Spring has sprung, and that means it’s spring cleaning time. While you’re busy tidying your closets, clearing your clutter and sprucing up your home, give a little thought to how you wash your face. Sounds pretty basic, but there’s more to it than a mindless splash, lather and rinse.

Cleansing is the most important step in a facial skin care routine. It gets rid of dirt, sweat, oil, make-up, bacteria, dead skin cells and other pollutants so you can get down to a pure, fresh canvas. Washing too much or too harshly can be drying or irritating, and using the wrong products for your needs is a no-no. It’s time to take this grooming ritual off autopilot and go through the process step-by-step.

The first rule in washing your face is, actually, washing your hands. You don’t want to transfer grunge, grime and germs from all that you touch throughout the day onto your delicate facial skin. Your fingers are the perfect tools to gently work and massage cleansers around your face, so you want to start with squeaky clean digits. Some people prefer to use wash cloths, but these can be a bit abrasive so use a soft touch, especially if you have sensitive skin. Cotton pads (preferably organic!) are another option for eye makeup removal or for wiping off cream cleansers.

Now give some thought to the water temperature you use. Not too hot (too drying), not too cold (not effective), aim for comfortable, in-between, just right warmth. Most cleansing products are designed to work best at dissolving dirt, removing oil and unclogging pores with tepid water.

Removing eye make-up is a step unto itself. You only want mild, natural, non-stinging ingredients near this tender area. Go easy with your cleansing strokes – never tug or rub. Living Nature’s Gentle Makeup Remover is a light liquid that extremely effective at cutting through all your cosmetic artistry, and is suitable for even sensitive eyes. Inika’s Eye Makeup Remover gently takes off all trace residue with soothing natural ingredients like chamomile, calendula and aloe vera.

Now onto facial cleansers, several of which do double-duty as an eye makeup remover too. Note that skin is naturally slightly acidic, with a pH of about 5.5. Traditional soaps are alkaline, which can throw your skin off-balance, so stay away from soap. Many drug-store and cosmetic-counter cleansers are chemical-laden synthetic formulations that can be harsh on your face and the environment. Saffron Rouge carries natural facial cleansers suitable for all skin types, so first determine if you have oily, dry, normal, sensitive, mature or combination skin. Some of our most popular products include Primavera’s Revitalizing Cream Cleanser, which nourishes normal to mature skin with anti-oxidant rich pomegranate oil, jojoba and rose water, and Living Nature’s Purifying Cleanser, a liquid cleansing gel for oily and combination skin with enzyme-rich manuka honey and naturally lathering kumerahou from New Zealand. These products nourish as they cleanse. Careful not to pull on the skin as you gently massage the product around the face, avoiding the eye region.

Exfoliation is the next step, but only once or thrice a week depending on your skin’s needs and sensitivities. Oilier complexions can handle it more than dryer skin, but don’t overdo it. The tiny granular particles in these products help slough off dead skin cells and stimulate cellular renewal, leaving a fresher, brighter, more radiant complexion, which then allows moisturizing products to penetrate better. Use light circular strokes to distribute the product around your cheeks and T-zone. For an effective polish, try Suki’s Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser or Dr. Hauschka’s Cleansing Cream. Other products, such as ilike’s Rosehip Exfoliator use fruit or lactic acid to dissolve dull flakes without the scouring granules.

Once a week, deep clean with a steaming facial to really open the pores and increase circulation. Simply as fill a basin with hot water, drape a towel over your head and let the trapped steam work its magic for about five or ten minutes. Adding a few drops of essential oil to the water takes things up a notch, but do a little research to find an oil – or combination of oils – that is suitable to your skin type. For example, oily complexions might try bergamot, lemon, sage or ylang-ylang while drier complexions might use neroli, jasmine, rose or lavender oils. Close your eyes, inhale deeply and savor the meditative me-time while you deep clean your skin.

As a final step, splash your face with a cold water rinse to close up the pores and wash off any remaining traces of your cleansing products. Use a clean towel to delicately dab off any remaining water droplets rather than a rough rub-down and then move on to the toning and/or moisturizing step – but that’s the subject for a whole other tutorial.