Makeup Tips: Cleaners and Cleansers

No amount of makeup can compensate for bad skin, so skin care should be your top priority. Plain soap and water won’t do; what you need is a skin care regimen designed specifically for your skin type. Here’s a quick guide to help you get started.
Makeup Tips: Cleaners and Cleansers

As kids, we’ve been told all we need to take care of our face is soap and water. But that’s only true for ten-year-olds. As you grow older, your oil glands become more active, and your skin becomes more prone to imperfections. Adult skin needs more than soap and water to stay clean—in fact, using just these two can put you more at risk, because soap washes off your skin’s natural protective oils.

So how do you keep your face clean without drying it out? There are different cleansing products out there, some certainly more effective than others. The trick is to know what your skin type is and find a product that works best for it. Here’s a simple guide to help you out.

The three-step approach

Doctors recommend the three-step approach of cleansing, toning, and moisturizing. Cleansing simply removes the excess dirt and oils from your skin. It does the same thing as soap, except that it doesn’t have the harsh chemicals that peel of the skin’s natural moisture.

Cleansing leaves your skin’s pH out of balance, which is why you need to follow up by toning. Toners restore your skin’s natural acidity, preventing the redness and itching caused by too much cleansing. It also helps shrink your pores and prevent dirt and oil buildup—the main cause of pimples.

Finally, moisturizing restores the natural fluids that get stripped off when you wash your face. Different skin types call for different moisturizers; some women don’t need to moisturize at all.


There are different facial washes designed for different skin care needs. Normal skin works well with most cleansers, even those designed for special needs, although it works best with oil-free products. Pore-shrinking cleansers are also recommended, especially in the summer when your pores expand from the heat. Cleansers for dry skin are usually mixed with moisturizers or serums, which help restore skin moisture while you clean.

There are also facial scrubs or exfoliating washes, which have nutritive beads mixed in to add some texture. The roughness helps slough off dead skin cells and reveal the layer of younger skin underneath. Scrubs are great for anti-aging regimens, but may be too harsh for normal or sensitive skin. If you’re using a facial scrub, it’s important to follow with a gentle moisturizing to help your skin heal faster.


Toners are classified according to their strength or alcohol content. The mildest toners, also called fresheners or skin bracers, contain almost no alcohol and are meant mostly to freshen up the skin. The natural coolness helps shrink the pores, making your skin look finer and smoother. This type works best on dry and sensitive skin. Rosewater makes a good natural freshener.

Skin tonics are around 20% alcohol. They also contain humectants, which keep it from evaporating before it’s fully absorbed. Orange flower water is a popular ingredient in skin tonics. It goes well with oily, combination and normal skin.

Astringents are the strongest form of toner, with around 60% alcohol. Some are strong enough to double as disinfectants. Because they are so strong, they are usually applied only to problem areas such as dry patches and spots, and often followed by a strong moisturizer. Otherwise, they’ll dehydrate your skin and you’ll produce excess oil to compensate for the dryness. Witch hazel is used as a natural astringent.


Facial moisturizers should be applied after the toner has completely dried; otherwise they’ll seal in the fluid and irritate your skin. Contrary to popular belief, moisturizers don’t actually bring moisture into your skin—they only keep existing moisture from escaping. However, moisturizers for extremely dry skin contain a small amount of serum to better seal in the product.

If your skin is just moderately oily, you can try an oil-free cleansing moisturizer. This works by gently cleaning out your pores, without leaving any oil that can lead to further blocking. This helps prevent oil-related problems such as blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, and comedones.