Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Reasons to Remove Your Make-Up and Wash Your Face April 14, 2011

It always surprises me how many people admit to me that they don’t wash their face at night.  They admit that they are either too tired or uninterested in taking one minute of their time before bed to remove their make-up and wash their face.  Personally, and this won’t come as a surprise, I simply cannot imagine going to bed without removing my make-up and washing my face.  Certainly both removing your make-up and washing your face shouldn’t be seen as a burden.  Instead it should be an automatic part of your pre-bedtime ritual.

I wrote a post in the past – How to Properly Remove Your Make-up – which includes tips on how to remove your make-up (as the title of the post explains).  I still find it hard to remove my eye make-up really well.  My go-to eye make-up remover has become jojoba oil because it not only gently removes my eye make-up but also moisturizes that area of my face in the process.  As a matter of fact I sometimes I use jojoba oil as a make-up remover for all my make-up since it is gentle, moisturizing, and won’t clog pores.  (For more information on jojoba oil see my post Ingredient Spotlight: Jojoba Oil)  I’ve also written a post in the past about how to properly wash your face, Is There a Correct Way to Wash Your Face?, which explained different ideas about how and when to wash your face.  But now I would like to add to all of that previous information and give all those people out there who don’t remove their make-up or wash their faces at night lots of reasons to reconsider.

You need to remove your make-up at night so that your make-up doesn’t sit on your face and clog your pores.  According to Dr. Howard Sobel, quoted in the April issue of Allure, not removing your make-up at the end of the day will mean that go to sleep with lots of free radicals, caused by pollution that is clinging to your make-up, on your skin.  These free radicals contribute to early aging and cellular damage.  As you go about your day dirt, residue, and pollution all collect on your face.  You need to remove all of those pollutants before going to bed.

Washing your face doesn’t need to be complicated.  Keep a few things in mind:

  • Don’t use a cleanser that is too harsh for your face.  You NEVER want to have that squeaky clean feeling.  That means that you have gone overboard with cleansing.
  • Be sure to wash with your facial cleanser for 30 seconds.
  • Be sure to work your cleanser all over your face.  Make sure you cleanse from the browline, into the hairline, and past your jawline.  Make sure the cleanser reaches all the way to the sides of your ears and slightly below your ears as well.  And don’t forget your neck.

If you currently don’t remove your make-up and/or wash your face at night please rethink that decision.  Investing 30 seconds in yourself each evening should be doable for everyone.  Think about those 30 seconds as some well needed “me time”.

Sources and Further Reading:


Can Over Washing Your Face Cause Acne? April 4, 2010

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.

(Please see my earlier posts What Causes Acne? and How Acne Forms for more in-depth information about 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





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