winter skincare: facial cleansers and make-up removers

My skin is naturally oily, but the harsh winter weather combined with my acne prevention routine leave my skin dry and flaky if I don't compensate. Below I've listed step 1 of my skincare routine as of January 19, 2016, which is when I FINALLY have time to sit down and write this. This post started to get really long, so I broke it up into three posts.

* indicates that the product was gifted to me either by the company or a Sephora beauty insider sample, but promise you I'll tell you if it's not worth the money!


step 1: facial cleanser

In the mornings, I alternate between a benzoyl peroxide 5% facial wash (panoxyl) for acne prevention and Glossier milky jelly cleanser.*
 I use the Glossier cleanser every night.


I get a lot of questions about acne in the late 20s/early 30s and panoxyl is always my #1 recommendation. Overgrowth of the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes is one of the mechanisms of acne formation. Benzoyl peroxide is the most effective non-antibiotic antimicrobial agent for controlling P. acnes overgrowth. Most over the counter acne products aren't FDA regulated, but panoxyl was previously sold as a prescription under the name brevoxyl, so it has been validated in phase III FDA trials. Because it is very drying, I use it 5 times a week in the summer when my skin is grossly oily and 2-3 times a week in the winter when it's on the verge of flaking.


Benzoyl peroxide pearls:

  1. Benzoyl peroxide can inactivate certain acne drugs such as topical dapsone (brand name: Aczone) or tretinoin (brand name: Retin-a, etc). Use benzoyl peroxide in the morning and other acne medication in the evening.
  2. Leave the face wash on the skin for a minute without rubbing to allow the active ingredients to work before rinsing.
  3. Benzoyl peroxide can bleach clothing/towels, so don't dry your face with anything you love!
  4. If too drying, decrease frequency of use and/or add an oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturizer (more on moisturizing acne prone skin soon!).

Until now, I pretty much thought all non-over the counter facial washes were a waste of money ... until I rubbed the milky jelly cleanser* on my eyes. My mascara MELTED and it doesn't irritate the eyes! This is by far the best make-up remover+cleanser I've ever used. Now, this is my go-to face wash for non-panoxyl mornings and every night before bed, even if I don't wear make-up. I've included the directions for use and active ingredients/claims from glossier below.

To start your day—massage 1-2 pumps onto wet skin (keep it in the shower!) and rinse.

To remove makeup*—on dry skin, gently and thoroughly massage 2-3 pumps directly onto eye area to melt away mascara; add water, massage over the rest of your face, and rinse. *unless it’s waterproof, in which case you should use a cleansing oil, and follow with Milky Jelly for complete clean.

Key ingredients:

Poloxamer A strong yet mild cleansing agent used in contact lens solution.

Rosewater We replaced a 1/4 of the H2O content with soothing rosewater (bonus: smells great!).

Comfrey Root Extract Contains healing allantoin, which helps prevent stress on skin.

Aquaxyl Refills skin’s water reserves and improves its barrier to prevent dehydration.

Pro-Vitamin B5 Powerful, natural moisturizer found in mushrooms and cheese.

Claims: hypoallergenic, dermatologist tested, safe for the eye area, ophthalmologist tested, appropriate for all skin types, soap free, paraben free, sulfate free, fragrance free, cruelty free


A cheaper option that I really like is cerave hydrating cleanser. It's not good at removing makeup and shouldn't be used on the eyes, but it's my favorite moisturizing facial cleanser.

step 0.5 - make-up removal and/or too lazy to wash my face

If I'm wearing make-up, I will remove it before a work-out with micellar water. I wrote a full post on why I love this stuff, but it's basically washing your face without water! I swab my face with 2-3 cotton rounds of micellar water until the cotton rounds comes up clear. It also works on mascara. I mostly reserve micellar water for pre-workouts, but let's be real.. sometimes washing your face before bed is just too big a task. If i use it at night, I'll just wipe my face and go to bed without applying anything to the face afterwards.


Well, there's step 1... leave me skincare questions and your favorite products below!

As always, thank you for reading.