Put your best face forward

All you need for your sexiest skin ever? Thirty seconds, some H2O and your pick of the best cleansing products.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Photography: Getty Images
Photography: Getty Images
All you need for your sexiest skin ever? Thirty seconds, some H2O and your pick of the best cleansing products.

Pass out at night with a dirty face and you know what to expect in the morning: a breakout. Turns out, that may be the least of your worries. According to recently published research, pollution-related chemicals (known as reactive oxygen species) actually create the same type of damage as UV rays: hyperpigmentation and wrinkles. By evening, “bacteria and free radicals are just sitting on your skin, ready to destroy collagen,” says Patricia Wexler, a New York-based dermatologist. She adds, “I’d sooner sleep in my clothes than go to bed without cleansing.”

Turn to towelettes to save time (and face)? While they’re ultra-convenient, even they have their limits. “The chemicals that keep them moist in the pack can be really dehydrating if used daily,” says dermatologist Dr Monica Schadlow. Sub wipes for true cleanser more than once or twice a week and you’ll likely see increased dullness, breakouts, and redness, she adds.

If you want a killer complexion, reach for a face wash—or better yet, one of these innovative, 2.0 versions. Find one that fits your lathering style and schedule, then get ready to wash and glow.

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If you’re… addicted to face wipes

You’ll Love… Micellar Water

WHY IT’S AMAZING: This rinsefree cleanser (technically water with a non-foaming surfactant— i.e., soap) makes it easy to get clean when you can’t get to a sink, plus it’s great for all skin types. And considering its highfashion pedigree—it’s a staple in chic French pharmacies and a fave among top makeup artists, who need to get makeup off quickly and gently. You can’t not feel fabulous using one.

HOW TO USE? Saturate a cotton pad, and use it as you would a face wipe.

If you… use makeup remover and cleanser

You’ll Love…Cleansing Oil

WHY IT’S AMAZING: Using oil to cleanse your skin sounds counterintuitive, but nothing breaks down stubborn makeup faster. “Nourishing oils—from argan to sesame—quickly dissolve dirt, grime, and makeup without leaving skin feeling tight,” says celeb facialist and oil advocate Sonya Dakar. “When you rinse off, skin feels so supple, and it glows.” (Dry and combo skin users get the most benefit. Skip if you’re acne prone.)

HOW TO USE? Massage onto dry skin, adding a bit of water until it turns into a light milk. Rinse, and pat dry.

If you… suds up with a washcloth

You’ll Love… A Konjac Sponge

WHY IT’S AMAZING: “It’s like a modern day Buf-Puf, except it’s gentle,” says Ni’Kita Wilson, a cosmetic chemist. The sponge (derived from vegetable roots) has a soft, netlike structure that cleanses skin while sloughing off dead cells. Some sponges are even infused with ingredients such as oil-absorbing charcoal and antioxidants like green tea and lycopene.

HOW TO USE? Dampen and buff away. You can add a dab of cleanser if you like, but it’s actually not necessary. While some are recommended for daily use, Dr. Wexler says pay more attention to your face than the directions. While the natural fibers do provide a bit of exfoliation, “if your face feels tight or looks red, scale back.”

If you… exfoliate on the reg

You’ll Love… Cleansing Powder

WHY IT’S AMAZING: Pulverised enzymes and exfoliators create a finely milled powder—one that’s transformed into a lush, lightly exfoliating cleanser with a little water. “A powdered face wash sounds crazy, but so did dry shampoo when it first came out!” says Wilson. “This isn’t such a leap.”

HOW TO USE? In your palms, mix a 10 cent-size amount with water to form a creamy paste (for more exfoliation) or sudsy lather (for less). Work into skin and rinse.

If you’re… all about luxe facials

You’ll Love… Cleansing Balm

WHY IT’S AMAZING: Not only does the indulgent formula leave skin mega-soft, it forces you to chill out. The ultra-rich textures have to be massaged into the skin, which is amazing for circulation.

HOW TO USE? Massage it into dry skin (add water to some) until it transforms into a silky oil or milk. (It’s also best for non-oily skin.) Depending on how thick the balm is, you might need to remove it with a washcloth. Skin won’t feel squeaky-clean after but rather soft and dewy.


The Clarisonic changed everything, says Wilson, who credits it with revolutionising the face-washing game. Since its launch, it has inspired a new category of tools that cleanse and polish.

The new Clarisonic Smart Profile can be used on both the face and body, and comes with a turbo function that allows you to temporarily increase its speed for a more targeted cleanse.

Clarisonic Smart Profile $330
Clarisonic Smart Profile $330

It may look dotty, but your skin will be anything but that with consistent use. The precisely angled brush makes it easy for you to access hard-to-reach nooks and crannies better.

Clinique Sonic System Purifying Cleansing Brush , $149
Clinique Sonic System Purifying Cleansing Brush , $149

This cool-looking thing doesn’t spin, it pulses. Foreo Luna’s nubby bristles gently dislodge dirt and makeup. After cleansing, flip it over to the smooth side for a mini face massage.

Foreo Luna Mini in Turquoise Blue, $225
Foreo Luna Mini in Turquoise Blue, $225
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Bioderma Sensibio H20, $39.90 La Roche-Posay Physiological Micellar Solution, $32.90

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Bioré x My Melody Makeup Remover Cleansing Oil, $17.90 Dearberry One Step Berry Oil Cleanser, $19.90

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Sephora Clean Machine Konjac Sponge Duo, $13

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Boscia Tsubaki Oil-Infused Exfoliating Powder, $52 Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil, $48

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Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, $52 Crabtree & Evelyn Damask Rose Comforting Cleansing Balm, $30