Cleansing 101: Pro tips for cleansing your skin like a dermatologist


(BPT) - Keeping skin clean and healthy might seem simple, but for many people, finding a skincare routine that works can take trial and error. From common misconceptions about cleansing to a store shelf overflowing with different types of products, it can feel overwhelming. In fact, according to a recent survey of dermatologists, there are a variety of topics their patients need more education on, with 46% of dermatologists saying their patients need help selecting products that are well-suited for their skin type and 25% saying they need help understanding ingredients in products. Luckily, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Daniel Sugai wants to break down the facts, give you tips and advice to perfect your skincare routine and help us all get the most out of our cleanser and find a more effective approach to having healthy, hydrated skin.

Fact: More cleansing doesn’t necessarily mean better cleansing

Many people think that frequent cleansing or harder scrubbing equates to cleaner skin. In fact, when asked what their patients are doing incorrectly when it comes to cleansing, the most common response from dermatologists was scrubbing too hard, according to that same survey of dermatologists, which was conducted by CeraVe. A better approach is a gentle cleansing routine, and Sugai recommends cleansing once or twice a day, depending on your skin type.

"If my patients have dry or sensitive skin, it is okay to skip the cleanser in the morning if preferred, but if they have oily or acne-prone skin, I always recommend cleansing both morning and night," said Sugai.

He added that depending on your lifestyle, you may want to add an additional cleanse throughout your day as needed, such as after a workout. Sweat, dirt, sunscreen and sebum (an oily substance produced by skin) can get trapped in your pores, so an extra cleanse after exercise is recommended by dermatologists to help remove these substances and avoid acne breakouts. In fact, aside from a morning and nighttime skincare routine, nearly three-quarters (72%) of dermatologists agree that they are most likely to wash their face after working out.

Fact: Ingredients and formulation make a difference

When it comes to choosing the best cleanser, it should be one that both effectively removes dirt, oil and buildup and gives back to skin by preserving skin’s hydration with moisturizing ingredients. After that, it depends on your skin type. From active ingredients to hydrating benefits, and gel cleansers to creams and foams, the ingredients and the formulation make a difference in how well the cleanser will work for your skin.

"I recommend being open to different ingredients and products, as not one product fits everyone’s skin needs," said Sugai. “Those with oily or acne-prone skin should choose between formulations like gel or foam, while those with dry or dehydrated skin should choose a cream. Choose ingredients based on your skin type. Those with acne-prone skin should look for an active ingredient like benzoyl peroxide, as well as niacinamide, an anti-inflammatory, while those with dry skin should look for hyaluronic acid to attract and retain moisture.”

Another key ingredient is ceramides. In fact, more than half (52%) of surveyed dermatologists agree the most important ingredient to look for in a cleanser is ceramides, which will help keep the skin barrier intact.

The CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser is a gentle cleanser that was developed with dermatologists for those with dry skin to provide the benefits of a hydrating cream cleanser but also the refreshing feel of a foaming formula. It effectively cleanses and removes makeup, dirt, oil and buildup while giving back to skin with hyaluronic acid, amino acids and three essential ceramides, which work together to maintain the skin barrier and lock in moisture for all-day hydration. It transforms into a soft foam that gently, yet efficiently cleanses the skin, without disrupting the skin barrier or leaving skin feeling dry.

Fact: That squeaky-clean feeling isn't good

Cleansing is supposed to not only remove dirt, oil and residue, but also maintain skin’s natural moisture. Yet, 52% of dermatologists say their patients believe their skin should feel tight or “squeaky clean” after they wash their face, which is actually a sign of dryness.

"If your cleanser is causing irritation or a sensation of tight, squeaky clean skin, then your skin is telling you that you are overdoing it," said Sugai. "By being too harsh to your skin barrier, the products that follow after your cleanser can cause further skin irritation. Once the skin barrier is compromised, bad things can enter your skin, such as microbes and allergens, and good things leave, like moisture. Cleansing should be a balancing act of both stripping away the bad but maintaining the good."

A final piece of advice from Sugai: "I recommend starting with one new product at a time. I would not consider switching to a different product until trying out the cleanser for at least a couple of months unless you are having significant signs of irritation, in which case, stop and consider switching to another product once the irritation resolves. For best results, always check with your dermatologist!"