When you were a kid, washing your face was simple enough: Splash on some water, lather up with whatever soap was handy, scrub with a washcloth if the day’s grime was particularly resistant, and grab a towel for a quick swipe to dry.
But with so many face-cleansing products now on the market, it’s little wonder that many people are doing unnecessary harm to their skin, say board-certified physicians of New York-based Advanced Dermatology and the Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery. Restore simplicity and common sense to face cleansing by following their kinder, gentler approach.
Where We Go Wrong
“The most common mistake we make is to over-wash, over-scrub and over-dry our faces,” says Dr. Meryl Blecker Joerg. “Daily cleansing is important, but facial skin has fewer layers than skin on most other areas of the body. As a result, it is more easily damaged.”
Using the wrong product is another big no-no, adds Dr. Valerie Goldburt, who explains people tend to be “overly aggressive” by using one or more products that may be too harsh for their skin.
How to Do it Right
Cleanse face twice daily with warm water if you have oily or normal skin, or once a day if skin is dry or damaged, advises Dr. Joerg. “I recommend washes (not scrubs) with salicylic acid. Scrubs can break up acne and cause scarring.”
“Only use bar soap, gel, or liquid cleanser that is formulated for use on your face—not on your body,” cautions Dr. Goldburt.
In general, use a mild moisturizing cleanser that removes oil and residue without leaving skin dry, tight, or flaky. Foaming facial cleansers that work into a lather and rinse off often leave the face refreshed; they come as lotions, gels, creams, and aerosols. Bar-type products for the face may be labeled beauty bars, facial soap, mild cleansing bars, or sensitive skin bars. Opt for deodorant-, fragrance- or antiseptic-free products.
“Beautiful skin is healthy skin,” Dr. Goldburt reminds us. “While it’s important to maintain a high-quality skin care regimen, it’s equally important to maintain good nutrition, drink plenty of water, eliminate skin-damaging habits like smoking, and avoid excessive sun exposure. Also don’t forget your sunscreen; your skin will reward you for it!”