The phrase “squeaky clean” might be one you’ve heard often, but despite its sweet-sounding nature, you don’t actually want your skin to feel squeaky after a cleanse. In fact, that tight and dry feeling could be a sign of a compromised skin barrier, desperate for hydration.
Board-certified dermatologist Jennifer David recently told HuffPost that “it’s a sign that your skin is stripped of its natural oils and lipids. Your skin should feel refreshed, but not tight or squeaky.” A soft and hydrated post-cleanse face should be the ultimate goal.
But this doesn’t meant that a complete and thorough twice-daily cleansing isn’t in order. In fact, Arianne Shadi Kourosh, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, recently told HuffPost that washing debris, pollution and makeup from your face is a vital step in anti-aging practices and ensuring that other skin care products are absorbed effectively.
“Especially for those of us living in urban environments, our skin is confronted daily with radiation from the sun and screens, and with airborne chemicals and irritants from pollution. That can settle on the skin and corrode the skin barrier, causing premature aging in the form of wrinkles and dark spots,” Kourosh said.
She explained that sticking to lukewarm (not hot!) water, steering clear of harsh scrubbing and choosing the right kind of cleanser can all help in ensuring an undisrupted skin barrier and avoiding that uncomfortable dry feeling.
You can read more tips from the professionals here. For hydrating facial washes, grime-fighting pre-cleansers and helpful tools that get your face clean minus the tightness, take a look at the list below to see some more tips from our knowledgeable skin experts.
A non-stripping face wash that leaves natural oils intact
It's important to find a facial cleanser that won't strip your skin of its natural oils and lipids, both of which are essential components to a healthy skin barrier. This lightweight gel cleanser contains a blend of oils to help restore moisture to the skin along with squalane, an emollient that mimics the skin's natural oils.
A gentle micellar water to remove makeup before cleansing
, a Dallas-based board-certified dermatologist, previously recommended to HuffPost using a micellar water as a preliminary step in breaking down impurities, especially if you wear makeup or sunscreen. This toning and deep-cleaning solution by Evolve Organic Beauty contains moringa peptides and micellar molecules to attract and lift away debris without any harsh scrubbing. A dose of hyaluronic acid also leaves skin feeling hydrated and ready to draw in more moisture.
A non-foaming hydrating everyday cleanser
“When it comes to cleansers, gentle and hydrating is best,” said Nkem Ugonabo
, a dermatologist fellow at UnionDerm
in New York City. This classic hydrating face wash by Cerave can be a great staple in your everyday skin care regimen, especially if you are sticking to the twice-a-day washing rule. The lotion-like consistency and non-foaming formula contains hyaluronic acid and essential ceramides necessary for ensuring a healthy barrier function. It's also fragrance free, making it a great option for all skin types.
A cleansing balm with omegas for sensitive skin types
For ultra dry and sensitive skin types, dermatologist Joshua Zeichner
recommended incorporating into your routine a milk cleansing balm, which can do a much better job of breaking down grime than face wash alone. This skin-softening balm by Paula's Choice contains both jojoba and meadowfoam seed oils, omega-rich ingredients that can regulate the skin's oil production and address rough texture. Just massage it into the skin to melt away makeup and debris, then follow with a face wash.
A skin barrier-supporting face wash
“The goal of cleansing is to remove soil from the outer skin layer without disrupting your skin barrier," Zeichner explained. Using a hydrating lipid complex, this milky cleanser by Skinfix works up a rich lather and helps restore ceramides and fatty acids within the skin.
A cleansing oil to get rid of dirt and grime without the squeaky feeling
“You want to aim for moderation in time, intensity and temperature,” Kourosh said. Using a hydrating oil-based cleanser to attract and remove impurities as a first step, can mean less time spent roughly scrubbing off debris with your face wash. This lightweight oil by Shiseido uses cleansing ingredients derived from a moisturizing agent to quickly melt away impurities while leaving post-wash skin feeling comfortable and free from residue. One user on Sephora
said it easily removes their sunscreen and even waterproof mascara without leaving their skin feeling dry or tight.
A hydrating foaming wash for acne-prone skin
“Foaming cleansers tend to be harsher on the skin than other types, but they’re a great option for people who have oily skin,” Zeichner said. “For people who are acne-prone, salicylic acid-containing cleanser can be useful to help remove dead cells from the surface of the skin that contribute to blocking the pores.”
Along with deeply cleaning pores, this gel-to-foam facial wash by Cerave can help address textured and bumpy skin while also being gentle enough for frequent use. Like all Cerave products, this cleanser incorporates ceramides for a stronger skin barrier as well as replenishing niacinamide.
A silicone facial brush for irritation-free exfoliation
David told HuffPost that she personally loves manual silicone scrubbing pads, which can be a more affordable and sanitary alternative to other automatic face brushes. They can also be more gentle on the skin than harsh physical scrubs,
which can cause micro-tears in the skin. This dual-textured exfoliating brush can give you massage-like clean, and the teardrop shape makes it easy to get into those harder-to-reach areas of your face.
An antimicrobial towel that’s ultra gentle on the skin
, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine,
told HuffPost that once you are done cleansing, "pat dry with a clean towel to avoid harmful bacteria, rather than rubbing." This organic Supima cotton towel is luxurious in feeling and in the fact that it's woven with pure silver to help eliminate acne- and odor-causing bacteria. It's also ultra soft and highly absorbent, making it gentle on any skin prone to dryness or irritation.