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Keep It Clean

Diana L. Howard, Annet King and Jane Wurwand October 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine
spa client washing her face

It’s easy to take cleansing for granted, since it seems like such a basic step. But the fact is, people often shortchange themselves by not cleansing thoroughly. Many women don’t feel that their skin is dirty in the morning, so they may not cleanse before applying makeup, and they lack the education and the correct products to effectively remove makeup at the day’s end. Proper cleansing is the foundation of vibrant, healthy skin.

A clean demographic

“Wash your face and hands, and brush your teeth.” Hasn’t this been a mantra since childhood? Yet, speaking from 30 years of experience in the skin care industry, people don’t really know how to clean their skin ... and I’d frankly rather not even think about the condition of their teeth.

Research conducted at The International Dermal Institute (IDI) confirms that most women spend fewer than 20 seconds washing their faces in the morning. However, they may spend a bit more time in the evening, if they are removing makeup. At least let’s hope so.

Very simply, there is need for massive client re-education, and this represents a business opportunity for skin care professionals. Improper and inadequate cleansing and the use of inappropriate products, such as conventional soap, all get a skin care regimen off on very dubious footing.

As a demographic, teens and tweens actually come the closest to understanding the need for clean skin. This is, of course, because they are dealing with rampant sebum production, and the looming threat of acne. Nevertheless, skin care professionals would do well to cultivate the attention of these young consumers and their mothers, as well.

Cleansing ingredients

The problem is that consumers are using heavier oil-based moisturizers and more water-resistant makeup and sunscreens that are not adequately removed with water-based cleansers. Combine this with how quickly average individuals cleanse their skin and too many people are walking around with dirty skin.

For this reason, always recommend a second cleansing to thoroughly remove oils from the skin. As a matter of fact, even if the skin is cleansed twice with a water-soluble cleanser, there still may be some oil-soluble substances that remain.

A key part of the client education surrounding cleansing is helping them understand what happens when the skin is cleansed. When a cleanser is applied to the skin, surface active agents provide the primary cleansing action. During the initial cleansing process, the surfactants are emulsifying the fat or lipid grime, such as sebum, makeup, environmental hydrocarbons and sunscreens, allowing them to be solubilized in the rinse water. Meanwhile, the water-based portion of the cleanser solubilizes the water-soluble debris, namely sweat and some environmental pollutants. Considering the amount of material that potentially collects on the skin, it’s not surprising that this initial cleansing will only remove superficial debris and is not adequate for a thorough cleansing.

Just a splash of warm water and a single pass with a sudsy gel or milky cleanser—even a good one—is not enough. In fact, a light oil-based solvent should be used on the skin first as an initial step. This should not be mineral oil, although in generations past mineral oil and oily cold creams did perform the task of dissolving makeup. Today, there are nongreasy, microprocessed oils that do not require an alcohol-based toner to remove them. The methodology here: Like attracts like. Oils applied to the skin attract the oils produced by the skin for an ideal, nonaggressive cleansing. Water added to the mix allows the combined, released oils to be rinsed away. Ideally, the pre-cleanse oil step is recommended, as well as the double-cleanse, twice a day, to start clients on the path to their best skin. See Bring Back the Cleanse for the ideal step-by-step cleanse.

A clean start

Every morning and opportunity, regardless of your client’s age, her skin deserves a clean start. It’s like eating a good breakfast: Unless you do it, the rest of the day—or the rest of your skin care regimen—simply won’t click.

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Bring Back the Cleanse

The cleanse is the point of first contact of your hands on clients’ skin, and can make or break the deal. Keep in mind that some of these standard techniques should also be taught to your clients in order for them to realize better results with home-care products.

1. Begin the process by applying a water-soluble, oil-based pre-cleanser. Apply undiluted on dry skin, and pay special attention to areas of congestion, oiliness and obvious makeup. Take your time and really work the ingredients into the follicle by using upward strokes because this movement lifts each fine hair and delivers the product into the follicle where the oil can dissolve sebum.

2. Next, wet hands with water and work over the skin to emulsify the pre-cleanser; remember, the pre-cleanser breaks down oil, then water breaks down the pre-cleanser. You can use steam at this point to further soften the skin, dilate the follicles and allow for better product absorption. Then rinse the skin thoroughly with tepid water.

3. Continue with the selected cleanser for your client. Apply and remove twice as the solid foundation for pristine skin that glows with health.

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