The Right Way to Wash Your Face, Explained

May 26, 2022
Alanna Martine Kilkeary
By: Alanna Martine Kilkeary | by L'Oréal
person washing face

Assuming you’ve retired the routine of using plain old soap and water to wash your face, you’ve likely (read: hopefully) moved onto a facial cleanser. The right facial cleanser formulas help to remove makeup, dirt and oil without stripping the skin or causing irritation.

While applying facial cleanser may seem like the simplest step in your routine, there are a few ways to slip up during the process. So, what’s the best way to achieve the perfect cleanse

Ahead, find six easy face-washing steps to follow to ensure you’re completely and properly cleansing your face.

STEP 1: Read the Instructions on the Label

So, you’ve got your cleanser handy and you’re ready to roll — but before you reach for the faucet, take a quick peek at the instructions listed on the product label. Why? Because some cleansers (like micellar water) should be applied on dry skin rather than wet, and it’s crucial to know this before you start splashing around.

Need help picking a formula that won’t strip your skin? Consider the Garnier Green Labs Amino-Berry Ultra Soothing Cream Cleanser — it effectively removes dirt, impurities and makeup while hydrating and softening the skin so you feel refreshed.

garnier green labs amino berry ultra soothing cream cleanser

STEP 2: Wash Your Hands

Washing your hands has always been of the utmost importance. After all, you don’t want any dirt, oil, germs or bacteria that are lingering on your hands making it onto your face. Before you think about touching your face, give your hands a thorough wash with soap.

STEP 3: Wet Your Face With Lukewarm Water

Now’s the time to splash some lukewarm water onto your skin. (If the label on your face wash instructs you otherwise, skip this step.) Make sure the water is not too hot as it can be drying and potentially damaging. To maintain the integrity of the skin, room temperature water is your best bet. Next, squeeze a dime-size amount of face wash onto your fingertips and lather up.

STEP 4: Massage in Gentle, Small Circles

How you apply your cleanser is equally as important as the product, the water temperature and the tools. Using your fingertips, gently massage the cleanser onto your skin in small circular motions with light pressure. If the formula feels tight, wet your hands a bit more as you caress your face. Do this for about 30 seconds to a minute. Remember: You’re washing your face here,  so to avoid irritation, don’t be vigorous and aggressive with rubs and tugs.

STEP 5: Rinse With Lukewarm Water

Turn the faucet back on, wait for the temperature to become lukewarm and splash some water onto your skin to remove the cleanser. Residue can hide around your jaw, nose, ears and hairline, so pay close attention to these areas using your fingertips if necessary. You may have heard that wetting your face with cold water is better for “closing” your pores, but that’s just a myth. Pores do not open and close like a door, so always use lukewarm water on your skin. 

STEP 6: Gently Pat Dry With a Clean Towel

After washing, dab (don’t rub) your face with a clean, dry cloth or towel. Aggressive rubs can irritate, stretch and potentially cause wrinkles on the skin over time. Keep in mind that towels are a breeding ground for bacteria, especially when stored in a damp place, so make sure to hang yours in a dry area between uses. If you prefer not to use a cloth or towel, you can air dry. Follow up with the rest of the products in your morning or evening routine — toner, serum, eye cream, moisturizer and anything else you use — once your skin is dry or, even better, still slightly damp.

Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn

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