The 10 Commandments of Cleansing

December 05, 2017
Claire Rodgers
By: Claire Rodgers | by L'Oréal
The 10 Commandments of Cleansing

Cleansing is a must-do step in every skin care routine to remove pore-clogging dirt, debris, and impurities. The good news is that lathering and rinsing your skin up to twice per day is easy enough. The bad news is that many people don’t abide by all the necessary rules. If you’re forming some bad cleansing habits, we’re here to tell you no more. Ahead, we lay down the law 10 commandments of cleansing. 


Few would argue that cleansing is indeed a good thing. It helps remove dirt and grime from our skin before breakouts have a chance to develop, refreshes the skin, and—in some cases—gives tired skin a jolt of energy. With so many good attributes to it, it’s hard to resist cleansing more than twice per day (morning and night). The truth is, there can be too much of a good thing, and cleansing your skin more than recommended can cause unwanted side effects. “When you over-cleanse your skin, you dry it out,” says dermatologist, and consultant, Dr. Michael Kaminer. Instead of stripping your skin of its natural oils by over-doing it with your facial cleansing, stick to a morning/evening routine with a gentle cleanser that’s formulated for your skin type. Which brings us to our next commandment…


Yes, there are a lot of face washes out there and yes, it can be hard to find the best one for your skin. Before you get started, it’s important to know your skin type. (If you’re not sure, consult this handy guide or your dermatologist.) The reason? In order to get the most out of your cleansing experience, you want to make sure the formula you use a) won’t cause irritation or dryness and b) can actually address some of your skin concerns. Long story short: Don’t settle for the first face wash that catches your eye on the drugstore shelf, and don’t use the same one your friend uses if her skin type differs from yours.

Need a rec? We’re sharing our guide to the very best face washes on the market.


Once you have your cleanser in tow, it’s time to focus on the technique. When lathering the cleanser onto your skin, stick to gentle circular motions. Avoid harsh rubbing, which can irritate your skin. If you notice your cleanser isn’t removing your makeup as well as you had hoped, don’t force it. Simply rinse off and reach for a different cleanser for the task.


When using a towel to pat dry your face, make sure not to tug on your skin aggressively. Over time, an improper use of a towel when drying your skin can promote fine lines and wrinkles. Instead, gently pat off excess water and follow with your moisturizer.


Once your skin is clean, don’t dry off completely. While your skin is slightly damp is actually one of the best times to reach for a moisturizer. Since cleansing can sometimes strip the skin’s natural oils, it’s important to put those back onto the surface by way of moisturizers, creams, oils, or lotions to avoid dryness. Similar to your cleanser, your moisturizer should not only be suited to your skin type but also to your concerns. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, reach for a moisturizer with built-in broad-spectrum SPF to help protect your skin against harmful UV rays. If a dulled appearance is your issue, reach for a moisturizer that delivers an instant brightening effect. For acne troubles, reach for a non-comedogenic moisturizer that’s formulated with acne-fighting ingredients and that can help reduce the appearance of blemishes.

To help steer your selection, we’re sharing our all-time favorite moisturizers to wear under makeup, here.


Water that’s scalding hot may feel relaxing to some, but it can actually strip the skin of natural oils and cause it to dry out even further. As such, don’t let the water you’re rinsing with get too hot. For safe measure, set it to a lukewarm temperature.


We know we said you should only cleanse twice a day, but there’s a slight exception to the rule above, and it’s right after a killer workout. When you sweat profusely, it’s important to cleanse your skin right away to reduce your chances of a breakout. A shower within 10 minutes of finishing your workout would be most ideal, but if you’re in a pinch, sweep some facial cleansing towelettes or micellar water over your skin to remove impurities until you can wash your skin thoroughly in the shower. We like to stock up our gym bags with both options.


This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people cleanse their skin without washing their hands first. Your hands are a breeding ground for germs and bacteria, which can easily come into contact with your skin while cleansing and wreak havoc. Before placing your face wash into your palms, give your hands a rinse with antibacterial soap first.

Editor’s tip: If you prefer not to cleanse your skin with your fingers, invest in a sonic cleansing brush like a Clarisonic. The brand’s devices boast a ton of benefits, our favorite being the ability to cleanse skin up to six times better than hands alone.


The double-cleansing technique is a hit amongst K-beauty aficionados, and for good reason. It’s an extremely effective way to ensure every last trace of makeup, dirt, and grime is whisked off your skin. Traditionally, the double-cleansing method involves using an oil-based cleanser followed by a water-based cleanser, but there are loads of ways you can mix and match. If you’re a fan of micellar water, you can sweep away your makeup with the gentle liquid and follow up with a rinse-off foaming cleanser. Whatever combination you choose we recommend giving the technique a try.


When washing your face, extend the love below your jawline, too. Your neck is one of the first areas of skin to show signs of aging, so give it all the care you can. That includes cleansing it of impurities daily, hydrating, and applying targeted skin care products.   

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