Wash your Face the Right Way (5 steps to cleaner, less damaged skin)

Washing your face seems so simple, but in fact so many people don’t do it properly. And that’s ok! You didn’t know. Heck, there was a time before I went to school to become a Licensed Esthetician where I didn’t know either, so I don’t blame you. It’s not exactly common knowledge.

However, I want your skin to have a fighting chance, so without further ado, here are 5 steps to cleaner, less damaged skin. And away we go!

 1. Take any makeup off your face BEFORE you use your cleanser.

Before you start with your cleanser, wipe away the stubborn makeup from the day. Taking makeup off your skin is super important. Allowing makeup to sit on your skin overnight can cause damage to the barrier of your skin resulting in wrinkles and other damage. On average, your skin needs a week to recover from one night of wearing makeup to bed, so if you wear it to bed over and over, your skin will need a lot of recovery time.

Use wipes to gently wipe away any product, but make sure they’re non-drying to avoid excessive drying and irritation. I prefer using a facial oil to gently break up and remove any product.

2. Know when to cleanse twice (aka Double Cleanse) and exfoliate.

Exfoliating the skin is great! However, you don’t want to do it too much because you can strip away new skin cells or can actually cause something called retention hyperkeritosis, (just a fancy way to say dead skin cell build up), which is typically why people are exfoliating in the first place. Keep exfoliation to 2–3 times a week unless you are following a specific short term routine recommended by your Esthetician or Dermatologist.

“Double cleansing” is exactly what it sounds like. You wash your face twice. It is very popular in Korean beauty routines — which,sidenote, I’m a HUGE fan of. 

It can be done by using a gentle cleanser then a glycolic cleanser or followed by a exfoliating cleanser

The one cleanser I almost never recommend is a foaming cleanser.  No matter what skin type we have, we almost always have surface dryness and foaming cleansers tend to make that worse.

Double cleansing is perfect for anyone who wears foundation or heavier makeup regularly.

wash your face with water

3. Make sure you are using the right water temperature, timing, and movements 

You should not wash or scrub your face for an extended period of time. You can damage the skin rubbing away at it for too long. The sweet spot, timing-wise, is between 30 seconds and 1 minute. 

Before you use your cleanser, wash your hands. You don’t want to use dirty hands to wash your face or you might be doing more harm than good.

Use cold or lukewarm water, which won’t dry your skin out or strip away the natural oils. Do not add water to your face, add it to the cleanser on your fingertips. Putting water on the skin can contribute to TEWL (transepidermal water loss), which causes damage to the skin’s barrier function.

Apply the cleanser directly to your skin using your fingers and in GENTLE circular movements. Massage the cleanser into the skin and then wash everything off with water. Do not use a face towel.

Cleansers are great at binding to oil and dirt if their function isn't impeded by overuse of water. They adhere to oil and lift it from the skin.

Top Tip: Can’t seem to get the pressure right? Use the back half of your hands (middle fingers back) to massage the cleanser in. There is naturally less pressure in these fingers than in the index fingers. 

Or, even better, use a device created for facial cleansing.

4. PAT dry.

I’m tempted to just write “enough said”, but I’ll elaborate a bit. 

Use a soft, clean cloth to pat your face dry. You don’t want to rub on your skin because pulling at it can cause a breakdown to the tissues which results in wrinkles, especially in sensitive places like around the eyes or on the neck. 

Gently pat dry while making sure you get all of the water left on the skin because remember… TEWL — see above if you missed that one.

And last, but certainly not least:

5. Wash no more than twice a day and be sure to use moisturizer directly after.

Cleansing more than twice a day can over-strip your skin of it’s natural oils, so don’t over wash your skin. People who are dry or sensitive can probably get away with once a day — if they’re not using any night treatments that need to be washed off in the morning. Oily and acneic skin types are better off washing twice a day. 

And just to be clear, double cleansing is considered one wash. 

If you do only was once a day, choose the night time to do so. We are attacked by all kinds of free radicals and products during the day, so it is best to get all of that off of your skin before you get to bed and your skin gets to regenerating while you sleep. 

And don’t skip the moisturizer. It is crucial to replenish anything you take from the skin during the cleansing process. Not only should you moisturize, but you should additionally apply serums made to combat your skin’s challenges as well.

You can find some of my favorites here.

Hopefully, this information helps! As always, I’m available for skincare consultations. Want to book a virtual skincare consultation? Click here.

Disclaimer: These links are to websites that I own and/or operate. This information in no way is meant to be making a claim of any sort or to take precedence over any advice given to you by a medical professional. I am simply sharing my professional opinion about skincare products as a Licensed Esthetician.

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