Sunday, June 17, 2007

Basic steps of facial skin care routine: Cleansing & Toning

The purpose of washing/cleansing is to remove dirt, makeup, grime, contaminants and so forth from the surface of the skin. Proper cleansing not only removes impurities but also clears the way for the penetration of active ingredients you may want to apply afterwards. Cleansing may be beneficial or damaging, depending on how you do it.

Most people should cleanse their face twice a day, usually in the morning and before going to bed at night. It is best to use warm (lukewarm) water and a mild cleanser (free of harsh detergents, soaps, alcohol or other irritants). Here is the key steps and recommendations to follow:

  • Gently run cleanser all over your face with your fingertips for about 20-25 seconds
  • Splash running warm water in your face several times to rinse off the cleanser until there is no more residue on your skin. Do not direct the stream of water onto your face.
  • Take a clean towel and gently pat your face. Make sure it remains moist.
  • Apply a moisturizer or an active skin care product of choice onto clean, moist skin. Massage product into your face by gently tapping with your fingers until it is absorbed. No pulling or tugging.

Cleansers vary by the amount and types of detergents, moisturizers, emollients and other ingredients. Selecting the right cleanser depends on your skin type. But whatever your skin type may be, avoid cleansers with harsh detergents (such as sodium lauryl sulfate and its analogs), soap and alcohol (except perhaps for extremely oily skin).


Toning is often touted as an essential step in a skin care routine. Most toners contain alcohol and/or witch hazel. Both are drying and irritating, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin. So always, use a soothing toner free of alcohol or witch hazel, such as alcohol-free toner with Chamomile or Aloe Vera extract.

You do not want to strip every last molecule of oil from your skin. Only grime, makeup and excess oil on the surface needs to be removed. The underlying thin coat of fresh sebum is best left undisturbed. Toners, especially alcohol-based ones, tend to strip everything off, leaving the skin dry and/or irritated.

Some experts say that toners help close pores and tighten cell gaps after cleansing, thus reducing the penetration of impurities and environmental contaminants into the skin. You can tone after cleansing by wiping your face with a chip of frozen green tea. The cold from the ice helps close your pores; the caffeine and tannins in the tea help tighten skin and reduce puffiness; and green tea polyphenols may provide antioxidant benefits. But don't overuse the cold - frequent excessive cooling may increase the risk of developing stubborn skin redness.

Next Article: Basic steps of facial skin care routine: Moisturizing….

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