Are You Washing Your Face Wrong?
When we last spoke to Amy Halman, master aesthetician and president of Acure Organics, we learned that a lot more than great skincare goes into maintaining a clear complexion. (Check out this acne map—those late nights and venti coffees aren’t exactly helping things.)
But if you land somewhere between having a perfect complexion and needing to call a dermatologist, then a few tips on how to pick the right products couldn’t hurt. Here, Amy teaches us what ingredients to look for, how often to use them, and why oil is not always the enemy.
Face wash isn’t always enough.
“Regardless of your diet and lifestyle choices, there are a few key pieces that will always be helpful at fighting congestion and keeping your pores as open and clear as possible,” Amy said. “This way, you have a fighting chance at clear skin, even in the face of shifting hormones, stress, and inflammation.”
She stressed how important it is to remove “all makeup, dirt, and daily pollution before bed.” And let’s get real: your face wash may not be up to that task all on its own. Not that it should be. (Hey, we’ve all rinsed off dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, right?) Start with some makeup remover. That way, when it comes time to suds up, you’re actually getting into your pores and not just washing away makeup. A quick swipe of water-based toner post-cleanse can also help restore your skin’s pH balance and deliver antioxidants.
Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate. (But not too much.)
“Be sure to exfoliate regularly,” Amy recommended. Of course, not all scrubs are created equal. She called out finely ground exfoliants such as rice powder, jojoba beads, dehydrated lemon peel, and ground sea kelp as ingredients to look for—they’re strong enough to dislodge dead cells, but gentle on the skin underneath. “[These] ingredients help digest excess sebum and dead cells in the follicle, and balance the natural oils and hydration [you need] to keep your natural lipid barrier healthy and intact.
“A gentle exfoliation with your fingertips, two to three times a week, is super beneficial to keep those thickened dead-skin-cell layers sloughing off properly.”
Don’t be afraid to bring in the big guns every once in awhile.
Especially as you get older, your skin can handle chemical exfoliants in addition to mechanical ones. “A good, mild at-home peel or serum that has enzymes like papaya and pineapple, and natural alpha-hydroxy acids like glycolic and lactic are very beneficial for tackling that compacted debris in the pore that can lead to bigger inflammation,” Amy said. “Salicylic [acid] is also a fab ingredient because it has the ability to help break up cells that are stuck to the inner lining of the pore and collect, causing blackheads and deeper inflammation.”
Try introducing a chemical exfoliant once every other week and see how your skin responds. If you’re not sure whether to increase or decrease usage, consult an aesthetician.
Some oil is good. For real.
Just as over-washing your hair can lead to increased oil production, excessive cleansing or exfoliation can make your skin slicker. “Often, excessively oily skin is due to underlying dehydration from moisture loss and barrier depletion,” Amy said. “Your skin panics and begins to overproduce oil to protect itself because it feels stripped, possibly inflamed and irritated.”
So yeah, moisturizing can actually help cut down on oil. “Balance your oil production by using a light moisturizer or oil that actually replenishes healthy-barrier protection, but also re-establishes depleted moisture in the tissue.” Amy even recommends a 100% cold-pressed, unrefined argan oil for various skin types, as it can “deliver invaluable fatty acids at the surface and below, which not only nourishes, but also calms redness and excess oil production.”
Learn more about how to wash things properly:
Hint: If you’re doing it like the woman in this picture, then the answer is yes.
If you’ve never wondered how often you need to wash your bra, you probably don’t wear one. It’s a white-hot (OK, warm) controversy.