Do I Really Need a Cleanser, or Is Water Enough?

Washing your skin with water alone is a time- and purse-saver. But is plain water really effective and kind to your skin? We investigate.

For many people, a lengthy skincare routine isn’t an option. It’s important to know which steps in a classic routine are unnecessary and which are vital to keeping your skin in good shape.

Face-washing can seem like a chore when you’ve got 10,000 other things to do. Can you just skip that step and splash with water to cut down your grooming time?

If you like dull skin, breakouts, and uneven makeup application, sure! However, you most likely don’t. Washing your face with the right cleanser is one of the bare-minimum steps to great skin.


Do I Really Need a Cleanser, or Is Water Enough?


Dead Skin Build-Up

When you wash with water alone, you’re not sloughing away the dead skin cells on the surface. This leads to a build-up of excess dead cells, which will cause your skin to develop a dry, uneven texture.

Dead skin build-up leaves your face more vulnerable to breakouts as well, especially if you have oily skin. When excess oil enters the mix, your skin becomes a ripe breeding ground for breakouts. That's because sebum + bacteria + dead skin cells = clogged pores, which can lead to blackheads, full-on pimples, or cystic acne.

Severe Dryness and Dehydration

When your skin has a thick layer of dead skin on top of it, it’s unable to absorb product effectively. Thus, moisturisers will tend to sit on top of the skin as opposed to sinking in and doing their job.

In response, the skin attempts to create more moisture beneath the surface dryness but can’t replenish its moisture barrier on its own. Therefore, your skin stays stuck in a state of dehydration. Clogged pores are the result of moisturiser sitting on the surface and mixing with dead skin cells, sebum, and bacteria.


Do I Really Need a Cleanser, or Is Water Enough?


An Uneven Surface for Makeup Application

When your skin is dehydrated, it seeks moisture wherever it can find it. When you apply makeup, the hydration component of that makeup will likely be absorbed. The pigment will be left to sit on top of the dry, rough surface of your face, looking uneven, patchy, and inconsistent.

Cleansing is the first step of makeup application. Without it, you wind up just applying gunk on top of gunk. A proper cleanse and hydration is the best investment into making your makeup look its best.

So, as it turns out, for all the reasons listed: yes, you do need a cleanser. However, there are some super-quick options for a thorough cleanse, even if you’re pressed for time. Some of our favourites include micellar waterscleansing oils, and foaming cleansers. Some examples include:

You can easily remove waters and oils with a cotton pad or warm, damp flannel. With foams, you can cleanse quickly and effectively in no time. All of these cleansers will keep your skin in great shape with minimal effort.

Check out our other cleansing options in our full cleanser section.

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