7 Face cleansing myths, debunked by a skincare expert


By Wei Yeen Loh

7 Face cleansing myths, debunked by a skincare expert

Out of all the 7 (or 12, for some) steps in our beauty routine, cleansing is perhaps the most straightforward. But not everyone’s got a foolproof cleansing method down pat—using the wrong cleanser for your skin type might wreak havoc instead of thoroughly removing makeup and grime. It’s all in the details when it comes to cleansing—be it the temperature of water to the sensorial experience while cleansing your face.

Below, we had an expert answer all the common cleansing myths and the right way to cleanse. Dr. Kate Forbes, General Manager of Products and Research & Development at Aesop shares her two cents and introduces the new Gentle Facial Cleansing Milk by the brand.

Myth 1: Not cleansing the face enough causes acne

Dr. Kate Forbes: “Our approach to skin care, and cleansing, is built on a foundation of keeping the skin in balance. We advocate twice-daily cleansing to remove grime, dirt, bacteria, excess sebum and other impurities from the surface of the skin, complemented by regular exfoliation and a deep-cleansing masque to remove dead skin cells and clear congestion. A gentle but disciplined approach to cleansing helps purify the skin and maintain its natural balance.”

Dr Kate Forbes, General Manager of Products and Research & Development, Aesop

Myth 2: Washing face with hot water is good for the skin

DKF: “Understanding one’s skin type and condition is key to selecting an appropriate cleanser. Consider your environment when choosing a cleanser, and consider altering your selection as seasonal changes approach. A gentle cleanser boosted with skin-nourishing extracts may be more suited to dry skin, winter and cooler climates, whereas a more invigorating gel cleanser may be ideal for hot, humid climates and for those with oilier skin.”

“Also, do not use hot water. This strips the skin, compromising its natural lipid barrier which may heighten sensitivity and cause dryness. Tepid or cool water is preferable, especially for dry skin.”


Myth 3: If your cleanser doesn’t give your skin a squeaky clean feeling after cleansing, then it isn’t effective 

DKF: “Cleansing is in its essence a straightforward process, and you will be able to feel if a cleanser has effectively removed excess sebum, grime and impurities immediately following use. You will also know from a single use if a cleanser meets your textural and sensorial preferences. If you have dry or sensitive skin you will want your skin to feel comforted during use, and to have a soft finish with no feelings of tightness post-cleansing. If your skin is combination or oily you may prefer a deeper cleanse and a more refreshing or invigorating skin feel.”


Myth 4: Double cleansing is a must as it provides a more thorough cleanse for the skin

DKF: “For most people, double cleansing is simply not necessary and one runs the risk of over cleansing and disrupting the skin’s hydrolipidic film by using this approach. If an Aesop facial cleanser is applied and rinsed diligently, a single cleanse will be sufficient, and each formulation is designed and formulated for this purpose.”

“For makeup wearers, the Parsley Seed Facial Cleansing Oil and new Gentle Facial Cleansing Milk do a superb job of removing heavy makeup from the face, and Remove (eye makeup remover) is designed especially for the delicate skin around the eyes. Note that Remove can be considered as a pre-cleanse product and should be following with an Aesop facial cleanser.”

Myth 5: Chemical exfoliators are more effective than physical exfoliators

DKF: “Both physical and chemical exfoliant perform a similar function—helping to increase cell turnover of the outmost layers of the skin, but operate via different mechanisms. Using either exfoliant type too frequently can actually damage and irritate the skin if too many of the outer layers are removed. There is a higher risk of this occurring with physical exfoliants. We recommend gentle exfoliation twice weekly, using whatever exfoliant type you are more comfortable with.”


Myth 6: Moisturising isn’t always necessary if you have oily skin

DKF: “We know that oily skin is still prone to dehydration, where skin is lacking in water or moisture. The visible manifestations of dehydrated skin may be more noticeable than dry skin, which is characterised by a lack of oil or sebum. Dehydrated skin often presents as a dull or patchy complexion, with skin that appears thinner and with more apparent lines. Since dehydrated skin is lacking in moisture, the approach to remedy it must have both an internal and topical focus. Internally, we advocate an increase in the consumption of water and omega-rich foods.”

“Topically we recommend layering aqueous formulations such as alcohol-free toners and aloe vera based serums to deliver moisture, supplementing with regular use of formulations containing hydration-boosting sodium carrageenan to increase the skin’s inherent hydration level.”


Myth 7: Cleansing oils are not suitable for oily and acne-prone skin

DKF: “For oilier skin types and in hot and humid climates, where there is a tendency for increased sebum production, we would recommend an invigorating gel-based formula for a deeper and more refreshing cleanse.”

“Aesop’s Gentle Facial Cleansing Milk offers mild yet effective cleansing for most skin types. Its delicate nature and ability to cleanse without stripping moisture makes it ideal for dry, fragile and sensitive skin, however it is also suitable for combination skin that errs towards dry in winter.”


Aesop Gentle Facial Cleansing Milk is a non-foaming emulsion formulated with oils of lavender stem and sandalwood, grapeseed oil and panthenol to remove makeup and dirt from the skin while refreshing and soothing it thereafter. Available this April at all Aesop signature stores and counters, select stockists and at Aesop Online.

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