How to Remove Built-Up Dirt from Skin in 5 Easy Ways

How to Remove Built-Up Dirt from Skin in 5 Easy Ways

Cleansing your skin, especially before applying skin care products, is one of the best ways to keep it looking, feeling and behaving its best. 

Luckily, it’s also the easiest. Our knowledgeable skin care providers have come up with five of our favorite ways to learn how to remove built-up dirt from your skin and help yours look its beautiful, most radiant best — regardless of your skin type.

1. Use a gentle cleanser

Using a gentle cleanser is a solid first step. This will help to break down any build-up on the skin without stripping your natural oils.

Our Gentle Soothing Cleanser is an excellent place to start if you’re looking for a way to cleanse your skin and prepare it for the rest of your skin care products. We formulated this pH-balanced cleanser to be soothing and hydrating while thoroughly removing any traces of impurities like dirt, makeup and other debris (including environmental pollutants). 

One of the best parts about this gentle cleanser is that you can use it dry specifically to remove makeup or wet as a more traditional cleanser. The ingredients can break up any build-up on the skin, paving the way for the rest of your skin care products to have easier, more direct access to your pores (which will help them be more effective, as well!). Use it twice daily for the best results! 

Here are a few tips about cleansing your skin while we’re on the subject. For one, when you wash your skin, fight the urge to crank the water temperature too high. Yes, hot water is amazing, but it can also strip off the natural oils your skin needs to keep itself safe and hydrated (known as your skin barrier) — use warm water instead. After you’ve washed your skin (without using a washcloth), use a microfiber towel to gently pat your skin dry instead of rubbing it with a regular cotton towel. 

Rubbing too hard may feel good in the moment, but it can also tug and pull on the skin and cause premature signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles. 

2. Try an enzymatic cleanser

Enzymes can gently break down impurities, like dirt, sweat and makeup. Some common enzymes found in skin care products include bromelain (from pineapple) and papain (from papayas).

Although anyone can use our Gentle Soothing Cleanser, we have an enzyme cleanser that may be more beneficial for those with excess oil or breakout-prone skin. If this sounds like you and you’re looking for a cleanser that’s a little more targeted to your skin’s unique needs, our Papaya Enzyme Cleanser may be the way to go. This naturally derived gel cleanser is made with papaya enzymes and salicylic acid, which provide potent exfoliative properties. 

Unfamiliar with exfoliation? It’s an essential skin care technique used to help break down and remove any build-up on the top layer of the skin. Exfoliants can get the pores even clearer, leaving even less behind to block the effectiveness of the remainder of your routine. It also helps speed up how quickly the skin cells can turn over, making your skin look fresher, clearer and more youthful. 

Like our Gentle Soothing Cleanser, you can apply our Papaya Enzyme Cleanser to wet or dry skin. In addition to deep cleansing and encouraging a quicker turnover of skin cells, the cleanser also leaves behind antioxidants that can combat the negative impact of free radicals and sun damage. It’s the best of both worlds and a great start to any skin care routine. 

3. Put on a clay mask

Aside from cleansers, there are also other skin care products you can add to your routine to keep your pores clean and clear. For example, using a clay mask can help to soften impurities in the skin, leaving a smooth surface once it is washed away.

Our Clay Time Charcoal Mask can perform the same functions as a cleanser — but at an even deeper level. Along with 1% salicylic acid that penetrates deep into the pores and removes dirt, grime and other debris (like dead skin cells), the mask also contains ingredients like kaolin clay and gentle quartz for further exfoliation. 

So how do you add this effective and impressive charcoal mask to your skin care routine?

Before using the mask, you need to start by cleansing the skin. Cleansing is crucial for removing that top layer of debris, opening your pores to soak up the charcoal mask even further. Then, use circular motions to massage the mask into your skin (you can do this while it is still damp, so there is no need to dry it completely). 

Leave it on for three minutes, then rinse it off thoroughly and pat your skin dry. You can use the charcoal mask two to three times a month!

4. Use clarifying pads

If you don’t have much time but still want to ensure that your skin stays clean, you can try quick, easy-to-use clarifying pads. These can make cleansing simpler, without the need for a sink, cleanser or towel.

Our Crystal Clear clarifying pads are one of our best-selling products for a reason — they’re an all-in-one superstar that brightens, tightens and fights blackheads and breakouts. But what ingredients go into them, and why are they so effective?

The main ingredients in these clarifying pads are 2% salicylic acid and glycolic and lactic acid, rounded out with white mulberry, licorice root and an exclusive botanical blend. The result is hydrated, protected skin with decreased redness, sensitivity and irritation. You may even notice an increase in the firmness of your skin with routine use — some of the ingredients are known to help support your natural collagen production!

Our Crystal Clear clarifying pads work as a toner, which is meant to be applied as the third step of your skin care routine — after cleansing and using any exfoliating products. You can use them daily or just as needed, depending on what your skin needs (we recommend starting slowly to avoid irritation). Be aware that your skin may tingle when you use them, and you should take care to avoid the sensitive skin around your eye area. Just make sure to let it dry before moving on!

5. Multi-product kits

In the end, as impressive as a single skin care product can be, the best approach to learning how to get rid of built-up dirt from your skin is by using a combination of products. 

But, unfortunately, you can’t just choose any two products off the shelf and cross your fingers that they will work great together. Certain ingredients can cancel out each other’s effectiveness, and other combinations can be downright irritating if combined. 

But don’t despair — there’s good news! We’ve compiled a wide selection of skin care kits to help take the guesswork out of it. Our knowledgeable skin care providers have created multiple kits that address different concerns — combining face wash, moisturizers, serums and sunscreens to create the perfect combo. 

For example, remember our Clay Time charcoal mask? We paired it with one of our bestselling serums, our Youth Serum, to up the ante on how clear and radiant your skin can be. Dull skin can be a thing of the past when you learn to combine products correctly. 

Always finish with a moisturizer

Cleansing and exfoliating your skin is the best way to remove built-up dirt from your skin, but there’s one other crucial step to make sure not to leave out of your routine — moisturizer. You can get your pores as clear as you want, but if you don’t follow it up by giving your skin the hydration it needs to stay safe, it’s all for nothing. 

Moisturizers are the last step in any effective skin care routine because they provide your skin with moisture and lock it in, helping support your skin barrier. Without a strong, solid skin barrier, your skin can’t hold onto the moisture it needs to fight off environmental influences and keep it youthful and beautiful for as long as possible. Why invite fine lines and wrinkles into your life if you can do something about it?

And, as always, look for a moisturizer that contains an SPF if you’re applying in the morning before leaving the house. Sun protection is everyone’s friend — and keeps your skin looking and feeling its best for as long as possible.

To wrap things up...

Want to know how to remove built-up dirt from your skin? Our five easy product suggestions offer slightly different ways to do just that, leaving your skin healthier, brighter and more beautiful than ever. Plus, they’re easy to use and fit into any skin care routine — so what are you waiting for? 

Just make sure to follow them up with a quality moisturizer (and sunscreen if you’re leaving the house), sit back and watch your skin change right before your eyes. 


An overview of the use of proteolytic enzymes as exfoliating agents | PubMed

Evaluation of the medicinal use of clay minerals as antibacterial agents | PMC

A double-blind, placebo-controlled evaluation of a 2% salicylic acid cleanser for improvement of acne vulgaris | JAAD


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