Cleansing, like many other aspects of skincare, comes with a lot of myths, misconceptions and mixed information. That’s why we’ve gathered eight experts and enthusiasts in this article to spill some beau-tea and reveal their best kept secrets about cleansers.
Let’s get right into it!
- Name: Alicia Tan
- Occupation: Content creator
- Age: 29
- Skin type: Dry
- Length of experience / interest in skincare: 7 years
I have dry skin, and had previously used cleansers that weren’t suited for me. I think they were too harsh on my skin, which caused dryness and irritation. So for me, cleansers are very important, as it’s an essential first step to remove all dirt, impurities and environmental aggressors from the skin.
Personally, I prefer gel type cleansers - they’re gentle and more hydrating, yet effective. However, we all have different skin types, so find one that’s suitable for you. The key is to not get one that’s too harsh on the skin. Your skin should not feel tight post cleansing! It should feel comfortable.
- Name: Eros
- Occupation: Freelancer
- Age: 24
- Skin type: Oily, acne-prone
- Length of experience/interest in skincare: Since 2014
I began to develop my enthusiasm towards skincare in 2014.
As the first step of my skincare routine, cleansing is important because it helps to create a clean canvas for my remaining steps by removing dead skin cells, helping with cellular turnover and ensuring better absorption of subsequent products I layer on.
I started using cleansers around the age of 14, which was when I started getting lots of breakouts. I didn’t know much about skincare back then, so I simply used products that I could afford. I also didn’t learn of the correct way of cleansing. These worsened my skin.
Back then, I thought cleansers with beads or micro capsules would exfoliate my skin and make it better. However, they didn’t actually help and only irritated my skin more. As a result, I had more frequent breakouts. After that, I stopped using harsh cleansers and switched to gentler ones. As I got more into skincare, I also started researching ingredients in products before using them.
Personally, I prefer gel cleansers now. Gel cleansers have a clear, jelly-like consistency and typically need to be rinsed off. They deeply cleanse with just one wash and remove excess oil from my face without stripping it of moisture. There are cleansers out there that are very moisturising and packed with hydrating ingredients, leaving the skin feeling moist and fresh - those gel cleansers are my faves.
My advice for cleansing: wash your face gently in a circular motion. Also, if you wear makeup, remember to double cleanse to ensure that the makeup is fully removed.
Name: Kenny Yee
Occupation: Makeup artist
Skin type: Normal to combination
Length of experience/interest in skincare: 21 years
Cleansers are very important to me! If I could bring only one skincare product along to a deserted island, it would be a cleanser. In my years as a professional makeup artist, I’ve met numerous customers who experienced skin dryness from using unsuitable cleansers. While my personal preference for cleansers varies with the season and environment, if your current cleanser leaves your skin feeling tight or dry, you should stop using it. A cleanser that is suitable for your skin is a need, not a want.
Name: Ng Mian Yiek
Occupation: Dermal Clinician/Medical Aesthetician
Length of experience in the beauty/skincare industry: 4 years
I have 4 years of experience in the beauty/skincare industry. Some customers aren’t sure about the type of cleanser they are suited for, while some damage their skin with cleansers that are wrong for them. These customers could be from any age, ranging from 10 to 55 years old. They then face all kinds of problems: acne for teens, dehydration for some. Other skin conditions such as Rosacea and Dermatitis also occur.
If you have an unsuitable cleanser, instead of waiting till you finish it, I suggest switching immediately to one that’s more suitable for you - you’ll find your skin increasingly healthy and stable with it.
When it comes to choosing a cleanser for the general population/my patients, my advice is as long as it works for them and keeps their skin fresh and healthy - because it still depends on their skin type. For me, I have combination sensitive skin. I prefer a gel in the morning and a slightly foamy cleanser in the evening. They keep my skin happy.
Pay attention to the ingredients when choosing skincare products. You should at least be able to recognise and avoid harmful ingredients such as excessive fragrances, ethanol, etc. To minimise the risk of selecting the wrong product, it’s necessary to equip yourself with these knowledge.
Name: Sik Xinne
Occupation: Aesthetic device application specialist
Skin type: Dry to combination
Length of experience / interest in skincare: 5 years
I started to learn about the importance of cleansers when I was 18. Since I started wearing makeup, cleansing plays a really important role in preventing breakouts. I have dry to combination skin, so I prefer cleansing milk, which is more gentle and hydrates my skin. Sometimes gel-type cleansers are fine too.
I’ve tried harsh cleansers that caused dryness and peeling. I switched them out immediately and started using moisturising products, such as masks, to quickly hydrate my skin. I’ve been avoiding foaming cleansers since then, as they’re meant for oily skin and could dehydrate my skin.
Choose a cleanser that is suitable for you; use it regularly to remove impurities from your face, even if you don’t wear makeup. Cleansing your face will prep your skin for better absorption of other skincare products.
Name: Zi Yan
Occupation: Beauty tattoo artist
Skin type: Dry
Length of experience / interest in skincare: 6 years
I’m a beauty tattoo artist. Cleansers are very important to me. As the first step of skincare, cleansing preps the skin for the remaining routine. Without cleansing first, the skincare products you apply basically go to waste and could even burden your skin.
I have dry sensitive skin, so I prefer non-foaming cleansers, which I think are more gentle and moisturizing. Here’s how to cleanse better: wet your face with lukewarm water (about 35°C), then wash with cold water after cleansing. You can also use salted water, which dissolves sebum and impurities to minimise blackheads.
For your reference, these are the steps I take when my skin acts up in response to unsuitable products: I press pause on all products to prevent from further burdening my skin, which needs rest. After a period of time, I’ll resume my routine in gradual steps to allow my skin to readapt to the products. On a side note, remember to study the products and their ingredients before using them.
Name: Yim Pei Yi
Occupation: Regulatory affairs assistant
Skin type: Combination skin
Length of experience / interest in skincare: 8 years
I started to learn about the importance of cleansers when I was 16 years old, which was when I started having acne breakouts.
My skin is considered combination skin. I used to think when you cleanse your skin, it needs to feel squeaky clean. So, I would buy oil-controlling or blackhead-removing cleansers. I also thought I was supposed to wash my face whenever it feels oily. I was wrong. My skin was dehydrated and breakouts would worsen or not heal.
As a result, I began only using cleansers that are pH-balanced and don’t strip moisture off my face. Gel and non-foaming cleansers are my go-to. They are less drying as compared to foaming cleansers. I also only cleanse at night instead of twice a day.
Cleansing is important especially if you wear makeup or sunscreen. Leaving makeup or sunscreen on the skin every day can disrupt your skin barrier by throwing off the pH balance! Cleansing also removes excess sebum that can clog your pores.
Don’t cleanse your face for more than 60 seconds or twice a day. Double cleansing once a day is enough. Your skin will thank you!
Name: Tam Xin Pei
Occupation: Beauty consultant / beautician
Length of experience in the beauty/skincare industry: 7 years
I’m a beautician with 7 years of experience in the industry. Cleansing is a basic step of skincare, which reduces pigmentation and bacterial growth. The right cleanser will also help boost your skin’s absorption of subsequent products.
I have a lot of customers who are faced with sensitivity, acne flare-ups and dehydration from using the wrong product - mostly cleansers that are too harsh. There’s no one product type that’s superior to the rest, as it depends on the skin type and condition. Be it foaming, mildly-foaming or non-foaming, you can find good cleansers of each variety. But, I would advise against harsh cleansers, because the skin requires a little bit of oil to remain healthy.
Nowadays it’s really easy to manufacture skincare products. Therefore, it’s really important to learn about ingredients and certification, the company’s background and reputation and to identify the authenticity of product reviews.