How to Wash Your Face The Right Way

It may seem like the simplest step in your routine, but incorrectly cleansing can cause some serious skincare woes—we’re talking redness, irritation, and other unsightly side effects. Luckily, all it takes is a few minor adjustments and a little extra thought to help you achieve complexion perfection.

1. Skip washing in the morning.

Here’s some welcome news for those of us who are self-admittedly a little lazy with skincare: There’s really no need to wash your face twice a day. Unless you’re especially oily or prone to breakouts, consider this your free pass to forgo a morning cleanse. A night wash, however, is mandatory. All day long your face is exposed to a multitude of skin saboteurs, from pollution to makeup to sunscreen residue. Leaving that gunk on your skin overnight not only ups the potential of clogged pores, but also makes it almost impossible for any treatment products you may be using to fully penetrate and do their job. To that point….

2. Consider a double cleanse at night.

A two-step cleansing process ensures that you both completely remove the top layer of grime, as well as actually clean your skin. Often times—especially if you’re wearing a full face of makeup—one wash isn’t enough to do both. Consider starting with either a standard makeup remover or a cleansing oil first; the oils in the product dissolve the oils in your makeup, making it an especially effective option. Or, hit the kitchen—coconut oil is also a great and super gentle makeup remover. Follow with the cleanser of your choice. Check out our next tip for more on that…

3. Choose the right cleanser for your complexion.

With so many suds out there, finding the right one can be admittedly confusing. So where to start? Hit the drugstore. Spending tons of cash on face wash isn’t necessary. Even if the product does contain active ingredients, it won’t be on your skin long enough to do much—you’ll essentially just be washing your hard earned money down the drain. Next, consider your skin type. On the dry or sensitive side? Opt for a creamy lotion or milk cleanser, free of sulfates, which can be harsh on skin. Slightly oilier? A foaming gel will help balance your complexion. And if you’re pimple prone, look for formula with salicylic acid to help keep pores clear.

4. Turn down the water temperature.

It may feel nice (especially in the dead of winter), but scalding hot water can strip and dry out your skin, even if you’re using a creamy cleanser and then moisturizing after. And while you may have heard that cold water can help “close” your pores, that’s just a myth (pores don’t actually open and close). Lukewarm water is always your best bet.

5. Wash in circular motions.

How you apply your cleanser (i.e. how you actually cleanse) is just as important as the product you choose and the water temperature and all that other good stuff. First off, ditch the washcloth—it can be too scratchy, especially if your skin is easily irritated. Instead, use your fingertips to gently massage the face wash across your complexion in circular motions, using very light pressure. There’s no need to vigorously rub and tug, which can cause redness and even broken vessels…not cute.

6. Pat dry.

You’ve mastered the cleansing process, so don’t undo all the good by drying incorrectly. Avoid rubbing your face with a towel; this can be too abrasive and even lead to unsightly irritation (for the same reason, steer clear of washcloths and simply cleanse with your fingertips). Instead, pat dry gently and, above all, use a clean towel…not the one that you dry your hands on. Reserve a special towel just for your face and be sure to wash it frequently so that you’re not dirtying up a clean complexion with a grimy towel.