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Facial Cleansing: The foundation of your skincare routine

Posted by Heidi Hepperle on
Hand einer Frau mit Reinigungsschaum

Facial cleansing is the first and one of the most important steps in the skin care routine . Your skin can do a lot on its own, but it needs your support with some things. And there are a few things to consider when it comes to cleaning.

Facial cleansing is the most important step in the skin care routine .

For skin-friendly cleaning, only mild surfactants should be included in the cleaner. It is better to avoid aggressive surfactants such as sodium laureth sulfate. With a pore-deep cleansing you damage your skin.

Pay attention to a skin-friendly pH value between 5 and 6 . Soaps have a pH of 8 - 9 and also contain very aggressive surfactants.

You may find it difficult to find the right cleansing product because there are a wide variety of cleansers such as soaps , cleansing foam, gel, milk, micellar water, make-up remover wipes or cleansing oils. Which of these are mild or aggressive is not obvious at first glance. You may also want to consider a specific skin condition or disease. Do you have acne, rosacea or sensitive skin? And how often should the face be cleaned anyway?

In this article you will find out what you can pay attention to when cleaning your face and which type of cleaning is best for you. Or you can listen to our podcast episode on cleaning .

Why facial cleansing?

Why should I clean my face at all? The skin would prefer not to be cleaned. However, today we live in a different environment than before and we are also getting older. Due to today's environment, the skin is exposed to external stress every day, we wear sunscreen to protect ourselves from sunburn and skin cancer, which usually only becomes apparent at a later age. In addition, sweat and dirt accumulate on the skin during the day. Although these cannot be seen with the naked eye, they can stress the skin and cause "blemishes". To counteract this, it helps your skin a lot if you rid it of it in the evening. Make-up should also be removed in the evening to keep your skin healthy.

never go to sleep with makeup on

One rule you've probably heard by now is: never go to bed with makeup on . For the sake of your skin, you should find time after a long day (or a long night ;)) to remove your make-up properly. We can reassure you in advance, because the myth that make-up per sé causes pimples is not true once you have found the right make-up for your skin. However, it can cause breakouts if not removed thoroughly.

As you can see, facial cleansing is important even if you don't wear makeup. In order to protect your skin from skin cancer and premature skin aging, you should ideally apply sunscreen every day. After this has served its purpose during the day, it should be thoroughly removed in the evening.

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What cleaning products are there?

You have a wide range of cleaners to choose from. In addition to the minimalist cleaning with water, the market offers a variety of products. These can be surfactant or oil based, but you have some cleaning tools at your disposal as well. The cleaning products are all different mild or aggressive. Therefore, it takes some research to find a skin-friendly cleansing product. Below is an overview of the different cleaning products:

Cleaning with surfactants

What are surfactants?

You have often come into contact with surfactants in everyday life: whether hand soap, shower gel, shampoo or cleaning agents - all of these products contain surfactants. These are substances that have a water-attracting side (hydrophilic) and a fat-attracting side (lipophilic). As a result, the surfactants bind grease and dirt for easy removal.

The oldest and probably best-known cleaning product is soap . For their production, fats are saponified with caustic soda. This creates aggressive surfactants. In addition, their pH value is 9 or higher and therefore attacks our acid mantle and the skin's microbiome. So the soap is not a skin-friendly cleaning product.

There are other surfactant-based products in a wide variety of textures and consistencies: cleansing foam, gel, lotion, solid cleansing bars or cleansing milk - but how skin-friendly are these products? Here it depends on what is in it. In general, we recommend that you use mild sugar or coconut surfactants for skin-friendly cleaning. Avoid aggressive surfactants because they damage your skin barrier.

Mild Surfactants: Coco Glucoside, Lauryl Glucoside, Decyl Glucoside, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Cocoamidopropyl Betaine, Sucrose Laurate, Sucrose Stearate, Sucrose Palmitate; Aggressive surfactants: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Coco-Sulfate, Sodium Cocoate, Sodium Tallowate, Sodium Palmate

What is the benefit of sugar surfactants? They are mild on the one hand and also provide moisture. As a result, the skin dries out even less.

And what about fragrances? Since the cleanser is only on your skin for a short time, fragrances wouldn't necessarily be a problem. However, if you have sensitive skin, it would be advisable not to use fragrances and essential oils when cleaning your face.

Makeup remover wipes seem like a handy invention: they clean quickly and you don't have to expose your face to water. (Why is too much water exposure bad for your skin? See below ) Sounds too good to be true, right? In fact, make-up remover wipes are not the first choice for skin-friendly facial cleansing. Make-up remover wipes do not have a good cleaning performance. They only roughly remove dirt and make-up. Residual dirt and surfactants from the make-up removal wipes remain on your face and are only pushed back and forth there. In addition, rubbing wipes on the skin acts like a mechanical peeling , which can irritate and irritate the skin.

What are oil purifiers?

Cleaning with oil? Sounds strange and will certainly make many people skeptical at first. But the principle of oil purification is actually quite simple. It is based on the principle “like dissolves like”. Similar to surfactants, dirt, make-up and sunscreen dissolve in the oil. So that the cleaning oil can be easily washed down again, it should still contain surfactants.

Types of cleaners compared

Skin compatibility of facial cleansers: soap: no; Surfactant cleaners (foam, gel, lotion, wash bar): depends on the surfactants; Cleansing Oil / Cleansing Balm: yes; Pure oil: no
Infographic: Xeno​​

cleaning tools

In addition to the cleaning products, there are also a number of cleaning tools that you can use as a supplement. However, there are a few things to consider here as well

Microfiber towels work in a similar way to surfactants. The microfibers bond with the dirt and remove it from the skin. They are advertised as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional cotton pads . Unfortunately, they excrete microplastics in the washing machine - that's not particularly sustainable. The towels act like a mechanical peeling. Therefore, make sure that you use a very soft microfiber cloth for your facial cleansing (if you want to use it), otherwise the peeling effect can be too irritating for the skin in the long run.

The good old cotton washcloth is a step ahead of the microfiber cloth in terms of sustainability, but it is too coarse for the face and offers the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

Man cleans his face with cotton pad
Cotton pads are suitable, for example, for removing cleaning products. In order to save resources, there are now also reusable cotton pads.

The situation is similar with cleaning brushes. The bristles create friction on your face. In addition, it is difficult to control the pressure and thus the strength of the peeling with brushes.

There are different types of cleaning sponges. Here you have to take a closer look. You've probably heard of the konjac sponge. This is sustainable and vegan, but unfortunately not particularly mild on the skin. The situation is different with our Naturally Naked plant fiber sponge . This is very soft and leaves no microcracks on your skin. It is also sustainable, vegan and hygienic, as you can simply wash it in the washing machine at 60°C.

Forms of facial cleansing

And how do I clean my face now? There are different methods here too. The most common is washing with water. It's quick, easy and doesn't require any other products. However, water alone is usually not enough. Even if you don't wear make-up or sunscreen every day, dirt, fine particles from exhaust fumes and sweat accumulate on your skin throughout the day. With water alone, residues of it remain on your skin and irritate it. The same applies to makeup and sunscreen. The better alternative here would be to simply cleanse your face with a skin-friendly cleansing product of your choice. Surfactants or oil dissolve make-up and any residues of care products and free the skin of residues from your everyday life.

Double cleansing

Double cleansing goes one step further. Two cleaning products are required for this, which are applied one after the other. There are also two variants of double cleansing:

version 1

In the first variant, the first product is applied and washed off, then the same procedure is carried out with the second product.

Variant 2

As a supposedly skin-friendly variant, there is the Double Cleansing light . The two cleaning products are applied one after the other and only then washed off. The skin only comes into contact with water once.

What speaks against frequent water contact?

The more often your skin comes into contact with water, the more likely it is to dry out. The protective acid mantle is also attacked every time by the high pH value of the water, which is around 7.

The train of thought behind Double Cleansing: Better to clean twice mildly than once aggressively. However, this assumption is not entirely correct. Because during double cleansing, the cleaning products stay on the skin longer and the longer the skin is exposed to surfactants and emulsifiers, the worse it is for it. Whether double cleansing is an option for you is your personal decision. It is not necessary, as one product can already be able to cleanse your skin sufficiently, thoroughly and mildly.

Oil Cleansing Method

And then there's the Oil Cleansing Method . As the name suggests, facial cleansing oils are used here.

Some people actually just mean pure oils here. For some, this also includes ready-made cleaning oils that contain emulsifiers in addition to the oil. The latter are applied to dry skin and can then easily be washed off with water thanks to the emulsifiers.

However, cleansing with pure oil is problematic for the skin. Because they contain no emulsifiers, they cannot be removed without leaving any residue. This would then only be possible with double cleansing. Oil cleaners with emulsifiers are better tolerated by the skin.

Would you like to know more about oils?

We've written a few articles on facial oils. In our opinion, knowledge about oils is a key to good skin care: There are many things that can go wrong if you use the wrong oils on your skin. But you can also achieve a lot if you use the right oils for your skin.

Is facial oil good or bad? 15 benefits of facial oils put to the test

Facial oils for combination skin and impure skin: which one is suitable?

Natural glow: What other cosmetic brands don't tell you

Facial oils not working? It could work with this new oil

Linoleic acid in skin care: How to use it correctly

Pore-deep cleaning

You've probably already encountered the promise of pore-deep cleanliness . But you should better keep your hands off that. Healthy skin is neither squeaky nor clean down to the pores. The sebum in your pores has the effect of a natural cream. Your skin goes to great lengths to take care of itself and healthy skin always has a light greasy film.

remove makeup from eyes

And what about eye make-up? So that the thin skin in this area is not overwhelmed and your eyelashes do not break off, you should also carefully remove make-up around the eyes. Since the eyes are neutral to alkaline (pH 7.3-9.7) while our skin has a slightly acidic pH (pH 5-6), it would make sense to use a separate cleansing product for the eye area that either doesn't has a pH value of around 7 so that it does not irritate the eyes or skin too much.

Which cleaning suits my skin?

Now before you rush off to buy a cleanser, let's talk about skin types and skin conditions again. Because your cleanser should suit your skin, support it. Not every product suits every skin.

In principle, the different textures are not dependent on skin type. However, they still offer clues to narrow things down a bit and help you find the perfect cleanser.

It is often the case with cleaning foam that it contains aggressive surfactants such as sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) or a significantly higher amount of surfactants in comparison. A foam is therefore suitable for oily and robust skin, if at all . It would not be nourishing enough for dry skin and sensitive skin could react irritated and stressed by the surfactants.

The cleansing milk gently cleanses and is usually more nourishing - making it ideal for combination to dry skin . Dry skin can also benefit from a cleansing balm.

If you have oily skin , you might be happy with a skin-friendly cleansing gel. Would you rather use an oil-based cleaner but have concerns? Do not worry! You can also use cleansing oils with oily skin , your skin will not become oilier or impure as a result. At least as long as you don't use pure oils. Here you can find out more about which oils are suitable for "blemished skin" or oily skin .

But if you want to test your way through the different textures, ask yourself the following questions: Which texture do you like best? what does your skin like Watch them carefully and listen to them, then you will find the perfect purifier for you!

Depending on the life situation, our skin experiences different states. Maybe your skin is in a condition you don't like and find it a problem, or you have a skin condition. Especially then it is important not to be frustrated and angry with your skin. Be nice to her and to yourself and try to respond to the needs of your skin.

Facial cleansing for men and women

There are skin care products for men and women on the market. Most people shop according to this scheme. At this point it should be noted that this division has neither a medical nor a biological justification. It's true that men's skin is often a bit tougher than women's skin. However, these differences are so small that a separate care series is not necessary. Mainly, gender specific products are only offered for marketing reasons. This also applies to cleaners. These usually differ only in packaging and scent.

A man cleans his face with water
Facial cleansing for men: There are no fundamental differences to cleansing for women

We at Xeno think : skin care is for everyone! Whether man or woman - every skin is happy about skin-friendly care products. That's why all our products are unisex.

Facial cleansing for sensitive skin

Sensitive skin likes to be left alone. Make sure to use cleaners with mild surfactants and no fragrances. Look again at the overview of mild surfactants above. In addition, you should not clean your sensitive skin too often, but only when it is necessary.

Tips for sensitive skin

  • Use cleansers with mild surfactants or an oil cleanser
  • Lots of foam is often a sign of aggressive surfactants
  • Don't clean too often

Facial cleansing for acne

Do you have acne or pimples, maybe worse than usual? Don't try to fight them with harsh products, harsh surfactants, or soap . Your skin is going through a lot right now. A mild cleanse will benefit her a lot more in the long run! If you want to actively do something against pimples, build up a suitable and skin-friendly routine. Minimalism and Lean Back are great treasures that will help you bring your skin back into balance.

Facial cleansing for rosacea

Is your face sometimes flushed? Are there also pustules and papules? Then you could have rosacea or couperose. Watch out! Your skin is very sensitive, skin care can quickly become too much for it. Make sure your cleaner contains mild sugar surfactants and avoid fragrances and essential oils . You can also use a cleaning oil that is easy to wash off thanks to emulsifiers. You should keep your hands off pure oils, rosacea doesn’t like that.

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Rosacea is a skin condition characterized by redness

Rosacea care: avoid triggers and reduce redness

Natural cosmetics for rosacea: mild alternative or irritating?

Natural cosmetics for rosacea: mild alternative or irritating?

Rosacea vs Acne

Rosacea vs Acne

Rosacea in everyday life: Lara's handling of nutrition, cosmetics & Co

Rosacea in everyday life: Lara's handling of nutrition, cosmetics & Co

Facial cleansing for perioral dermatitis

If you are currently suffering from perioral dermatitis (also known as stewardess disease), you should be careful. It would be best if you forego any care for the time being and do a zero therapy . Only wash your face with lukewarm water during zero therapy. In exceptional cases, you can try whether your skin tolerates a mild cleanser . It is important not to overwhelm them any further. If one cleaning product is too much for her, it's better not to use it.

After zero therapy, you can use a mild cleanser. Pay attention to the tips we gave above for sensitive skin.

A sign of perioral dermatitis is a bright visible triangle that forms between the nose and mouth.

Perioral dermatitis: causes, symptoms and treatment

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Skinfasting Month: zero therapy for perioral dermatitis

Skin problems 2: neurodermatitis, psoriasis and perioral dermatitis

How often should I clean my face?

You can decide whether you want to cleanse your face in the morning based on how you feel. Dry or normal skin does not necessarily have to be cleaned in the morning. If you need refreshment to wake up, a little water is enough. For oily skin, facial cleansing in the morning can be useful if it becomes greasy overnight. In the evening it makes sense to gently but thoroughly cleanse any skin.

mild cleaning products

Would you like to buy a mild cleaner, but are unsure which product to use?

Then our facial cleanser Game Changer is for you! With a pH value of 5.5 , it is perfectly adjusted to your skin. It contains the skin's own fats and very mild sugar surfactants and gently removes make-up and sunscreen without drying out or irritating your skin. With Game Changer you get a cleansing gel that turns into a caring cleansing milk when it comes into contact with water. After you wash it off you will feel a "cream effect" on your skin. That's because our cleaner is more than just a cleaning product. It cleans and balances the skin at the same time: a protective film forms on dry areas and the fat is significantly reduced on oily skin. In addition, it contains neither alcohol nor fragrances or aggressive surfactants and is therefore also suitable for very sensitive skin.

Would you like a suitable cleaning tool right away? We can help you here too. Our plant fiber sponge Naturally Naked is very soft and gives you the opportunity to gently exfoliate your skin. You can also enjoy it for a long time, because you get it in a double pack and you can wash it in the washing machine at 60°C .

The most important tips for a healthy facial cleansing

  • Don't scrub your skin or you'll wash away its natural protection.
  • Wash your face with lukewarm water. Water that is too cold or too hot stresses your skin.
  • Stay away from soaps. Their pH value is far too high and the surfactants are too aggressive for the skin.
  • It is better to only use a good and mild cleaning product. Several cleansers or 3 in 1 products with granules are not good for the skin.
  • Be sure to use mild surfactants.
  • Avoid double cleansing or cleansing with pure oils.
Heidi Hepperle

about the author

Heidi Hepperle is Marketing Assistant at Xeno . In her free time, she enjoys reading, playing the piano and doing sports. Otherwise, she keeps busy with her passions: skin care, makeup and (healthy but awesome 🤤) food. Her Instagram channel @softglambyfilipina is also about these topics.

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1 comment

  • Vanessa Perez on

    Sehr schöner Artikel 💕

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