The title of this post might seem a bit strange because how can there be an incorrect way to wash your face? Well it turns out that what seems like a simple and straight forward act is actually more complicated than you might realize. I think it is also interesting to point out how many people don’t wash their faces daily and find it a hard thing to do. I wonder if some skincare issues people have could easier be solved with the right daily facial cleanser and cleansing technique? I think Paula Begoun makes a great point in her book The Beauty Bible, 2nd edition (page 178) that is essential to get the cleansing step of your daily skincare routine “right, and that means thoroughly, but gently, cleansing the face.”
So first things first, you should wash your face daily. Now do you need to wash your face twice a day? Until a short time ago I would have answered that question with a resounding yes!, but now I am rethinking that stance. Currently I am reading the book Simple Skin Beauty by dermatologist Dr. Ellen Marmur, and in the book she writes that she usually doesn’t use cleanser to wash her face because her skin is dry and sensitive. Furthermore, she writes that unless you have very oily skin you only need to wash your face once a day. Dr. Marmur recommends splashing your face with cold water in the morning instead of washing it. If you have dry skin, Dr. Marmur recommends that you only use warm water and a washcloth to clean your skin (pages 59-65). Now this isn’t the first time that I have read or heard of a dermatologist recommending that you use only water to “wash” your skin. I have always found this advice bizarre since it seemed to me that not only did this just move dirt and oil around your face, instead of removing it, but not cleansing your face would lead to clogged pores and breakouts. I have always thought of the idea of using washcloths as harsh and disgusting because I figured, I don’t know why, that the washcloths were harboring lots of bacteria. Paula Begoun writes in her book The Beauty Bible, 2nd edition that “using a washcloth can prove irritating for some skin types and should probably be avoided” (page 179). Ok – so who is right – Marmur or Begoun? I actually think I am going to side with Dr. Marmur on this one though I would never recommend to anyone to just splash their face in the morning with cold water as a way to wash it. If you have very dry skin or very sensitive skin then just using warm water and a gentle washcloth to cleanse your face in the morning might be a great solution for you, but overall I think that most people will be just fine using a gentle cleanser twice a day.
I thought about discussing in this post the different types of facial cleansers, particularly cleansers with added ingredients like salicylic acid or glycolic acid, but I decided that such information should wait for its own separate post. So let’s get back to the matter at hand – how exactly should you wash your face?
A while ago Allure magazine published an interesting article about new facial cleansers called “Power Wash”. Included in the article are directions for washing your face. (By the way, this article also recommends that people with dry skin should only wash their face once a day.) To wash your face use warm water, lather quickly with a massage like motion, and rinse. Blot your skin dry, don’t rub. Pretty straightforward right? Well if you continue to read chapter 6 in Paula Begoun’s book you will see that not only do you need to be concerned about the temperature of your water when washing your face but also if you have soft or hard water in your home. Hard water will leave a film on your skin and hair even after cleansing. Begoun recommends that you try a water softener in your home if you have hard water. Once you do you’ll find that your skin is softer and smoother.
I would add one more comment about washing your face. I love cleansing oils as a first step in your evening face washing routine if you wear any sort of make-up. I personally use and love Dermalogica’s Precleanse, but I’ve heard (but have yet to try) great things about Shu Uemura Cleansing Oils as well.
So – how do you properly wash your face?
- remove your make-up
- wet your face with warm water
- gently massage your cleanser over your entire face
- rinse thoroughly
- pat your face dry (and always have a separate towel just for your face)