Oct 26, 2014

Clear skin: It All Starts With The Cleanse

Picture by me
Don't you just love a good cleanse? I know I do. It leaves me refreshed and energised, its just a wonderful experience every day.

When it comes to fighting black heads, white heads and pimples, the truth is, any cleanser will do.

This comes from personal experience with someone with terribly sensitive and acne-prone skin. When I was fighting those harsh and angry pimples, I found that I could get away with the gentle cleansers, the moisturising cleansers and even the whitening cleansers!

Basically, my point is, you don't necessarily have to go and get those suited for acne/ oily skin. Simply because, these type of cleansers tend to be more harsh and irritating on the skin than the usual cleansers out there. Forcing it upon your skin because of a localised breakout could further aggravate and irritate your current breakout, or aggravate other parts of your skin that is otherwise healthy.

The most fundamental rule about cleansers: Go with the ones you're most comfortable with

If you have breakouts and at the same time, dislike that ' tight and dry' feeling you get from a certain product, don't carry on using it. Always remember that your treatments don't necessarily have to come from a cleanser.

The second tip is : Go with the flow

Your skin is ever changing! Some days your skin feels great. Some days, not so much. You can switch up your cleansers on a day-to-day basis depending on your skin's current state.
I have three cleansers I alternate from depending if my skin is feeling sensitive, dry, or very oily. Well, you get the drift.

The third tip: Don't wash too much or too often

I usually stick to twice a wash a day. Washing too much may irritate the skin, and thus may aggravate your current acne. Additionally, if you have oily/combination skin, it may even stimulate your sebaceous ( oil) glands to produce even more oil, which is the last thing you would want.

The forth tip: Always use a make-up cleanser to remove your makeup!

This might seem obvious, but some ladies I know don't do this. This could risk some leftover makeup residues on your skin that could clog your pores.
I would always use a cleansing water to get rid of my makeup and would then follow it up with my regular cleanser on my face.

My favourite make up removers are the micellar solutions. It looks like water but it is actually not! My absolute favourite is the Caudalie Cleansing Water. I have the Bioderma Sensibio as well, but nothing quite beats the Caudalie one.

So enough about that, lets get on to the cleansers I think are worth mentioning!

Now this are for those whose skin are currently very aggravated, irritated or highly sensitive skin.

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

This is no surprise to many of you out there. This is a highly advertised product. It is a gentle and slightly moisturising cleanser that I would recommend to those with aggravated acne. Keep in mind though, this will not make your acne better. It doesn't do much, it just prevents your skin from being further aggravated.

I'm not the biggest fan of this, but it does get the job done.
(If you want a full review/ my full thoughts on this cleanser, comment down below)

Good news for those in Singapore, Cetaphil is still giving away samples of this cleanser, their Cetaphil DailyAdvance Ultra Hydrating Lotion and Cetaphil SPF 50+/ UVA 28 here. If you're interested in this product, its always a good opportunity to sample it first!

However, for those whose skin are not as irritated but you'd still like something gentle, you can try:

Suki Purifying Foaming Cleanser ( used to be called 'Creamy Foaming Cleanser')

This is a really gently cleanser that packs a great punch. For those who love natural and organic products, you'll love this. They are dedicated to making products from organic sources and I quote: "100% natural & free of any synthetic ingredients, parabens, lake, fd & c or coal tar colours, preservatives, genetically modified organisms, & nano-particles."

This is more expensive than my usual cleansers at SGD 80, but for those in the US, it's at a lower price of US 32.95 ( lucky!). I love this cleanser so much I'm actually on my forth bottle and I have used this for slightly more than three years!

It has a fresh yet fizzy apple scent and lathers creamy. One pump is all I need for this cleanser and it makes my face feel so soft afterwards.

What I love about this: it has apple-derived AHA (alpha hydroxy acids), apple enzymes and antioxidants from the acai oil

For those new to my blog, I mentioned my big love for AHA's in my One Trick For A Slimmer, V-shaped face , Philosophy Part 2 , Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask | Review and many more! It basically exfoliates the outer surface of the skin, making your skin smoother. It is also commonly used in anti-ageing products to tighten the face and reduce appearances of fine lines.

(I share this cleanser with my mother and I can testify that her wrinkles visibly reduced, and her face had a radiant glow just by using this cleanser alone for a few months.)

AHA can make your skin more sensitive to the sun rays. I would recommend using a sunscreen with this product as the AHA in this is quite effective. My favourites are the 'water-based' ones like the La roche posay UVIDEA XL aqua fresh gel SPF 30 PPD 18 PA ++++ .

Additionally, although this says ' combo- oily skin' , but with saponified jojoba oil, saponified coconut oil, saponified sunflower oil and so on, I found this to be very moisturising on the skin. My mother has dry skin and she loves it as much as I do.

Side note: despite the saponified oils, this does not feel oily nor does it break me out. 

Who I recommend this to: Those looking for natural products, those who enjoy anti-ageing products, those looking for a gentle cleanser that packs a great punch.

Now stepping away from the gentle cleansers, there are cleansers I would recommend to prevent breakouts.

We talked about how bacteria ( specifically P.acnes) causes breakouts in my Clear Skin: The Cause of Breakouts & Tips . So what better way to kill these bacteria in a cleanser? 

Not many companies have anti-bacterial agents in their cleansers. So far, I only know of three drugstore companies that do: Himalaya Herbals, Sebamed and Thursday Plantation. A non-drugstore company : The Body Shop.

Purifying Neem Foaming Face Wash

Now, I can't vouch for the Sebamed, Thursday Plantation and Body Shop as I have not tried them yet. But I can vouch for this guy here.I've only hopped on this for slightly over a month now, and I love it.

Visibly I've had slightly lesser pimples sprouting, but what I love most is the foam! It makes a really light-weight cleanser but yet still able to clean right down to my pores. I realised that after using this, there would immediately be this reflective sheen to my skin. Also, It tightens some, just some, of my pores which is a sign of a good cleanser.

A word of caution though: this can be drying, and it can cause that 'dry and tight' feeling to the face. The first few use left my skin really dry, so I only use it at most once a day, usually in the morning when I want to start my face bacteria-free. Rest assured that the drying effect goes down after repeated usage.

At SGD 12.95 (Watsons and Guardian) for a 150ml pump bottle with a cap, it is affordable, effective and hygienic. Definitely a keeper over here!

Side note: There is a gel version of this cleanser. I do not recommend it as a gel formula would be even more drying to the skin. Whereas the foam version would make a lighter, gentler alternative.

Sebamed Clear Face Cleansing Foam

This too has a pump and a cap ( those with a pump without a cap isn't very hygienic) deserves a big thumbs up for  packaging. 

I have yet to try it but according to the website, it has:

 "new coconut oil-based antibacterial active ingredient Montaline C40 combats bacteria and helps prevent the formation of new pimples. Vitamin B5 supports the natural regeneration of irritated skin. sebamed CLEAR FACE Antibacterial Cleansing Foam is adjusted to the skin�s natural pH value of 5.5, protecting and supporting the biological barrier function of the skin�s acid mantle to help prevent new pimples from forming. "

No doubt this sounds promising, I do look forward to trying this out in the future! It is readily available in drugstores in Watsons and Guardian for SGD 16.40 . Have anyone out there tried this?

This too, gets a big thumbs up for packaging ( Boo you, Cetaphil). 
According to the website: it 'contains 100% pure Australian Tea Tree Oil, a natural antibacterial ingredient. Made with calming Chamomile to help soothe skin redness".

Also readily available in Pharmacy/Drugstores like Watsons and Guardian for SGD 18.35 . 

Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash

This is undoubtedly the most expensive of the lot at SGD 20.90 ,  however it does contain more product than those mentioned above. Also have not tried this, and I'm quite reluctant to do so actually. I have never really considered the Body Shop as much of a skincare destination for me. Tell me what you think if you've tried this out before. 

What I do not recommend: 

Now most acne products in the mass market often contain salicylic acid ( BHA) that I discussed in my Philosophy Brand Impression. It is really good for getting right down to the pore and cleansing it out.

However, do look at the back labels under 'Active Ingredients' before you make a purchase. Most of such cleansers I found are hovering at the 0.5% level, which is honestly really little to do anything much. Even if I were to massage it to my skin and leave it on for 10 minutes whilst in the shower, I would't think it would be much of a game changer. I would only think that those hovering at the 1.0 - 2.0% (where 2.0% is the maximum) would help the skin. Otherwise, I'd rather have my salicylic acid in my creams and treatments where it could be left on for hours at a time.

Since BHA is a chemical exfoliator, I would cover more about BHA cleansers in my Clear Skin : Exfoliation is Key which is coming soon. So do keep a look out for it!

I also do not recommend any products with any form of menthol. Once again, do check the ingredient list before you put it on your face! It really irritates the skin and personally, it breaks me out. Most facial wash for men has it, as I think men tend to like that icy cooling sensation from it. Even the Garnier Pure ACTIVE 3 in 1 Wash, Scrub, Mask has menthol in it despite having 2.0% salicylic acid.

Thats all for now, do stay tuned for my next post: Clear Skin: Exfoliation Is Key Part I. I hope this post was useful!

Goodluck and have a happy week!


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  1. I am prone to oily skin but the body shop tea tree face wash is the best. For winter it can be a tad over-drying but it definitely works for breakouts!

    And here in the UK I don't remember it being that expensive!

    Great blog and tons of info! x


    1. I guess I should try it out soon then! And thank you for your kind words, I really appreciate it.

      Yes, it's such a shame that things are so expensive here. I'm really envious of the variety of products available in the UK too. I certainly hope to visit UK soon!