Beauty, Medical & Health Public Relations



Why has the simple act of washing one's face become such an overwhelming task brimming with decisions that can seriously affect they way we look, how the world sees us, and, hence, even our own self-esteem?


"There are just too many cleansers, make-up removers, and soaps on the market," says Dr. Channing Barnett, a New York Board Certified Dermatologist. "It's absolutely mind boggling.  So the real question is how much is too much and which products should we avoid." 


"First of all," says Dr. Barnett, "don't believe any of the hype: keep in mind that the simpler the routine, the better it is for the skin."  Dr. Barnett advises her patients to stay away from harsh soaps with detergent which tend to dry and irritate skin as they remove the skin's natural oils.  This occurs to such an extent that it stimulates oil glands to work even harder resulting in even oilier skin.  "Patients with acne and oily skin should use the mildest types of soap substitute cleansers which do not produce this 'oily rebound' that is characteristic of pure and/or harsh soaps," says Dr. Barnett.  "Many people are fooled by soaps portrayed as pure and mild and this is why I warn patients that these soaps can be some of the driest and harshest products on the market."


The most common mistake that Dr. Barnett sees in addition to people using strong and pure soaps, is over-cleansing.  "The myth of washing your face five times a day so that it is sparkling clean is just that: a myth.  The more you wash, the more opportunity for trouble -- whether you have dry skin which will get drier from over-cleansing or oily skin, which will become oilier.  Twice a day, morning and evening is enough when it comes to washing your face," says Dr. Barnett.


"Not only do people use harsh soaps, but they tend to over-moisturize which usually results in either an allergic reaction, clogged pores or acne situation."   She sees this in men and women between the ages of 30 and 40 who should


have grown out of acne years ago.  This is a primary characteristic of over-cleansing, which leads to over-moisturizing and dry skin after washing the face.  "There is a newly popular diagnosis of 'adult acne' floating about the sub-specialty of dermatology," says Dr. Barnett, "and it's a real diagnosis.  Often the cause is over-moisturizing and that makes the condition almost completely avoidable."  Another common mistake that Dr. Barnett sees in her practice is the over-cleansing which results from people buying so many different products, eager to try yet the next miracle for the skin.  "People don't realize that the main objective of cosmetic companies and stores is to move product; they're not concerned about the over-cleansing, over-moisturizing, and skin problems that may result from overuse.  They would not be multi-national corporations if they did."


Dr. Barnett also advises patients to wash their faces twice a day, morning and evening.  She adds that, "if you are working out, it's better to rinse off the perspiration as opposed to washing the face a third time which will more than likely result in oily rebound."   In hot summer months, she recommends washing the face with cold water and in the winter any comfortable temperature of water will suffice.  She instructs her patients to use alpha hydroxy preparations to remove dead skin rather than the old methods of abrasive cleansing that were once so common in the past.  According to Dr. Barnett, "many people believe that rubbing, massaging, and the use of abrasive materials, such as abrasive washcloths, are good for the skin.  Wrong, wrong, wrong," says Dr. Barnett.  "Washing the face should be gentle.  Rubbing and using abrasive methods will only cause the skin to stretch as well as spread bacteria from a localized area all over the face.  This is especially true around the eyes since the eyelids can stretch much more readily than other parts of the face.  This is why most people who tend to rub their eyes, get loose skin and baggy eyelids at an earlier age.  The alpha hydroxy preparations, which can be obtained from a dermatologist, can effectively remove the dead cells so that there is no need to use these abrasive kinds of cleansers to clean the face."


As far as removing make-up, Dr. Barnett advises women to wash the face first rather than just applying one product over another to remove make-up.  There are many women who apply make-up remover to the face with a cotton ball and  wipe it off with an astringent containing alcohol.  "The problem with this is that alcohol can leave the skin dry, not to mention the stretching of the skin that results from using abrasive materials like cotton balls," says Dr. Barnett.  He warns her patients to keep it simple.  "The best method to use is a soap-free cleanser and water, and then just wash it off and pat it dry.  By doing so, you avoid a whole cycle of over-cleansing, over -moisturizing, and white heads and black heads at an age where you should have grown out of it."