How To Wash Your Face Without Wrecking Your Skin
You might think that your love of popping zits is your biggest skin problem, or the fact that you fall asleep constantly still wearing your makeup. But there’s one surprising thing that nearly everyone does wrong in their skincare routine.
“Over-cleansing is one of the most common skincare mistakes people make,” says dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe, author of The Beauty of Dirty Skin. “Doing so scrubs away our skin’s protective barrier.”
Without that safeguard, you’re more prone to skin issues like breakouts, rosacea, eczema, and even premature aging. Read on for biggest face-washing mistakes—and how to wash your face the right way.
1. Skipping a pre-cleanse
You might just want to use a makeup wipe and call it a day, but that just gets rid of the exterior dirt and grime without cleaning the skin itself.
The gentlest way to remove makeup? An oil-based cleansing balm (like Lulu & Marula Balancing Cleansing Balm, R376 at Faithful-to-Nature). Work it in with dry fingers to break down even waterproof formulas sans tugging, then add water to emulsify and rinse.
BUY IT: Lulu & Marula Balancing Cleansing Balm, R376 at Faithful-to-Nature
2. Using the wrong product
Wash twice a day with a barrier-friendly cleanser (look for non-foaming and soap-free on the label), says Bowe. It’ll remove dirt without stripping away natural oils and good bacteria. If your skin feels tight afterward, your cleanser is too harsh and your skin barrier has been compromised.
3. Overwashing your face
For the most part, washing once or twice a day is good protocol—but any more can irritate skin, ironically leading to an overproduction of oil. If you didn’t wear makeup, slather on sunscreen, or sweat much that day, skip the cleanser at night and try rinsing with tepid water. Giving your skin a break from the cycle of products is healthy from time to time.
4. Using the wrong water temp
Myth: hot water opens pores and cold water closes them. The reality is that pores don’t have muscles to open and close. While hot water may feel good on your skin, it can screw with your skin’s natural, protective oils and lead to over-drying or over- production of sebum. Lukewarm water is the best bet to cleanse gently yet effectively.
5. Exfoliating too much
“Over-exfoliation can lead to dehydration and inflammation,” says derm Dr. Joshua Zeichner. Opt for a manual scrub (like , R99.95 at Dis-Chem) so you can control the intensity. And use it only once or twice a week.
And don’t worry, you can still use a cleansing brush. Just use plenty of water and minimal pressure to avoid stressing out your skin. Clarisonic’s new rubber guards help you detect if you’re pushing too hard.
BUY IT: , R99.95 at Dis-Chem
6. Rubbing your face dry
Pat, don’t rub. Rubbing can feel really good, but it tugs and pulls your skin, which puts your elastin at risk (potentially leading to wrinkles and sagging in the long run, and irritation in the short run). And don’t just grab the nearest hand towel, used or not. Friends don’t let friends spread bacteria—especially all over a nice, clean face. Designate a clean, soft towel to blot your fresh face.
7. Waiting to moisturize
To maximize absorption and help seal in moisture, apply moisturizers immediately after cleansing while skin is still damp. The same goes for serums and special treatment products. Waiting until your skin is completely dry will make it harder for the active ingredients to sink into your skin and can cause skin to feel greasy or tacky.
8. Spending a fortune on cleanser
Shelling out a small fortune for face wash may not be the most prudent purchase. Look for one with simple, natural ingredients and save your dough for products that will actually stay on your skin and offer longer-term benefits, like serums and moisturizers.
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