Lucky No. 7

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Spring is only four days away, but the temperature outside today was in the low twenties. Add to that a very gusty wind, and my face is feeling weather-beaten. In my constant search for a cleanser that won’t strip my skin, I’ve switched from foaming cleansers to lotions, milks, and creams. As mild as they are, however, most of them still require water to remove them. I was even using cold cream with a warm washcloth in an attempt to keep my skin soft. While it worked, I have started to wonder if I should stop using water on my face altogether.

Contrary to popular belief, water can dry out your skin. It’s surprising, since water has a pH of 7 and is thus neither an acid nor a base, but is neutral. So how can something that’s neutral be potentially harmful? After splashing your face with water, the water evaporates. As it evaporates, it strips your skin of its natural oils. I have heard of people with skin so sensitive that they can’t wash their face with water at all, but those people are extreme cases. For most of us, it’s okay to wash your face with water, between one and three times a day, depending on how your skin reacts. If you wash with water more frequently than that, however, you run the risk of drying out your skin. This winter my skin has been looking dull, and I’ve developed redness in my cheeks that aren’t due to rosacea. I suspect it’s a combination of the cold weather and the drying effects of washing my face.

I recently purchased No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm – Dry/Very Dry Skin ($8.49) by Boots, the renowned British drugstore chain. In the past I’ve tried their Radiance Boosting Hot Cloth Cleanser, but that, too, requires removing it with water. Plus, it was very thick and highly fragranced. When I think of the words “cleansing balm,” I think of a thick, translucent waxy or petroleum-jelly-type substance, but the No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm is like a cold cream in a tube. It is meant to be wiped off rather than rinsed off. That’s why it appealed to me. It’s not as thick as cold cream, but it’s thick enough to spread all over your face and work it in. I find I only need to use a small dollop, and as I work it into my skin it melts and spreads evenly to cover my entire face. Then I wipe it off with a tissue. Unlike cold creams and heavier cream cleansers that need to be removed with a tissue, the No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm doesn’t make the tissue disintegrate while I’m using it. I only need one tissue to completely remove the cleansing balm. Sure, tissues are the cheapest commodity in a skin care regimen, but it’s nice not to have one fall apart into a shredded, goopy mess as I’m using it. The No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm removes most makeup, but I did have to remove my mascara first with a cleansing water as it doesn’t completely remove eye makeup.

Unlike most cold creams, which contain mineral oil, water, and beeswax, the No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm contains glycerin, which in high amounts serves as a humectant to attracts water to the skin. Glycerin is the third ingredient in the list of ingredients for the No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm. The No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm also contains cocoa butter – a natural moisturizer – and ceramides, which protect skin against moisture loss.

After I cleanse my face with the No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm my skin looks fresh and glowing. The cleansing balm has a fragrance, but it’s light and pleasant and doesn’t linger. I really enjoy using it to cleanse my face twice a day. The added bonus of using it is that it only takes about a minute for me to cleanse my face, which has drastically cut down the time I spend on my beauty regimen in the morning. Which gives me more time to enjoy my coffee before I leave for work. Soft, glowing skin and less time spent in the bathroom each morning? Win/win!

Boots No. 7 products can be found at Target and Ulta, or online at www.boots.com.

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