More often than not we find ourselves splurging on skincare products thinking they’d help keep our skin free of excess oils, acne and imperfections. In our insanity to score a flawless complexion, we often skip a basic step: cleansing.
“There’s no point in moisturizing or using anti-aging or anti-acne products on your skin if you don’t have a clean palette to work with.”, says Annet King, director of global education for Dermalogica.
Let’s take a look at the wast majority of the face cleansing products available, and see whether or not they can help your oily skin.
1. Make-up Remover or Wipes
Cleansing wipes are convenient to use and they provide a fast way to remove all that grime from your skin. But removing make-up is not cleansing! You’d want to use a face wash after using a wipe and that is because removing make-up is just a pre-step to the actual cleansing. Wipes are superficial surface cleansing options and they don’t help with oil build-ups locked inside your pores.
While the majority of the cleansing wipes are cheap and convenient to use, leaving cleansing in their hands is a job half done. For oily skin, you still need to follow with a face wash, face oil or a scrub for deep pore cleansing.
Try:Yes to Cucumber Facial Towelettes (6$)
2. Facial Wash
When it comes to oily skin the best daily cleanser should be gentle, alcohol-free and should include relevant active ingredients. Salicylic acid, benzol peroxide or tea tree are the most common medications used for the treatment of blemishes.
I recommend gel cleansers for very oily skin, I personally dislike foaming products because I don’t think they clean your skin thouroughly. Cream cleansers are also recommended for more sensitive or extremely dehydrated complexions.
You may never know what’s in it. Although you may think a product is formulated with a specific ingredient you may never know if the concentration is high enough to actually work. I recommend you stick to known brands that state the concentration of the active ingredients on the packaging, like 1% salicylic acid.
Philosophy Clear Days Ahead™ Oil-Free Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Cleanser (22$)
Soaps are usually considered harsh for acne-prone skin but there’s a twist. The ones that are harsh are not really soaps. What you see selling as „cleansing bar”, „soap bar” or „cream bar” are not actual soaps but detergents.
Actual soap is the result of the chemical reaction between caustic soda and fats, but due to the manufacturing process, to keep the price of the soap low, manufacturers are not using the classical soap making recipe. In essence, they are not making soap.
These bars are, indeed harsh and irritating for skin and you should stay clear of them! However, hand-made soaps are different. How different? Check my article Is Hand-Made Soap Better For Skin Than Regular Soap to learn more.
While home-made soaps are cheap and suitable for very oily skin, they might not be recommended if you suffer from dehydration or have dry patches. Always use a good moisturizer or a hydrating serum to make sure the soap doesn’t cause extra tightenss or dryness.
Try: Apple Valley Acne Battle Bar (7$)
4. Daily Scrub
Scrubs are no longer a weekly-use concept. They’ve evolved to a daily product suitable for all skin types, especially oily skin with imperfections. Why? Oily skin tends to be thicker and more resilient to abrasive products compared to other skin types.
This means it can benefit from daily scrubbing without having to fear irritations. Moreover, companies are now developing gentler and more moisturizing products to make up for the dehydrating effect of original scrubs.
If you have sensitive skin, then daily scrubbing may mean over-scrubbing. If you feel your skin too tight, red or simply irritated go back to the regular twice-a-week scrub.
Try: Neutrogena Clear Pore Daily Scrub (8$)
5. Cleansing Oil
It all started with the oriental Oil Cleansing Method, then brands launched oil-based cleansers and now we see everyone recommending oil blends as serums/moisturizers. If you think oil is bad for oily skin, think twice! There are oils and oils, and some have incredible benefits even for oily skin.
The OCM combines different type of oils that are believed to be able to dissolve excess sebum from your skin without unnecessary dryness. I find this to be true, and although I’ve never tried OCM, I did use and am still using oil cleansers to remove make-up and deep cleanse skin. Why I love these cleansers is because they really don’t overdry my skin and are really great since my face is really dehydrated.
Most dermatologists are reluctant to believe in oils as a treatment for acne prone skin. If you are really battling moderate or severe acne better stick to proven drugstore products.
Try: L’Occitane en Provence Shea Butter Cleansing Oil (22$)
6. Cleansing Pads
Cleansing pads are more of a treatment than cleansers and that’s because you don’t wash your face after using them. This can only be a good thing because the serum can penetrate the skin and is well absorbed. Cleansing pads are designed for oily, acne-prone skin unfortunately most of them contain Alcohol, the bad type of Alcohol.
However, some companies have come up with medicated alternatives containing salicylic acid or tea tree extract and these are the most appropriate for problematic skin.
Cleansing pads are not really cleansing products but serums or treatment cosmetics. Most of them should be applied on an already cleansed skin and the application differs from brand to brand, some of them require after-rinsing (like Aveeno Daily Cleansing Pads which I consider a great cleansing product) others are leave-on treatments.
Try: Aveeno Positively Radiant Dual Cleansing Pads (7$)
7. Power-Up Cleansing Brushes
Electric cleansing brushes have been used in professional saloons since 1960. However, only in 2004 their popularity increasead with the launch of Clarisonic.
“These devices take cleansing one step further. I like to think of them as a means of mechanical exfoliation.” said Dr. Bowe for NY Times.
Clarisonic’s Deep Pore Cleansing Brush Head is designed for oilier and thicker complexions with enlarged pores, being more efficient in removing excess oils, debris and preventing breakouts than other traditional products.
Experts, like celebrity estetician Renee Rouleau, believe we are exposed to too mush exfoliation that will just make us end up in tears. Just think about what our skin endures on a weekly basis, mechanical exfoliation twice a day, masks with chemical peels, daily enzyme and acid anti-aging products. Maybe the best way of caring for your oily skin is by not overdoing it.
Try: Olay Professional Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System (30$)
8. Scrublets and cleansing sponges
Cleansing sponges are usually used by beauticians for a very practical reason: how else can one remove cleansing products when you lay down? When in the comfort of our restrooms, our hands will do just fine. But if you still feel like an additional mechanical exfoliator (sponge) will make your face smoother then go ahead, there are a few products that you could try. Sponges are highly absorbent and are able to soak in more dirt and old makeup thus, unclogging pores and preventing breakouts.
Sponges and scrublets have a higher change to irritate your skin than to smoothen it because of 2 main reasons: 1- the fabric the sponge is made of may be too harsh to be used on face; 2- sponges and cloths may easily harbour fungus and bacteria if not properly cared for.
Try: Boscia The Konjac Sponge (15$)