincare, explain the whys and hows, and some tips! It’s a bit long… but I’m hopeful that this post will help you understand the importance of cleansing and encourages you to take good care of your skin!

First step to my skincare routine: Cleanser! ♥

WHY: Cleansing is a super important first step in a skin care routine.

  • Cleansing removes viruses, oil, debris, makeup, sweat, pollutants, bacteria, and so much more.
  • Our skin produces a type of oil called sebum. Sebum travels up the hair follicle and mixes with sweat and dead skin cells to form an armor. This armor protects your skin against the elements. So why remove this awesome armor?
    • By washing our faces, we clear old ineffective armor and allow new armor to make it’s way up to the surface so that it can protect our skin.
    • If you don’t wash off this armor on a daily basis, your skin would continue to produce sebum and cause a backup. This backup will cause pore/follicle blockage, inflammation and inevitable acne, whiteheads, blackheads and cysts.
    • There’s so many (gross) examples I can think of… but I’ll go with the mildest version. Think of your kitchen sink. If you keep filling it with dirty dishes and never clean it out… there will be backup and consequences. Flies, dried on food that’s hard to remove, overflow of dishes to other areas of the kitchen, bad smell, damaged dishes, etc. You could avoid all this by simply doing the dishes every day!
    • Itchiness would also become a problem. You’d probably scratch causing mini tears in the skin, which can then get infected.
  • Cleansing preps the skin for skincare products and helps the product penetrate the skin and do it’s job.
  • Especially important if you wear waterproof/sweatproof sunblock. Certain sunblocks literally block your skin from the sun with a barrier. Without proper removal, this barrier could cause the backup described above causing acne, blemishes, etc.
  • Promotes blood circulation giving your face a nice glow.
  • Prevents/delays premature aging.


Select the right cleanser for your skin type!

Dry Skin:
– Often sensitive so select a product with no/few chemicals, perfumes, and dyes.
– Avoid high pH cleansers like: bar soap or foaming cleansers which can strip the skin.
– Recommend Oil and Cream Cleansers: Ceptaphil Daily Cleanser, Bobbi Brown Cleansing Oil, Shu Uemura Cleansing OilBliss Clog Dissolving Cleansing Milk

Oily Skin:
-Can tolerate harsh cleansers, but doesn’t mean you should use harsh cleansers. At the same time, an overly gentle product may not be enough to remove sufficient oil and dirt.
-Cleansing too often can strip the skin of too much oil and may stimulate even more oil production! Only morning and night.
-Recommend Gel and Foaming Cleansers:  Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser, Murad Clarifying Cleanser, Origins Zero Oil Deep Pore Cleanser, Shiseido The Skincare Purifying Cleansing Foam

Combination & Normal Skin:
-Combination and normal skin can choose any type of cleanser depending on the skin’s needs at the time.
– Recommend Gel, Foaming, Oil, Cream Cleansers: Clinique Wash-Away Gel Cleanser, DDF- Non-Drying Gentle Cleanser, Bliss The Youth As We Know It Anti-Aging Cleanser, Neutrogena Cream Cleanser

Now you’ve selected the cleanser for skin type, here’s a step by step on how to cleanse your face:

  1. Wash morning and evening. Every night. Absolutely NO excuses.
  2. Don’t try to clean your hands WHILE cleaning your face. Start with clean hands.
  3. Work the cleanser in your palms and rub/foam up before putting on your face. No tugging and pulling. Work the cleanser in small circular motions around the face and neck.
  4. Rinse well with slightly warm water.
  5. Pat dry with a towel.
  6. Be sure to follow with serum, moisturizer, etc.


  • Whether I’m at home or at a hotel, I keep a separate towel just for my face. Don’t like using hand and body towels which could be full of all sorts of bacteria. (Yes, I’m OCD about my face hygiene)
  • When I shower, I avoid getting shampoo/conditioner/body wash on my face. To minimize contact, I wash my hair by facing away from the shower with my head tilted back.
  • If you use waterproof or any type of smudge proof makeup or sunblock, I highly recommend using a separate makeup remover. Take a look how ineffective regular face cleansers were at removing a waterproof eyeliner.
  • Pores are open after a shower/wash!  I always apply serum/moisturizer within minutes of stepping out of washing my face.
  • Just because you have oily skin does not mean you should exfoliate, scrub and strip your face. Always be kind and gentle.
  • Over washing your face will stimulate more oil production. If you get oily, don’t wash… use an oil blotting paper.
  • Oily does not mean your skin is moisturized! Don’t skip the moisturizer.
  • If you have dry skin, it may be worth investing in a rich cream moisturizer. I use and love La Mer. Using a lotion that doesn’t provide enough moisture may make your skin even more sensitive and irritated.

Now that your face is nice and clean…  stay tuned to learn the why and how of the next step in my skincare!~ Until next time… stay pretty inside and out.

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Related post:
Why and How of Skincare Series: Toner
Cleanser vs. Waterproof Eyeliner (Part II)
Break Out Of Breakouts
PA+++ vs. SPF
ABC’s of UVA, UVB and SPF



  1. February 9, 2012 / 2:37 pm

    is there a body moisturizer you would recommend. I have extremely dry skin. Meaning I put oil and body lotion after showering. Next day still very dry so I load on vaseline.

    • February 9, 2012 / 4:33 pm

      Have you tried AmLactin? It used to be available only by prescription, but it’s now available over the counter at most drugstores. Be sure to exfoliate in the shower with warm (not hot) water and apply lotion right away. Straight coconut oil, jojoba oil, and Bio-Oil may be good options as well… Hope this info helps. Let me know how it works out… xo

      • February 9, 2012 / 7:14 pm

        Thank you! Will try it out amlactin

  2. February 8, 2012 / 12:46 am

    I love Origins Zero Oil! Sweet post

    • February 8, 2012 / 12:49 am

      Thanks!~ 😉 do you have dry skin?

  3. ginahlee
    February 7, 2012 / 3:37 pm

    i totally went and washed my face right now!! so, i have a few questions:

    -i’ve heard some people say that its better to wash your face with just water in the morning so you don’t overstrip your skin of all its oils? do you agree?
    -for oily skin folk, when you say use oil blotting paper instead of washing, do you mean in the middle of the day or the morning/night cleansing??
    -makeup counter people always tell me that its okay to use the moisturziers with spf at night. would you disagree then? i always feel a little weird doing it, but in a crunch, is it okay?

    thank you for your help!

    • February 7, 2012 / 8:23 pm

      I’m so glad you asked these questions!~ I wasn’t sure where or how to incorporate this into the post. Love Love Love the questions.

      1) Depends on the type of skin you have. If you have dry skin… may be a okay to skip the cleanser in the am. If you have oily skin, I think it’s best to use a mild cream cleanser to wash the face in the am. If you have oily skin, your skin probably produced a lot of oil during the night and it would be impossible to try to wash off oil with water.

      2) I recommend washing your face in the am and pm, and using oil blotting paper throughout the day to get rid of excess oil. Lightly dusting powder or using a pressed powder a couple times a day may be okay, but using it too often will look cake-y. Blotting paper is perfect because it just removes the oil.

      3) I hate it when sales people aren’t trained properly. No, I strongly disagree that spf is okay at night. As I mentioned in the post, some spf (ones with Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide) literally creates a barrier to protect against the sun rays. This can clog pores, which can lead to blemishes, irritation, etc. I’m not saying that sunblock shouldn’t be used because of this barrier… during the day, it’s the lesser of two evils so we need it! But at night, you want your skin to be able to breathe. I even recommend using makeup remover to make sure that your sunblock from the day is completely removed for night.

      Hope this helps. Thank you for the questions. xoxo

    • ginahlee
      February 14, 2012 / 11:50 am

      thanks!! i had a feeling on the spf – just doesn’t feel right! but if the makeup counter people give you misinformation…who can you really trust???? sigh.

  4. February 7, 2012 / 1:01 pm

    This was a great post!! I have oily skin and I use Shiseido’s Purifying cleanser and its great!! Another good way to keep skin hygienic after washing is to use paper towels. Its a bit more expensive but its new and gets tosses every time so totally clean!

    • February 7, 2012 / 1:11 pm

      Thanks for reading! I do the paper towel thing sometimes too!!! Haha. 😉

      • michelle
        May 18, 2012 / 11:12 am

        should i use serum and moisturizer or just either one? my skin s dry or maybe combination. it’s oily on nose part and dry at the rest of the face. i have black head and white head in my face too.
        i wonder if you can tell me how to care my big pores, black and white head.
        thank you

        • May 18, 2012 / 5:09 pm

          You can just use moisturizer alone. Or you can add a serum to address your skin concerns like brightening, tightening, etc. Maybe you can use a serum that will help with minimize your pores! 🙂