Why I Use 10 Different Face Washes

There's a face wash for every skincare problem. 

skincare-routine
Photo by Christopher Baker

Recently, a coworker admitted to never, ever washing her face. After I managed to pick my jaw up off the ground, I thought about how categorically different our beauty routines must be.

As a self-proclaimed skin care guru (and perhaps, certifiable maniac) I relish the opportunity to wash my face each morning. The relaxed time spent massaging, the familiar scents, the rare but appreciated 100 percent me time—all factors that have made cleansing a habitual mainstay in my life. That, and, it's necessary for the health of your skin.

During this conversation, I admitted to using 10 different face washes. Yes, really. Each one is chosen based on my mood, the way my skin is feeling, and any temporary (but annoying) ailment that may have reared its ugly head. Whether it's a blemish, added redness, or sensitivity, I've got a product that will help. Some are creamy and soothing, others acidic and exfoliating, hydrating, foamy, et al.

So, in the interest of full disclosure, I've rounded up every cleanser behind my medicine cabinet doors to demystify why you, too, should look into expanding your collection.

1. La Mer The Cleansing Lotion
$85; 1.bloomingdales.com

This soothing, milky emulsion purifies the skin but is gentle enough to remove eye makeup. It feels luxurious and smells fancy courtesy of the brand's Miracle Broth, which has a cult following in its own right. It combines nutrient-rich sea kelp and "energies of light and sound" (which perhaps explains the price). Either way, it feeds my hedonism on a level otherwise unattainable.

2. Bioelements Flash Foam Cleanser
$36; bioelements.com

This is the pick that I used most often. It's mild enough to use every day but is formulated with exfoliating botanicals that slough away dead, dull skin cells. It keeps skin bright and smooth while also employing natural ingredients—aromatherapeutic oils and vitamin B5—for extreme antioxidant protection (which is helpful in this big, pollutant-ridden city).

3. Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm
$60; nordstrom.com

This one is for some anti-aging goodness. The balm melts on contact with your skin which provides a sensation better than most. The cleanser contains starflower oil for a super deep cleanse as well as padina pavonica (an anti-aging ingredient that promotes cell vitality and elasticity). And, yes, I'm young…for now. But I'm into preventative measures. Plus, you can use it as a mask once or twice a week for an added skin-tightening bonus. The directions read, "Take a deep breath and let your skin, body and soul relax and rebalance," so that's exactly what I do.

4. Valmont Illuminating Foamer
$90; nordstrom.com

This option is a creamy, iridescent gel that foams with the introduction of water. I apply it with a cotton pad at night directly onto my face and neck. It's brightening, which means that it targets any unevenness in your complexion (as well as age spots or dullness) and boosts radiance. Many face washes will lather and remove the hydrolipidic film on your face (which is the "good" oil), but this does no such thing. It leaves the skin feeling hydrated and clean, not tight.

5. Elemis Rehydrating Rosepetal Cleanser
$33; amazon.com

I use this wash when my skin is feeling especially dehydrated. It's really soothing, moisturizing, and eradicates daily build-up (on my skin, but also arguably on my psyche). Plus, it smells like a rose petal dream world.

6. SK-II Facial Treatment Cleanser
$75; sephora.com

This bubbly cleanser feels velvet-soft in an I feel like I'm at a spa and my face is a cloud kind of way. It has concentrated pitera—a derived liquid from the sake fermentation process—which blends vitamins, amino acids, and minerals to allow for the surface of your skin to naturally rejuvenate.

7. Sanctuary Spa Warming Micro-Brasion Polish
$25; amazon.com

This one is very intense. It's a thermal polish which very literally heats up as you apply it. This helps to open pores and stimulate circulation, which allows your skin to stay youthful and bright. About once or twice a week I massage this mixture of beeswax, jojoba, and wheatgerm in small circular motions, paying attention to my nose, forehead, and chin.

8. Elemis Tri-Enzyme Resurfacing Facial Wash
$49; dermstore.com

This wash stimulates the natural cell renewal cycle by effectively (but comfortably) resurfacing upper layers of the skin. It incorporates white truffle (!!!) with rich fatty acids to replenish moisture and enhance the refining effects. I use this option if I wake up in my makeup or had a particularly rough night (or, you know, both).

9. Aesop Purifying Facial Cream Cleanser
$37; aesop.com

This cream cleanser is best for traveling. It really clarifies and removes all traces of makeup, dirt, and oil. I use it sparingly, though, because I have skin that often tends towards dry, and this face wash features French clay, which is great for oily skin. But, to remove that just-exited-a-plane feeling, it's perfect.

10. Peter Thomas Roth FirmX Gel Exfoliant
$48; sephora.com

This peel is pretty astonishing. It uses multi-action enzymes (pineapple, pomegranate, keratinase) and cellulose to effectively peel dead skin right off your face. It decongests clogged pores and allows you to actually see the skin coming off. It's slightly gross, but incredibly satisfying.