For some reason the idea exists that if you over wash your face – that is wash your face too many times during the day or use a cleanser that leaves your face feeling “squeaky clean” – your body will begin to produce more oil and you will get more acne. Now if this was true – how would there be anyone with dry skin? And since there are many people who have dry skin obviously there must be another explanation here for this theory.
The issue here isn’t over washing your face. The issue is really balance. It is actually quite easy to over wash your face so it is important to find the right cleanser for your skin type. You never want to use a cleanser that consistently makes your face feel dry and tight. And that “squeaky clean” feeling? You never want that feeling when it comes to washing your face.
Over washing your face can lead to irritation and redness. Over washing your face breaks down the very top layer of the skin, the stratum corneum, and that leads to bacteria entering your skin since your skin can no longer protect itself. More bacteria can mean more acne. Over washing your skin can lead to excessive dryness which in turn can cause inflammation. Since acne is an inflammatory disease more inflammation can lead to more acne.
I do think that cleansers that contain additional, active ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or glycolic acid can be beneficial for the skin – in moderation. At the first sign of flaking, irritation, dryness, or redness take a break from using such a cleanser. In my opinion only teenagers or young adults with moderate to severe acne should and can use a cleanser with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide twice a day. Remember – the cell turnover rate for a teenager and young adult is very high so their body is constantly shedding and producing new skin cells. As such cleansers with added active ingredients are less likely to cause them irritation and more likely to help their skin.
Once you are in your mid-20s and certainly once you are in your 30s I recommend using a mild cleanser on a daily basis. (For more information about how to wash your face see my previous post – Is There A Correct Way To Wash Your Face?) If you suffer from breakouts I do think it is a good idea to have a cleanser with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide on hand to use once or twice during the week or a few times a month. You can definitely have a cleanser with glycolic acid on hand to use twice a week or so to exfoliate, as long as you aren’t using other products with AHA or a retinol.
It’s all about balance
You want to clean your face without drying it out or irritating it. You can still remove all your make-up, extra oil, and dirt from your face without stripping your face of its needed protective barrier. Keep in mind that healthy skin is soft, moist, and slight acidic. Over washing your face will upset that “ideal” balance. So when it comes to washing your face – less is definitely more.
Recommended Mild Cleansers