Perhaps the most influential skin-care blogger in the Western hemisphere, Caroline Hirons is a champion of the unnoticed: That unsung hero product languishing on a store shelf? One post from Hirons will save it from obscurity and launch it into the best-seller stratosphere. “Caroline posted about me doing her color once on Instagram, and I’m still getting new clients. Her followers told me they trust whatever she says! I’ve never seen that happen with anyone else,” says Clairol color director James Corbett.
Hirons, who’s also a globally trained aesthetician, says her passion for skin care began while watching her grandmother remove her makeup at night. “I became obsessed with cleansing early on,” she says, adding that for testing purposes, she keeps around 100 different cleansers in rotation, although the average person only needs three or four. “Without beautifully clean skin, all of our serums containing brilliant active ingredients aren’t able to penetrate. If we don’t cleanse properly, we are literally throwing money away, and who wants to do that?”
The two-step cleanse—removing makeup first and then using a different cleanser that suits your skin’s needs—is often skipped by those looking to save time, but Hirons lives by the method and believes everyone else should too. “There seems to be a lot of confusion about whether or not this is a necessary step, but it is, particularly if you wear sunscreen or eye makeup,” she says. “SPF is designed to adhere to the skin almost like glue, and it takes effort to remove—I suggest using a cleansing balm with a wash cloth instead of your fingers, to really get it all off.”
Eye makeup can also be difficult to remove and usually leaves a residue behind on the skin. “Using eye makeup remover first, then a milk or cream cleanser, is key,” says Hirons. “Milks and creams have enough oil content to remove dirt and makeup, but are gentle enough to leave the skin barrier intact.” Those with really dry complexions may reach for two balms, but Hirons says balms actually have the potential to dry out drier skin types, as they are designed to remove oil. Hirons isn’t a fan of old-school foaming cleansers that rely on pH-blasting surfactants, which she says can leave skin feeling stripped, but she does note that brands are now making gentler options for those who really like to suds up.
For those of us who wash our faces in the shower, Hirons says it’s not the best idea. “Most people’s showers are far too hot for their faces,” she says. “Hot water can contribute to broken capillaries and redness that results from dilated blood vessels. Facial cleansing should be a separate step with cool or tepid water before bed.” And when we wake up in the morning, do we really need to wash our face again? “The answer is always yes,” Hirons says. “It really comes down to basic hygiene. We spend a small fortune on overnight products that resurface, stimulate and regenerate our skin, and then we question removing the results of that in the morning? Madness.”
“For my first cleanse, I prefer using balms, or makeup removers that are specially formulated for the eyes,” says Hirons. Two she loves? Clinique Take the Day Off Makeup Remover ($26) and Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm ($60). “Then I follow it with a milk or cream cleanser, such as Clarins Anti-Pollution Cleansing Milk ($33) or Beauty Pie JapanFusion Transforming Cleanser ($35), which makes my skin feel clean but still comfortable.”
In a collaboration with Pixi, Hirons created her dream cleanser, Double Cleanse ($24), a first-to-market product that unsurprisingly became a best-seller. Use the solid oil at night to take off stubborn makeup and SPF, and then the cream to remove any residue left behind.
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