Like most innovative new beauty discoveries, powder cleansers originated in Korea. (I can’t pinpoint exactly when and where this happened, but since the country is basically a hub of I have no idea how they come up with this stuff, but I fucking love it skin-care treasures, it’s a natural fit.) Over the past several years they’ve become a staple in the non-AA variety of 12-step routines everywhere, and the reason for this is because they are ingenious.
Powder cleansers exist largely for exfoliating purposes, but they’re different from your average scrub: In their respective packages, they are simply a densely packed, often grainy powder. This isn’t a product you can just squeeze out like a cavewoman and slap on your face—rather, you need to mix it with something. “But this is just an unnecessary extra ‘step’ to add to my routine,” you say. Not so!
OK, so, yes, it is an extra step. I cannot disprove that. But there are legitimate reasons to ditch your regular cavewoman cleansers and scrubs in favor of a powder. The first reason is that you’re in complete control. Based on how your skin is feeling, you can opt to blend the powder with whatever you want, and add as much as you want. Water, light moisturizers, cream cleansers, oils, toners, and serums are all viable choices as mixing mediums. Here’s how to do it: Dispense your desired amount of scrub, depending on how much grit you want, into the palm of your hand. Add a few drops of your preferred liquid. Rub your hands together to emulsify (some fizz up, some don’t), and massage it onto your face. Wash it off. Done.
The other thing powder cleansers have going for them is that, because they’re not formulated with liquid, they can skip the usual preservatives and alcohols that come along with ingredients that are. They don’t really go bad, so you don’t have to throw them out after six months like you do with most other skin care (lol, as if). So, too, is the case with powder masks, which have been around since the dawn of time, or so I once read on the back of a tub of Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay. Mix that mask with apple cider vinegar, water, oil—whatever! It’s customizable. It’s all up to you. You’re a chemist now.
And one more benefit: No liquid means you can breeze past airport security without the TSA scanning your quart-size Ziploc to determine whether that’s face wash or lube. Just be sure not to store any of these 10 tried-and-true powder cleansers, exfoliators, and masks in a glass vial of any sort. That seems like it would be a pretty bad idea.