Washing your face at least twice a day—guys, that goes for you, too—is something I’ve touched upon in a bunch of earlier posts, and for good reason: Consistently doing it can lead to clear, fresh-looking skin. But, as with any chore, do it often enough and you’ll start to go through the motions. That may actually be doing more harm than good to your face. So here are a few tips to help you get the most out of washing your face.
Gentle is best
Try a few different gentle, non-abrasive cleansers and stick with your favorite of the lot. The keywords here are gentle and non-abrasive. Steer clear of any that are any that contain alcohol. It’s natural to think, if gentle is good, something more aggressive should be better. But that’s not true in this case. You can’t go wrong, however, with a soap-free cleanser, which is gentle enough to use on any skin type.
Twice a day, at least
If you can suds up after a workout, great. If not, at least keep a pack of wipes in your gym bag to fend off sweat-induced breakouts. At the very least, you should be washing your face in the morning and before you go to bed. Yes, even if you’re not wearing any makeup. If you are, it’s not going to come off with cleanser alone. Use an oil-based makeup remover first or wipes designed specifically for removing makeup.
The actual first step
Wash your hands before you wash your face. Think about it: There’s almost always some type of bacteria on your hands, and that can easily be transferred to your face while you’re washing it. Now that your hands are clean, use your fingertips to apply the cleanser. Using a washcloth or just about anything other than your fingertips can irritate your skin. In that vein, resist the temptation to scrub your skin. I know it may seem like you’re just being thorough, but all you’re really doing is unnecessarily rubbing your skin raw. Wet your face first, then use small, circular motions to massage the cleanser into your skin. Aim for at least 30 seconds of actively washing to let the cleanser do its job.
Clean + clean = win
Use lukewarm to cool water to rinse. The inclination is to use hot water because it feels like you’re giving yourself a mini-steam treatment, but it can really irritate your skin. Then, pat—don’t rub—your face with a clean towel. You’re undoing all that work if you’re reaching for the nearest hand or bath towel because you’re rubbing bacteria back into your skin. A little extra laundry is a small price to pay for a glowing face. If you’re prone to dry or itchy skin, apply moisturizer while your face is still a bit damp.
Our days fill up fast anymore. So use these few minutes in the morning and at night to check in with yourself. It’s a good way to stay present for what can be an otherwise mindless chore.