I know I ordered cleansers with abandon yet I'd research potential moisturizers to death before purchase, but like everything related to asian skincare, my perspective has evolved.
|Can you believe these were just the products and empties I was easily able to find lurking in my bathroom?|
- Double Cleansing (Pt. I)
- Cleanser Types (Pt. 1)
- Cleansing Tools (Pt. II)
- Cleansing Techniques (Pt. II)
- PH-conscious vs non-PH conscious cleansing (Pt. II)
As I mentioned at the end of Part I, I am suspicious of foaming cleansers that foam up vigorously on their own (bubble cleansers excluded) because it usually means there's extra foaming agents in there which don't benefit your skin.
For that reason, I often use cleansing tools in combination with my foaming cleansers, which has the symbiotic effect of the lather buffering my skin from the tool (such as the Clarisonic brush or Konjac sponge), and the tool helping to foam up the product so the lather is fully formed before it goes on my face (such as the foaming net) reducing irritation to the skin.
|Missha's konjac sponge in charcoal (pre-moistened) and in white clay (air dried), Clarisonic brush, and foaming net.|
You can see a full demo of the net in that review, but this unassuming and cheap little tool can supe-up the lather production certain foaming cleansers, as you can see below.
|The net turns this:||Into this:|
|And turns this:||Into this:|
The konjac sponge, or any facial sponge I imagine, can also be used to lather up your foaming cleansers, as blogger Mois of the 35th of May demos her husband doing:
|Image from 35thofMay|
As you can see in my tools collection picture above, my sponge dries out very quickly in the desert air so I am not quite as worried about what dankness might be growing in there, but I still like knowing that my cleanser is being worked down into the core of the sponge, cleaning it and my face both. Since I have to soak it every day before use, I usually start with scalding hot water from the tap and then let it sit so it cools and rehydrates at the same time.
I will eventually be posting a review of the konjac sponge and comparing it to my Clarisonic, but that's for another day. I will say that it does clean better than just my hands + foaming cleanser, and that it mildly exfoliates as it goes, so be cautious with it. I prefer to use it with a foaming cleanser instead of a cream cleanser or water as I find I need a layer of lather in between the sponge and my skin, no matter how gentle I am with the sponge.
Speaking of a 'lather barrier', that brings us to the last tool I use, which is the Clarisonic brush. If you aren't familiar with it, it's a sonic vibration brush made with the same idea as the Sonicare toothbrush; instead of scrubbing at your skin/teeth, vibrate that gunk off instead- hence the 'sonic' part. There are a lot of facial brushes on the market, but please know that the Clarisonic does not work by 'brushing' your face so much as vibrating it. I have never used any of the spinbrush type knock-offs, but a friend of mine who has used them for years recently got a Clarisonic and was amazed at how different it is. It also oscillates instead of spins, so it doesn't pull your skin the way a spinning brush does.
That being said, this brush is a cleansing powertool and if you are using any sort of chemical exfoliation, this brush is going to be way too much for your skin. I used to use this brush every other day, and now that I am using an AHA daily peel (albeit every other day) the Clarisonic is like sandpaper. I still find I need it once a week or so, but it has now become my 'physical exfoliator' and I no longer use scrubs of any kind because they're just too damn harsh.
When I do use my Clarisonic, I need a dense foam like the Shiseido or the Mizon Snail to create a barrier between my skin and the bristles of the brush, so it glides smoothly over my skin and vibrates things out of my pores without having too much direct contact. However, I have stopped using both of these cleansers, because both of them are a high pH level, which we'll talk about last.
There's just a few I am going to mention here, as the rest are sprinkled throughout this megapost: washing your hands before you wash your face, washing against the grain of your skin, washing thoroughly instead of roughly, and rinsing like you've never rinsed before.
Washing against the grain of your skin is something I first heard about by watching a Korean variety show episode where my one of my skin heroines, Go Hyun Jung, was discussing skincare with a member of kpop group Bigbang. Don't laugh. The kid in question was explaining how everything being shot in HD put pressure on him to have perfect skin, and how her cleansing technique gave that to him.
|This woman is 43. 43!! image from here|
Essentially this means instead of starting from the inside and sweeping out like you do with a toner or general skincare, start at the outside of your face, and using tiny circular motions, slowly work your way in towards the center. When I tried it, I immediately felt the clogged pores under my skin, and noticed that they came to the surface easier once I switched the direction of my cleansing of everything from the Clarisonic brush to oil massage.
She also focuses on cleansing the skin properly and at length, as opposed to multiple cleansers or harsh products. Apparently she takes 15 minutes to wash her face, and although I don't take nearly that long, I do spend several minutes if I am using a gentle cleanser, circling against the grain using almost no pressure and with fingertips only.
I also do not apply cleanser all over my face right away, even ultra-gentle Su:m37 Rose stick, because I don't want the dry areas of my combination skin (especially the apples of my cheeks) to be sitting in a bath of cleanser while I painstakingly cleanse my way to the center of my face. I actually apply the cleanser to my nose, forehead, and then around the outside of my face. Once it's on, I start with my nose (per Go Hyun Jung's instructions) and then move to my forehead, working from the outside in, and then from the edges of my face inward, leaving my ultra-dry areas last.
If you follow Korean skincare trends, you may have heard that Suzy Bae (member of kpop group Miss A) uses a "424" method, which consists of 4 minutes massaging with a cleansing oil, 2 minutes of lathering with a foaming cleanser, and then 4 minutes of rinsing your face. People usually react to this with "AMAHGAWD who could possibly take four whole freaking minutes to rinse their face?!!" but Suzy is onto something, I tells ya.
I don't use her method, but I do use Jen's (of frmheadtotoe.com) multiple rinsing technique, after watching a video were she mentions that she rinses her face ... 8? times. I can't remember. I decided to give it a go, and now I splash rinse my face (gently, like the woman in the below video) anywhere from 9-14 times after cleansing until it feels clean, and I am amazed that I never thought of this before; I would just splash my face with water until all the visual residue was gone and carry on. I used to get mega residue after cleansing when I swiped with a toner-soaked square of cotton, but no more! My cotton square wipes clean and my skin feels great. I regret not knowing about this earlier.
Suzy also recommends not drying off your face with a towel after rinsing, instead patting your face until the water absorbs into your skin, which is also something I used to do after seeing this video:
Especially considering how dry it is where I live, I found this to be a very helpful technique to keep my skin hydrated until I could open the bottle or jar of whatever I applied next.
If I am going to use a pH-balanced product routine, I will pat my face dry with a towel using the same outside-inward pattern I mentioned above, so my dry areas stay moist until the last possible second, then I rush to open my toner and get a few drops on my dry areas before they crisp up like a piece of fruit leather.
If I am not going to use any pH-balanced skincare steps that night (or day), I will skip the towel and pat my dripping face until the water is evenly distributed. And that brings us to our last stop on this cleansing megapost train:
pH-conscious vs non-pH conscious cleansing:
I am eventually going to write a megapost about pH and why it matters (Update: Done! click here to read about 'Why the pH of Your Cleanser Matters'), but I have only been making pH-conscious choices in my skincare since mid-June (and it's now mid-August) and the jury is still out on the effect it is having on my skin. My skin tone and texture are improving, but my acne is not clearing up. The active ingredients I am using (AHAs and BHAs) do cause purging and therefore I am waiting it for at least 6 months before I make my decisions about it. As you know, I introduce new things very slowly into my routine, so it's going to take a lot longer than 2 months to judge the effects.
You probably have heard pH being buzzed about especially in relation to toners, but it's worth really researching. I highly recommend that you read skinandtonic's excellent post about pH and the acid mantle here.
For now, I will leave you with some of the basics:
- Your skin's natural pH is between 4.2 and 5.6, so it's acidic
- Sebum is acidic, and is meant to keep your skin within the abovementioned range
- Acne and bacteria don't thrive in an acidic environment
- 99% of foaming cleansers I have found are hella alkaline (8-10 range), hiking your skin into the acne-friendly pH zone
- If you hike the pH of your skin, it can take up to 24 hours to return to normal
- Water is at a pH of 7, but the 'pure' water used in labs is not the same as what comes out of your tap (minerals, chemically treated, etc) and per the sources I cited in the 'Why the pH of Your Cleanser Matters' post linked above, it can still impact the pH of your skin
- If you put on an acid to lower your skin back down to a 'good' pH, you need to leave it there to work (see next point)
- Products will buffer one another's pH if you layer them (pH is a factor of 10), so if you put a pH 4 toner on top of pH 7 water, you're going to average the pH somewhere between them, which puts you out of the 'effective' pH of that toner, so dry your face before you apply a low pH product
- A skin with a high pH will suffer from dryness, acne, sensitivity, and age more quickly
- For the love of hamster, never put baking soda (too alkaline) or lemon juice (too acidic) on your face. Seriously, delete those DIY scrubs off your pinterest and save your skin.
Now that being said, I am still investigating the new world of pH balancing, so take all that with a grain of salt and know that if you have a cleanser that you really love, and you are happy with your skin and it's working for you, stick with it.
I'd love to hear about the tips and tricks you have gleaned from your love of asian skincare, as well as any personal experiences you have with switching to pH-conscious skincare, so leave me a comment below, or shoot me a message on Facebook or Twitter!
*Disclaimer: All products I review are 100% purchased with my own money and my opinions are entirely my own.
Note: As usual, I will be skipping next weekend's review due to this doublepost.
Note: As usual, I will be skipping next weekend's review due to this doublepost.