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How Often Should You Wash Your Face? Here’s the 411

How Often Should You Wash Your Face? Here’s the 411

Cleansing your skin is a crucial step in your skin care routine — but how often should you wash your face?

Under or overwashing your skin can cause issues, so it’s important to find the perfect balance. 

Here’s what our advanced practice providers recommend to help you on your journey to healthy, radiant and youthful-looking skin.

When should you wash your face?

Before discussing how often to wash your face, it’s important to first discuss whenyou should wash your face. Here are three times you’ll always want to start with a cleanser.

Before bed

How often should you wash your face? While the answer to that question varies depending on your skin type and situation, you should always cleanse your skin before bed. 

As we go through our day, our faces encounter all kinds of potential triggers from internal and external factors. The makeup we put on in the morning, the pollutants we come into contact with in the environment and even our own sebum (the body’s natural oils) can build up throughout the day.

If you go to bed without washing your face, you’re giving those impurities a chance to clog your pores. This can potentially lead to breakouts (especially for blemish-prone skin) and a loss of radiance.

Washing your face before bed can also help open up your pores, allowing them to absorb more of your targeted serums and moisturizers. Essentially, that means you can get increased effectiveness from your skin care products — while you sleep!

In the morning

Washing your face in the morning is also essential, even if you quickly rinse, moisturize and apply sunscreen before starting your day.

As we sleep, natural oils can make their way to the skin’s surface, combining with sweat and dead skin cells to clog your pores. Removing this build-up from your skin can help support your skin health and make your makeup application smoother.

Switching to a silk pillowcase can also help your skin (and hair) look and feel its best in the morning. Silk is gentler on the skin and can help prevent the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and support hydration. This is well worth the initial investment. 

After working out

A good workout is great for your mind and body, but you’ll likely work up a sweat by the time you’re done. While this is a sign of a good workout, that sweat can irritate your skin if it’s allowed to sit. 

Taking a few minutes to cleanse your skin after a workout is vital for removing sweat and other buildup from the skin’s surface, unclogging the pores and reducing the likelihood of breakouts. 

We recommend taking a gentle cleanser to the gym in order to quickly wash your skin post-workout and get on with your day. And don’t forget the sunscreen afterward — even if you’re not spending the day on the beach, your skin is still vulnerable to UV radiation. 

How should you wash your face?

Clean skin is an essential part of a successful skin care routine, but it’s not just about when you wash your face — it’s also about howyou wash your face. Here are some tips to help you get squeaky-clean skin every time.

Choose the right cleanser

The facial cleanser you choose can have a significant impact on how effective your routine can be. Choosing the wrong cleanser for your skin type can worsen pre-existing issues, like dryness, sensitive skin and excess oil — or even cause new ones. 

It’s important to find a face cleanser that works with your skin instead of against it. That means taking a critical look at the active ingredients, knowing how they work and what they can do for your skin. 

For example, glycolic acid is an excellent exfoliating ingredient that can help remove dead skin cells from the skin’s surface, leading to brighter, more glowing skin. On the other hand, salicylic acid is typically a good ingredient for oily skin, as it can break down excess oil build-up. 

There are also multiple kinds of cleansers. For instance, micellar water, cleansing oils and foaming cleansers are all designed to address different skin concerns. It’s also important to read the ingredients list on your makeup remover, as this is part of your cleansing step.

If you’re unsure what skin care products or active ingredients to choose, check with your provider for more specific guidance. 

Turn down the heat

Hot water is often associated with cleanliness. The hotter, the better, right? When it comes to your skin, this isn't necessarily the case. 

Research has shown that hot water can actually damage your skin barrier. Our skin barrier is made from a combination of lipids and other molecules that protect the skin. Hot water can break down these lipids and natural oils, compromising the skin and leaving it more vulnerable to outside factors. This can lead to premature aging and other issues. 

Lukewarm water can leave your face just as clean without having as much of a negative impact on your skin barrier. Simply pat your skin dry with a microfiber towel or soft washcloth when you’re done — never rub — and move on to the next step of your routine. 

Don’t skip the moisturizer

Hydration is another crucial element of a quality skin care routine. Everyone’s skin needs hydration, from dry skin to oily skin and everywhere in between. 

Moisturizers can help support your skin barrier by locking hydration into your top layer of skin, leaving your skin feeling soft and supple. 

The type of moisturizer you need will typically depend on when you’re applying it and what kind of skin you have. Lighter moisturizers with added SPF are great for morning application, while a thick, occlusive night cream is designed for maintaining hydration while you sleep. 

The key is to provide your skin with moisture without clogging the pores, which is why non-comedogenic ingredients are crucial. 

The bottom line...

How often should you wash your face? At least twice a day — and definitely after a workout and before you go to bed. 

Your cleansing routine is a vital skin care starting point, leaving your skin free of impurities and debris and ready to accept the rest of your skin care products. Choosing the right cleansing products is equally important as cleansing itself, so consult with your provider to find the best options to support your unique skin concerns and goals.

SOURCES:

Cleansing without compromise: the impact of cleansers on the skin barrier and the technology of mild cleansing | PMC

Impact of Water Exposure and Temperature Changes on Skin Barrier Function | PMC

Moisturizers: The Slippery Road | PMC

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