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6 Mistakes You're Making When Choosing a Facial Cleanser

  • Sephora

    Removing Makeup

    Makeup is essentially pigment, applied as a film, that covers your skin. It's designed to stay in places, so removing it can be a challenge. Enter the double cleanse, a trend that began in Asia and has become increasingly popular in the U.S. because it is so effective. Step one: Remove the majority of your makeup with a makeup removing towelette like Clean and Clear Makeup Dissolving Towelettes ($5; Step two: Use an oil cleanser get rid of anything that remains, while hydrating to maintain a healthy skin barrier. Try SK-II Facial Treatment Cleansing Oil ($70;

  • La Roche-Posay

    Removing Sunscreen

    Your skin revs up oil production in the summer, plus sunscreens can be challenging to remove. Some may even have an oil base or contain ingredients like acrylates, which help them stick to the skin so they can best protect you from the sun. With the proper game plan, however, you can remove sunscreen from your skin effectively and without irritation. The double cleanse is a great option, but try reversing the order compared to what you're doing to remove makeup. Step one: Use an oil cleanser. Oil cuts oil and can remove sunscreen, dirt, and sebum from the skin. Try La Roche-Posay Lipikar Cleansing Oil ($19; Step two: Finish the job and remove any remaining sunscreen with a gentle foaming cleanser. Try Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Foaming Cleanser ($10;

  • Macy's

    Removing Pollution

    Pollution and smog are unfortunately unavoidable in most big cities. Particulate matter from the air may get trapped on the skin, leading to free radical damage. This can cause premature skin aging, fine lines, and wrinkles. Your best bet is to cleanse with a sonic cleansing device, which has been shown in studies to remove particulate matter better than cleansing by hand. Try using the Clarisonic Smart Profile Brush ($265; once a week to get the job done.

  • Ulta

    Cleansing Acne-Prone Skin

    Still suffering from breakouts? Using the proper cleanser may help keep your pimples to a minimum by getting to the root of the cause. Salicylic acid cleansers help remove excess skin oil, along with dead cells that would otherwise block pores. As a rule of thumb, think of acne cleansers as short contact therapies. They need enough time on the skin to be absorbed and do their job before being rinsed away. Apply, sing the alphabet, then rinse off to ensure enough contact time. Try Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser ($8; (PS: Did you know super acne is an actual thing wreaking havoc on your skin?)

  • Sisley

    Cleansing Dry Skin

    Is your skin dry or flaky? It may be a sign that it can't maintain adequate hydration. Microscopic cracks in the outer skin layer mean water loss and a defective skin barrier. Harsh cleansers, scrubs, and some foaming products may further disrupt your outer skin layer and worsen dryness. Stick to products that calm your skin and improve hydration. Try Sisley Lyslait ($120; or the more wallet-friendly Korres Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cleanser ($26;

  • Amazon

    Cleansing Rosacea-Prone Skin

    Rosacea is a common facial condition where the skin is red and sensitive, with frequent flushing and sometimes red bumps, pimples, or even pus (yikes!). Essentially what's happening is that the skin is overreactive to the environment. Triggers like spicy foods, stress, hot beverages, red wine, or anything that makes you flush can worsen rosacea. The skin barrier is also not working as well as it should be, leading to dryness. Gentle, hydrating cleansers that don't strip the skin of natural oils and don't cause disruptions in the barrier are key. Look for hydrating cleansing lotions or micellar water, which are among the gentlest cleansers for sensitive skin. Try CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser ($9;