Washing Your Face and Other Crazy Making Adventures

There are a lot of variables to something that seems so simple on the surface.

What time of day is it?

Are you going to shower, and if so when?

Will you be exercising later?

Did you wear makeup today?

Did you wear sunscreen?

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about how to wash your face, what to use, what not to use, etc. I’m going to try to answer a lot of questions all in one blog. I think the smartest advice I’ve heard comes from Caroline Hirons. Her blog is linked on my Nerdery page, above.

Choosing Cleansers

If you walk into Target, or CVS, or Sephora, or Walmart, ANYWHERE, you are going to feel the same way—accosted with marketing, and way too many options. There will be some winners and a whole lot of loser cleansers, and I would like to help you be a winner there too!

Stay away from a bottle which says it foams. There a lots of great foaming free cleansers, so if you want to give your brain a break just choose one that doesn’t foam to start.

Side note: If you’re like me and you scoured every ingredient label you had when you first started watching how you treat your skin, you may want a bit more information about coconut based foaming agents, which tend to be gentler than SLS products. But, because of the way a manufacturer formulates the product, the result in one cleanser could be very nice and in another extremely stripping and drying. Link HERE for another article soon on those coconut agents.

No grit. No exfoliating beads. No little tools that will work your skin into a motorized, gleaming, shiny mess. These all do one thing: they over strip your skin, and they disrupt your skin’s natural balance. What that does is forces your skin make more oil to compensate. This gets to be a dangerous, downhill cycle very quickly. If you use a cleanser and pat your face dry and you think, “Wow! My skin feels so tight and perfectly clean! Like it could squeak!” DANGER! DANGER! DANGER! That’s not what we’re after, Face Freaks. Far better is the effect from a balm like The Body Shop’s Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter, (http://amzn.to/2vFsdVf) which leaves a little bit of gorgeous oil on your face afterward. That is the kind of softness we are going for.

Lastly, we are looking for the absence of witch hazel, and simple alcohols like alchol denatured, alcohol denat., isopropyl alcohol, and alcohol all by itself. These are all far too astringent. Again, they’ll strip your skin. And that is not good. Witch hazel belongs in your home remedy cabinet for sure—it’s amazing. But don’t put it on your face, Face Freaks.

So no foam (no SLS: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate), no grit, no machines, no simple alcohol, no witch hazel.

What DO you want? A clean washcloth per day. Every morning you need to make a choice about how your skin feels. What do you feel like using? Do you want something soothing, something refreshing, something that will wake you up? Something fast? Something luxurious?

There are cleansers for all of those. But what you must do regardless of the product is use a warm damp washcloth to remove the cleanser, to gently exfoliate your face and remove trace amounts you missed by rinsing with water.

-If you use an oil based cleanser then you’re going to smooth it onto your face, gently massaging it everywhere.
Then wipe the WWWc (Warm, Wet, Washcloth) all over your face. Take off that balm.

-If you use a cleanser that isn’t oil based (normally they’ll have names like milk cleanser, cream cleanser, gel cleanser)
start with a dry face,
rub the product onto your face, avoiding your eyes IF the manufacturer tells you to, otherwise rub it onto your entire face.
(Sometimes you might need to slightly wet your fingers or hands to get the product to spread well, so do that after you’ve spread most onto your face.)
Splash it off with warm, running water.

Then take your WWWc and wring it until damp, rubbing it over your face to remove trace amounts, which exfoliates and dries your face.

Even though it is damp, your face will dry very quickly.

How do you deal with life’s variables?

So, okay, now we know a few no-no’s, and now how do we actually, practically apply these suggestions?

Can I please suggest that you buy one really lovely oil based cleanser, and another simple one. The first must be able to remove makeup (like the Camomile butter above) and the second can be a milk, cream, or gel cleanser. It might be fine on your eye area and it might not. Whatever you choose. I will make a list at the end of this blog of some recommended products.

Caroline Hirons calls out Americans for cleansing their faces in the shower too often. I think she is right, but I also know that many people might never start the routine if you don’t have that option. So if you need to cleanse in the shower, here are my thoughts:

Clean your face last. Use a washcloth as described above. Being in the shower doesn’t mean you can skip using the wonderful, exfoliating washcloth. Don’t scrub, for goodness sakes. Just gently wipe your face. 

When I’m taking a shower in the evening, I will sometimes save my double cleanse for after I get out of the shower, but if I am in a rush, I will do it in the shower. I like to turn on the shower, apply a balm and remove my mascara first in the mirror. Then I step in the shower, heat up my WWWc, cool it to a nice temperature, read NOT burning hot, and wipe my face clean. Look at all the gunk on it! Seriously—good job! Then after I’m done showering, before I turn off the water, I turn down the temperature and rub one more cleanser onto my face, preferably a rinseable one, because I don’t want to over exfoliate my face. Rinse it off, then gently pat it drier with my washcloth again, which I rinsed out first.

Then proceed with your routine!

You only need to do a single cleanse if:

it’s morning time, Yay!

It’s evening and you didn’t step outside so you didn’t put on makeup or sunscreen.

Is that clear?

If you wake up and go exercise first thing, you have to decide if you will need to put on sunscreen or not. If you are going outside, it’s a need and not a want. You must do it.

I know many people who prefer to do one single moisturizing cleanse before they exercise. That’s fine! I know people who prefer to just get out and do it, and then come home to do their skincare routine. That’s fine! Just do it and do it thoughtfully. If you exercise in your living room, you may be alright just doing a single cleanse afterwards. You might decide you want or need to do a double cleanse after. Both fine options! The only requisite is if you put on sunscreen, you must take it off with a double cleanse. It just won’t get removed properly otherwise.


Here are some of my and my friends’ favorite cleansers. To the best of my knowledge, I have checked over the ingredient lists and they are all Caroline Hirons compatible.

In approximate price order at time of publishing:

Oil Based Cleansers:

From $10-$16 The Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter  http://amzn.to/2vFsdVf

$24 Pixi By Petra + Caroline Hirons Double Cleanse 3.38oz http://bit.ly/2vHOOQa

$28 BOSCIA Tsubaki™ Cleansing Oil-Gel 150 mL http://seph.me/2uBoUJx

$30 Clinique’s Take the Day Off http://bit.ly/2pMSZVK

$34 belif Cleansing Gel Oil Enriched 150 mL http://seph.me/2vHSz80


Non-Oil Based Cleansers

About $5 Neutrogena’s Deep Clean Cream Cleanser  http://amzn.to/2flxslN

About $8 NIP + FAB Glycolic Fix Cleanser 5.1 fl oz http://amzn.to/2uk9WfK

About $8 Neutrogena Naturals Acne Cream Cleanser, 5 Oz http://amzn.to/2hFmrwm

About $9 Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser For Sensitive Skin 12 Fl Oz. http://amzn.to/2hEgos5

$10 No7 Beautiful Skin Melting Gel Cleanser http://bit.ly/2ved0Jc

About $11 Avalon Organics Wrinkle Therapy Cleansing Milk http://amzn.to/2uMX6mL

$15 Nourish Organic Moisturizing Cream Face Cleanser 177mL/6 fl oz. http://amzn.to/2vzLOmY

$18 Bayberry Naturals Soothing Milk Face Cleanser http://www.bayberrynaturals.com/soothing-milk-facial-cleanser.html

$18 Milky Jelly Cleanser 177mL/6 fl oz. https://www.glossier.com/products/milky-jelly-cleanser

$18 Pixi Mud Glow Cleanser 4.57 oz. http://bit.ly/2u2K6JI

$18 Honest Beauty Refreshingly Clean Gel Cleanser 150 ml/ 5 fl oz https://www.honestbeauty.com/products/refreshing-gel-cleanser

$20 First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser 150mL/ 5 oz. http://seph.me/2vgiCRz

$22 Juice Beauty Cleansing Milk 200mL/ 6.75 fl oz http://bit.ly/2uCJb5X

$28 · $28 Deciem’s NIOD Sanskrit Saponins 90ml http://tidd.ly/c43f9e9f

$28 Milk Makeup Charcoal Cleanser 135g/4.75oz https://milkmakeup.com/products/charcoal-cleanser/

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