Cleansers are in my opinion the most important skincare product that you use daily, but cleansers don't always break down make up well. Depending on what kind of make up you wear, you might also need to use a make up remover first.
So I want to teach you about the different types of make up removers, how and when to use them properly, and what type is right for your type of skin condition.
I've also created a simple PDF that you can either download or print out and use when you are choosing your cleanser. You can grab it here.
There are two main categories for cleansers.
One category is makeup removers, and the other are facial cleansers.
Now I definitely want to point out that body cleansers are very different from facial cleansers. The reason for this is that the microbiome on your face is very different from the rest of your body.
You have far more oil producing pores on your face than most areas on your body. Because of this, it creates a different environment and you need to treat your face differently than you treat your body.
So what do make up removers and cleansers actually do?
Makeup removers breakdown your makeup. That is their sole purpose, so if you do not wear makeup you do not need a makeup remover.
Facial cleansers are created to break down oil, remove dead skin, and environmental debris. Everyone needs a facial cleanser.
So let's get into it.
Makeup removers have four different categories. There are makeup wipes, micellar waters, oil cleansers, and cleansing balms.
You might notice a little trend here, the oil content of the category.
We're going to start with wipes that have the least amount of oil in them and move up to cleansing balms.
Makeup wipes are a sheet of material, typically cotton, hemp, polyesters, or rayon or a combination of any of those, that have been pre-moistened with a solution of water, lots of preservatives, alcohols, fragrances, and surfactants.
They are incredibly drying, leave behind a lot of build-up, and are horribly wasteful.
Let's start with the actual wipe itself. There are more environmentally friendly wipes that break down after you use them in the landfill, but those are not going to be very durable. The reason they have synthetic fibers such as polyester, which made the leisure suits of the 1970s amazing, or rayon, which makes your leggings nice and stretchy, is so that they keep their shape and don't just fall apart in that solution.
If you think of a paper towel for example, that doesn't have those synthetic fibers in them, if you leave that paper towel in a water solution, its going to start breaking down very quickly.
In order for the sheet to be actually useful to you by the time it leaves the manufacturer, spends time at the store waiting for you to buy it, and then ends up in your bathroom waiting for you to grab it one night, there's no way just regular cotton or even hemp is going to last that long without some help.
So this makes the wipe extremely wasteful because it won't break down very well in the environment.
But the main problem with these wipes is the solution itself. You want the solution to be a thin liquid so that it covers all of the wipes and sinks in and keeps them nice and wet.
This type of solution requires a lot of water. Water is the breeding ground for bacteria. Anytime you have a lot of water in a solution you need a lot of preservatives so that it doesn't become moldy and covered with bad bacteria. This is where your preservatives and alcohols come in. And these make the solution very drying to skin.
These solutions also typically contain a lot of fragrances, because you want it to smell good when you smear it all over your face.
This solution doesn't hold essential oils well. Oil and water doesn't mix, so in order for that oil to continuously be spread equally in the water, you would need an emulsifier.
But an emulsifier is going to thicken your solution, and you need your solution to be extremely thin to cover all of those wipes.
So you'll notice when you buy some of the more "natural" branded wipes when they use essential oils, it really doesn't smell very strongly at all, and that is why. Essential oils can't be spread evenly through that solution, so chemically speaking, fragrances are a much better choice to use.
However fragrances are very irritating to skin, even to the point of causing allergic reactions.
And lastly they contain surfactants which you leave on your skin. Using that wipe to wipe down your face and then you just throw the wipe away and walk away, everything is left on your face. So all of the surfactants, which are the things that cling to the makeup itself, are left behind. So the combination of leaving all this buildup behind and drying out your skin creates clogged pores like crazy.
So I do not recommend any cleansing wipes, ever. I think that they are not just a waste of money because they aren't cleansing properly, they're actually harmful to your skin.
Next up are micellar waters.
These tend to be touted as something of a more recent invention, but they're actually not recent at all; they've been used for a long time.
Micellar waters are an oil in water formula. They're created by taking a "water substance", so like a distilled water, witch hazel, hydrosols, rosewater etc, and then adding a substance, usually glycerin, that will suspend itself in the water.
You use them by gently shaking it first, since it will separate due to the lack of emulsifiers, and then saturating a cotton round, cotton ball or q-tip and wiping your makeup off.
The oils in the water will bind to the oils on your skin and break down the makeup. This is why you need to shake it. If you don't shake it the oils will separate from the water, which means that sometimes you won't get enough oil to properly break down your makeup.
You then rinse with water to finish.
I have also seen an online trend really recently where they tell you to saturate a cotton round and then blow into it to make the formula foam up.
Don't do this. I do not recommend this. You're just putting tiny molecules of spit into your cleanser and then wiping your face with it. It's completely unsanitary.
There is no need for a micellar water to foam up in order to work. But if for some reason you really prefer a foaming remover, you can buy an empty foaming bottle on Amazon and put your micellar water in that. That will get you the foaming texture that you want without the excess spit.
Micellar waters are what I recommend in place of facial wipes. They are far less drying, better for the environment since you can use them with a cotton round or cotton ball that will break down very quickly after you've used it, and will not cause the redness and irritation or cause your pores to clog up like facial wipes do.
If your skin is exceptionally sensitive I would definitely recommend going towards the waters formulated with hydrosols or rose water as those are really soothing.
This is a great choice for somebody who doesn't have a lot of time, such as trying to get your makeup off and cleanse your face while getting two kids in the tub or if you had a really late night but you're still being good to your skin by removing your makeup.
Next up is oil cleansers.
I am a huge proponent of oil cleansers. Sometimes they get a bad rap even from some estheticians, who say that putting oil on your skin makes your body decrease your own oil production, but this is completely untrue.
Oil cleansing, if done correctly and with the right oils for your skin, can benefit any skin type. Oil cleansers are actually exceptionally good for oily skin.
Oil cleansers are made from a carrier oil of some type. In the oil world there are essential oils and carrier oils.
Essential oils are made from petals and leaves and stems of plants, whereas carrier oils are made from seeds and nuts.
Essential oils are very strong and potent, and therefore should not be put on your skin neat, meaning bare. Essential oils need to be diluted before you put them on your skin.
Carrier oils however carry huge nutritional value but are not strong like essential oils are and can be used directly on the skin.
Many carrier oil cleansers put essential oils in their formulas. This is acceptable. They do it for the added skin care benefits that the essential oils can provide as well as enhance the smell. It's not necessary, but it is acceptable.
You'll notice many of my oils are actually an infused oil. Which means that I've taken dried herbs and let them steep in the oils to impart the nutritional value from the plant into the oils. I then strain out the herbs, leaving the nutrition behind.
To use an oil cleanser properly your skin needs to be dampened first. Now I don't mean dripping, I just mean get your hands a little bit wet and then press that water into your skin. It should not be dripping.
And then you will take a small amount of oil, usually around a nickel sized amount and use it just like you would any other cleanser.
You're going to rub it in small circles around your face, taking it up around your eyes, you can move your fingers and thumbs together to get your mascara broken down.
Then you're going to wet your hands again and work that water into the oil to help break the oil down.
After you've done that you're going to take some wet cotton rounds or a damp cloth and wipe off everything.
After you wiped everything off, your skin will not feel squeaky clean. And this is good and proper. Your skin should never feel squeaky clean.
Squeaky clean is a bad feeling that means that you have stripped the acid mantle or barrier on your skin, leaving it vulnerable, unprotected, and inflamed.
Oil cleansers work exceptionally well as makeup removers because the oils bind to the makeup and break it down without stripping your skin.
I use them every single day and my skin changed dramatically after I started using them. It was so much healthier, vibrant, and plump.
Our last type of makeup remover is a cleansing balm.
Cleansing balms are really similar to oil cleansers, except they're using a butter.
So carrier oils and butters are the same thing except butters are solid at room temperature.
Butters are things like Shea butter, mango butter, even coconut oil is actually a butter because it's a solid at room temperature.
Cleansing balms are great for people that have exceptionally dry skin that don't have any keratinization issues. Meaning your skin turns over and releases dead skin just fine.
If you have a problem releasing dead skin, there is a high probability that using a cleansing balm will clog your pores. If that is the case then I would recommend stepping back down to an oil.
Cleansing balms are used in the same exact way that cleansing oils are.
So there you have it, the different types of makeup removers.
I hope this helps guide you to choose the right type of make up remover for your skin needs.
Well Namaste beautiful and may your bare face always feel amazing after cleansing!