The Skin Nerd: Are you washing your face right?

The Skin Nerd: Are you washing your face right?

Cleansing is the cornerstone of a good skincare regime – and key to keeping your skin clear and healthy. It’s also the only way to create a truly fresh, blank canvas for the other products in your skincare routine to be able to work effectively too. But cleansing your face can be complicated. 

Gone are the days when you found the nearest bar of soap and spent most of your time washing the residue off the bottom of the sink. Cleansing has had an upgrade, which doesn’t always mean building in more steps and products to your regime, more discovering which techniques and products are right for your skin type and skincare goals. 

A more tailored cleansing regime will benefit your skin – providing that you know how to do it correctly.

Cleansing tools

Before you start, you need to get yourself equipped! What you use to apply your cleanser makes a difference to your results. Hands are the cheapest and easiest tools we have but using a specific cleansing tool can often be beneficial. Different textures provide a variety of benefits and so the choice of tool is often dictated by your skincare aims.

Facial brushes 

With the ability to reduce puffiness and promote a more radiant complexion, facial brushes can be an effective way to give the skin a more thorough, professional-feeling cleanse. Whilst I don’t regard them as necessary investments, they can help a product to penetrate the skin effectively and give you a ‘day at the spa’ type feeling. A word of caution: do stay away from rough or stiff bristles to avoid damage to the skin barrier.


Pre-cleansers are used to remove dirt, debris and makeup in the first step of a double cleanse. A pre-cleanse can be carried out using a tool such as the Cleanse Off Mitt, which just requires water at the pre-cleanse stage. A microfibre mitt is especially efficient for cleansing because when you add water to microfibre, the positive charge attracts the negative charge of makeup. This means that the fibres can attach themselves to and dislodge the debris and carry it away. Muslin or cotton materials also work well with oil or balm skincare formulas. Alternatively, you could opt for a pre cleanser such as Dermalogica Pre-Cleanse Balm, which removes excess sebum, makeup and pollutants whilst calming and nourishing the skin.

The double cleanse 

A double cleanse is key to an effective, results-driven skincare routine. Follow the two steps every morning and evening to ensure your face is completely clean and ready for the serums, and moisturisers applied afterwards.

I recommend having two cleansers within your routine – a nourishing cleanser for daily use and a treatment cleanser that exfoliates or treats the skin more specifically every 2/3 nights. The type of cleanser you use depends on preference, but as a general rule, facial washes work best for oily skin, whilst oils and those with creamier textures are best for dry skin types.

To tone or not to tone?

I’m not a fan of toners and find that lots of them contain alcohol which can have drying effects on the skin. Alcohol that has been included to preserve products can also damage the skin’s barrier cumulatively over time. Whilst I am more likely to advocate a treatment toner containing acids that gently exfoliate, this is unnecessary if your cleanser already contains these ingredients.

Cleansing no-nos 

Splashing and dashing: If your hands barely touch your face during your cleanse, you are committing the skin sin known as the splash and dash. Named as such due to the hurried rub on and frantic splash off motions involved, this kind of face wash is unlikely to do much in the way of cleaning your skin. This is also likely to leave product residue on your towel as it’s unlikely to have been rinsed off your face thoroughly. Try to give yourself 60 seconds to massage the cleanser into your face to give the product a chance to thoroughly cleanse the skin. This will also help to stimulate blood flow and lymphatic drainage to help de-puff the skin and give it a healthy glow.

Using wipes: In my opinion, face wipes do very little in terms of cleansing the skin. They can’t even be relied upon to remove makeup effectively as a pre-cleansing step because most wipes contain denatured alcohol which can be skin dehydrating, and are often too dry to completely remove makeup, leaving you panda-eyed and in need of another product to successfully remove your smudged makeup!

Not cleaning your cleansing tool: Bacteria can spread easily and using a dirty face cloth or brush twice a day means that you’re reintroducing bacteria to your face while cleaning it. Make sure you clean your mitt, cloth or brush as soon as you have finished using it. The Cleanse Off Mitt is super easy to hand wash post-cleansing – opt for a traditional soap bar or antibacterial soap rubbed along the COM, using your fingers to remove any staining before rinsing it and hanging it up by the ribbon-loop. To machine-wash, turn it inside out and wash it at 60˚c to kill the bacteria ahead of its next use.

Nerdie Pick

Finding a gentle way to cleanse sensitised skin can be a challenge, which is why we love REN’s comforting Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk, €25.00. Containing Blackcurrant Seed Oil (rich in Omega 3) and Seabuckthorn Berry Oil (which comprises Omega 7) the silky cleanser soothes and softens dry skin whilst gentle removing the days makeup and any dirt. I also love that this product contains Fennel Seed Extract, which is high in antioxidants and works to fight free radicals whilst boosting the skin’s resistance to pollution.

REN Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk, €25.00

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