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Cleansing is the first step in any good skin care routine to provide visible benefits and health to skin. As such, it should follow seasonal patterns. All formats of facial cleansing products are designed to remove dirt and debris; shedding corneocytes, sweat, sebum and other compounds that constitute the acid mantle. The traditional way of cleansing, until a decade or so ago, advocated using soap and water, or rich cleansing milk and toner, depending on the consumer’s preference. This approach has been superseded by cleansing balm in winter and mild facial wash in summer.
Cleansing balms are rich, balmlike products that melt when applied to the face, preferably in a circular motion. The formulations are based either on liquid paraffin and lanolin derivatives, or plant oils, e.g., sesame, soybean, grape seed, almond, etc., combined with cocoa butter and beeswax. Mild facial washes are light, usually non-foaming products based on surfactants such as cocamidopropyl betaine and derivatives of glucosides, and enhanced with moisturizing ingredients, i.e., glycerin, Aloe barbadensis and niacinamide, which are particularly beneficial.
Facial skin cleansing habits differ around the world depending on cultural perceptions, age and skin type. The British consumer prefers convenience, particularly in cleansing. Wet cleansing wipes have gained high penetration in the UK market—69% of consumers used them in 2010, according to Mintel, and they are popular from central London to rural Yorkshire.1 In contrast, the American approach to facial cleansing is more intense, and the Japanese use double-cleansing and products that lead to a feeling of “squeaky clean” skin.
In terms of the cleanser removal, cotton pads have been upgraded to flannel or muslin cloths, mildly abrasive sponges and mitts. One of the most innovative flannels is Emma Hardie’s Lift and Sculpt Cleansing Cloth, with a mildly abrasive muslin side to exfoliate uneven and congested areas and a smooth, gentle microfiber side to remove the cleanser. Alternatively, consumers use battery-powered cleansing devices such as the Neutrogena Wave Power Cleanser and Clarisonic Skin Cleansing System, which use a gentle sonic micro-massage action to cleanse effectively and deeply without abrasion.
In Japan, sponges have been used for centuries for gentle, thorough cleansing. The Konnyaku plant sponge, an antibacterial with bamboo charcoal, eliminates blackheads through gentle exfoliation while retaining the pH balance of skin. Interestingly, another product, Supracor SpaCells Facial Sponge, is a honeycombed mitt based on aerospace technology that is used daily for softer, smoother, younger looking skin. It is designed to cleanse and remove makeup but also exfoliate and massage, i.e., stimulate blood and lymphatic fl ow, to decrease puffiness and promote cellular regeneration.