To Cleanse Or Exfoliate First? The Differences And How To Use

December 23, 2022

Skincare Products In Malaysia

Cleansing and exfoliating are two of the most important skincare steps you can practise to keep your skin healthy and looking its best. But what's the difference between them, and which one should you do first?

There are a few things you should know about these two skincare methods before deciding which one to perform first. In this article, we'll discuss the differences between cleansing and exfoliating, and explain the different orders to use them to achieve your desired results.

What is a cleanser?

A facial cleanser is a skincare product that removes dead skin cells, make-up leftover, dirt and dust, oil and grease, and other types of pollutants from the pores of your skin. They keep your skin free of clogged pores, thereby preventing skin conditions like acne, irregular skin tone and inflammation.

Given the wide range of options, determining the best cleanser for your skin type can be difficult. Learning the differences between them will greatly help you in choosing the ideal cleanser for your skin.

Gel cleansers are transparent and have a gel-like consistency. They typically have deep-cleaning and exfoliating properties, which makes them a suitable choice for oily, acne-prone skin.

Cream cleansers are typically thicker and have excellent moisturising properties. It can cleanse the skin without stripping off all of its natural oils. This cleanser is perfect for dry or sensitive skin.

Foam cleansers are lightweight liquid that produces a foamy lather. This cleanser is gentle and effective at removing excess oil, which makes them a great choice for combination skin.

It is advisable to use cleansers instead of common bath soaps to wash your face, as bath soaps may interrupt the normal pH levels of your skin. The normal pH level of your skin is usually between 4.5 and 6.5. Common bath soaps typically contain harsh chemicals that can raise the skin pH. This irritates your skin, resulting in dry and inflamed skin. Whereas cleansers are skincare products that are specifically formulated to be gentle on your facial skin, which is why they’re the better choice.

What is an exfoliator?

An exfoliator is an agent or device that removes the top layer of skin cells to promote better absorption of other skincare products. This helps improve the appearance and feel of the skin, while reducing acne and blemishes and enhancing your overall complexion.

There are two ways you can exfoliate your skin - mechanical exfoliation and chemical exfoliation.

Mechanical exfoliation involves scrubbing away dead skin cells with an abrasive item such as a sponge. It can also include exfoliating beads or washes with a rough texture. Whereas physical exfoliation results in the rapid removal of old skin cells. As a result, the skin barrier is temporarily disrupted, leading to increased transepidermal water loss.

There are many different types of mechanical and chemical exfoliators available on the market today. Here are some common ingredients you can find in an exfoliator:

  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Lactic or citric acid
  • alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)
  • Minerals (usually silica or magnesium)
  • plant extracts (such as tea leaves or Camellia sinensis leaf extract)

And, since there are a variety of exfoliators on the market, it can be difficult to decide which one is best for your skin type. Here are several guidelines that can help you choose the right exfoliator and exfoliate your skin effectively:

  • Those with dry, sensitive, or acne-prone skin may prefer a washcloth and a mild chemical exfoliator instead of mechanical exfoliation, as mechanical exfoliation may be too irritating.
  • Oily or thicker skin types may benefit from stronger chemical treatments or mechanical exfoliation.
  • If you have a darker skin tone or notice dark spots on your skin after burns, bug bites, or acne breakouts, avoid harsh chemical or mechanical exfoliation.
  • If you’re using a scrub or chemical exfoliator, apply it gently in small, circular motions for about 30 seconds before rinsing with lukewarm - do not use hot water. If you have open cuts or wounds, or if your skin is sunburned, never exfoliate.
  • After exfoliating, always apply moisturiser. Exfoliating can cause skin irritation. To keep your skin healthy and hydrated, apply moisturiser immediately after exfoliating.

Differences between exfoliator and cleansers

A Woman Applying Skin Cream On Her Face
A cleanser is a skincare product that frees your skin pores of oil, dirt, makeup debris, and other pollutants. It purifies your skin and gives it a refreshed, healthy, younger appearance. A cleanser has a smooth texture and should be used twice daily. It is also suitable for daily use.
Exfoliators, on the other hand, are chemical or granular substances that remove dead skin cells from your skin's surface. This gets rid of flaky skin, clogged pores, and acne, while also providing an even skin tone and increasing blood circulation. It has exfoliating granules and should only be used once or twice a week.

Which goes first - cleanser or exfoliator?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to achieve skin clarity and revitalisation will vary depending on the individual's skin type and needs. Here’s how different orders of incorporating these products in your regimen will benefit your skin.

Cleansers before exfoliators

In most cases, it is better to use a cleanser before exfoliating your skin. Cleansing your skin first removes sweat, dirt, and some oil, as well as any makeup remnants at the beginning of your skincare routine. So, when you use an exfoliator, it can thoroughly remove dead skin cells and get rid of deeper pore debris without having to go through a topmost layer of dirt and other gunk at the start.

Additionally, since your skin pores have been thoroughly excavated and cleansed of every type of debris or contaminant, this process also better prepares your skin for moisturiser, oil, or serum.

Exfoliators before cleansers

You can use an exfoliator before a cleanser. Exfoliating eliminates dead skin cells, hard residue, dirt, and debris. When you follow up with a cleanser, the cleanser should wash away any dead skin cells or particles that may have remained on your skin but were loosened by the exfoliator's effects.

This can result in an exceptionally clean face, given if you rinse your skin pores thoroughly with water.

Are you looking for effective exfoliators and cleansers in Malaysia? Shop at allyoung now!

The bottom line is, cleansing and exfoliating are both essential steps of any holistic skincare regimen - both types of products are required for healthy, beautiful skin! If you’re looking for safe and effective exfoliators and cleansers in Malaysia, visit allyoung now.

We have a wide range of options - from exfoliators for dry and sensitive skin to cleansers for acne prone skin in Malaysia - you’re sure to find skincare products that are suitable for your skin type!