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Chances are you know you’re supposed to use a cleanser, but do you really know why? There’s a reason skin experts place such an importance on the cleansing step in every skincare routine. Here’s what you need to know about cleansing, and why it’s so important for your skin health.


What is cleansing?

Cleansing is the first step in any skincare routine, and everyone should be doing it. Cleansing involves cleaning your face to remove excess sebum, dirt, pollutants, makeup and sunscreen and create a clear canvas for the rest of your skincare routine. 

What does it do?

Cleansing is about so much more than removing your makeup at the end of the day. “People feel that they do not need to cleanse their face if they have not applied makeup or sunscreen, but cleansing is still necessary to remove the sweat, pollutants and dirt accumulated throughout the day,” explains Melbourne-based dermatologist Dr Shyamalar Gunatheesan. “It also prepares and optimises your skin barrier to absorb the night-time actives.”  

“Cleansing is arguably the most important step in your skincare routine.”

Dr Shyamalar Gunatheesan, Australian dermatologist

Why is cleansing important?

We shed roughly 500 million dead skin cells every day. Without the help of a cleanser, these skin cells end up just sitting on the skin’s surface, clogging up your pores and leaving your complexion looking dull and lacklustre. As well as dead skin, a build-up of pollutants, bacteria, sweat, makeup, oil and dirt can accumulate and interfere with your skin's health and natural radiance. It’s your cleanser’s job to clear your skin of all these nasties at the end of the day.

Cleansing is also a vital step in any anti-ageing skincare routine. It stimulates skin to renew itself and whisks away pollutants and external aggressors that can accelerate the ageing process.

Additionally, cleansers create a clean slate so your serums and moisturisers can penetrate deep into your skin where you need them most.

When should you cleanse your skin?

Should we cleanse our skin morning and night? And how about double cleansing? According to Dr Gunatheesan, once a day is enough. “Ideally, we should only cleanse at night,” she says. “In the morning, all we need is a splash of water followed by a serum with actives such as niacinamide, vitamin C and antioxidants. These topicals will be able to act synergistically with the night-time actives and repair enzymes.”

“Ideally, we should only cleanse at night...”

 Dr Shyamalar Gunatheesan, Australian dermatologist

Choosing the right cleanser for your skin type

While you want your skin to feel clean and fresh after cleansing, it’s important not to strip skin of essential moisture in the process. Read: That squeaky clean feeling is not what you’re after. The trick is to find the right cleanser for your skin type. 

“Make sure you find a gentle but penetrating cleanser that hydrates and maintains the acid mantle of your skin,” says Dr Gunatheesan. “Avoid cleansers or soaps containing sulphates that dissolve natural oils in your skin.”

For dry, combination skin or sensitive skin: Dr Gunatheesan suggests looking for a cleanser rich in lipids, ceramides and hyaluronic acid to fortify and improve skin hydration. 

For oily skin or acne prone skin: Dr Gunatheesan recommends using a cleanser with alpha hydroxy acids (such as lactic acid) and beta hydroxy acids (such as salicylic acid) to decongest and refine pores, whilst encouraging optimal skin cell renewal and reducing sebum production.

How to cleanse your face

“I always recommend double cleansing,” says Dr Gunatheesan. “Use a lipid-rich cleansing oil or micellar water-based cleanser on a dry face using a makeup pad. This will allow the cleanser to spread evenly, completely removing remnants of micronised makeup and dirt stuck intracellularly.” 

For the second step in your double cleanse, Dr Gunatheesan recommends following up with a ceramide rich creamy cleanser massaged in a circular fashion. “Rinse off with tepid water or wipe away gently with a warm cloth.”

5 top Australian cleansers to try:

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Credentials

  • Ohlamour Studio / Stocksy

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