Skin cleansing, like just about any skincare subtopic, is having a major moment in the beauty world. (Take for example, double cleansing, the thorough yet gentle skin cleansing method that took the world by the storm in the past 6 years or so.) Whether one is battle acne or addressing dry skin—or something in-between—we all want to know how to get our skin really clean: free of excess oil, pollution, makeup, and anything else hanging out on our faces at day’s end. Nothing beats the soft, smooth feeling of freshly, deeply cleansed skin. At the same time, however, most of us have experienced the fine line between a good deep cleanse and a rough deep cleanse.
We’ve been told by just about every beauty expert that abrasive physical exfoliant cleansers (a.k.a. scratchy scrubs) are frenemies, leaving skin feeling ultra-soft but sneakily causing microtears and unhelpful inflammation. But these offenders aren’t the only ways we can get too rough while cleansing our skin. Indeed, while we may have left the apricot scrubs behind with our college days, it’s important to also watch out for things like too-hot water, oil-stripping soaps, and, as I recently learned, washcloths!
What Celeb Esthetician Joanna Vargas Says about Cleansing Cloths
Esthetician Joanna Vargas (who’s responsible for the skincare regimens of Sofia Coppola, Naomi Watts, and Julianne Moore, no biggie) warns that using a traditional washcloth can seriously damage skin over time:
“Terry cloth can be incredibly abrasive, so as you move it across your face, you’re exfoliating at the same time you’re cleansing. The fabric’s tiny ‘fingers’ also pull at skin, leading to sagginess over time, Finally, the harshness of the fabric can strip your skin of essential oils, making it dry even if you properly moisturize.”
If terry cloth washcloths aren’t an option, it may be tempting to reach for disposable makeup-removing wipes. After all, these tend to be much softer than terry cloth. Unfortunately, makeup-removing wipes tend to fall short for other reasons. Besides being less environmentally sustainable, they often contain sensitizing ingredients like fragrance or active ingredients you didn’t realize you were signing up for. Finally, these wipes usually offer a sub-par cleanse, especially when used as the only cleansing element in your regimen. But don’t despair—there are excellent options out there!
Best Cloths to Cleanse Skin
Vargas stresses that bamboo, muslin cloths, and other soft varieties are the gold standard. “I especially love bamboo, muslin, or soft cotton towels. Eve Lom muslin cloths are my favorite for washing my face. They gently exfoliate while you cleanse and really help remove all your makeup.”
A Few Final Tips for Cleansing Skin
Keep cleansing technique and sanitary practices in mind. Vargas advises using your cloth of choice gently and slowly, using small, circular motions, moving up your neck and face. Also, never use a face cloth more than once (especially if you tend to experience congested skin) or twice before tossing it in the wash (this is a great excuse to stock up!). “Facial cloths are a breeding ground for bacteria, fungus, mold, and mildew, and they can quickly become full of those nasty things,” she explains.
This also applies to the towels you use to dry your face—do your best to replace them frequently. And whatever you do, Vargas cautions to avoid drying your face with the same towel you use to dry your body and hands. Your pores will thank you! Finally, when drying your skin, gently pat instead of rub.
All of these steps may seem like a lot to remember, but once you make them habits, you won’t have to think about them, and you can go on enjoying your happy, healthy, cleansed skin. If you start glowing like Julianne Moore, well, you can’t say we didn’t warn you!
What kind of cloths do you like to use on your skin? Have you tried using a bamboo or muslin cloth?
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Photo: Timothy Dykes on Unsplash, Respective brands