Addicted To The Ritual Of Cleansing
Part of the pleasure of wearing makeup, for me, is the ritual of cleansing to get it all off.
I am talking about removing a full face of cosmetics - from concealer and foundation to eyeliner and mascara. I also wear eyeshadow every day as well as lipstick, blusher, contour powders and highlighter. Yep, even at 56!
Fifteen years ago, I could not have fathomed ever liking the process - let alone relishing it. Those were the days when my 'routine' comprised a bit of cream cleanser on a ball of cotton wool and, occasionally, a toner. Nine times out of 10, though, I would fall into bed still wearing a ton of war paint - always assuming a quick wash in the morning would suffice. Or, some nights, just not even thinking ahead at all. In fact, I am certain I must have applied fresh makeup on top of the previous day's numerous times.
Disgusting, I know. It gives me the heebie-jeebies to even be reminded.
And I wondered why I still had blackheads when I was well into my 30s!
Everything changed when it dawned on me that properly removing cosmetics and being thorough when it came to actually cleaning the face is the very foundation of good skincare.
'I really like the glycolic cleansing pads because they're super easy. Sometimes it's annoying to scrub your face with your hands, but these are just little pads, so I like that.' - Kylie Jenner
1, 2, 3 or 4 Steps To Clean Skin?
I only discovered the true benefits of cleansing when I quit a career that had worn me down and tried something new. Suddenly, I had all this energy that I didn't have before - and some extra cash. I probably chucked a couple of cleansing products in a shopping basket one day, finally realising their relevance about two weeks after I started using them.
That light bulb moment - and I genuinely can't recall exactly when it was, because it was literally years ago now - changed so much.
Of course, it changed the condition of my skin. For the better. But, it did more. It gave me a purpose at the end of the day; something to look forward to. It also gave me a proper 'unwinding' process.
When I cleanse my face, I never think of it in a set number of steps. It takes as many as it... well, takes.
Usually, I start my routine with micellar water. I use it to remove eye makeup and occasionally sweep it over my face as well. I use two eco friendly, washable cleansing pads - so there is a pad for each eye to limit the chance of spreading bacteria from one to the other. If I am using micellar water on my face, I use a third pad.
Next up is the wash. I alternate between using a cleansing balm and a gentle wash. Generally, I will go for the balm if I've worn particularly heavy makeup or if the weather has been humid. I love massaging the products into my face and seeing what comes off when I rinse.
Because someone once told me that it takes over 20 splashes of water to remove soap from the face, I rinse at least five or six times.
Twice a week, I combine the wash with an electronic cleansing tool. I find it exfoliates the skin and delivers a really deep-down clean.
Two or three times a month, I also use a pink clay mask.
Next up, I use a calming toner (I save the glycolic and caffeine toners for mornings). This is the moment of truth, for me. If there is any hint of makeup on the pad, I go back and wash my face again. Very gently.
That may be the end of the cleansing ritual for some people, but I like to immediately continue with skincare products.
I always use a serum after toning my skin. Sometimes, it will be a simple argan oil or hyaluronic acid. Other times, I may use a few drops of rose oil in a moisturising gel or go heavy on the retinol and vitamin C. Again, I massage my skin to ensure no area is overlooked.
While the serum is still slightly damp, I apply pure aloe vera gel to the under-eye areas, my eyebrows, the bridge of my nose and upper lip.
Finally, I apply either a rich night cream or lots of moisturising gel. Recently, I've been using Revolution's watermelon gel or Boots' cheap-as-chips pineapple Glow gel. (That's me, below - no filters and photo taken three days ago.)
Reasons To Love Cleansing Your Face
Mintel estimated that British women would spend £1.18 billion on skincare products in 2018. Since then, of course, we have had a pandemic with many more women finding the time - and a desire - to invest in their face.
The top market intelligence agency further reported that 92 per cent of women were using facial cleansers, with 55 per cent buying a face wash and 45 per cent cleansing wipes. Micellar water, back then, was attracting just 27 per cent of skincare devotees - a trend that has undoubtedly increased.
This intelligence was gathered at a time when Korean skincare was in vogue and necessitated up to 10 steps. It was reported before wipes were considered ineffective as a cleanser as well as a hazard to the environment.
Quite rightly, Mintel said that more women were experimenting with skincare and developing their own, bespoke cleansing rituals.
Like me, many were alternating products and were not afraid to try something new. For example, I sometimes like to give my skin a boost with a gentle overnight peel.
If you find the ritual of cleansing a massive hassle, try to think of the benefits instead.
Envisage your pores being clogged with sticky eye makeup and foundation. Imagine that those blackheads on your nose and chin have been made a zillion times worse by stray mascara and that any blemishes you have are caused by poor personal hygiene. Remind yourself that dirt, sweat and pollutants are also in the mix. Finally, think of the time and effort - potentially over months or even years - that will need to go into reversing all that damage?
Then consider how you unwind at night. What is your routine? If you have one, does it relax you? Does it improve your appearance and boost your self-esteem?
You see, the biggest gains with a cleansing ritual aren't always obvious. Yes, my skin is clear and smooth - in fact, makeup goes on a treat - but other benefits include having a relaxing end to the day that aids sleep.
I am addicted to the ritual of cleansing and I cannot imagine there ever being a time in the future when I won't be.
It has had a positive impact on my overall wellbeing. In fact, I feel fab!