By Macaela Mackenzie
If you’ve been perusing TikTok, you’ve probably come across a particularly buzzy technique called “dry cleansing.”
We asked dermatologists what dry cleansing is all about and whether you should try it.
There’s more than one way to cleanse your face.
Dry cleansing involves putting a gel-based or foaming cleanser straight onto dry skin and massaging as you normally would. Step two is to rinse your hands in warm water and massage your face again, then use a damp cloth to remove the cleanser.
“There are certain cleansers — like ones with active ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide — that do need to sit on your skin briefly to be effective,” says Carmen Castilla, M.D. “I generally recommend this for acne patients.”
“Dry cleansing is definitely irritating for those with dry or sensitive skin,” says Dr. Castilla. First off, this likely isn’t how the product was tested, she explains, and putting the concentrated soap directly on your skin if it was designed to be diluted with water may prove too intense for those with a sensitive visage.
“Because it’s best to dry cleanse with super gentle, non-foaming cleansers, then very oily skin types may prefer a foaming cleanser with more surfactants,” Hadley King, M.D., says, or double cleanse instead. (For those with acne, let your cleanser sit on your skin for a few moments à la dry cleansing to get that added effectiveness, even when you’re using a traditional water method.)
“I would steer clear of using any soap with an active ingredient such as a chemical exfoliator or benzoyl peroxide as a dry cleanser,” says Dr. Castilla. “At baseline these ingredients can be very drying and irritating. Applying a concentrated version on your skin will likely lead to dryness and irritation.”