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Doc Talk: Skin cleaning tips from Dr. Jennifer Rayburn

I am a woman who loves wearing makeup. I have probably tried every product on the market at one time in my life (or close to it). Growing up with a father that is a dermatologist, I learned that with the love of makeup comes the responsibility of careful and effective skin cleansing. Clean skin is the foundation to any beauty regimen.

As every woman knows, there is a multitude of skin cleansing options on the market from drug store products to high-end skin care. With these multiple choices comes a great deal of confusion about what products really work. Cost can also be a big factor in the world of skin care.

The following are some general recommendations for skin cleansing at home.

  1. In general, it is recommended to wash your face twice daily with warm but not hot water. If you have acne-prone, sensitive skin, you can use your fingertips to massage the cleanser into your skin instead of a washcloth. Repetitive trauma of harsh scrubbing can worsen acne.
  2. Syndets (synthetic detergents) are as close to the normal pH of skin as possible. They have about 10 percent soap content. These are gentle skin cleansers. Syndets are great for sensitive, acne prone skin because they cause less skin irritation and dryness.
  3. Water based skin products are less comedogenic than oil based products. So if you are acne prone, read the label and make sure it is not an oil-based cleanser. The same goes for any makeup product. We read food labels all the time. It is time to start reading our makeup labels as well.
  4. Acne cleansing products can contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acids that can be drying and irritating to the skin especially if being treated with other acne medications such as retinols.
  5. If it is smoother skin you are after, you may look for skin cleansers with alpha-hydroxy acids to exfoliate dead skin cells.
  6. Dry skin may benefit from oil based cleansing products and moisturizers.
  7. Gel based cleansers work well for oily skin because they absorb excess oils. Also, cleansers with alcohol content can help remove excess oil. You may want to try these with caution as they can be drying to the skin.
  8. The new facial cleansing method on the market is the sonic facial brushes. They are reported to remove six times more makeup and two times more dirt and oil than regular cleansers. They are also reported to improve skin tone and decrease pore size over time with continued use. I have personally used one of these brushes for over a year and have noticed it removes extra makeup even after I have used my skin-cleansing regimen. One tip is to make sure and buy the appropriate brush for your skin type or it can be too harsh.

The main tip I have learned from my father is that skin cleansing does not have to cost a small fortune. I have used the same drugstore, gentle skin cleanser on my skin since I was a baby. It has served its’ purpose from childhood, to a teen with acne, to adulthood. I have certainly tried my share of skin cleansers including high end products in crystal jars, but I have always gone back to my ten dollar, gentle skin cleanser. Yes, it is a syndet cleanser. It can also be left in a thin layer on the skin after cleansing and double as a mild, non-comedogenic moisturizer.

Skin cleansing does not have to be difficult or expensive. The main tip I can give is to find a cleanser that is right for you and be consistent with a basic skin-cleansing regimen.

Dr. Jennifer Rayburn is an internal medicine specialist with Nashville Medical Group at Baptist Hospital. For more information, or to make an appointment, visit or call 615-284-1450. 

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