A good scrub with soap and water may have done the job when you were younger, but as your skin matures, an effective facial cleanser is essential for soft and supple skin. We look at the different choices of cleansers around.
Healthy skin begins with a good skin routine, and this includes the vital step of cleansing once or twice a day. Failing to wash your face properly can lead to skin irritation, clogged pores and acne breakouts. A quality facial cleanser helps remove makeup and dirt, purifying the skin without stripping it of its natural oils. Cleansers also help to prepare the skin for serums and moisturisers that will deliver hydration, antioxidants and sun protection.
“To me, an ideal cleanser would be one that is fragrance-free, cleanses well but does not leave the skin ’squeaky’ clean and dry,” says Dr Cheong Wai Keong, consultant dermatologist at Specialist Skin Clinic.
Choosing the best cleanser for you largely depends on your skin type, he adds. “Someone who is acne-prone but at the same time has sensitive skin should not be using a facial cleanser meant for acne-prone or oily skin types, as this would worsen their skin condition. Fragrance-free cleansers are preferable for those who have sensitive skin.”
For dry and/or sensitive skin, look for cleansers labelled ‘gentle’, ‘soap-free’, or ‘hypoallergenic’. These tend to be milky or cream-based cleansers. Cleansers should also respect your skin’s pH balance, says Dr Eileen Tan, a dermatologist at Eileen Tan Skin, Laser and Hair Transplant Clinic at Mount Elizabeth Hospital.
Our skin’s natural pH levels are at 4.5 to 5.5, but most cleansers that contain soap leave the skin with a residual alkalinity of 10,” says Dr Tan. “They make your skin feel clean, but it becomes tight and dry afterwards because your natural lipids are stripped from your skin. Most cleansers do not state the pH range of their products, so look for keywords like ‘within the acid balance range’ or ‘respecting skin’s pH balance’.”
For oily or acne-prone skin, look for active cleansers that contain ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), such as glycolic acid or lactic acid; beta hydroxyl acids (BHAs), such as salicylic acid; polyhydroxy acids (PHAs); witch hazel; benzoyl peroxide; or azelaic acid. These tend to be gel- or water-based cleansers.
See our gallery of different cleansers and our top cleansing picks below:
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