Welcome to Dear Soko, a series dedicated to answering your biggest skin care questions with advice from Soko Glam’s skin experts. Whether you’re confused about specific ingredients or what you need to do to achieve healthier skin overall, these experts are here to guide you.
This week’s commenter question is:
“How often can you switch your cleansers out? I currently have three by my sink and two in my shower that I rotate often and wondering if that’s a bad idea?”
Here, a Soko Glam skin expert’s answer:
I relate to this so hard. As a fellow skin care lover, product hoarding is a problem I admit to having! There are absolutely a couple questions you can ask yourself to determine your perfect number of products. I’ll specifically be talking about cleansers, but the same process applies for your other skin care steps as well. Let’s get into it.
Consider Ingredients and If Their Benefits Match Your Skin Concerns
Two things to consider when deciding whether to use one cleanser consistently or to switch things up are: What star ingredients or actives do the products contain and what are your current skin concerns?
Let’s talk about acne-prone skin for example. You may own a cleanser like the Dr Oracle A-Thera Cleansing Foam that has salicylic acid, a personal favorite active ingredient for fighting acne. This may be a cleanser you use only when you’re dealing with an active breakouts or when you feel some new spots under the skin brewing. In that case, on days where your face is relatively clear, you may want to use a cleanser like the Good (Skin) Days™ A New Leaf Cream Cleanser which has green tea as a star ingredient that helps to keep acne at bay as well, but in a gentler way.
On the other hand, there are products that are better used consistently over time due to either a star or active ingredient. Take for example, the Hanskin Cleansing Oil & Blackhead [PHA]. This is one of my holy grail products! When used consistently and twice daily, I find it’s amazing at minimizing the appearance of pores and improving the skin’s texture. If you were to switch this out often with other oil cleansers, however, you may not see the same results.
Consider Whether or Not You’re Spending Enough Time Testing a New Formula
When using multiple cleansers and switching them out often, there is one potential issue that is important to consider. If the cleanser isn’t a product that you’ve used consistently in the past, it could tricky to determine if the cleanser is actually even suited to your skin. A cleanser could be breaking you out or over-drying your skin, but if you aren’t using it very consistently you may never know that this product is the culprit! For that reason, when buying a new cleanser, we recommend patch testing it first. Even that isn’t going to catch every product that may not be suitable for you. A cleanser may seem just fine at first and then 4 weeks later you could realize that your face feels dryer than usual (learn more about why this can happen here).
This is why I recommend testing a new cleanser for a longer period of time to see if it deserves a permanent spot in your routine. Skin care is a bit trial and error so always have a test run with new products and make sure you are familiar with the return policy of the retailer you ordered from!
Consider Shelf Life
We have to remember that most skin care products have a shelf life of 6-12 months after opening. To learn the shelf life of your cleansers, check the back of either the bottle or the box or an icon that looks like an open jar. Inside that jar you should see a number and a letter – usually an M or sometimes a Y. This will let you know how many months or years this product will be good for after opening. By keeping in mind how long your cleansers will be good for, you’ll be able to have a better idea of which cleansers to prioritize using up first and how many cleansers you’ll be able to realistically finish before the date listed.
That being said, do I personally use my cleansers past their shelf life date? Every once in a while I totally do. If the formula hasn’t changed color, smell, or texture, I might use it for a little past the recommended amount of months to finish up. I’m not going to recommend doing this too often, but use your judgment.
There’s no harm in rotating cleansers as long as they each serve a purpose when it comes to achieving your skin goals, though sometimes it might be a good idea to step back and reassess what you’re getting out of the formulas and if using multiple is necessary.
As with most things in skin care, the products you prefer and your ideal number steps are going to vary from person to person. That’s absolutely fine as skin care is all about curating your perfect routine and doing what works best for you.
Your Skin Expert