And 8 of the Most Common Cleansing Mistakes to Avoid
By Kendall Farr, Licensed Esthetician, Spada Skincare
With skincare it’s the basics—especially cleansing—that are the foundation of any effective skin care routine. The cleanser you use can mean the difference between a healthy and balanced barrier or dryness, dehydration, sensitivity, and distress. Simply put, as basic as washing your face may seem, there are many ways to cleanse your skin into irritation rather than radiant health.
Here’s What to Avoid:
Using Cleansing Wipes or Bar Soap
Yes, cleansing wipes offer convenience. What they don’t provide is real cleansing. Imagine applying a liquid cleanser to your skin and then not rinsing it off with water. You wouldn’t. Ever. Yet, this is exactly what happens to your skin when you use cleansing wipes which spread—rather than remove—dirt and debris across the skin. And that’s where it remains as a pore-clogging film that will also prevent serums or moisturizer from fully penetrating your skin. And bar soap? It leaves behind even more film on the skin. Bar soaps are held together with ‘binders’ to maintain their shape and binders are very high in PH. That high PH left on the skin creates a surface build-up of dry skin cells. This pile-up leads to skin dehydration. Bottom line, bar soap leaves a mess behind. In fact, bar soap isn’t so great for the body either. Conditions like keratosis pilaris that cause little bumps on the skin (feels and looks like chicken skin) are made worse by the film left behind by bar soap.
Using Heavy Oils as Cleansers
Remember that coconut oil and water cleanse you tried after you watched it on TikTok? Cleansing with a heavy oil may leave your skin feeling silky after rinsing but you haven’t cleaned your skin. Oils were deposited onto your barrier where they functioned as a kind of moisturizer but not as a cleanser. And this means that any products—especially serums—you applied afterward couldn’t effectively penetrate your barrier. In the evening, removing makeup, SPF, and dirt with an ultra-light oil that emulsifies with water like GM Collin Sensiderm Cleansing Oil is an ideal first cleanse for all skins (except for the very oily and acne prone). It’s especially supportive for dry and sensitive skins.
Cutting Cleansing Corners at Night
The purpose of two cleanses in the evening is to remove the day from your face—the makeup, SPF, and environmental dirt and debris that has settled on your face and neck. Cleansing lotions will dissolve oils and pigments from makeup and stubborn zinc and titanium dioxide from your SPF but rinsing alone won’t remove it all. Gently wipe away your first cleanse with a washcloth to remove all makeup. It’s this gentle wiping action with a cloth that moves everything off your face and neck. And don’t forget to include your chest. Then move on to a second cleanse—a deep cleanse for your skin that will open your pores.
Skipping Your Morning Cleanse
You may think just a quick splash of water is fine in the morning. Or that a rinse in the shower is enough. If you double cleansed your face the night before it’s very clean, right? It’s not, and consider this: Your skin works hard at night repairing itself and secreting toxins and sebum. Your AM cleanse removes these along with any residue from your PM products that can block the total penetration of your daytime products. Leaving even a small residue of retinol on your skin, for example, can be irritating. Ingredients like Vitamin C serum need a clean and damp surface to be fully absorbed and activated. And no, you won’t strip your skin if you wash it in the morning (a common misconception). In fact, you’re boosting your moisture levels. If your skin feels dry or tight post-wash, you are likely using the wrong cleanser for your skin type. Ask your esthetician to recommend the right cleanser for your skin now. Avoid using the same cleanser for decades. As your levels of oil production and hydration change, your cleanser needs to be gentler, creamier, and more hydrating to accommodate the inevitable loss of natural moisture factors in your skin.
Cleansing Too Aggressively (Brushes! Scrubs!)
Have you ever wondered why you experience a little stinging when you apply something active like an AHA or Vitamin C serum to your cheeks? It’s most likely caused by microabrasions to your barrier. In fact, one of the most common culprits in skin irritation is over-cleansing with sonic brushes. When the bristles of the spinning brush are rubbed over the face, they lift off dry skin along with dirt. The cheeks are usually over scrubbed since they’re front and center, our cheekbones make the skin taut, and it’s easier to work the brush more deeply here. Foreheads and chins also receive too much attention. Use your sonic brush with a very light hand—a few times a week only—and be sure that the pressure you apply is soft and evenly distributed. You’ll still achieve plenty of exfoliation.
Same goes for facial scrubs. Kernels ground from apricot pits or walnut shells are too rough for the skin on your face, neck, and chest, and they commonly create tiny tears on the skin. When it comes to mechanical exfoliation, gentle is best. An effective way to slough off what’s dead and dry is with a product that provides both chemical exfoliation (from alpha hydroxy acids) and mechanical exfoliation (from gentle-textured rice bran) like GM Collin Phyto Aromatic Gommage.
Applying Products to a Dry Face
Maintaining moisture in your skin prevents dehydration and facilitates high absorption. When you wash your face, you have about 60 seconds before the moisture evaporates from your skin through a process known as trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL). Avoid this by adding the moisture boost of a hydrating toner—immediately after cleansing—that’s formulated to support your skin type. GM Collin offers three formulations: Hydramucine (for normal to dry), Sensiderm (for sensitive), and Pureactive (normal to oily). Think of your skin as a damp sponge fully absorbing the next ingredient you apply whether it’s a serum or a moisturizer.
PRO TIP: AM and PM, after you finish washing your face, apply a toning mist immediately—and while the skin is slightly damp, apply the next product. Have your routine lined up and ready to use.
Using a Poor Quality Cleanser
If the first product in your skin care routine—cleanser—doesn’t work effectively, then nothing you use will work effectively. It’s that simple. Pay attention to the ingredients in your cleanser. Avoid sulfates. Skip synthetic fragrances and dyes—they are irritating and drying. All the cleansers in the GM Collin product line meet the cleanest standards.
Using the Wrong Cleanser for Your Skin Type
Your skin type evolves with age, and your skin’s needs will change significantly from your 20’s to your 40’s and beyond. It’s important to pay attention to your levels of dryness and sensitivity—even if you still experience breakouts. Your esthetician can help with a skin analysis and guidance on how to cleanse, nourish, and protect your skin as it is now.
Establish a simple, effective cleansing routine and stay with it. The lasting benefits of hydrated and glowing skin are worth it.