We’ve all been washing our faces since our teen years (maybe even pre-teen years, if you were really on it), but you’d be shocked to learn how many people are making a few very common face-washing mistakes. We talked to Dr. Jessica Wu, M.D., Los Angeles dermatologist and author of Feed Your Face, to find out exactly which mistakes to avoid and, of course, how you should actually be cleansing your face.
First up, here’s how to properly wash your face. Dr. Wu gave us five super easy face-washing steps to ensure that you are cleansing properly.
Step 1. Remove waterproof eye makeup and any lip color with makeup remover.
Step 2. Use a cleansing balm or cleansing oil to break up sebum (skin oils) and any makeup residue.
Step 3. Rinse with lukewarm water.
Step 4. Follow with a milky/creamy cleanser. If you have acne-prone skin, you may want to use a clay or gel cleanser as the second step for a deeper cleanse. “You can also use a muslin cloth for more exfoliation,” explains Wu.
Step 5. Rinse again, and pat dry.
Now that you know the five basic steps, here are five rules to always follow that go along with the face-washing steps.
Face Washing Rules 101
1. Always wash your hands first.
With COVID in full play, it’s more important now than ever to make sure that you wash your hands first before touching your face! 20 seconds (two Happy Birthday songs!) and you’re good to go. Alternatively, you can also use that trusty hand sanitizer we all carry around with us now.
2. Don’t over-wash.
“The biggest mistake I see some of my patients make is that they over-wash their face,” tells Wu. For example, someone might use a salicylic acid cleanser, then a glycolic toner, followed by a prescription retinoid. “This is a recipe for red, inflamed skin.”
3. Make sure to always cleanse your face before bed.
According to Wu, “Not only will dirt, oil, and makeup get rubbed into your pores as you sleep (and ruin your pillowcases!), but it’s essential to wash off the pollution, bacteria, and viruses that have landed on your face during the day. Try not to make a habit of only using a cleansing wipe, since they leave a residue that can cause breakouts.”
4. Never use extremely hot water on your face.
Wu always encourages her patients to avoid hot water due to the fact that extreme heat can worsen rosacea and enlarge capillaries (broken blood vessels). “Lukewarm water is best for washing your face.”
5. Always apply a moisturizer after cleansing.
You can use your moisturizer of choice, but we recommend picking a ceramide-enriched moisturizer. It replenishes the skin with lasting hydration and strengthens the skin’s natural moisture barrier against environmental stressors responsible for premature aging. Your skin stays smooth, balanced and ageless-looking throughout the day.
We only recommend products we have independently researched, tested, and loved. If you purchase a product found through our links, Sunday Edit may earn an affiliate commission.