Finding The Right Facial Cleanser Is A Healthy-Skin Game Changer For Men
Adrian Clark explains the role a great face wash can play in getting you healthy skin.
Nov 21, 2022
Adrian is a regular contributor for British GQ and The Telegraph, where he has a weekly column. Adrian has also previously written for The Guardian and the Sunday Times on men's grooming and other lifestyle topics. Adrian previously held editorial roles at Loaded magazine as style and grooming director and at ShortList. A graduate from Central Saint Martins, Adrian is an award winning writer who lives on the Kent coast with his Jack Russell and husband and works on upcycling vintage furniture in his garage.
Too many men pay too little regard to the importance of dedicated facial cleansing. Born out of ‘convenience’ and the sorry excuse of ‘lack of time’ the good majority will use a body wash that was purposefully designed to only be used from the neck down and then expect their moisturiser to do all the heavy lifting.
I learnt this lesson the hard way and consequently suffered much of my teenage through to early-adulthood years battling an array of problematic skin conditions which included acne and eczema. What I didn’t realise then is that healthy skin starts from the very foundations. In the same way you wouldn’t anticipate a smooth finish from painting a window frame you hadn’t sanded, primed and prepped properly - no matter how expensive the eggshell - you can’t expect to achieve a healthy looking complexion without doing all of the groundwork.
So how does one choose a suitable facial cleanser?
Using an unsuitable cleanser (and yes, shower gel does fall into this category) can cause a number of temporary and longer-lasting issues. Blocked pores, leading to dullness, blemishes and acne-prone skin and the stripping of the natural oils, leading to sensitivity, irritation, redness and a tight, dry sensation are just some of the more common culprits.
So, how to go about choosing the right cleanser for you; that will help support and repair the skin’s delicate moisture barrier whilst strengthening resilience to environmental aggressors?
There are a few important factors to consider; establishing your skin-type, which can change throughout the year depending on seasonal weather patterns and lifestyle, recognising which texture of cleanser feels the most personally rewarding, and finally ensuring that it is gentle enough for daily-use, as contrary to urban myth it is essential to cleanse you face every morning and evening.
First, understand your skin type
Understanding your skin type is key to finding a face cleanser that will give your complexion the ingredients it needs while avoiding unwanted side effects. Roughly speaking you can identify yours by the following characteristics:
Normal skin doesn’t experience excess dryness or oiliness, and is generally free of visible pores, acne and sensitivity.
Dry skin will have a rougher texture, visible lines and permanently look and feel lackluster.
If you experience enlarged pores, blackheads, pimples and unwanted shine you are most likely to have oily skin.
In more extreme cases, if you suffer with stinging, burning and redness as a reaction to pollution, UV rays and allergies (including skincare) you should be choosing products specifically formulated for sensitive skin.
Combination skin is a mixture of the above and a bit more difficult to work out, but strictly speaking if you suffer with both dehydration and oiliness in different areas, such as an oily T-zone but dryness under the eyes and cheeks then this will be the skin category you should most closely identify with.
Choose the best texture for a facial cleanser for your skin type
Once your skin-type has been determined you can move onto the fun bit; choosing your favoured texture. The options can be overwhelming - we’ve come along way since bar of soap and water - from foaming face washes to cleansing oils, cream cleansers to balms, with some obviously proving more of a hit than others with certain skin-types and their unique concerns.
Cleansing milks, creams and balms are best suited to dry skin as they will offer a detoxifying deep cleanse without causing tightness, stripping or compromise. They nourish and moisturise the skin whilst they purify and protect the healthy functioning of the moisture barrier.
For oily skin, your best bet is foaming face wash or gel that will dig deep into the pores and wash away excess shine; formulas that contain gentle acids (AHAs, BHAs) should move to the top of your list as they will also deliver a non-abrasive chemical exfoliation.
Cleansing oils are a safe haven for sensitive or temporarily sensitized skin as in general they don’t upset the Ph balance.
For combination and normal skin it is more of an open field, depending on the ingredients and raw materials of the formulation of the cleanse, and what your skin can personally tolerate.
Discover our top 10 facial cleansers for men
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