Not a day goes by where I don’t chat about the importance of a gentle cleanser. In fact, while a lot of people may think that cleansing doesn’t really matter in a skincare routine – “because all a cleanser does is just wash down the sink”. I am a HUGE proponent of NO it doesn’t just wash down the sink “gaaaahh”; it actually is a VITAL step and if your skin is feeling dry, tight or irritated after you use one then you need to change your cleanser – stat.
You see, using harsh or chemical exfoliant based cleansers too often can seriously mess with the PH in your skin and in turn your skin barrier. And when your skin’s protective barrier is damaged just whacking on a bit of a moisturiser is in no way going to fix all your problems.
Although quickly, let’s recap with your skin’s protective barrier actually is. You see your barrier is the outermost layer of skin. It protects you and helps retain water/moisture while defending against bacteria and external pollution. It’s also made up of lipids (oils) that bind your skin cells together. So essentially that’s what keeps it plump, smooth and soft.
For example, think of a baby’s skin – it’s perfect. And you know why? Because their moisture barrier is intact. So if we want to have baby skin, then we need to treat it a lot gentler than we do. In fact, when your barrier is damaged you will have to strip things WAY back and stick to gentle/sensitive products and formulas in order for it to repair.
Anyway, the main culprit of a damaged skin barrier is over-exfoliating which is why I’m always advising people to check the ingredients in their cleansers because there’s no need for harsh ones every day.
Plus, when you exfoliate too often, you’re stripping off your skin’s protective barrier which not only means less moisture retention BUT it will also set off an inflammation cascade which can lead to the skin feeling tight and dry. AND it will also contribute to your skin ageing faster.
SOOOO the moral of this post is cut back on your exfoliating, barrier stripping cleansers if your skin is feeling dry, itchy, looking cracked, red or sensitive and replace them with a gentle formula to rebuild your barrier – stat.
[SIDE NOTE: I also recommend to avoid washing your face with super hot water as it can dilate your capillaries and raise the skin’s internal temperature. And when this heat is created, it can impair your skin’s barrier too.]
And if you’re looking to switch up your cleanser to a more gentle every day one, I have been obsessed with these newbies below. Some of the best gentle cleansers in town! Alternatively if you are after super friendly wallet options that won’t irritate I’d also look into brands like La Roche Posay, Cerave and Bioderma.
Rationale Proceramide Cleanser – $96.00
My favourite in clinic cleanser. Creamy, doesn’t foam, took me a while to get used to but it’s the BEST for EVERYONE!
LOVE this brand. Very new for me, although if you do like your exfoliating cleansers this one will be super gentle on your barrier. Uses lactic and mandelic (which are both gentle aha’s) as well as niacinamide and vit E which will also help maintain the PH and lock in hydration. Camomile extract is super soothing too.
Mesoestetic Hydramilk Cleanser – $59.80
My favourite cleanser to use post skin treatment or laser when my skin is feeling whack and super ouchy. SO SO gentle, perfect for super sensitive skin, post laser although does contain a little fragrance (in case you have allergies).
Skin Health Science Vita Cleanse – $72.00
A lot of ‘gentle’ cleansers come in the form of milks, which I know not everybody likes. This is a newbie on the market and is antioxidant filled, anti-inflammatory AND is formulated like a gel so your skin actually feels clean without harming it. I’m OBSESSED WITH THIS ONE. And my husband is too.