Of all the steps in your skin-care routine, cleansing feels like the most no-brainer of the bunch. Wet face, lather, rinse. Boom, done. Except, it's not actually that simple.
There are myriad ways that you might be messing up this seemingly basic beauty move. From not picking the right cleanser for your skin type to washing way too much or not fully removing your makeup, any one of these could cause some major skin sabotage.
Obviously, that won't do, which is why we put together this list of the most common cleansing mistakes people make and how to fix them. Plus, we rounded up the best cleansers for each skin type to help you in your quest for amazing skin.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about washing your face the right way.Mistake #1: Washing Too Much
While it might be tempting to wash your face whenever you are feeling greasy, you could be doing more harm than good. This is especially true for those with oily or acne-prone skin, as they tend to feel like they need to wash more often to control the oil. By washing your skin frequently, you run the risk of disrupting your skin's sebum balance, stripping the skin of its natural moisture and possibly damaging the skin barrier. This can lead to dryness, redness, irritation, and even more breakouts and oil. You should limit your washing to two times a day — morning and evening — with a gentle cleanser like Youth To The People's Superfood Cleanser. If you have a particularly sweaty workout session you can do a quick wash, but don't use anything too strong. For those with drier skin types, you can even skip the cleanser in the a.m. and just splash your face with cool water to refresh and energize your skin.Mistake #2: Not Washing Enough
Conversely, you want to be sure you are actually cleaning the skin on a regular basis. When you skip the cleanser, you run the risk of oil, dirt, sweat, dead skin, and bacteria building up and wreaking havoc on your skin. We're talking breakouts, dullness, premature aging, and a host of other potential skin calamities. Another possible problematic situation? Makeup residue. While gentle cleansers are great at cleansing without stripping, sometimes they aren't strong enough to get all of your makeup off. And, as we all know, falling asleep with makeup on is a one-way ticket to breakout town. Make sure you are using a cleanser formulated to remove makeup, or try a double cleanse—use an oil or balm prior to your regular cleanser. One of our favorites is the Leland Francis Melting Balm, a hybrid product that works as a cleanser and makeup remover, but can also be used as a moisturizing face mask or an overnight treatment to lock in moisture. Pair it with your favorite gentle cleanser and even the most longwearing makeup will melt right off. Also, be sure you are cleansing long enough — you should be massaging your face wash into the skin using circular motions until it foams up or transforms into a milky texture, depending on the type of cleanser.
Mistake #3: Rinsing With Water That's Too Hot
While hot water might feel fabulous on your face after a long day, it's also hell on your skin. That toasty temperature can damage the skin barrier by eliminating healthy skin oils, leading to red, dry, and flaky skin. Use lukewarm or cold water only to preserve your delicate skin and avoid the irritation.Mistake #4: Skipping Exfoliating
Exfoliation is absolutely essential to skin health, no matter your skin type. Our skin is consistently regenerating itself as old skin cells die off and new ones are uncovered. Sometimes, however, the natural shedding process isn't working as it should and dead skin cells begin to build up, causing clogged pores, loss of radiance, and texture issues. An effective exfoliator will help unstick those dead cells, sloughing them off to reveal the new, brighter, smoother skin below. We love Reflekt 1, an exfoliating cleanser that also somehow manages to also be hydrating. While exfoliators are great, just be sure you don't go overboard — rubbing too hard or exfoliating too frequently can cause scratches, moisture depletion, and general irritation. You should be using an exfoliator at most three times a week, less if your skin is ultra-sensitive or prone to dryness. And don't rub it in for longer than 20-30 seconds — more time scrubbing does not necessarily result in cleaner skin.
Mistake #5: Dirty Towels & Cloths
This is one that's easy to forget but it has a big impact on your skin. If you don't wash your towels and washcloths frequently enough, they begin to accumulate bad bacteria that is transferred to your face when you wash and dry your skin post-cleanse. Make sure you are washing your towels and cloths frequently, not just when they start to smell funky. Every couple of days is best, which we know is a pain, but it's the best way to make sure your skin isn't building up the bacteria that causes blemishes and blackheads.Mistake #6: Using The Wrong Cleanser
One of the most important rules to remember is that not all cleansers work for everyone. Depending on your skin type and concerns, you should be using a cleanser tailor made for your issues. For dry and sensitive skin, a creamy cleanser like Doctor Rogers Restore Face Wash or Venn Moisture Balance All-in-One Face Cleanser are great options to add moisture back into the skin and keep skin's oil production and pH balanced. Oily skin types would do best with foams and gels, like the Irene Forte Lavender & Rosemary Foam Cleanser or Eighth Day Cleansing Gel. Those prone to acne and blackheads should opt for an exfoliating cleanser like Environ's Focus Care Clarity+ Sebu-Wash Cleanser or Alpyn Beauty Plant Genius Creamy Bubbling Cleanser.
Finally, don't forget to add hydration back into the skin with a face mist and moisturizer immediately after washing to keep freshly washed skin from drying out. Now that you have all of the facts around cleansing, you can make sure you can set yourself up for skin success and enhance the benefits of your favorite treatment products.