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Hear Me Out: I Used To Wash My Face For The Entirety Of Frank Ocean's 'Pyramids'

For a period of time, I spent 20 minutes washing my face every day. Not 20 minutes on my skincare routine — 20 minutes washing my face. Every day. 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening doing the Japanese 4-2-4 cleansing method, which is designed to cleanse any and all impurities while stimulating blood circulation. 


At this point (about a year ago), I had spent a few months leaning into a 10+ step routine and while I saw drastic improvement in both my skin’s texture and hydration levels, I still struggled with sporadic blemishes that ranged from small and annoying to cystic and painful. Feeling at the end of my rope, both frustrated and excited with the progress of my skin, I saw the 4-2-4 cleansing method as a chance to further commit myself to my skin and commit my skin to a routine that, on the whole, had enriched my life and improved my complexion even if it hadn’t eliminated my original problem. 


The 4-2-4 method is comprised of 4 minutes of oil cleansing followed by 2 minutes of a foam cleanser capped off with 4 minutes of rinsing, the first two with hot/warm water and the last two with cold water. The double cleanse is the opening staple to any K-Beauty routine and considering the viral reaction to La Beautyologist’s #60SecondRule on Twitter, the necessity of taking the time to thoroughly and properly cleanse is clearly worth emphasizing. Now, obviously the 4-2-4 method is a great deal lengthier than 60 seconds and I spent those couple months cleansing to Frank Ocean’s “Pyramids,” eventually committing to memory the 4-, 6- and 8-minute marks of the song to know when to transition from oil cleanser to foam cleanser, from cleansing to rinsing and from rinsing with warm water to cold water, respectively.  


My favorite parts of the 4-2-4 method are the first and last. The four minutes of oil cleansing drags on to the point of feeling meditative, giving ample time to take note of my face’s curves and bumps. The extended massaging of the face not only pulls out oil-based impurities and melts away makeup and SPF, but it also nourishes the skin in preparation for the foaming cleanser so your skin won’t be left tight and dry when all is said and done. Additionally, this step is ideal for people who can’t keep their hands off their face during the day: four minutes to manually take stock of my skin was not only physically and mentally satisfying, but as an added bonus after such a thorough cleanse the urge to touch my skin between cleanses or with dirty hands was nearly non-existent. Additionally in the four minutes of oil cleansing, poppable pimples are gently extracted as blood flow increases as a result of the massaging motion. The rinsing component of the 4-2-4 method is split with 2 minutes of warm water and 2 minutes of cold, which aims to first rinse away any remaining oils and impurities while enhancing circulation which will speed up the healing process for any blemishes and then the cold water pulls pores closed to keep out environmental pollutants while soothing and moisturizing skin.   


Full disclosure: I no longer use the 4-2-4 cleansing method and typically only oil cleanse when wearing makeup, but I truly don’t think there’s any hard or fast rule on which skin types can benefit most from double cleansing and/or 4-2-4 cleansing. It’s really all in the specific cleansers chosen in addition to your skin’s needs and natural temperament. Nonetheless, I've continued switching to cold water at the end of my cleanse and I can't recommend that bit enough. 


Pyunkang Yul's Cleansing Foam is a great option for a second foaming cleanser, especially for those with sensitive skin as it is formulated to be gentle and balance skin. Others who are looking for something targeted at acne-prone skin will enjoy COSRX's AC Collection Calming Foam Cleanser due to the calming centella, protective madecassic acid and break-out fighting .5% salicylic acid.

Some suggestions if you'd like to try the 4-2-4 method:

  1. Only do it at night, especially if your skin is sensitive.
  2. Use a proper oil cleanser with emulsion factors to avoid any pilling or stickiness when making the shift to a foaming cleanser.
  3. If you’d prefer to use a straight oil product (such as cold-pressed hemp seed oil for acneic skin), do a quick rinse with warm water between the oil and cleanser.  
  4. Massage gently: 6 minutes of circular motions is a lot, your skin won’t need the added pressure.

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