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How To Clean Your Face: Part 1

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Washing one’s face, like brushing one’s teeth, just kind of happens. It’s intuitive: make yourself clean already! But if you think about it, here we all are, with our cabinets full of carefully researched and invested-in products, making a lot of assumptions about how to apply them.

When I first visited NYC facialist Isabelle Bellis a couple of years ago (read about that here), I was impressed by her Saint Germain-des-Prés-meets- Sound-of-Music ensemble and her zen studio, sure, but what really stuck with me was the way her hands moved, and, at the end of the day, the attention she shows to skin. If she’s the woman who lovingly hand-washes and hangs up her intimates, I’m the girl who throws everything in the machine and calls it a day.

In the first of a two-part video series, Isabelle shows us her way around a cleanser (next up is moisturizer). She begins with thermal spring water to soften skin, then massages on cleansing milk using gentle, rapid circular motions. After that, she washes her face with tepid water, dabs it most of the way dry with a towel, gives her face another spritz of thermal water, and dries it off further with tissues. And as a final step to prep her skin for moisturizer, she sweeps on a creamy toner.

It doesn’t really matter if your cleanser is a milk, gel, foam, cream, or oil—follow her lead. Or at least, aspire to it, and “treat your skin like silk' if you don't already. There is a right and a wrong way to wash your face, according to Isabelle (and her clients, like Anja Rubik, who I bumped into in the waiting room), and though the effects may not be immediate, perhaps your neck will be a little tighter at age 50 if you start using upward motions at 20 or 30. Here’s hoping! And at the very least, you’ll get that circulation going.

—Emily Weiss