The key to face washing: 6 steps to healthier skin


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If your morning and evening beauty routines involve vicious face washing with a harsh exfoliating scrub, you’ve been doing it wrong. Because how you clean and rinse your face and with what products matter to the look and health of your skin.

“It’s important for people to treat the face with care. Never scrub the skin or use harsh products as doing so irritates the skin, which makes skin look worse,” said Thomas Rohrer, a board-certified dermatologist in Chestnut Hill, Mass., in a press release. Dr. Rohrer recommends the following tips for a gentler, healthier facial routine:

  1. Use a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser, minus the alcohol.

  2. Wet your face with lukewarm water and apply cleanser with your fingertips. Skip the washcloth, mesh sponge or anything other than your fingertips.

  3. Never scrub your face, which can cause irritation.

  4. Rinse with lukewarm water, and pat dry with a soft towel.

  5. Use moisturizer if your skin is dry or itchy, and be gentle around your eyes.

  6. Only wash twice a day — morning and night — and after sweating.

The type of skin you have also matters when it comes to your cleaning routine.

For people with combination skin — i.e., skin that has both dry and oily areas — the academy recommends a mild cleanser and a medium-weight lotion with broad-spectrum sunscreen.

People with dry skin should wash twice a day with a gentle cleanser or creamy wash with mild detergent. Use a moisturizer with sunscreen once a day right after cleansing while the skin is still damp.

If your skin is super dry, try washing only at night and rinse with cool water in the morning.

For those with oily and acne-prone skin, some need to wash their face as much as two to three times a day. Apply an oil-free, noncomedogenic foaming cleanser with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Use a moisturizer that is lightweight and noncomedogenic with sunscreen.

People with sensitive skin should wash their face once a day. Exfoliation is not necessary and can worsen sensitive skin. Avoid products that contain fragrances, soap or alcohol, and stick with such ingredients as green tea polyphenols, chamomile and aloe.

Check out the American Academy of Dermatology’s step-by-step video “Face Washing 101” for more information.