Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist - Written by Mahek Chawla (Dietitian & Nutritionist) on 18th Nov 2020
Do's and don'ts for washing your face. How often should you wash your face?
How to wash your face correctly?
It sounds like a no-brainer, doesn't it? When it comes to skincare, you need to get your basics right.
By now, irrespective of your age, we are all quite familiar with what the beauty industry has to offer. Thanks to technology, research, and marketing. But when it comes to basics, you might not have it all clear.
Blame it on the ever-changing trends or your lack of awareness. Washing your face is no rocket science for you to maintain physical notes, but some mental notes would help you know where you went wrong.
So without further ado, let's first look at what shouldn't be done:
- Don't go overboard. Yes! A simple cleanse can cause more harm than any good when overdone. It's your skin type that'll demand what it needs. Oily skin looks like asking for more cleansing, but it isn't ideal as a feedback mechanism produces more oil when the natural oil is stripped off on excess cleansing.
- Don't underdo: well, a normal skin without any woes like acne, pigmentation, bumps, dryness, or oiliness is itself a boon, but who here is flawless? Isn't it? So, no matter your skin type, always opt for preventive measures to maintain your skin if having normal skin or opt for healing measures to obtain the desired skin. Washing your face once a day might seem enough for you, but splashing water wakes up your cells.
- Don't go with the trend: everything that works for a friend of yours won't necessarily work for you. Each individual has a different skin type, texture, and requirement. Thus, look out for what suits your skin and stick to it. Trial and error always work best with affordable products.
- Don't splurge unless necessary: everything that shines is not gold. You do not have to burn a hole in your wallet to keep your skin healthy, and many high-end products claim wonders but are formulated with compounds that might be harmful in the long run. On the other hand, some brands offer gentle formulations that might show slower results but without the risk of damage.
- Don't use a stale washcloth: yes, stale! The washcloth or napkin you use for your face should never be used by everyone or even by you for other parts of your body. It should neither be used repeatedly and kept as it is on a surface. The cloth that touches your face should be as clean as your skin after cleansing.
- Don't mess with products: even if you are a chemistry student or a biology nerd, or a skincare enthusiast, you wouldn't want to mess with the anatomy of your skin layers while taking care of your hard-earned products. Using acids, serums, and supplements is beneficial but always look at the counter interactions of the ingredients present in different products.
do not mix vitamin C and AHAs/BHAs as they are both pH dependent and won't work effectively when combined.
- Don't over or under exfoliate: exfoliation or sloughing off dead cells is a must for new and fresh cells to resurface, but over-exfoliating can cause irritation, redness, and very dry skin. On the other hand, under exfoliation that is not stripping, that dead layer can cause dirt and grime to accumulate, leading to a pool of blackheads and whiteheads.
- Don't be harsh: facial skin is the most sensitive and delicate. Thus you don't need to exert all the possible pressure by your hands. A gentle massage with your fingertips is enough.
- Don't be careless: while washing, we often tend to forget our jaw or forehead or any area we think there's no need for care. The ideal face wash is the one where you cover your entire face, including the jaw and neck. The jaw is the most prominent acne area due to hormones, so never forget to massage a little in that area.
- Don't forget to moisturize: several studies exhort using a moisturizer irrespective of your skin type. This is because our cells, after cleansing, can immediately quench the most amount of moisture. So without completely drying the face (i.e., damp surface ), a small amount of moisturizer should be applied evenly on your face. Contrary to our belief that it'll make the skin oily, it instead hydrates the cells.
- Don't rub, pat dry: rubbing the delicate skin can make you feel more clean and dry, but your skin doesn't need that. Pat drying is the right way to dry out the water on your face because rubbing causes agitation that can cause wrinkles, loosen the skin, and over-dry.
These small don'ts can give you visible results for which you might want to thank us later.
Now let's, broaden our knowledge of what should be done:
- Always choose the right cleanser: sulfate-free, organic, natural, acid-based, creamy, foaming, gel, etc. The list/queue is just too long to cover. It is not very difficult to know what suits your skin, but it does take some time to figure out. Dermatologists and estheticians have always recommended using a cleanser that suits your skin like for oily or acne-prone skin; foamy or gel-based cleansers are better as they can give you a fresh squeaky look. For dry skin, cream or oil-based formulation can provide moisture.
- Always look at the ingredients of the products you will include in your daily skincare. Acids, for example, should always be chosen according to your skin concern. Salicylic acid in any product can help acne-prone skin; hyaluronic acid can be useful for dry and cracked skin. For anti-aging purposes, retinol or vitamin A can be chosen.
You need not study each ingredient in your product, but the ingredients mentioned in the first five places of the list are present in maximum concentration; thus, knowing a little about them can help your selection process.
- Always use lukewarm or cold water to wash your face. Hot water can be tempting to use as it relaxes your nerves and gives warmth, but your facial skin is very sensitive to extreme temperatures. Thus, hot water can do much more harm than cold water ever can.
Warm water can occasionally melt the oil or product build-up, but cold water is the only option for the daily cleanse.
- Always choose chemical exfoliants: chemical exfoliants include acids like AHAs or BHAs. These should be the preferred mode of exfoliation because, to your surprise, they are way milder than physical exfoliants that are scrubs or tools. Chemical exfoliants take up the gunk from the skin's inner layers by penetrating deep into the skin, which is not possible with tools or scrubs. Physical exfoliants can only remove dirt and sebum present in the superficial pores.
- Always use a clean washcloth: this precaution needs to be amplified as it is one of the most common mistakes made. The bacteria that grow on your washcloth can aggravate the growth of acne-causing bacteria on your face. Changing the napkin or towel used for your face every two days is doable without any extra cost.
- Never forget to clean your makeup before going to bed. All the dirt, sebum, and product built up during the day needs to be cleaned from your skin to breathe at night. Try using a makeup remover or micellar water to remove makeup, and then use a gentle cleanser.
- Always wash your face after sweating.
- Cleanse using a cleanser at least once a day: usually, with so many professionals available to give advice, the majority ask you to use a cleanser twice a day, but that's when you are using a medicated cleanser to resolve any issue—for most of us with mild to moderate oily T zones, normal skin and dry skin, using a cleanser once a day works just fine.
- Include actives. Active ingredients are more potent compounds working on your skin's cellular level to work according to your skin's anatomy. They not only prevent the skin from damage but also heal any defect. Although actives are usually diluted with other ingredients, it is better to include actives after consulting a professional or after 16 to 18 yrs of age.
- Fixed routine: taking out some time for your skin can not only help you look flawless, but it even has a psychological effect on you, which gives you the satisfaction of self-love and self-care. For some, a three-step CTM, cleanse, tone, moisturize works well. For some, cleansing and moisturizing seem enough. Whatever you may choose, if it shows you results in about 2 to 3 weeks, please stick to it. Your skin needs a constant supply of care, especially after a certain age.
- Include a chemical exfoliant as per your need and preference but don't miss out on sloughing off those dead cells.
Too much? Worry not; once you get the hang of these steps and precautions, you might never need an extra dose of product or treatment.
Lastly, wondering how many times should you wash your face exactly?
Well, there's no definite number to it, but an upper limit of using a cleanser two times a day is enough for any skin type and any skin woes to heal or maintain its health. Those of us who have good genes to back us up, use less product each time you cleanse or use the cleanser before going to bed. This is mandatory for every individual because environmental pollutants, bacteria-laden cell phone screens, and dirty fingertips come in contact with facial skin almost every other hour.
Wrapping it up with a quick tip for you to remember, our grandmas had no skin woes and no products to enhance their beauty, but with evolution, we are exposed to both the curse that is the woes and the boon that is well-researched skincare products. Use whatever is needed in moderation, and don't forget to keep your face clean.