Dry cleansing is one of those trends that is exactly as it sounds—applying cleanser to dry skin. As with many trends, it’s not necessarily a new technique but is currently attracting a lot of interest. It “involves the application of a cleansing agent to a dry face, massaging as one usually does when cleansing the face, and then rinsing the cleansing agent off with water,” explains Houston dermatologist Jennifer Segal, MD.
Is dry cleansing right for you?
Dr. Segal tends to recommend dry cleansing to patients who use medicated washes, like sulfur, for breakouts “since it facilitates a longer contact of the medicine with the skin.” Aesthetician Natasha V Glasgow agrees with this approach since “dry cleansing gives the skin a concentrated experience before introducing water and diluting the product.” However, they both note that when there are actives in the cleanser, it could irritate skin, so be cognizant of that, and stop use if your skin reacts negatively.
Dry cleansing can be a great first step in a double cleanse on those heavy makeup days. “It’s particularly effective in removing heavy makeup, as the oils help break down makeup products without harsh scrubbing. The oils used in dry cleansing can help unclog pores and reduce the occurrence of blackheads and whiteheads, which also makes it a great choice for oily skin types,” says aesthetician and founder of Rescue Spa Danuta Mieloch. “The oil acts like a vacuum to the oil in your skin, deeply cleansing without disrupting the barrier layer in your skin or over stripping,” she adds.
Cleansing the skin twice daily facilitates healthy skin, says Dr. Segal. If you’re averse to basic cleansing with water, dry cleansing may be a good option. Dr. Segal says whatever method encourages you to keep up with cleansing is what you should stick to.
On the other hand, Miami Dermatologist Dr. Deborah Longwill doesn’t see many benefits of dry cleansing, and she doesn’t necessarily recommend the technique. “Most cleansers are created to be used with water for dilution of the product,” says Dr. Longwill. Without the usage of water, one may cause harm, irritation and excessive dryness, she notes.
Dry cleansing tips
Those with sensitive skin should be wary when trying this technique, warns Glasgow. The technique is most commonly done with a gentle liquid cleanser or a cleansing balm.
Dr. Segal says her favorite cleanser for this is Avene Gentle Milk Cleanser ($22), which is designed with no-rinse in mind. She says Vanicream Unscented Gentle Facial Cleanser and CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser ($14) are also great options. “The gentleness of the product (where they are unlikely to over dry or strip and irritate the skin) is key,” says Dr. Segal. “For the medicated cleansers, prescription sulfur washes or over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide washes are effective, but caution must be taken to avoid irritation.”
Glasgow recommends trying Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser ($35) with French green clay and vitamin C. Pro tip: “Mix in a pump of their Good Genes ($85) with it, and it becomes a fabulous 20-minute mask for resurfacing and purifying.”
Mieloch says cleansing balms are great for dry cleansing. They “help to dissolve and lift dirt, makeup and excess sebum from the skin more effectively, leading to a deeper cleanse compared to traditional water-based methods,” she explains. Additionally, many cleansing balms are formulated to go on dry. Mieloch recommends Danucera Cerabalm ($95), a honey-like product that can be used wet or dry. Dry cleansers we love using include Ranavat Lotus Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm ($55), Perricone MD Essential Fx Acyl-Glutathione Chia Cleansing Balm ($49), Youth To The People Superberry Dream Cleansing Balm ($39) and The INKEY List Oat Cleansing Balm ($12).
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