It sounds self-explanatory—rub in, rinse off—but these common errors you make when washing your face can keep your skin from looking its best.
Water that’s too hot will dry your skin, while cold water won’t let your pores open, says Michele Green, MD, a New York-based cosmetic dermatologist. “Tepid water is the best water temperature,” she says. “Not too hot and not too cold.”
People with dry skin might only need to cleanse once a day, and even those with more oily skin should wash twice a day at max. Any more than that could dry out your skin, making it produce even more oil to compensate, says Mona Gohara, MD, associate clinical professor at Yale’s department of dermatology. If you do wash just once, make it at night rather than in the morning.
An exfoliating cleanser or device can slough away dead skin cells and leave the skin glowing. But daily exfoliation can lead to dryness and flakiness, so it’s better to limit exfoliation to just once a week.
Using a clean, soft washcloth is effective for cleaning your face. You should change the towel you use to dry your face every couple of days to keep bacteria at bay.
A soft washcloth can be a good way to apply cleanser, but an overly abrasive one will be tough on your skin, Dr. Lee says. “Any one where you can feel the fibers is too rough,” she says. Don’t miss these secrets your skin is trying to tell you.
Face wipes are better than nothing in a pinch, but you shouldn’t rely on them for your normal face-wash routine, Dr. Green says. “They don’t clean the skin and they have chemicals,” she says. Stash some wipes in your gym bag, but give your face a full wash with cleanser and water when you can.
Foaming washes work well for oily skin, while a more hydrating cleanser is better for dry skin, Dr. Gohara says. Those with oily skin can benefit from alpha-hydroxy acids or salicylic acids, but those ingredients can be too harsh on people without oily skin, Dr. Green says. “If you have delicate skin, you don’t want something irritating. If you’re acne-prone, a mild wash will only work if you use an astringent later,” she says. “They’re not bad products, they’re just for the wrong kind of skin.” These are beauty products dermatologists wish you would stop using.
Never substitute a soap-based product for a non-soap cleanser. “Soap-based products strip the skin of natural oils and leave skin irritated, dry, and more likely to be inflamed,” Dr. Gohara says. “Non-soap cleansers hydrate the skin and replenish the skin barrier, so the skin is much more healthy.”
For the most effective wash, rub in your cleanser using circles that go outward to stimulate blood flow and encourage your lymph to carry waste from the tissues. “It’s like a little massage,” Dr. Gohara says. “Increasing blood flow plumps up skin and primes it to sit in an upward position instead of sagging.”
You don’t need to scrub aggressively to get rid of impurities on your skin—gently rubbing it in will do the trick without being too rough on your skin.
Rubbing a towel against your face will remove the lipids, proteins, and fatty acids that protect your skin from irritation.
The best time to apply creams and serums is right after you’re done washing your face, so don’t wait to put them on. The exception is about acne products. These can be irritating when applied on wet skin.
If you don’t adequately scrub off face products or makeup, or you don’t rinse your cleanser off thoroughly, your skin could get irritated and break out, Dr. Lee says. “If you’re using a foaming cleanser, rub long enough to get foam to cover and lather throughout your face,” she says. “If it’s a cream, rub enough to spread a thin layer over your whole face.”
Source: The Reader’s Digest