Why You Should Be Washing Your Face With...A Diaper?

by Grace Clarke


CN Digital StudioCN Digital Studio My bathroom isn't exactly a tranquil, spalike environment--unless your favorite spa is jammed with so many gadgets that there are extension cords snaked across the floor. The SoniCare toothbrush, Tria hair-removing laser, Clarisonic face brush: The gang's all here. But I could--and probably should--dial it back to simpler times, says dermatologist Lisa Ginn. At least when it comes to exfoliating facial cleansers, there definitely can be too much of a good thing.

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Getting patients to put down the whirring brushes isn't easy, says Ginn, who runs her own dermatologic practice in Chevy Chase, Maryland. "The goal with a face brush is to slough off bacteria and dead skin from the top layer, but they can actually cause breakouts." Not only will the bacteria you remove sit in the brushhead's bristles (which you put right back on your face the next time you scrub up), but all that aggressive exfoliation actually stimulates oil glands. Fortunately, you can get that completely clean, smooth feeling without a brush, says Ginn, who suggests a very low-tech alternative: a cloth diaper (no, not a washcloth) and a non-lathering cleansing balm.

It's a pretty old-fashioned way of cleansing skin. Instead of scrubbing, you sort of affectionately massage your face in a specific order, to promote lymphatic drainage and circulation, and then use the cloth, soaked in hot water, to melt off the thick cleansing balm. Yes, it's a five-minute affair, but it feels very luxurious and indulgent. It's also just as effective at sloughing off dead skin as its higher-tech counterparts. "With a little bit of massaging, a gentle cleansing balm will loosen up dead skin, and the hot cloth will remove that dead skin without being abrasive."

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Some cleansers, like Eve Lom and Elemis's Pro-Collagen Balm, come with a soft muslin cloth, but Ginn insists a baby diaper is a better choice. "The texture isn't as harsh as those included cloths, and you can wash it once a week in bleach." For the most part, with consistent cleansing, skin knows how to exfoliate itself, and really dry or mature skin actually needs some of its top layer to maintain moisture inside. "If you don't have tons of time in the morning, you can skip the intense face massage and just rub the cleanser onto your face and remove it with the cloth quickly," says Ginn. And don't be alarmed by the lack of bubbles. "These cleansers won't froth, but they really loosen skin, especially if you let it soak on for a few minutes after a hot shower."

After Ginn made her case, I gave the cleansing balms a go while sticking to my usual nighttime retinoid/serum/mosturizer routine. I even left the balm on for five minutes after the steam of a hot shower softened my skin. And my face feels just as smooth and much less tight. I'm not ready to retire my little mechanical friend permanently, but I did make a pit stop in the drugstore on the way home for some cloth diapers.

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