Washing your face seems pretty simple, right? Splash some water on your face, rub in a little cleanser, and rinse. But to get the most out of your daily cleansing routine, it takes a little more care and consideration. It’s not only how you wash your face that makes the difference, but when, how often, and what type of face wash you use.
“Proper facial cleansing prevents acne breakouts, can improve skin health, and may even reduce skin inflammation,” explains Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. To make sure you’re putting your scrubbing to good use, here are some face-washing faux pas to avoid.
Mistake #1: Forgetting to wash your face before bed
Washing your face at night is a hard-and-fast rule when it comes to caring for your skin, and it holds true even if you don’t wear makeup. “During the day, natural oils and sweat accumulate on the skin,” says Dr. Zeichner. “We are exposed to the environment, which means that dirt and pollution build up on our outer skin layer.” Not removing all of this dirt and gunk at the end of the day can cause skin irritation, inflammation, and acne breakouts.
Mistake #2: Skipping the A.M. cleanse
You might think cleansing your skin before bed is all you need to wake up fresh-faced, but another rinse in the morning is a good idea. Germs from your pillowcase can move to your face as you sleep. But even if you wash your pillowcases often, an A.M. cleanse is best practice. “While you’re tossing and turning at night, bacteria from your saliva and oils from your hair are easily transferred to your face and eyes,” explains Rachel Nazarian, M.D., dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York and New Jersey. Even a quick rinse in the morning is enough to freshen your skin and allows for the best absorption of the other skin-care products you apply.
Mistake #3: Turning up the water temperature too high
Hot water is no friend to your skin, especially an area as sensitive as your face. It might feel good in the shower or when you just came in from a cold winter day, but you’re messing with the way your skin protects itself and possibly causing damage. “Extreme temperatures, such as hot, steamy showers or hot water, can cause dilation of blood vessels and breakage of delicate tissue,” warns Dr. Zeichner. “Further, the hot water naturally strips skin of the necessary oil barrier that helps maintain skin integrity.” This means your skin will dry out faster and become more itchy and flaky over time. Instead, use lukewarm water to wash your face.
Mistake #4: Using your face cleanser to remove makeup
You probably know the perils of falling asleep with a full face of makeup (i.e. acne and dullness). Another thing to note: Your cleanser shouldn’t double as your makeup remover. “Many makeup brands are smudgeproof or waterproof, so basic cleansers will not remove them thoroughly,” explains Dr. Nazarian. For this reason, it’s important to use a gentle makeup removing wipe, micellar water, or oil-based makeup remover before you wash—especially when removing long-wear makeup.