The Simple Cleanser That Always Saves My Skin from the Brink of Disaster
“May God bless and keep you always, may your wishes all come true,” Bob Dylan sang/croaked in his 1974 hit “Forever Young.” “May you always do for others and let others do for you.” All very pleasant notions to live by, I agree, but there’s something personal I’d like to add, which I’m sure Dylan regrets having left out: May I never become as boring as my skin care routine. (That’s what he was talking about when he said forever young, right?)
Generally I hate being boring, and even more than that I hate being bored, but the truth is that I’ve found great success with a straightforward, decidedly uninteresting regimen, one without any trendy new ingredients or innovative technologies. I suspect this has something to do with the quality of the products, which exists in spite of their slightly homely packaging and lack of celebrity spokesmodels. (I was surprised by this, too.)
To wit: my favorite cleanser, LUSH Ultrabland ($17.95). We are acknowledging right off the bat that this product, a creamy, no-lather emulsion and makeup remover in one, is incredibly bland! Ultra bland, even. But it’s only the very simple formula—almond oil, rose water, beeswax, honey, iris flower extract, glycerin, and not much else—that’s bland, because this shit performs. If you go into something with low expectations, you can only be pleasantly surprised, and this is one such situation: It’s not new, it’s not fresh and trendy, and the recyclable pot it comes in is not necessarily suited to your minimalist, perfectly art-directed Instagram vignettes, but it’s still amazing. Who knew?
In its description, LUSH recommends you use Ultrabland whenever your skin needs a reboot. I have taken this to heart on several occasions, turning to the comforting cream in times of breakouts, irritation, and the panic that ensues the morning after I accidentally fall asleep wearing makeup, and it has saved my ass. The cleanser smells faintly of honey (which, in case you’ve forgotten, is an excellent antibacterial and hydrating ingredient) and has a bit of texture to it (I think it might be honeycomb? I have no idea) that feels weird at first but melts away as it’s warmed up up. The sensation is oily, but it won’t clog pores, and it’ll even remove tough eye makeup.
Here’s what works for me: At night, after I stare at myself in the mirror for a good three minutes and contemplate everything wrong with my skin and how startlingly exhausted I look, I take a quarter-sized amount of Ultrabland from the jar and massage it all over. I work it into my skin with circular motions, paying extra attention to areas that are problematic in any way. To remove it, I soak a cheap washcloth from humble Swedish brand IKEA (have you heard of it?) in hot water, squeeze it out so it’s still warm but just slightly damp, then wipe the cleanser off carefully, making sure not to over-scrub.
And then? My sensitive skin is left soft and nourished, makeup-free and ready to be moisturized and oiled up. So … maybe on principle boring isn’t always so bad after all? Eh, still not sure how I feel about that.