7 Common Mistakes You Make When Washing Your Face

Kristin Booker

wash face

Washing your face seems pretty simple, right? You’ve been doing it your whole life and, well, your face is still attached so what’s the big deal?

The issue is that you can cause more harm than good if you don’t do it right, and that can result in some pretty significant issues, like dryness, irritation and premature sagging and wrinkles. We asked Dr. Jeannette Graf, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, to weigh in on the top mistakes you make when you’re cleansing and how to correct them. Read on below!

Pick the right cleanser: Depending on your skin type, you need to pick a pH-balanced cleanser that’s perfect for your face. Dr. Graf advises a foaming or gel cleanser for oily skin and a creamier cleanser for dry skin. But no bar soap, ever. It’s just too drying.

MORE: How Sleep Deprivation Messes With Your Skin

Make sure your hands are clean: “I’m constantly amazes at how many people skip this step,” marvels Dr. Graf. It’s simple: Dirty hands mean that you’re trying to cleanse your skin with, well, dirty hands. Wash your hands first, then wash your face.

Wash your washcloth: If you’re using a washcloth, make sure that’s clean, too. “Either wash the washcloth every single day or use a new one each time you wash your face. Washcloths can redeposit dirt and grime right back to your skin. “I’d prefer people use their fingers, ” says Dr. Graf. “With your hands, you know how much pressure you’re using, but with cloths and such, you can be too rough.”

You’re getting warmer: You want lukewarm water to ensure that your skin remains hydrated and unaffected. Dr. Graf advises a happy medium for best results: Not too hot, not too cold.

Don’t over-exfoliate: A lot of people go at their skin with a bit too much gusto with scrubs and exfoliants, so Dr. Graf warns that you should be gentle with your face. You also want to avoid using harsh grains and use a gentle scrub or exfoliant so you don’t cause damage to the skin.

MORE: 10 Questions You Should Be Asking Your Dermatologist

Get rid of the cleanser completely:  Dr. Grad advises that you should make sure to cleanse your face completely. “Make sure you rinse any cleanser off completely. Residue can lead to dryness,” Graf advises.

Twice a day, no exceptions: Dr. Graf says most people don’t wash their face enough. “You should wash your face twice a day. Once in the morning when you wake up to remove the dirt and bacteria that gathers on your face while you’re sleeping, then again at night to take off makeup and the grime collected throughout the day.”

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