A recent American study from CeraVe found that 52% of consumers use bath wash or hand soap to cleanse their faces. You could almost hear the screeching of dermatologist’s voices when this was announced. Let’s be very clear from the off, you should never be washing your face with soap. The lack of public knowledge around cleansing was staggering, which is why we are here to help. This is the ultimate guide to washing your face with soap: is it a good idea or should you avoid it?
What is soap?
Soap is a cleansing agent created by the chemical reaction of fatty acid with an alkali metal hydroxide. Chemically speaking, soap is a salt composed of alkali metal, such as sodium or potassium, and a mixture of “fatty” carboxylic acids.
Soap is designed to lather-up and create a foam texture – this should be your first warning sign that you should not be washing your face with soap. No product should “foam” on your face, especially if you have sensitive skin.
In order for a product to foam, you need a surfactant. This can push your skin to an alkaline pH. Bacteria prefers alkaline which is why it is so shocking that so many oily and acne-treating skincare products are foaming face washes.
Foam products are particularly common in male skincare brands, without the disclaimer that you are putting your skin at risk.
The foaming agents strip your skin and leave it dry and irritated, as soap is designed to remove bacteria and dirt – which is why hand lotion sales have soared during the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, you should not be washing your face with soap.
Should you wash your face every day?
Should you wash your face every day may seem like an obvious question to some, but there are still people out there who things throwing a little water on your face in the morning constitutes “washing your face”.
You should cleanse your face every morning and evening. We say cleanse instead of washing for the fact that they are two very different practices.
Cleansers are designed to moisturise and hydrate your skin, as well as cleaning away any dirt from the face. Most soap formulations are designed for the latter. Risking the potential removal of natural oil from the skin leaving you susceptible to dryness, irritation and premature ageing.
Using a standard soap or shampoo on your face is likely to disrupt the pH balance. Subsequently, your skin then has to try and undo the damage, that may have already caused an outbreak. It’s simple, only cleansers should be used to clean the face.
When you wake up in the morning, cleansing should be embraced as a key part of your routine – like going for a shower or having a coffee. Taking a few minutes in the morning to refresh your skin can be a beneficial time to set goals and focus on your plans.
Not only is cleansing great for kick-starting your day, but it is also essential for hygiene. As you sleep, your face is pressed against a pillow where you may build up excess oil and sweat. We suggest you wash your pillowcase once a week. If you have oily, problem skin this should be more frequent.
Cleansing in the evening is non-negotiable, there is always enough time to spend a few minutes doing this. All-day your face has weathered the elements and pollution – all of which are factors that can increase problematic and ageing skin.
If you aren’t washing your face in the evening, you may find that you suffer from increased congestion, spots, blackheads and enlarged pores. So, to answer the question – yes, you should wash your face every day.
What are the different cleansers for the face?
Now that you have decided to start cleansing, it may seem like a mind-field of cleansers when you pop into your supermarket, beauty store or online. Balms, creams, gels and milks – what do you choose? And what are we going on about? Let’s break down what the different cleansers are for the face...
How to wash your face properly
By now, you know that cleansing your face twice a day – morning and evening is essential. But how do you actually “cleanse” and wash your face properly?
The first step is the easiest – wash your hands first. It should go without saying, but the amount you touch in the day that could end up on your face is enough to make anyone squirm.
It’s simple, all you need on average is a blueberry size amount of product on your fingertips and massage onto skin. Check with the bottle or brand you are using to make sure they are not suggesting different measurements.
The massage process should vary in length, in the morning it should be no longer than 20 seconds as this is solely just to remove any dirt built up in the night.
Always move your hands in an upwards direction, don’t help gravity by pulling your face downwards or rubbing vigorously up and down. Think of it as a mini facelift.
Wash the cleanser off using fresh running water. Remember not to fill the sink and splash off the cleanser, you would be splashing dirty water back on to your face – completely defeating the point of the exercise.
For efficiency, you can apply your cleanser and massage in before you get in the shower and then wash it off in the shower, just make sure the water is not too hot.
The water you wash your face with should be lukewarm, ideally with a flannel or face cloth as this confirms that everything is off the face, opposed to just splashing your face with water.
It’s important to note, that you need to replace your flannel/washcloth after every use, think about all the dirt that is now sitting in the flannel! Probably just as bad as washing your face with soap!
Most cleanser types are best removed with a face cloth/ flannel whether the brand tells you this on the pack or not. Invest in a pile of at least 7 as you need to use a clean one every day.
This process is the same for the evening. If you have lots of grime on your face, sweated a lot or have makeup on you should consider in the evening cleansing twice – a term called “double cleansing”.
Whether you have been wearing make-up all day or just SPF – these are not going to be removed through just one cleanse. Simply cleanse and wash off and then repeat.
The problem with using hand soap/shampoo/shower gel to wash your face
It’s the convenient thing to do, slap on some hand soap, shower gel or even shampoo to your face while you’re in the shower and think that your face is sorted. The problem with this is - your face isn’t like your armpit, hair or hands. It’s your face. The face that has some of the most delicate and thinnest skin on your body.
So, using harsh stripping chemicals on your face, that are not designed for facial skin is not going to help with anything from acne, ageing or even enlarged pores. It comes as no surprise when 36% of people had no idea, they were harming their skin by using hand soap to wash it.
You will know when you’re washing your face with the likes of hand soap, shampoo or shower gel – as it will leave your skin feeling squeaky and tight. This is not how your face should feel after washing it, it should feel soft and refreshed – this is the number one sign that your face has lost moisture.
While using anything other than cleanser to wash your face is going to cause more problems than good. It is especially true for people who suffer from problematic skin such as eczema, rosacea, sensitivity and so many more.
What you need to look for when purchasing a cleanser
Going into a beauty store or shopping online for a cleanser may seem daunting, you now have so many things to consider. The best place to start is by working out your skin type, whether you have oily, dry or sensitive skin and go from there.
We have broken down what each cleanser does and would be best for in section 3.
It is important to remember that not every cleanser is equal in its ability to remove sunscreen, makeup or to provide a deep cleanse and it is hard to get skincare brands to be fully truthful with you so there are some trial and testing needed.
It is always worth seeing if you can pay for testers before you invest in full to check you like the cleanser.
Take Proverb Cleanse and Shave Mud for example, it is designed as a 4-in-1 efficient product to shave with and to use as a daily creamy clay face wash. You can use it as a mask or to dab on spots to help calm them. It is an amazing cleanser if you have new to cleansing or are struggling with shaving rash and skin irritation. If you wore heavy stage make up however, it wouldn’t be right for a first cleanse, you would need a balm cleanser and then this and would then follow with the cleanse mud. Proverb Cleanse and Shave Mud is ideal to help prevent shaving rash, calm red angry skin and promote an even tone and colour. It is purposefully efficient, 4 in 1.
What it smells like is a big consideration when purchasing a cleanser, as a lot of companies will pack fragrance into the product to make it smell nice. If it does have fragrance in it – avoid. Fragrance and perfumes can irritate the skin as they are filled with harsh chemicals that should not be applied to such thin areas of the skin. The product packaging should say perfume/fragrance-free.
Similarly, price is a contributor to purchasing a cleanser. It is impossible to tell you what a good quality cleanser should cost, there is only one way to understand what ingredients should be in a good quality cleanser and what should not be there.
Granted, this takes more research on your part, but you need to know much of the beauty industry is based around cheap ingredients inexpensive bottles and boxes. If you are paying £10- 50 for a cleansing product then make sure it’s not predominantly aqua, paraffinum liquidum and propylene glycol.
If these ingredients are in the top section of the INCI (ingredient) list at that price point, then you can presume the brand is making a very good margin. Mineral and petroleum-based oils are a very cheap choice to put in cleansers and so tend to be prevalent. We would avoid them as an inert, cheap ingredient.
An introduction to men’s skincare and cleansing
Proverb is designed around athletes and literally exists because of professional rugby. Luke Sherriff, Proverb’s founder started his experience in elite sports back in 2001 when he joined Harlequins RFC.
He was fascinated by the impact of toxins in our environment found in products like shower gel, aluminium’s in deodorants, endocrine disruptors in fragrance, and their impact on performance. Needless to say, his research lead to some serious changes in the ingredients we put on our bodies – and so, our GET OUT WHAT YOU PUT IN ethos was born.
Proverb’s 4 x 4 x 4 skincare regime is to aid effectiveness and convenience, it allows yourself four minutes to properly focus and allow to prep or rewind the day. We understand that it can be tasking to have multiple bottles in your bathroom.
This is why every Proverb bottle has 4 uses, our 4 in 1 efficiency promise to minimise unnecessary bottles and cost. It is entirely possible to be efficient and not use your soap or shampoo. You just need the right brand and product to support your busy life.
Here at Proverb, you can team together the Cleanse and Shave Nutrient Mud with our Strengthening Skin Serum, Hydration Pro Moisturiser and Skin Resistance Training Supplement after. Your completed four-step program takes only four minutes in both the morning and evening to drive your skin and mindset to peak condition.