Face Wash Guide: Don’t Get the Wrong Face Wash

A clean, healthy complexion is paramount when putting your best face forward. Selecting a face wash that works with your skin and addresses your specific needs can be a satisfying and beneficial experience, and a decision you'll be thankful for your whole life.

>> Determine what kind of skin you have

The first step in researching how to choose a face wash is to determine your skin type, which depends on a combination of genetics, diet and care. You can determine what kind of skin you have by wiping your face in the morning with a clean tissue. If there is no trace of oil on the tissue, you have normal skin, the easiest kind of skin to take care of.

If the tissue comes away clean, but your skin feels flaky, dry and tight, then you have dry skin. It is important to keep dry skin moisturized, to keep wrinkles and irritation at bay. If you have dry skin, added moisture is an important consideration when deciding which face wash is good for you.

Oily skin will leave oil on the tissue, most likely from your cheeks, nose and forehead. If your skin often looks greasy or shiny or breaks out frequently, the best face wash to buy is one that is gentle, but effective at dissolving oil.

Combination skin is the most common skin type, with the tissue revealing some traces of oil from oily patches, like the nose and forehead, but clean where it touched your dry patches such as on your cheeks. The different patches of your skin require different treatment, so you will need a face wash that can address these differing conditions.

Sensitive skin needs special care, so determining which face wash is good for you is especially important if you have sensitive skin. Sensitive skin typically feels dry and tight, and is easily inflamed and irritated. Reddish and flaky areas, as well as itchiness, tingling sensations and patches of acne are all common signs of sensitive skin.

>> Determine your purpose

After you've determined what kind of skin you have, you can start to review different types of face washes. People with dry skin will want to avoid facial cleansers that contain detergents that can strip away essential oils. The best face wash to buy for dry skin will contain ingredients like glycerin which attracts moisture into the skin or lanolin which creates a thin barrier that seals moisture in. Cream cleansers that are rich in emollients are also good for dry skin. Check labels for a list of ingredients to see specifically what you're putting on your skin. Face washes that contain sodium lauryl sulfate should be avoided, as this ingredient can have an extra drying effect on skin.

Face washing is an important first step for any beauty routine, including anti-aging treatments and make-up application. When your face is cleaned correctly, your skin is better prepped to absorb and benefit from anti-aging renewal products and make-up treatments, such as a facial primer. If you're using retinoid anti-aging skin care products and they leave your skin feeling irritated, you might consider your skin type to be sensitive when determining which face wash is good for you. If this is the case, a gentle cleanser would be your best bet. If your skin is normal, a cleanser with a mild alpha hydroxy acid will help exfoliate old cells, which will help anti-aging treatments absorb better into your skin.

If the face wash benefits that interest you include how well it fights acne and blemishes, look for cleansers with the active ingredient salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to help unclog pores and kill bacteria. In general, steer clear of oil-based face wash brands.

If you have sensitive skin, you need to be very careful about the face wash you choose. To soothe redness, look for fragrance-free, soap-free creamy cleansers. Avoid foaming or sudsing cleaners that usually have detergents and can irritate your skin. It is a good idea to choose a product that says it is made especially for sensitive skin and that has been dermatologist tested.

Some face wash uses are more general; many are specifically made to remove make-up. These types of face washes make a good addition to your bedtime routine.

>> Choose from different types of facial wash

Skin care products come in many forms. Gel, foam, cream, oil-based or exfoliating scrubs are all popular face wash consistencies with benefits unique to each. The best face washes to buy for oily skin are gel cleansers because they work to absorb excess facial oils. Gel cleansers that are oil-free and water-based are popular with people who have sensitive skin. Facial foam cleansers are popular with people who have normal to oily skin because they lather well and leave skin feeling soft. Cream cleansers are good at removing dirt and make-up and help to seal in moisture and prevent dryness by preserving your skin's essential oils. Oil-based cleansers are most commonly used as make-up removers, but keep your skin type in mind before you buy one, as using them could lead to clogged pores and breakouts. Exfoliating scrubs are great occasional treatments for all skin types. Facial scrubs help to remove the outer layer of dead skin cells and promote the production of healthy new skin.

>> Consider eco-friendly or natural products

Another thing to consider when deciding on the best face wash to buy is whether it is natural and eco-friendly. Many cleansers contain surfactants or emulsifiers such as sodium lauryl sulfate or soap which are harsh on your skin and the environment. Cleansers made with natural ingredients leave the lipid layer on your skin undisturbed and have less effect on its protective barrier, so they might leave your skin feeling more healthy. There are a variety of natural and organic beauty treatments on the market today that use the best of what Mother Nature has to offer to help keep your skin looking and feeling wonderful. If you're interested in eco-friendly or natural treatments, look for plant-based and biodegradable face washes.

>> Consider other ingredients and their benefits When weighing face wash benefits, consider that some face washes have other ingredients, such as vitamins, that have added benefits so make sure you choose the face wash that benefits you the most. If deciding which face wash is good for you depends on anti-aging properties, look for products with antioxidants, such as green tea extract or acai oil, alpha-hydroxy acids, caffeine, retinoids or vitamin C that can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Beautiful skin starts with good nutrition and a clean face. Taking the time to find the best face wash for your skin will pay off everyday, rewarding you with a fresh glow.

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