Cleansing your face is one of the easiest and most important steps in a skincare routine. All you need to do is wet, lather, rinse, and sometimes repeat – and yet it’s also a crucial step that could make or break your #skingoals.
Without realising, there are many people who aren’t actually cleansing correctly, which can lead to a whole host of skin problems. Incorrect cleansing can actually lead to excessively dry or dehydrated skin, excessive sebum production, irritation, inflammation, and even the dreaded breakouts.
So if you’ve been experiencing some unexplained skincare issues, read on to find out if you’re making any of these common cleansing mistakes, and what you can do to instead.
Not washing your hands before cleansing
You may not see it, but your hands usually accumulate a lot of dirt, oil, and germs – considering all the things you have to touch throughout the day. If you go straight into washing your face, you’re essentially cleansing your face with dirty hands, and putting back all that grime and bacteria back onto your face. While you should already be thoroughly washing your hands regularly anyway (hello, new normal), just make sure that your mitts are washed and clean before moving onto your skincare routine.
Not cleansing enough or long enough
It’s usually advised to spend about a good 45-to-60 seconds when cleansing your face – especially during the 1st cleanse your nighttime skincare routine. Throughout the day your skin has already accumulated a buildup of dirt, dust, and sebum on top of the sunscreen and makeup that you have been wearing the whole day. It takes a while to completely break down all this grime and product buildup, so spending a little extra time to gently massage your 1st cleanser into your skin is necessary to thoroughly refresh and reset your skin. Just remember not to neglect your 2nd cleanse to actually clean your skin, and make sure to rinse thoroughly to ensure no residue stays on your face. Also, don’t forget to wash and rinse the hairline!
Cleansing too often
Yes, you can cleanse your face too often as well! While it’s important to make sure you remove all traces of buildup from the day, you also don’t want to overdo it by allowing the surfactants in the cleanser to sit on your skin too long. When cleansers are left on your skin for too long, it can disrupt the pH of your skin which eventually leads to a myriad of skin issues such as dryness and irritation. Excessive friction on the skin and over-washing can also contribute to damaging your skin’s moisture barrier. Unless you find yourself constantly dirty, you can probably stick to the usual twice a day cleansing routine.
Cleansing with hot water
As tempting as it is to use hot and steamy water for your everyday cleansing, you’re definitely better off practising a lot of restraint for this one. Hot water can actually burst or damage your capillaries and strip your skin of its natural oils, leaving behind raw and irritated skin. The worst case scenario is your skin literally gets burned and you’ll be left with permanent scars and red marks on your skin. The solution? Stick to tepid or lukewarm water to rinse off your cleansers.
Over-exfoliating with a cleansing brush
While exfoliation is key to getting softer, smoother, and more evenly toned skin, you always want to be wary about how often you’re exfoliating, and how you do it. It’s common knowledge that scrubbing away at your skin or piling on too much chemical exfoliants on your face can lead to redness, irritation, a damaged skin barrier, blemishes, and sensitivity. The skin on your face is a delicate organ, and should be treated as such. If you’re a fan of using cleansing devices, try to avoid those with hard bristles that could be way too abrasive for the skin, and opt for something gentler (and more hygienic) such as the FOREO Luna. You might also want to only use cleansing devices about 2-3 times a week, as opposed to daily to prevent over-exfoliation.
You may also like: Why you shouldn’t use facial wipes in your skincare routine (or ever).
Using a harsh cleanser
Squeaky clean skin doesn’t equate to clean skin. Some cleansers are formulated with too many harsh sulfates or cleansing agents that are responsible for creating that deliciously fluffy foam – but they’re also the ones that will strip away your skin’s natural oils and disrupt your moisture barrier. Choose a mildly acidic or skin neutral cleanser that’s catered to your skin type, not your skin condition, and look out for mild formulas that can cleanse effectively without giving your skin that overly shiny, plastic-like feeling. Your skin should feel comfortable and fresh after cleansing, not tight and squeaky.
You’re cleansing your face first
It’s safe to say that most of us prefer washing our face in the shower for the sake of convenience. Just make sure you wash your hair first, and cleanse your face last. If you do it the other way around, you risk having residue from your hair products dripping onto your already clean face – which could potentially irritate the skin, clog pores, or contribute to breakouts.