Carbonated Cleansing, Hot Cleansing, Double Cleansing, Oh My! The TBE Guide to Face Washing 2.0
Everything you need to know about the newest facial cleansing skincare trends from Asia
Time was when simply rinsing off your cleanser with thirty lashes of water constituted “best practices.” But with the explosion of K beauty and other skincare trends from Asia, the act of cleansing has now been elevated into something approaching an art form. Breathless headlines promising, “This new cleansing trend is going to be huge!” pop up almost everyday. From carbonated cleansing to stick cleansing, options abound. But are all these new methods (and, in some cases, extra steps) really worth all the hype? We consulted some of New York’s top derms for answers, and then put our trusty Cetaphil in the closet for a week to test out the latests techniques and newest cleansers.
Cleansing trend #1: The Double Cleanse
Almost everyone with a passing interest in skincare has heard of this one. But if you’re not a nose-to-computer, Kylie-Jenner lip kit-tracking beauty editor/blogger/junkie, do you really understand what the point of it is? The reasoning for the double cleanse goes something like this: mild cleansers are gentle on skin, but they don’t clean skin very thoroughly (to test this, simply swipe a cotton pad soaked in toner over your face after washing with a soap-free cleanser. Gross: amirite?). More aggressive cleansers, on the other hand, clean well but can strip skin. Double cleansing—which involves washing first with an oil based cleanser and then following with a water-based gel or cream cleanser—cleans skin more thoroughly than standard washing yet it doesn’t strip the all important skin moisture barrier.
What the expert says
“Pre-cleansing is good for those who wear a lot of makeup and apply/reapply sunscreen at the beach,” says NYC dermatologist Debra Jaliman, author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatogist. “By thoroughly removing any grease from skin, it can lead to fewer breakouts.” A word of caution, though: When double cleansing, make sure you are using an oil-based cleanser, followed by a mild, soap-free one, otherwise “you risk over-drying skin and disrupting the important skin barrier,” says dermatologist Heidi Waldorf.
Putting double cleansing to the test
As a long time aficionado of soap-free standards such as Cetaphil and Cerave, I can definitely see the value of a grime-removing double cleanse. I have acne prone skin so I have always been scared of putting oil on my face—let alone washing my skin with it—but this new technique did NOT make me break out. In fact, it did just the opposite. After washing with Green Farmacy Cleansing Balm (an oil-based makeup remover) and It Cosmetics Confidence In a Cleanser (a cream cleanser) for one week, my skin felt cleaner and fresher than it had in weeks: my pores looked smaller, my skin glowed. And I’m happy to report that I did not find one single mascara stain on my Schweitzer Linen sheets.
Sure, it took an extra five minutes, but the double cleanse definitely improved my skin. If you have the discipline to stick to it, your skin will thank you.
Cleansing trend #2: Stick Cleansers
The next evolution of bar soaps, TSA-friendly sticks (like Milk Makeup Match Cleanser, $26, sephora.com) generally come in twist up canisters that eliminate mess and prevent bacteria from contaminating the soap. Fans of the stick method also claim it can increase circulation.
What the expert says
“It’s practical for travel,” says Waldorf. But can it increase circulation? “No.”
Putting the stick cleanser to the test
Packing my trusty Cetaphil is always a nightmare. Seriously, have you ever tried to decant that gloppy mess into a travel bottle? Trust me: Even if you squeeze it out of a Ziplock bag like frosting, it’s a disastrous mess. So I was delighted to toss this stick into my carry on for my last trip to Florida. I breezed through security and never looked back.
As a travel-friendly cleansing option, stick cleansers are the best thing to happen to high maintenance beauty junkies since makeup wipes. I will never try to decant a bottle of Cetaphil again.
Cleansing Trend #3: Carbonated Cleansing
This trend—which involves substituting carbonated water for regular tap in your cleansing regimen—first gained traction in Japan and is now catching on in Europe and parts of the states. Devotees of the practice say bubbles function like tiny oscillalating skincare minions, sweeping out pores, removing dead skin cells, and helping to reduce puffiness. The fizz also reportedly increases circulation, and delivers oxygen to the skin, resulting in glowier complexion.
What the expert says
“It’s a gimmick,” says dermatologist Heidi Waldorf. “Carbonation can help get out stains in fabric but skin isn’t the same as fabric. Also, it can’t bring oxygen into your skin because the oxygen is released as it’s used.”
Putting carbonated cleansing to the test
As luck would have it, Polar Seltzer had recently sent me a massive shipment of their latest seltzer flavors so I had plenty of bubbles to work with (enough to actually bath in it, but let’s not get all Beyoncé about this). After poking around the internet, I found a recipe for a homemade sparkling face bath, using a mixture of 1 part seltzer water with 1 part regular water. I filled a giant bowl with my semi bubbly concoction and then plunged my face into it. It tingled ever so slightly. I washed my face then, rinsing away the suds with the diluted sparkle. Is it my imagination or did my skin look a little smoother and tighter? It was hard to tell. This prompted me to try a more consumer-friendly method: Clinique’s Fresh Pressed Daily Vitamin C powder, which bubbles on the skin once its activated. My face truly felt like a chemistry experiment as this bubbled away, and after just one wash, my skin looked brighter.
Bringing more oxygen to your skin is a valiant idea, but there’s no proof that submerging your face in a bowl of seltzer will do the trick. Two safer bets: The aforementioned Clinique bubbles or Exuviance’s Bionic Oxygen Facial, which delivers up a tingly dose of oxygenated bubbles that leave skin fresh and glowing after just a couple minutes. Mizon Egg White Bubble Cleanser and Whamisa By Glow Recipe Green Tea Foaming Cleansing Gel offer two others ways to get your bubble on.
Cleansing trend #4: Hot cleansing
I know what you’re thinking: Didn’t Biore invent a warming cleanser a long time ago? Yes, they did. But this is different. This trend, which also originated in Japan, involves much higher temperatures. It works like this: You massage the heated gel onto your skin without any water, allow it to sit there steaming for 30 seconds, then wash it off with warm water. Unlike many pore-excavating treatments out there, this product, which is formulated with hydrating ceramides, hyaluronic acid and glycerin, won’t dry out your skin (in fact, the occlusive barrier formed by the gel actually helps drive the hydrating ingredients into the skin). Like a facial steamer, the heated gel helps loosen dead skin cells and essentially melt the sebum clogging up your pores so it’s easier to whisk away. The most popular heated gel from Japan, MaNara, can now be purchased on amazon.
What the expert says
“Heat is beneficial for cleansing,” says Jaliman. “It helps dislodge the dirt and bacteria.” One word of warning: Be careful using high heat if have eczema or rosacea. “Heat can bring out redness.” Also, warns Waldorf, “very high heat can cause burns.”
Putting the heat on
The gel felt hot but not uncomfortably so. And when I removed it, my skin felt baby soft and my pores looked less visible.
The heated gel cleanser is a cool new way to cleanse but until the technology becomes available in the states, you may want to stick with a hot mist facial steamer (a relative bargain at $30) since $55 is a bit steep for a product that gets washed down the drain after 30 seconds. Or, you could always stick with Biore (which gets warm, not super hot, so there’s no risk of burning skin).