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Expert Tips: How to Wash Your Face Properly Without Harming Your Skin

Vogue Arabia, January 2021. Photo: Carlos Teixeira

While the rest of the world is enjoying wintery winds, some parts of the Middle East are still slowly inching towards transitionary weather. The afternoons continue to be blistering hot, with balmy evenings offering little relief. In temperatures like this, your skin is already under constant stress because of the bright sun and temperature changes. It’s important not to worsen the situation by improper cleansing. Even when you think your skin feels too greasy and that you urgently need to wash it, remember that healthy, well-protected skin consists of a mixture of sebum, lipids, residual substances from the keratinization process, natural moisturizing factors, lactic and other acids, as well as skin microbiome.

The right work of all of the elements of this barrier (and the health of the skin) depends heavily on whether you’re drying out your skin and whether you’re renewing it at the best time. Thus, proper skin cleansing during hot months should be based on three basic rules, revealed below by Natalia Derkach, MD, PhD and founder of the Instytutum

Rule 1: Don’t wash with just water 

Come winter, everyone’s biggest concern is moisturizing and nutrition, but during hot months, cleansing takes priority. Due to the active work of the sebaceous glands during warm months, washing turns into a favorite beauty ritual. But despite the constant desire to refresh, remember that frequent washing dehydrates the skin and, together with active sunlight, leads to wrinkles, a dull complexion, and loss of elasticity. Things to keep in mind:

First: Water alone is not enough for high-quality skin cleansing, especially during hot months. During the day, sweat, dust and sebum accumulate on the skin and can be dissolved only with a face wash. 

Second: The skin of city dwellers suffers daily from pollutants, such as surfactants, which are volatile organic compounds which result from burning coal, oil, gas, wood, garbage, and tobacco. These attach themselves to the skin, including with water, and one won’t be able to deeply cleanse the skin without a special cleanser. In the case of insufficient cleaning, pores become clogged, provoking rashes, a dull complexion and hyperkeratosis (thickening of the skin). 

Third: The pH of tap water is closer to alkaline (ranging from 6.5 to 8.5), while to keep the hydrolipid layer healthy, the skin pH needs to be between 3.5 and 5.9. The alkaline pH overdries skin and encourages the appearance of harmful bacteria. Along with this, water in cities is very saturated with minerals and contains salts of magnesium and potassium, which also dry skin out. 

If your skin needs additional cleansing during the day, treat it as a full-fledged routine and do everything that you usually do in the morning. Carry mini packs of your cleanser, tonic, moisturizer and your favorite SPF. To quickly and lightly refresh skin, keep your moisturizing spray handy. Instytutum’s flawless hydra mist makes a great pick for long-lasting, intense hydration.

Rule 2: Choose a mildly acidic pH cleanser that suits you

You’ve now learned why you can’t wash your face with water alone. Now, you need to choose a good cleanser that will balance the hardness and alkalinity of tap water. Mild acidic cleansers can deal with this wonderfully. A good cleanser creates a light foam and doesn’t leave your skin with the feeling of tightness. On the contrary, you should feel a light “film” on your face, which might even have you thinking your skin isn’t clean enough. The reality, however, is that mild acidic cleansers don’t destroy the skin’s hydrolypid layer, allowing it to continue perform its functions, protecting the skin from negative environmental influences and controlling sebum production. An important rule of thumb to keep in mind: the right cleanser, even during the hottest hours of the day, won’t leave you feeling like you need to wash your face again. Why? Because that feeling tends to only come around when one’s hydrolipid layer is disrupted. 

Rule 3: Regularly renew your skin with acids 

I share the opinion of Western colleagues who agree that the skin tolerates exfoliation better in the summer because at this time of the year the air is more humid. In addition, evening washing (with a mild acidic cleanser!) can cleanse the skin of sebum, dust and sweat, but it can’t cope with dead skin cells. Therefore, it is worth supplementing the routine with a balancing acid toner which will also balance the pH.” Bacteria and pollutants multiply in an alkaline environment, so maintaining an acidic environment on the skin helps it fight harmful elements and minimize damage from harmful environmental factors. This step can also help prevent skin rash and dullness. For the safety of your skin in the summer, you should use acids only in the evening and always apply SPF 50 sunscreen before leaving the house.

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