What about simple soaps?
So we've established that daily cleansing is an integral part of any skin care regime and that the cleanser needs to be adjusted to your individual skin type. Still in clinic, my patients often ask me about soap. Many people seem to think that simple, good old-fashioned soap is the most natural and thus the 'ideal' cleanser, especially for sensitive skin. Well, I hate to disillusion them. Traditional soaps won't do your skin any favours, especially your face. They disturb the skin's natural pH (acid balance) and disrupt it's protective barrier function and damage the fat and protein structure of the surface horny layer causing irritation, dryness and roughness. The fatty acids in soap are also comedogenic and can cause acne.
The good news is that cosmetic science has moved on and there are much better alternatives. We now have some great multi-functional cleansers which cater for different skin types and skin problems. Not only do they cleanse the skin surface gently and efficiently, but they re-hydrate too.
Do I need an additional toner?
Toners were originally developed to remove irritating soap left-overs from the skin surface. With the advent of modern soapless cleansers, this is no longer necessary and we no longer really need to use toners.
The only people who might benefit are those with oily skin, since astringent toners remove excess surface oils, but an efficient cleanser for oily skin should do this anyway. Toners can even irritate dry and sensitive skin, especially if they have an alcohol base. My feeling is that toners are a marketing gimmick. Why over-complicate your skincare routine?
Which cleanser for which skin type?
It's crucial to choose a cleanser developed specifically for your skin type, as the wrong formula could easily aggravate dry, irritated skin or acne-prone skin. While oily skin often benefits from a thorough foaming cleanser designed to remove excess oil, people with very dry and sensitive skin should use a non-foaming, moisturising cream wash.
Do anti-ageing cleansers work?
Cleansing the skin once or twice per day is an important part of your daily skin care regime. However, a cleanser's main function is to remove dirt and dust, make-up, excess oils and dead skin cells. Some do claim to contain anti-ageing ingredients. But the time they remain on your skin is so short that it's hard to see how enough of these ingredients can reach the deeper layers of the skin where the main ageing processes take place. The same goes for cleansing wipes, which aren't likely to have meaningful concentrations of actives anyway.
Leave-on product such as a serums or creams are much more likely to deliver relevant levels of active anti-ageing ingredients deep into your skin.