If you’ve been reaching for that same humdrum bottle of foaming cleanser and the grainy tube of face scrub in your shower has seen better days, it may be time to reconsider how you’re washing your face. Formulas and methods have come a long way since glycerin soaps and face cloths. And remember, your skin goes through its own transformation during the long and drying Canadian winter. So it’s important to regularly switch up your routine and treat your skin with ultimate care, ensuring your complexion stays looking its best—smooth, soft and naturally glowing.
If you’ve been using a cleanser that’s extra foamy and leaves you with that squeaky-clean feeling, chances are you’re stripping your skin of its natural healing oils. These alkaline formulas throw off your skin’s pH and leave you high and dry, no matter what time of year it is, says Dr. Sandy Skotnicki, dermatologist and medical director of Toronto’s Bay Dermatology Centre. “Over time, [alkaline cleansers] can cause a problem because you’re decreasing your skin barrier, which is causing tiny little holes in your skin, allowing things, such as pollution, to get in while moisture gets out.” Rather than reaching for lathering suds, try cleansing with an oil formula that contains good-quality essential oils to nourish your skin’s lipid layer instead of water, which can actually be dehydrating, especially for those who are typically sensitive or reactive, says Sharon McGlinchey, founder of Australian-based MV Organic Skincare. A telltale sign that you’ve been exposing your face to too much water is if you feel tight and dry and look red or blotchy when you get out of the shower. Instead of splashing away at the sink while washing, “follow an oil cleanser with a warm or hot compress to provide heat and encourage absorption,” says Sharon. “This helps deliver antioxidants to the deeper layers of the skin, where they can be anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory.”
Once exposure to indoor heating and harsh winter winds become a daily routine, dry, flaky skin (cue the cakey- looking makeup) wastes no time in making its annual appearance, which can leave us with the urge to exfoliate more than ever. “The reality is, the more often you exfoliate, the harder it is for your skin to retain moisture and to make good use of its own natural oils, which are designed to nourish and protect the skin,” says Sharon, who regularly treats celebrities such as Maggie Gyllenhaal and Emma Watson to facials. To get back to smooth sailing without the risk of redness or irritation, cut back exfoliation to once or twice a week maximum and consider trading your usual scrub for a weekly resurfacing mask or one of the new powdered cleansers, which contains naturally refining ingredients such as rice. The plus? You can adjust the graininess of the cleanser by mixing it with the amount of water that suits you.
Similar to oils, balms are thicker, non- stripping cleansers that can be ideal for those with dry skin who want to break down dirt and makeup in one efficient step but don’t enjoy the slipperiness of an oil. The texture may take some getting used to, but you needn’t be weary of remaining “greasy” or of being left with anything but an extra-clean feel. “Oils and balms are still categorized as water-soluble cleansers. They activate with water to separate oil and dirt while you’re doing some sort of circular motion and then rinsing,” says Sandy, who also says that massaging your skin with your fingers is all you need to effectively improve circulation in your complexion (hello, glow!). A thorough massage even doubles as exfoliation during the cold months when skin may be more sensitive to stimulation.
Double or Nothing
“Double cleansing” has taken the beauty world by storm after becoming all the rage in Asia, where complex, multi-step beauty routines rule. First, break down the day’s surface grime with an oil cleanser and then follow it up with a gel or foam for a super-thorough cleanse. It’s a great solution in the face of present-day makeup and sunscreen formulas that are designed not to budge. But keep in mind that not all skin types (or environments) are created equal. Washing your face twice in a row can be overkill for those with sensitive or aging skin. If you feel like your usual cleanser isn’t getting all of your makeup off, try following it up with a swipe of micellar water instead—it will get the job done without over-exposure to standard H2O, says Sandy.
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