Can Washing Your Face Too Much Make It Worse? A blog on washing your face and how important it is.


Washing your face seems like a pretty simple thing to do. How hard can it be? You just put some pretty-smelling soap or clear liquid in your hands, apply it to your skin and wash it off, right?

But there’s actually a lot more to washing your face than you might think. I mean, there are whole departments at cosmetic counters dedicated to the task. And, if you’ve ever wondered why washing too much or too little can make things worse for you, here’s what you should know about this everyday essential.

“Washing your face is part of self care,” says Dr. Whitney Bowe, board certified dermatologist and author of The Beauty of Dirty Skin (Ballantine Books). “It’s how we remove dirt, oil and makeup that’s built up on the surface of our skin.” But while this is something we all know we need to do every day (or at least every few days), not everyone knows how to properly clean their face. In fact, one of the major problems with washing faces today is that people often tend to overdo it!

“The most common mistake that people make when washing their face is doing it too much,” says Dr. Bowe. “The skin has a natural pH level

It’s the skincare step that’s often overlooked, but very important: washing your face. I know it sounds like common sense, but cleansing your skin is the foundation of your entire routine, and skipping this step will affect everything else that follows – from the effectiveness of your serums, to the wear time of your makeup.

The question we’ve been getting asked a lot lately is: can I wash my face too much? The answer is yes, you absolutely can. It’s a delicate balance between over-washing and not washing enough, so we’re here to help you figure out which side of the spectrum you fall on.

It all starts with what type of skin you have. If you don’t know, go back to our first series of posts – How To Determine Your Skin Type – so that you can find out where you fit into the picture before we continue (and just as a heads up, most people have combination skin).

I have a confession: I may have been washing my face wrong this whole time.

I’ve always considered myself to be what you would call a “face washer,” but apparently I may need to reconsider that title.

A few months ago, I went for a facial at the Bliss Spa in New York City, where I learned that washing your face twice a day might actually be too much for your skin. The aesthetician told me that over-washing can strip the skin of its natural oils and cause dehydration.

After this conversation, and after seeing how many people were talking about the topic on Twitter (and how many magazine articles it’s getting), I knew I had to learn more about whether there’s any truth in all this “over-washing” talk. So I spoke with three dermatologists who clarified when it comes to cleansing your face — and if there really is such thing as a “face washer.”

First, let’s get one thing straight: There really is no such thing as an over-washer or an under-washer, according to Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Rather, he says, “the real question is whether one

If you have acne-prone skin, you’ve likely been told at some point that washing your face more, not less, will help keep your skin clear. “Frequent face washing is necessary to remove excess oils and dead skin cells,” says dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman, author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist.

But if you’ve ever found yourself with red, irritated skin after splashing water on your complexion one too many times in a day, it’s easy to feel confused about exactly how often you should hit the sink.

Turns out there’s an explanation for why washing your face too much can backfire and make your skin worse–and it involves something called the skin barrier (a.k.a. the outermost layer of the epidermis). “The skin barrier is made up of lipids, fatty acids and ceramides,” says Jaliman. “It helps to protect our skin from bacteria, viruses and irritants that could potentially harm us.” When this protective layer becomes damaged or depleted, it can cause dryness and irritation as well as other problems like acne breakouts and sensitivity to products.

So how do you keep this layer intact? By cleansing gently and not getting over

If you think washing your face is a simple activity, prepare to have your mind blown. First, there are tons of different cleansers out there that all claim to do the same thing. Second, if you’re in the skincare game, you might be wondering: Does washing your face help acne or make it worse? The answer is actually pretty simple.

According to cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Sheila Farhang, cleansing your face twice a day (morning and night) is usually sufficient for anyone who’s not wearing makeup or some form of sunscreen on their face throughout the day. But if you’re wearing makeup and sunscreen, Dr. Farhang suggests cleansing three times per day: once in the morning, once after wearing makeup and sweat all day (or mid-day), and once at night.

As far as how often you should wash your face with a cleanser goes, Dr. Farhang recommends using one on a daily basis — unless your skin gets super dry and irritated from it; then she says it’s fine to just use water and moisturizer if that’s what works best for you. And if you use a cleanser with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid in it to prevent acne breakouts, there’s no need to use

Back in the era of three-in-one cleansers and face wipes, most of us never gave a second thought to how often we should be washing our faces. But now that we know better, it can be a little confusing trying to figure out what’s best for your skin type.

The consensus from most dermatologists is that over-cleansing can strip your skin of its natural oils and make it less resilient against dryness and breakouts, so it’s important to find a happy medium. But that said, some people are more susceptible to over-cleansing than others.

“If you have oily or acne-prone skin, you may be able to wash your face twice a day,” says Tsippora Shainhouse, a board-certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills. “If you have sensitive skin or dry skin, once a day may be sufficient.”

While cleansing less frequently can help preserve the skin’s natural oils, Dr. Shainhouse says that if you’re prone to breakouts or blackheads, washing your face both morning and night is essential for preventing clogged pores.

“Using an oil cleanser at night followed by an acne-fighting cleanser with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide

What is the best way to wash your face? It’s a question we get all the time and one that dermatologists are often asked. But there is no one correct answer for everyone.

The truth is, there are as many different ways to wash your face as there are cleansers on the market, and what works for one person may not work for another. “Some people need more moisture, some people need less,” says Ellen Marmur, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologic surgeon. “Everyone has a different skin type and needs a different regimen and routine.”

She recommends washing your face with a mild cleanser once in the morning and again at night before bedtime — or even twice a day if you’re very active or live in a hot, humid climate. (If you exercise regularly, you should wash your face both before and after exercising.)

But how often should you wash your face? The answer depends on several factors — including your skin type, your age, and how much makeup you wear. Here are six expert recommendations:


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