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The Beauty Guide to Pre-Cleansing Your Skin

Are you one of the people who runs a makeup wipe over your face before bed and thinks that it counts as cleansing? Yeah, I’m talking to you. Do you cleanse once and hit the sack? I’m talking to you too. Do you wear sunscreen during the day? Then I’m definitely talking to you. Gather around and let me speak the holy gospel of pre-cleansing your skin.

Pre-cleansing is a little different to plain old double cleansing, in that you use products that specifically aim to dissolve makeup, sweat and sebum. This makes it so much easier for your actual cleanser to do its job and clean your skin down to the pores, rather than just removing the remnants of your foundation. Think about it: if you start your skincare routine with one cleanse, then much of the cleanser is stuck on top of your makeup rather than penetrating to deeper layers of your skin. Pre-cleansing can also help reduce breakouts by ensuring makeup and dirt remnants are banished from your face. Acting like a domino effect, the products you use will subsequently go that little bit deeper; that’s more effective cleansers, serums and moisturisers. But which pre-cleanser is right for you?

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Most pre-cleansers are oil-based, because oil is super effective at penetrating the skin to get rid of impurities. The oil helps break down the structure of your makeup formulas, making it easy to simply wipe away at the end of the pre-cleanse step. It also works on sebum because of the whole “like attracts like” thing; an oil cleanser will attract and break down oils in your skin. Some oil pre-cleansers can also kick start the emulsification process to really clean out your pores.

My favourite oil-based pre-cleansers come from Dermalogica. Their PreCleanse ($60) and PreCleanse Balm ($65) are both oil based, and melt away your makeup, no matter how thick you’ve slapped it on that day. The Balm is particularly spesh, because its formula transforms to an oil, upon contact with water. It also comes with a silicone cleansing mitt to help the cleansing process along and really makes sure all the layers of makeup, sweat and sebum are gone before you cleanse properly. I’m also a fan of Clinique’s Take The Day Off Balm ($55), which is an balm-to-oil concoction that leaves skin makeup and sunscreen free.

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Micellar or water based cleansers are perfect for sensitive skin that needs a good drink of moisture. They’re ideal for makeup removal in that they dissolve all formulas without leaving any tracers or smears behind. This quality makes them perfect for makeup artists looking to instantly remove makeup or for those looking to fix any eyeliner boo boos! Another benefit of these beauties is that they soothe skin and won’t leave behind any redness.

Contrary to popular belief, micellar water cleansers aren’t meant to work in isolation; you’ll need to follow up with a proper foaming-style formula to ensure your skin is totally clean. As the weather starts to heat up, I reach for Clinique’s 2-in-1 Cleansing Micellar Gel + Light Makeup Remover ($38). It’s a cool, refreshing formula but even better than that, it’s a GEL. Why is this so amazing? Because it eliminates the one thing I hate about micellar water: the million cotton pad applications. Just squeeze some gel into your palms and rub it on. Simple! For the heavenly rosewater smell I would also try Mecca Cosmetica’s Clean Slate Micellar Water ($29).

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