Scrub up well

I decided to undergo an experiment recently: to stop using a cleanser for five nights and monitor the results. A mini experiment, with little or no scientific value, of course, but an experiment nonetheless.

I washed my face with water in the evening, and with water in the shower in the morning. Five days later and my skin isn’t looking great. I have to wear a radiance booster from MAC every morning to try and give it a lift, and I have a collection of little red spots on and around my nose. So my theory is thus: say what you like about taking off make-up in the evening, but if you don’t cleanse your skin properly, your skin will get you back.

The thing I’ve learned about cleansing through the years is that moderation is key. If you cleanse in the evening there is no reason to use a product again in the morning. Nothing really has happened to make your skin dirty during the night, so washing it with water in the shower should be adequate.

Remember, your skin has precious natural oils that you want to maintain.

The more important issue is where to start and what to use. For my money, I think the best thing you can do is invest in a few inexpensive muslin cloths. Introduced to the world by skincare genius Eve Lom, and popularised by the equally brilliant Liz Earle, muslin cloths are perfect for using with a milk, oil or cream cleanser. Rinse the cloths out every night and they will last you for ages too. If you want something more substantial, then try an organic cotton face cloth. Always use tepid water and pat your skin dry afterwards.

With cleansing, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut by using products that might not be right for your skin. For years, I slavishly used a foaming facial cleanser and spent the rest of the time wondering why I constantly had to slather on so much moisturiser. Foaming cleansers are great, but they’re not ideal for dry skin types. When choosing a cleanser, forget about convenience (cleansing wipes are the easiest of all but they’re not that great for your skin and even worse for the environment as most aren’t biodegradable) but opt instead for a cleanser that will suit your skin type, is easy to apply and easy to remove — your skin should feel comfortable after using it.

One of my favourite recent discoveries are cleansing oils, and while you do have to be careful to get the right one, they are really lovely to use, especially for dry skin. There’s a bottle of the Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil, €34.75, sold every eight seconds, so you can be sure you’re in good company with that one. And if you’re looking for an uber-natural option, try the Nude Cleansing Facial Oil, €28.62 (@ You massage it into the skin, and as you rinse it off with warm water it turns into a light milk. Lovely.

These days cleansers will go from balms to oils to milks making the cleansing experience a lot more interesting, so if you fancy mixing it up a bit, try Lancôme’s Baume Eclat, €24.90; Clarins’s Pure Melt Cleansing Gel, €23; and Elemis Melting Cleansing Gel, €21.80.


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