A splash of water, a splash of soap and washing your face is done. Right? Wrong.
While washing your face might seem simple, it’s worth putting in some effort to get it absolutely right. Cleansing your skin washes away makeup, dirt and grime, dead skin cells and sweat. If you have dry, oily or acneic skin, it can also help to treat these conditions. Cleansing thoroughly and effectively can prevent spots, improve your skin health and even reduce facial inflammation.
As well as using the right type of cleanser for your skin, it also makes a difference how, when and with what technique you use. By learning best practices now, you have years ahead of you to reap the benefits of having clean, plump and hydrated skin. Let us teach you how to properly wash your face.
1. Wash your face every night
This is one hard and fast rule that you really shouldn’t break. When you get home in the evening (or even if you’ve been at home all day), grime and pollution from the day’s activities, as well as naturally occurring oils and sweat. Not removing this dirt at the end of the day is akin to not showering - fine once in a while, but you probably don’t want to make a habit of it. This goes double if you wear makeup or it’s hot and sweaty outside. By not washing your face, you can cause breakouts, skin irritation and inflammation.
2. And you should also probably wash it in the morning, too
While you’re cosy in bed, bacteria from your saliva, hair and pillow cases are transferred onto your face. Not to mention that you might get sweaty as you sleep. A morning cleanse is best practise to keep that face glowy and clean.
If you apply serums and oils at night, you also want to make sure you have a clean canvas to reapply in the morning. If you’re using a cleanser for oily skin, or your skin is sensitive, consider using a gentler cleanser in the morning than you would at night. You could even use micellar water.
3. Some like it (not too) hot
It might feel delicious to stand with your face under a hot steamy shower, but it can be damaging to the precious skin on your face. Consistent use of very hot water or steam on your face can cause the dilation of blood vessels and delicate tissue to become inflamed. The hot water also strips your skin of its naturally occurring oils, which we want to keep around to maintain skin integrity. This point is especially relevant if your skin is dry or flaky, as heat can be a trigger. Instead, use lukewarm water.
4. Use the right kind of cleanser
When you’re searching for ‘the one’ facial cleanser, you’ll know it when you find it. What you need depends if your skin is generally normal, dry, oily or a combination thereof. From oil cleansers to balm cleansers, creamy cleansers to gel cleansers, there’s one out there that’s just right for you.
5. Don’t hang around once you’re done
The timing of your skincare regime matters. You need to ensure that you moisturise as soon as possible after cleansing while your skin is damp but not wet. Moisturising and serums contain both humectants, which draw water into the skin, and occlusives, which seal the hydration into the skin. By applying creams when your skin is damp, you’re sealing in even more of that dewy goodness.
6. Don’t scrub your face as you would the kitchen sink
Repeat after us: cleansing for longer and harder will not wash your face more thoroughly. Frantically scrubbing for minutes at a time will only result in dry, sore skin. Instead, aim for 20-30 seconds with massaging strokes after lightly wetting your face with warm water. Be thorough, but not aggressive. When you’re finished, gently pat your face dry with a towel.
7. Consider a separate makeup remover
If you’re doing as we said and using a gentle cleanser suited to your skin type for an appropriate amount of time, and you’re wearing makeup, a single cleanse is not going to remove all the makeup and dirt from your face. This goes double if any of your makeup is longwear or waterproof, because that stuff is designed to stick. Using a gentle makeup removing wipe or micellar water on a cotton pad will get most of the grimy stuff off before you head over to the sink.
8. Clean your towels
This sounds simple, but it makes a big difference. How often do you change your towels? And if you use a flannel, how frequently do you switch it out? Reusing the same towels and washcloths over and over again can lead to a buildup of bacteria, which can contribute to acne and breakouts. You should be aiming to use a new flannel daily and a new face towel at least once a week, and preferably twice.
9. Don’t fall into the trap of a physical exfoliant
We all loved scrubs as teenagers, mostly because they’re satisfying and they really feel as though they’re doing something. And while you should certainly be exfoliating, which helps to remove dead skin cells, ensure pores are clear and improve the radiance of your face, physical scrubs can disturb the balance of your skin, cause micro tears and create irritation, dryness and flakiness. Stick to using scrubs on your body, not your face.
10. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen
Once you’ve put in all this hard work the last thing you want is for the sun to undo all the effort you’ve put in. Sun damage is real, and it causes skin damage, wrinkles, lines and even skin cancer. You should be wearing at least SPF 30 every day - and no, the SPF in your moisturiser doesn’t count, because it’s almost certainly not high enough and you’re almost certainly not applying enough. With SPF formulations more effective and superior than ever, there’s no excuse not to protect what is one of your biggest assets. After all, your face charms people every day.