Washing your face sounds simple enough, right? Splash on a little water, rub in a gentle face cleanser and rinse. But, as you may have realized already, it’s a little more nuanced than that.
For one thing, you could benefit from tailoring your face-washing routine to your skin type. (More on that later.) Some cleansers can also help treat specific skin conditions, like acne.
That’s on top of all their other responsibilities, which include washing away makeup, dirt, dead skin cells, and anything else that’s clogging your pores and causing you’re your face to look dull.
In fact, because a face cleanser is capable of doing so much, it’s not just a matter of what kind you use or how you wash your face, it’s also about when and how often you do it.
If this is starting to feel overwhelming, don’t worry. I’ll help you map out a proper face-washing routine. First, I’ll answer some common questions, which will help you lay the groundwork. Then, in my next post, we’ll get a little more granular, looking at things like how moisturizer comes into play and the difference a clean towel can make.
How exactly should you be washing your face?
It’s natural to think the longer and harder you scrub, the more effective your face cleanser will be. But there’s actually no correlation between how long you spend washing your face and how clean your face is. In fact, washing too aggressively or for too long can irritate your skin.
So, wash until the product lathers, or about 20 to 30 seconds, then rinse and carefully pat dry with a soft towel. Avoid using hot water; it can be damaging to the delicate skin on your face. Instead, opt for lukewarm. And use your fingertips to apply the cleanser in a circular motion, making sure to hit the T-zone and along the jawline.
When should you be doing it?
Ideally, twice a day: in the morning and again at night, before you go to bed. At the bare minimum, do it at night.
Natural oils, sweat, dirt, and various pollutants accumulate on the skin throughout the day. Not removing it at night can cause skin irritation, inflammation, and breakouts.
A morning wash removes the bacteria from your saliva and oils from your hair that are transferred to your face and eyes when you toss and turn while you sleep. And, if you apply products like serums, a moisturizer, or night creams before bed, you’ll want to wash those off before putting on your daytime products.
How do I know if my cleanser is right for my skin type?
If your skin is usually dry or sensitive, opt for a gentle or creamy cleanser. Oily skin? Go with a gel or foamy cleanser. A water-based cleanser will work well for those with normal skin.
If you’re unsure about your skin type, it’s worth asking a board-certified dermatologist who can recommend a face wash for you specifically.