Confession: I regularly break the “always wash your face before bed” rule. Soap leaves my skin feeling dry and tight, and I rationalized not using it because I wear very little makeup.
Eventually, it dawned on me that the soap I’ve been using since high school probably wasn’t the best fit for my skin. Soaps can typically have extreme pH levels, leaving skin trying to recover for hours or days.
Not knowing what to use, I gave up on cleaning altogether and just started slathering my face with coconut oil. At first, I was sure a major outbreak would come from the oil, but, lo and behold, my skin felt awesome. Glowing, even.
And when I switched back to my old moisturizer while on vacation, THAT’S when I got a zit!
What kind of cleanser do you need? The answer is….it depends on so many factors—your skin, your makeup usage, the season, etc.
Now, I even wash with coconut oil, but there are days when you need to exfoliate and clean away the remains of any extra makeup. So I started experimenting with different ways to clean my face. And never underestimate the power of a warm wash cloth.
Water does a beautiful job of rinsing away sweat and ridding bacteria, while offering light exfoliation from the texture of the cloth. A warm wash cloth can be added to the end of any of the 5 cleansing methods outlined below.
A trip to the kitchen is all you need to try one of these 5 methods that will gently clean your skin.
The classic cleanser that kept Cleopatra looking so beautiful. The lactic acid in milk works to remove dead skin cells, while the milk proteins and fat moisturize and plump the skin. So stick with whole milk, not fat-free.
Since lactic acid is a byproduct of fermentation, an even better option is to use cultured milk products. Buttermilk, yogurt, milk kefir and even cottage cheese are chock full of probiotics, lactic acid and healthy fats.
While the texture might be a little thicker (or in the case of cottage cheese, chunkier) than you’re used to, the effects will be well worth it!
- 2 tablespoons whole milk (the liquid, not the powdered kind)
- 1 teaspoon add-ins, such as whipped egg, aloe vera gel or jojoba oil (optional)
- Small bowl
To use, pour a small amount of milk into a bowl and add your add-ins. Whipped egg is great for dry skin, aloe vera for sensitive skin and jojoba oil for irritated skin. Pour the mixture into the palm of your hand and apply to your entire face, making sure to avoid the eye area.
Let sit for a minute before rinsing with cool water. Gently pat your face dry and follow up with moisturizer.
If you’re vegan, you can still get similar benefits by using non-dairy yogurt! Simply water it down a bit to make a milkier consistency.
To reap the full-body benefits of milk cleanser, try adding 2–4 cups to your next bath.
Oatmeal is one of the best natural cleansers hiding in your pantry. The soft texture gently exfoliates, so it’s an excellent mild cleanser for sensitive skin. It’s the perfect all-around product because it has anti-inflammatory as well as moisturizing effects built in [source].
And ground oatmeal (also called colloidal oatmeal) is said to be especially beneficial for skin. That’s because:
Oats contain phenols and vitamin E that soothe and nourish skin. By grinding the oats, you’re essentially releasing the beneficial compounds locked inside the oats and allowing them to cover more surface area.
Mixing powdered oats with water and applying it to skin helps create a protective barrier. This in turn locks in moisture and helps keep irritants outs.
Oats contain natural cleansers called saponins, which create foam when mixed with water. When used on the face, saponins naturally clean skin and break down dirt and oil without weakening the skin’s moisture barrier.
But you don’t need to buy colloidal oats in order to reap these benefits. You can actually make your own from whole oats and a coffee grinder. The secret is to grind the oats into the finest powder you can. After a point, they’ll feel almost moist, like sand–that’s when you’ve reached the sweet spot!
Grind dry oats in a clean coffee grinder and store in a sealed container.
When you’re ready to cleanse, combine a pinch of powder with a small amount of water, oil, or aloe vera gel in your palm to make a paste. Massage into skin for 30 seconds and rinse with warm water. Follow up with your regular serum or moisturizer.
Just like with milk, oatmeal makes a great addition to your next bath! Add 1/2 – 1 cup colloidal oats to lukewarm bath water and soak for 10-15 minutes. You shouldn’t need to rinse off when you’re done. In fact, the oatmeal residue might help soothe skin even further.
I love lemons! They are excellent used as a cleanser for oily skin, to brighten your complexion, and help you look younger. You can combine lemon juice with milk or yogurt for a creamier cleanser or apply the juice after you cleanse for a non-scrubbing exfoliator.
Here’s what makes lemon juice a potent beauty-booster:
Antioxidants: Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant found in lots of beauty products. The vitamin C in lemon juice may help fight premature aging and keep skin looking younger, longer.
Astringent properties: Thanks to its acidity, lemon juice helps decrease oil production and clear pores.
Skin lightening effects: While there aren’t many studies on the topic, anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that lemon juice may help lighten dark spots and discoloration.
- 1 lemon
- Cotton balls
- Small bowl or glass jar with lid
Squeeze lemon juice into a small bowl or lidded jar. Dip a cotton ball into the lemon juice and apply it directly to your skin. Let it absorb for a few minutes (don’t rinse) and then moisturize.
It sounds like it would sting or make your skin dry, but it actually feels quite refreshing—just don’t get it in your eyes and be on the lookout for irritation. Since lemon juice is acidic, it can cause redness or peeling for those with sensitive skin. If notice a stinging or burning sensation, add 1-2 teaspoons water.
If you have any leftover lemon juice, you can keep it in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
And you’ll want to combine it with a small amount of water or oil to make a paste. Since everyone’s skin type is different, choose your liquid ingredient based on your skin’s particular needs.
Here are some of my favorites:
Raw honey – Chock full of beneficial bacteria, honey soothes skin and balances your skin’s microbiome.
Avocado – A source of healthy fats, avocado replenishes moisture and nutrients your skin might be lacking!
Lemon juice – Encourages cell turnover and brightens discoloration.
Aloe vera – Helps soothe skin and fights inflammation.
- 2 tablespoons fine sugar
- 2 tablespoons oil or liquid ingredient of your choice
Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Gently massage into your face (and body, if you like), then rinse. If your skin is dry or sensitive, it’s best to only use a face scrub once or twice a week so you don’t irritate it further.
Store any leftover sugar scrub in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Just recently, I started using honey on my skin on a regular basis, and—wow—it feels amazing! Honey is a natural humectant that draws moisture from the air, leaving your face dewy and soft.
Plus, raw honey has healing properties [source] that soothe irritated skin and reduce redness. If you suffer from acne or occasional breakouts, try using kanuka honey (yep, that’s manuka honey’s sister from another mister!), which has been shown to be significantly more effective at healing skin and decreasing breakouts than some over the counter products. [source]
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1-2 tablespoons castile soap
Combine ingredients in a lidded jar or pump soap dispenser and gently swirl the ingredients together. Pump a little bit of honey cleanser in the palm of your hand and apply generously to the face, taking extra care to massage into trouble spots. Let sit for a several seconds before rinsing with cool water and patting skin dry.
This homemade honey cleanser should last for several months unrefrigerated. Just be careful not to introduce water to the mix, or you run the risk of it growing mold.
And don’t forget that wash cloth for an added cleansing effect and light exfoliation!
What’s your favorite non-soap cleanser?
This post was medically reviewed by Dr. Jennifer Haley, a board-certified dermatologist with extensive experience in medical, cosmetic, and surgical dermatology. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.55