You’re Doing It Wrong: How to Wash Your Face Properly

You haven't been washing properly

By Raleigh Burgan Mar 15, 2016 6:43 PMTags
ESC: Miranda KerrJun Sato/GC Images

You get up every morning (and come home every night) then do this wrong.

Washing your face seems so simple, right? You put soap and water together, swish it around on your face then towel off…but that's so wrong.

You have a lot to learn. Like why you shouldn't wash your face in the shower (or more specifically with warm water at all) or why you should exfoliate less or why you should never use a towel to dry your face. All of these things get decoded and broken down below by aesthetician and skin care consultant Diana Gregory.

On Getting Your Makeup Off Properly: "A lot of makeups have minerals in them, which make them hard to get off—same thing goes for sunblock with zinc in it," claimed the consultant. "The best thing to do is start with a face wipe to get the top layers. Then I'll follow that with one of the new Micellar Waters (I like the one by Avene); they dissolve dirt but also nourish the skin. If I'm being really good then I'll follow that with my milk cleanser."  

On Washing Your Face With Hot Water: If you're washing your face in the shower, stop. "Unless you're taking cold showers (which is better for the skin and hair regardless), hot water is drying and damaging," said the expert. No matter what, "you should always wash your face with cool water (and a cold splash after if you're feeling puffy). Heat strips the skin of its natural oils. Cool to room temperature water is preferable to maintain the integrity of the skin. It's vital not just for dry skin, but also acne-prone skin since hot water will inflame the skin tissue around any breakouts, making them worse."

On Exfoliating: "It depends on the skin type, but [you should be exfoliating] twice a week with a gentle exfoliant—preferably one with low levels of glycolic acid to really slough off dead skin," noted Diana. "As we get older, the skin's exfoliation process starts to decrease causing dead skin cells to lump together making the skin look dull and thin. A gentle exfoliator will encourage the natural desquamation process and reveal brighter, newer skin in the process. Always let the product do its work."

Note: "Never harshly scrub the skin. Instead, use a gentle upward circular motion with your hands and pay attention to the nasal crevices and chin area where there might be congestion."

On Using Harsher Cleansers: Diana wants to set the records straight: "People think they need to get their skin squeaky clean by using harsher cleansers, but that can actually lead to more breakouts. Using a milk cleanser or an oil cleanser is ideal for maintaining the skin's integrity."

On Using a Clarisonic: "[Using one] is technically considered exfoliating, so it's important to use a gentle brush on the lightest speed," said the beauty guru. "It is also imperative that you clean it regularly."

On Drying With a Towel: "Towels are a breeding ground for bacteria. If you are prone to breakouts or have sensitive skin, using a towel [to dry] your face can spread the bacteria and make things worse," stated the expert. "I like to air dry and apply my serums onto slightly damp skin."