I'm someone who gets ridiculously excited over new cleansers, which is perhaps surprising when you consider that the product spends less than a minute on our skin each morning and night.
Not that I'm complaining. Any longer and the act would feel like a total chore, just another thing to tick off before getting to the Netflix nightcap. People who double cleanse, how in the world do you have the energy after a long day?
That's why when I heard about a new cleansing trend that promises to give all the skin benefits of a thorough, multi-step cleansing routine in far less time than you'd spend actually doing a thorough, multi-step cleansing routine, I was all in. Currently storming Asia (the birthplace of many a great skin-care trend, hot cleansing is the coolest new way to clean out pores and wash away makeup.
But what is it exactly? It's the practice of massaging a heat-activated gel face wash on dry skin (water messes with the chemical reaction), letting it sit for 30 seconds, then washing it off with warm water. If you're thinking it sounds a lot like every other warming cleanser, you're in for a surprise. Hot cleansing gel actually gets hot — like, almost sauna level — though you won't run the risk of discomfort or burning. Similar to pore steaming, hot cleansing focuses on loosening sticky dead skin cells and sebum clogging pores with heat that melts the ‘glue’ sticking them to pore walls.
Not only that, but unlike many pore cleansers, which are targeted to oily skin and tend to be a bit drying, these gels are super-moisturizing. Many include glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides, which create a protective barrier around skin to stop moisture from escaping and leave your face with a silky-soft texture that doesn't even require a follow-up serum or moisturizer if you're short on time.
Number one in the hot cleansing category is Japanese brand maNara, whose gel is a regular sell-out — but there is one thing to be wary of in the formula: It's not unusual for Asian brands to put hydroquinone, a controversial skin-lightener that can damage pigment cells over time, in their skin care. It's important to only use the ingredient in small doses and under the advice and guidance of your dermatologist.
At this point, you're probably wondering where you can get your hands on a hot cleanser, and I'm afraid I have some disappointing news: At the moment, you can only buy them off eBay (which is not recommended), so we'll all have to wait with bated breath for them to land stateside. Sephora, can you hear our cry?