One of the first rules one learns about having a solid skincare routine is to always wash your makeup off before going to bed. To not do so is widely considered to be a cardinal sin. So, why after years of interviewing dermatologists, celebrity facialists and various other skin experts, did I finally decide to pull the plug on daily face cleansing? The truth is, after I finally committed to allowing my skin to take care of itself, it never looked better.
As a beauty writer, I love the idea of being loyal to a nightly beauty routine: cleansing, toning and then proceeding to slather my visage with the latest serums, oils and fancy moisturizers. However, while using an endless array of product that was designed to gift me with the best possible skin, I couldn’t help but notice that my complexion always looked its best those weeks I had neglected my routine and crashed into bed with nary a makeup remover wipe in sight. What gives?
I consider that I have combination skin — the same skintype that the majority of us claim to have. If I wash my face without following up with moisturizer, parts of my face would feel tight and dry. However, I also experience midday shine in my T-zone, regardless of the season.
According to Dr. Sonya Abdulla of Toronto’s Dermatology on Bloor, one of the culprits of irritated skin, including redness and breakouts, is using too many products on our face, period. Having a complex arsenal, including an overly alkaline cleanser (especially one that’s extra foamy, which can strip your skin of its natural oils) can throw off your skin’s acidic pH, which is when chaos can ensue. If you have dry skin, cutting down on cleansing could be especially helpful, since water is one of your complexion’s biggest irritants, she says.
If you have oily skin, it can still feel dry due to dehydration. Dehydrated skin is lacking water, instead of sebum, your skin’s natural oil. “Over-cleansing and over-exfoliating oily skin can have just as negative an effect when it comes to breakouts. Your skin can start producing excess oil, which can lead to more breakouts and congestion,” says Alex Weisseneder Gray, senior esthetician at the Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie at Toronto’s Shangri-La Hotel.
Bottom line: washing your face too much (which means daily for some) can stress out your skin regardless of your skintype and lead to more oil, uneven tone and even acne.
If the idea of ditching your face wash for good is just plain horrifying, consider removing your makeup at night with a micellar water instead and simply rinsing your face in your morning shower. Contrary to its name, micellar water doesn’t actually contain water. Its molecules are both hydrophilic and hydrophobic (which basically means they have a love-hate relationship with H2O) so they eat up bacteria and dead skin cells without disrupting your skin’s natural moisture barrier.
My other favourite cleanser for those days when heavy makeup is required are oil cleansers. They’re meant to be applied and “lathered” without water and can attract and trap excess oil and dirt before being rinsed off without any side effects of dehydration or residue.
Less work, less product, less spots? Count me in. My face may be “dirty” most of the time, but the results have never been more crystal clear.
Vichy Pureté Thermale Cleansing Micellar Oil, $20 at Vichy.ca ;
Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micelle Solution, $19 at Shoppers Drug Mart Beauty Boutique ;
Caudalie Micellar Cleansing Water, $31 at Sephora .