The 3 essential cleanser secrets

Most of us learned to wash our face at our mothers' knee, or I suppose more likely, at the bathroom basin. As well as being admonished to scrub like crazy, we were probably urged to do all sorts of other seriously dubious things to our delicate facial skin.

At the age of five or six, the sort of damage inflicted by these, frankly barbaric, practices would have very little lasting effect. But try those tactics later in life and you are asking for trouble.

A thoroughly organised, 'time is no object' skin care regime goes something like this - Cleanse, Exfoliate, Tone and Moisturise. However, since most adults don't have the time or even the inclination to spend leisurely days in the bathroom, we'll stick to the bullet points here and you can choose how much time and energy to invest in your daily skincare routine.

We're gong to cover the cleansing step in this article and move on to the next step in the sequence next time.

One note of caution at this stage, the more time and particularly care you take in this very serious matter, the better the results...

I guess it goes without saying that if you are wearing makeup you will need to remove it before you start. Take it off with the same amount of care you used to put it on.

Step 1 - Always, always, always make sure your hands are clean before cleansing your face. If you are washing over a basin, wash your hands thoroughly and carefully using an antibacterial soap or hand wash.

If you are in the shower, use whatever is to hand but ensure your hands are clean before touching your face. If you don′t, you run the risk of transferring bacteria to your face - and that kind of defeats the object of cleansing in the first place.

Step 2 - Make sure that the water you use is luke warm. Easy enough to do when washing over a basin - not such a hot prospect if you cleanse your face in the shower!

Water that is too hot or too cold may cause broken capillaries.

Step 3 - Use a specially formulated cleanser.

Your skin acts as a barrier, keeping out the things it's supposed to - dirt and other environmental pollution - and keeping in the beneficial stuff like moisture and natural oils.

Most soaps are designed to be used on the tougher skin to be found elsewhere on the body. They are designed to lift dirt fairly aggressively and in the process they strip oils essential to the health of your skin. This is not something that you want to happen on your face.

Cleansers come in several different flavours (please don't drink them!) - cleansing lotions, milks, creams, washes and even waters. Cleansing milks or creams generally work better for dry or sensitive skin, cleansing wash for normal to oily skin while we recommend cleansing waters for very busy people - just use it with dry cotton wool.

While the general rule about getting what you pay for does apply, you don't need to buy super expensive cleansers. The best way to choose is to try as many as you can and then find one that suits your skin and lifestyle.

Recommendations are always worth following and you may be able to try out your friends' products. We are always happy to recommend products, so come in and see us sometime.

Finish off with a rinse in cool water to close the pores - or use a specially formulated toner. A what?

We'll cover toners in a later feature.

And don't forget, when drying your skin, pat it dry with a clean towel. Rubbing may irritate the skin and make it prone to dryness, redness or breakouts.

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