How to Wash Your Face, According to DermatologistsAugust 03, 2023
Washing your face is the most straightforward step in your skincare routine, right? You may think you know how to wash your face but there is a lot of room for error — think choosing a face wash that isn’t formulated for your skin type, cleansing with steaming hot water and aggressively rubbing your face to get rid of every last trace of makeup. With all of that said, we consulted top dermatologists who gave us all of their face washing do’s and don’ts. Read on for them all, then keep scrolling for a foolproof, four-step cleansing routine and eight of our favorite facial cleansers.
How Often Should You Wash Your Face?
There’s not a definitive answer for how often you should wash your face. Some dermatologists suggest twice per day (morning and night), while others say one face-washing session per day will suffice. It’s best to stick to one to two times a day though, because over-cleansing can wreak havoc on your skin.
“Despite how important cleansing the skin is, it can be damaging if overdone, which many people don’t realize,” says Dr. Shari Marchbein, a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist and Skincare.com consultant. “Cleansing your skin excessively can strip the skin of moisture and cause unwanted dryness.” Although it may seem counterintuitive, this is even the case for oily skin because extra cleansing not only causes dryness but also a hypersecretion of oil.
Should You Wash Your Face in the Shower?
According to Dr. Morgan Rabach, a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist, the shower is a great place to wash your face. “You can really get a deep clean in the shower because the steam helps unclog pores and works wonders for the skin,” she says.
Just be conscious of the water temperature. “Warm water is best because hot water strips most oil off the skin and may leave your skin feeling dry,” says Dr. Rabach. “People with red tones or flushing can use cooler water on their face, too, so their blood vessels don’t dilate as a result of the heat.” If you prefer to not wash your face in the shower, cleansing over the sink will still adequately cleanse your skin.
How Do You Properly Wash Your Face?
Follow these simple steps to get the best cleanse.
STEP 1: Wet Your Face
Splash lukewarm water onto your face before applying cleanser. Avoid using steaming hot water because it can dry and potentially burn your skin.
STEP 2: Massage the Cleanser into Your Skin
Dispense a dime-sized amount of cleanser into your hands and gently massage it into your skin in small, circular motions for about 30 seconds. Remember, you’re washing your face, not a car, so avoid rubbing vigorously to prevent irritation.
STEP 3: Rinse Your Face
Once again, splash lukewarm water onto your face to rinse away the remaining cleanser. Be sure to hit areas where residue can build up — like your jawline, nose, ears and hairline.
STEP 4: Pat Dry
Using a clean towel, pat — don’t rub — your face dry. Then, follow up with the remainder of your skincare routine to prepare your skin for the day or night.
Looking for a new cleanser? Find eight of our favorites that are suitable for a variety of skin types, below.
Made with hyaluronic acid and aloe vera, this gentle cleanser starts as a jelly-texture and lathers into a cushiony foam to remove makeup, dirt and debris without disrupting the skin’s protective moisture barrier.
Effectively wash away acne-causing bacteria with this face wash specially formulated for acne-prone skin. Made with 10% benzoyl peroxide (the maximum strength found in over-the-counter skincare), ceramides and hyaluronic acid, it helps to clear breakouts and blackheads on the face and body without drying out skin.
Extra-dry and sensitive skin types will love this cleanser’s silky, oil-to-foam formula. Made with skin-softening shea butter, soothing niacinamide and antioxidant-rich thermal water, it provides 24-hour hydration and is accepted by the National Eczema Association.
If you have dry skin, try using a cream cleanser, like this one from Garnier. Formulated with amino acids and a super berry blend, it gently cleanses away makeup, dirt and even sunscreen, leaving skin soft and hydrated.
This gentle foaming cleanser for normal to oily skin removes excess oil, helps maintain the skin’s moisture barrier and balances pH on top of dissolving makeup, dirt and impurities. You’ll be left with clean, refreshed and comfortable feeling skin rather than tight or dry skin.
Get a deep clean and reveal brighter looking, softer skin after just one use with this refreshing gel cleanser for sensitive skin. Together the purisoft and Vichy volcanic water in the formula cleanse the skin of impurities and protect it from external aggressors like free radicals and pollution.
Invigorate your senses as you wash your face with this botanical oil-infused cleanser from Kiehl’s. The aromatic, lightweight formula dissolves stubborn makeup and lingering dirt after a long day and prepares your skin for the rest of your skincare routine.
Turn your cleansing routine into a spa-like experience with this luxury face wash. The rich, creamy texture transforms into a purifying foam as it’s massaged into the skin to deeply clean.