How To Really, Truly, Perfectly Cleanse Your Skin

Yes, there are a lot of steps, and yes, the results make them worth it.
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Yes, there are a lot of steps, and yes, the results make them worth it.

Whether you’re one of those people who are scowling at your friends doing the whole “new year, new you” resolutions, or you’ve actually found yourself at the gym multiple times since the year started, I recommend stepping up your skincare regimen this year. It’s time to stop sleeping in your makeup, start remembering to apply moisturiser every night (guilty as charged), and never again forget your sunscreen, even when it’s cold outside.

I’m going right down to the fundamentals of skincare for a mini crash course, starting with the very, very basic: how to clean your skin.

Start by washing your hands.

Whether it’s early in the morning or after a day of activities, your hands are going to be dirty, even if you can’t see the dirt with the naked eye. Your hands are going to be what you’ll be using to apply products on your skin, so start by washing your hands with antibacterial soap.

Remove your makeup with a makeup remover.

Even if you’re going to be scrubbing your face with your trusted Clarisonic, try to remove as much makeup from your face before you start washing it. 

Remember to use a separate eye-makeup remover for your eyes. I like Mario Badescu's Eye Makeup Remover Gel.

Use a pre-cleanse.

You can’t walk to a sink and splash cold water on your face and expect it to be clean. Your face, as the rest of your skin, is a pretty petri dish of germs and other impurities. 

Obsession? What obsession?

Obsession? What obsession?

I don’t mean to sound like a fangirl (I am), but my daily skincare regimen is literally Dermalogica everything: precleanse, cleanser, scrub, moisturiser and eye cream. And every Dermalogica regimen is based on their recommended double-cleansing method. This means you use a precleanse to help dissolve layers of excess sebum, sunscreen, waterproof makeup, environmental pollutants and residual products that build up on the skin throughout the day before you use a cleanser, which would help clean the skin for professional cleansing results.

Whether or not you use Dermalogica, I highly recommend double cleansing. Even if you can’t see any residue on your skin at the end of the day, chances are there is still something left on your skin. With long-lasting makeup and industrial-powered sunscreens, you never really know what’s stubbornly sitting on the surface of your skin.

Close to my heart.

Close to my heart.

Double cleansing has been touted as a technique hailing from Japan; whether that is true or just marketing, I cannot confirm, but Japanese brands like Shu Uemura and Kanebo highly recommend this technique, too. 

If you’ve been travelling, like I have, and an entire bottle of precleanser is hassle to lug around, pick up Dermalogica’s PreCleanse Wipes, which were only recently released and are essentially their popular precleanse liquid in wipes form.


One wipe is really all you need; waterproof mascara and eyeshadow, all the way down to my foundation and lip stain--gone. It’s value-for-money, and doesn’t irritate my skin the way a lot of drugstore cleansing wipes do. This, of course, makes my facial cleanser’s job much easier. 

The wipes are also incredibly hydrating, which may be due to the fact that they contain aloe and apricot kernel oil.

Use lukewarm water.

Remember not to use hot or cold water, and instead, settle on a middle ground and use tepid water instead. Excessively hot water, while it may feel good on your skin in cold weather, will strip natural healthy oils from your skin. 

Wet your skin before applying your cleanser because this will distribute the product more evenly.

Apply your cleanser.

Yes, finally it’s time to use your cleanser. Apply it on your face in small circular motions, thereby massaging your face and encouraging blood flow.

Use your cleansing brush.

Whether you’re using a Clarisonic, an Olay Cleansing system, or any of the electronic cleansing brushes available, use the product as directed, and not longer, because even if you’re using a brush head for sensitive skin, that kind of exfoliation your skin may be too harsh if used for prolonged periods. A light touch is what’s needed with the Clarisonic--don’t press down too hard on your skin with it. You’re not cleaning a grimy floor!

Because of the eczema-prone sensitive nature of my skin, I use the Clarisonic on my face no more than thrice a week.


You can also use a washcloth for your face instead of a cleansing brush, but remember to dump it in the wash after two uses or so because the cloth can harbour bacteria.

Exfoliate sparingly.

I know how good a scrub can feel on your skin, but I don’t do it any more than twice weekly with Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant. Despite the name of the product, my skin type doesn’t allow for this product to be used daily, and I have to finish off the regimen with Dermalogica’s Skin Hydrating Masque. 

You, too, should use a hydrating masque to replenish the moisture that has been removed from your skin through exfoliation.


Who knew there could be so many steps to cleaning a surface area so small? Let me know what’s the most effective way you’ve cleansed your skin, and if you’ll incorporate the steps above to your regimen.