- Separating the myths from the facts about washing your face can be confusing.
- Dermatologists recommend using a cleanser that’s well-suited to your skin type over a bar of soap.
- Washing your face twice a day isn’t always necessary, but cleansing once can prevent breakouts.
“When you wash your face in the shower, the warm mist from the shower promotes deeper exfoliation and unclogs the pores,” Hu explained.
She continued, “As long as you are not using scorching-hot water or harsh soaps, washing your face while you’re in the shower will save you time, save water, and give you a deeper cleaning to prep your skin for the rest of your skin-care routine.”
Dry or sensitive skin types are fine to cleanse once in the evening, but oily skin might require you to cleanse at least twice a day, King said. But if you complete a sweaty workout or wear heavy makeup, she recommends always washing your face after the gym or before bed.
“Cleansing before bed is generally recommended not only to remove makeup but also dirt and pollution that accumulates on our skin during the day,” she said.
Those particles can cause oxidative damage and contribute to collagen breakdown and wrinkles.
“If you use overnight skin products that leave a residue or film on your skin, then you will likely want to cleanse your face in the morning as well,” she told Insider.
“When skin is burned or irritated by skin-care ingredients, it upsets the protective acid mantle of the skin, which can lead to further skin sensitivities and even skin infection,” she explained.
But certain acids and prescription-strength retinoids can yield a slight burning sensation or peeling reaction until the skin has adjusted to it, according to Hu.
“In general, these symptoms subside as the cellular turnover gets re-equilibrated by the active ingredient,” Hu said.
If you’re unsure whether or not your skin’s reaction to a product is normal, reach out to a dermatologist before continuing use.
Conventional soaps will strip your natural oils and “disrupt the pH of your skin and damage the skin barrier,” she said, which can cause dryness and irritation.
Instead, wash your skin with a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser that offers a deep clean and caters to your unique complexion.
“Over time, your skin responds to aggressive mechanical exfoliation by producing more oil, which can lead to clogging,” she told Insider. “This often then becomes a vicious cycle.”
Mechanical scrubbers can even cause “microscopic fissures” on the skin that can raise the risk of an allergic reaction or skin irritation.
If you must scrub, she recommended using a soft muslin cloth or a gentle, exfoliating cleanser.
“If you have oily skin and are acne-prone, then yes, you may get more clogged pores and acne breakouts if you are not washing your face regularly,” she said. “But if you are not particularly oily or acne-prone, not washing your face every day is not so likely to give you acne.”
But King said it’s usually fine to use a clean cloth on your face if you “gently pat dry without rubbing.”
“Makeup has pigment, preservatives, minerals, and metals that often can clog your pores if left on too long … and prevent penetration of your skin-care products,” she explained. “It is essential to remove makeup as the first step in your nighttime routine.”
“Cleansing wipes remove a bulk of bacteria, dirt, and oil, but also leave a trail of residue behind,” she said. “This can potentially lead to acne and infected glands, especially around the eyelids and eyelashes. Appropriate facial cleansing requires a water-based rinse to fully clean.”
“Most people use hands frequently for typing on keyboards and phones, or driving,” she said.