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Makeup Removal and Facial Cleansing Guide

by Celia Shatzman


To ensure the grime of the day is washed away properly, follow this
makeup removal and cleansing guide.

We’ve all heard it a million times: Never go to bed with your makeup on. If you’re wondering how critical makeup removal really is, the answer is very. “With all the buildup of sweat, pollution and toxins stored on the skin, it is one of the most important steps in skincare to cleanse your skin before bed every night,” says Ildi Pekar, Manhattan-based celebrity facialist. “You can cause severely clogged pores, breakouts and bacteria to live in the skin.” Going to sleep without cleansing your face and removing makeup can also lead to broken eyelashes, chapped lips, dry skin, wrinkles, eye irritation or even infection and general irritation—not a fun list.

“The skin during the day is playing a role of protection against the external aggressions of UVA and UVB rays,” says Marcus Fry, spa director at The Adlon Spa by Resense in Berlin. “At night the skin needs to go into a repair mode, regenerating healthy cells and creating the elastin and collagen fibers.” By cleaning up before bedtime, you’re allowing your skin to breathe, getting rid of dead skin cells, and removing impurities and pollution from the skin’s surface.

Cleansing the right way is also important. “Find the right cleanser for your skin type,” advises Pekar. “You know it’s the right one if, when you wash your face, your skin doesn’t feel tight, irritated, red, blotchy and itchy. Look for coconut oil and raw honey, and stay away from sulfates, heavy fragrance, synthetic colors such as Red 40 and parabens.” Try Ildi Pekar Facial Cleanser.

“It’s important to consider the skin’s condition—whether it be dryness, oiliness, or sensitivity—when choosing a cleanser and makeup remover,” says Jennifer Janssen, aesthetician at Golden Door Spa, in California. “Look for an eye makeup remover that is safe for the eyes.” Try Yes To Cotton Comforting Eye Makeup Remover Pads.

Be sure to always wash your hands first. A few other common mistakes? “Leaving your hair down, using the same dirty pad all over the face, forgetting to remove makeup from the neck area, working the skin in a downward direction and not using a special makeup remover for sensitive areas such as the eyes,” Fry says.

Get started by removing your makeup with a product targeted just for this; try Planted in Beauty Purify + Condition Makeup Remover. “I always like to remove makeup before I take a shower; I recommend doing this in front of the mirror,” Pekar says. Start with the eye area and the lips, then remove foundation. “The eye area has very thin skin and rubbing hard can cause damage underneath the skin, potentially leading to wrinkles, dark circles and sensitivity,” says Janssen. 

Applying too much pressure on the eyes can cause stretching to the skin and redness, plus it can make wrinkles look deeper and cause eyes to look puffy and swollen, so avoid rubbing entirely—gently pat the skin instead.

“It’s okay to use makeup remover twice, but anything more means it is not a good makeup remover,” Pekar says. Once all makeup is removed, wash the entire face—a double cleanse is your friend. “The first cleanse removes most of the makeup, bacteria and grime, and the second can do a deeper clean and remove the makeup remover,” Fry says.

“I only recommend using your hands or a professional device when it comes to cleaning the face,” Janssen says. “Your hands and certain types of tools will give you the best results without causing any damage to the surface or under the skin.” She recommends a cleansing tool, such as the Clarisonic Mia Fit.

“I like hands because it gets the best coverage!” Pekar says. “It’s gentle and effective, especially in the eye area, where it’s good to work in the makeup remover. Most cotton washcloths absorb too much of the product, so I recommend using that as the last step to just rinse the face, not wash the face.”

Getting the water temperature just right is also key—lukewarm is best. “Hot water can definitely dry out the skin, which can lead to sensitivity and even damage on a deeper level,” Janssen says. “Steam is also good in moderation, but not to be overdone.”

Once your face is clean, follow up with a toner, serum, moisturizer and an eye cream. Be sure to treat the neck and décolleté as well. You’ll wake up to a healthier, brighter complexion!

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