Does your skin feel ‘squeaky clean’ after cleansing? Here’s why you might be cleansing wrong

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Hanna Ibraheem
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Cleansing is important but a survey highlighted one major misconception we have when it comes to cleaning our skin. Here, a skin expert explains why your skin shouldn’t feel tight after cleansing.

There’s no understating the importance of cleansing your skin. As well as shifting dirt and grime that accumulates on the skin’s surface throughout the day, it also clears the way for the rest of your skincare products to perform more effectively.

“Cleansing is the first step in the skincare routine,” explains Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme, general medicine consultant and expert aesthetic physician. “It reduces the risks of breakouts and damage to the skin from environmental pollutants.”

While one cleanse is sufficient for your morning regime, cleaning your skin thoroughly is particularly important at night and experts recommend cleansing twice. “An evening cleanse removes make-up, excess oil, pollution and residual SPF from your skin,” says Dr Ejikeme. “These can leave the skin looking dull and lead to breakouts. It is really important to keep this step in your nightly skincare routine. Make it part of your night-time ritual, like getting ready for bed or brushing your teeth.”

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However, a recent survey on cleansing habits, conducted by skincare brand CeraVe and Ipsos, found that we have some misconceptions around this particular skincare step. The study found that 30% of people in the UK believe skin should feel tight after cleansing. This isn’t the case at all.

Rather than tight and sore, Dr Ejikeme says your skin should feel fresh, clean: “The tight feeling may be a sign the skin barrier has been impaired.

“The skin barrier is your body’s first line of defence, maintaining the water balance in the skin and preventing unwanted bacteria and other pathogens from getting into the skin. You can effectively cleanse and support that skin barrier by opting for cleansers which don’t leave the skin feeling stripped.”

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In addition to washing your face at the wrong temperature– experts say a lukewarm 37°C is ideal for an effective cleanse – harsh, drying ingredients can also cause problems. When purchasing a cleanser, look out for gentle but skin-boosting ingredients such as barrier-protecting ceramides, hydrating hyaluronic acid, antioxidant vitamin E, soothing chamomile and moisturising glycerin.

Once you’ve got your ideal cleanser, the process is pretty easy. “Use clean hands, wet your face with water and use your favourite cleanser,” she instructs. “Massage it onto your skin for around 30 seconds and when you wash it off, ensure the water runs clear. Once you’re done, pat [don’t rub – this can cause irritation] your skin dry with a soft towel.”

Looking for a new cleanser? Here, the Stylist beauty team rounds up their favourite gentle options.

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