You may assume that washing your face is a pretty simple task; all you have to do is splash some water on your face, add soap, and voilà! Your face is squeaky clean. However, many people underestimate the power of learning how to properly wash your face. Perfecting your cleansing routine will not only keep your skin clean, but can also prevent dryness and breakouts caused by overwashing, reduce signs of aging from washing incorrectly, and improve your overall skin health. Considering this, you may have a few questions regarding how to properly wash your face. For example, how often should you wash your face? Should you wash your face in the morning, at night, or both? In this post, we’re answering these questions and more to ensure that you know how to properly wash your face.
How often should you wash your face?
The answer to this question primarily depends on your skin type. If you have excessively oily skin, it’s recommended to wash your skin both morning and night. For very dry or sensitive skin, stick to cleansing once daily in the evening. You can still rinse your face in the morning with water, but skip using a cleanser that can cause excessive dryness by stripping your skin of its natural oils. Lastly, it’s always recommended to wash your face after an intense gym session to clear away excess sweat that can cause breakouts.
Should you wash your face at night?
You’re exhausted after a seriously long day at the office, so you lie down on your bed and that’s when it hits you: you forgot to wash your face! You think to yourself, “Do I really need to wash my face before bed?” The short answer: yes! Most dermatologists and skin care experts agree that washing your face at night is a must. Below we’re going to discuss 3 major benefits of washing your face at night, which may convince you to include cleansing in your nighttime routine.
Benefits of washing your face at night
- Combats signs of aging. Your skin is aging every day. You probably already know this, of course, which is why you use a variety of anti-aging treatments, peels, serums, and more in the hopes of maintaining a youthful complexion. But did you know that the very simple task of washing your face before bed is an excellent way to mitigate signs of aging? Washing your face at night clears away makeup, dirt, pollution, and any other impurities that may have accumulated on the skin during the day, which allows oxygen to be delivered to the skin. Oxygen plays a critical role in the skin’s repair and detoxification processes. So if you don’t wash your face at night, all of those impurities prevent the skin from receiving the oxygen it needs to repair itself. Also, constantly sleeping with your makeup on leads to inflammation that can generate free radicals and collagen breakdown. Overall, skipping nighttime cleansing can lead to signs of aging and dull-looking skin.
- Enhances the penetration of other ingredients. It’s pretty easy to understand why washing your face at night enhances the penetration of other skin care ingredients: the key ingredients in your nighttime serum aren’t going to be absorbed if you have a layer of makeup and other impurities on your face! This will lead to wasted product and little (if any) results. Plus, blood flow in the skin is higher at night, and when blood flow is increased so is absorption and penetration of ingredients. Just another reason to ensure that your skin is clean and ready for your serum or other nighttime skin treatment.
- Helps to prevent acne. As you have learned, washing your face at night will remove excess oil, makeup, dirt, pollution, and any other impurities that may have accumulated on the skin during the day. This is important not only for preventing signs of aging and enhancing the penetration of other ingredients, but also to help prevent acne breakouts. If these impurities are left on the skin overnight, they can seep deep into the pores and clog them. Blemishes form due to excess sebum and bacteria clogging pores. A cleanser contains surfactants that attract and suspend impurities, allowing them to be washed away. Ultimately, washing your face at night keeps your pores clear and helps prevent acne breakouts.
Should you wash your face in the morning?
We know what you may be thinking: If I washed my face at night, why do I have to wash it again in the morning? One of the main reasons to wash your face in the morning is due to the skin’s overnight recovery process, which we discussed above. This recovery process causes the skin to shed dead skin cells and toxins. Many people also sweat during the night. Furthermore, it’s hard to keep pillows and sheets totally clean, which means bacteria and other impurities may be lurking on your bed linens. So in the morning you have a combination of dead skin cells, toxins, sweat, bacteria, and more on your face! Do you really want to put your makeup on top of these impurities? We think probably not. However, there may be some negative effects of washing your face in the morning, which we will discuss in the next section.
Negative effects of washing your face in the morning
Some experts are against morning cleansing because it may disrupt the skin’s microbiome and damage the protective skin barrier that has re-established itself overnight. Furthermore, it is said that the natural oil produced overnight is good for the skin and shouldn’t be removed in the morning because it provides a first defense barrier for the external factors of the day. Whether or not to wash your skin in the morning comes down to your skin type. As mentioned above, if you have very dry or sensitive skin, you may want to skip morning cleansing and only wash your face once daily in the evening. You can still rinse your face in the morning with water, but skip using a cleanser that can cause excessive dryness by stripping your skin of its natural oils.
Does water temperature matter?
Another question you may have is whether you should be washing your face with cold water or hot water. One popular skin care myth is that using hot water will “open” pores, and that cold water will “close” pores. In reality, pores don’t open and close because they do not have muscles around their opening to allow them to open and close. So does water temperature even matter when it comes to washing your face? It turns out that it does. For example, excessive exposure to hot water can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to irritation and inflammation. In addition, very hot water can exacerbate problems like rosacea and redness. However, taking a warm shower with mild steam can help soften hardened oil in pores, allowing the oil to be emulsified by your cleanser.
So what about washing your face with cold water? Even though it won’t “tighten” pores, washing your face with cold water may temporarily decrease facial puffiness and swelling. Cold water may also help to constrict blood vessels. Plus, the cold water can feel very refreshing!
Are you overwashing your face?
If you decide that you want to wash your face twice a day, it’s important to be able to recognize the signs of overwashing. You may be overwashing if you wake up with skin that feels dry, tight, or sensitive, or shows signs of sensitivity with red, dry patches. However, this can also be a sign that you’re using a cleanser or skin treatment that is too harsh. Some ingredients in cleansers that can cause these symptoms include surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium cocoate, and sodium palmate. There are also several ingredients in skin care treatments that are notorious for causing dryness and flaking, such as denatured alcohol, natural and synthetic fragrance ingredients, benzoyl peroxide, some alpha hydroxy acids, and retinoids. When trying to determine if you are overwashing, start by dialing back to only washing your face at night. If that doesn’t help, check to see if there are any drying ingredients in your skin care products.
What type of cleanser should you use?
Now that you know how to properly wash your face, you’re probably curious as to what type of cleanser you should use. As mentioned in the previous section, it’s imperative to avoid cleansers that contain drying, sensitizing ingredients. With so many cleansers on the market, this is no easy task! To make things simple, we’d like to share our number one recommendation when it comes to cleansers: Formulyst.
Formulyst offers two highly effective cleansers: Gentle Foaming Cleanser and Clarifying AHA Cleanser. The Gentle Foaming Cleanser is an ultra-gentle anti-aging cleanser that is formulated to deeply cleanse while balancing and protecting the skin’s natural pH. It removes impurities and sweeps away dirt and dead surface cells without stripping the skin of its vital moisture levels. Formulyst’s Clarifying AHA Cleanser is formulated to gently cleanse and exfoliate the skin while removing dirt and makeup. It contains glycolic acid, a type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that helps refine pores, control excess oil, and smooth away any surface-level roughness.