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Keep It Clean

By: Diana L. Howard, Annet King and Jane Wurwand
Posted: September 24, 2010, from the October 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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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.