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7 Facial Cleansing Mistakes You Didn't Know You Were Making

Posted by Nikki Wisher on Jul 22nd 2021

7 Facial Cleansing Mistakes You Didn't Know You Were Making

There are certain aspects of skin care that seem complicated or confusing – what does a toner even do? Why are serums so special? What’s the purpose of a jade roller and how do you use it?

Yet in this sometimes complex world of skincare, cleansing is one of the simplest and most straightforward things that we all know we can do to improve our skin. The concept is easy: we’re washing away particles and debris that can clog our pores and dull our skin so we can look fresh-faced and youthful on a daily basis.

Did you know there’s a wrong way to cleanse your skin, though? In fact, there are several common mistakes that you’re probably making without even realizing it. Check your routine for any of these missteps.

1. Over-Cleansing Your Skin

When you’re cleaning your bathroom, the more often you clean it, the better. Your skin isn’t a bathroom. If you’re cleansing your skin too often, you might be stripping away the natural oils your skin needs, making your skin overly dry.

So how often should you wash your face? The general recommendation is 1-2 times per day, but at the end of the day, it all depends on your skin and how dry or oily it is. If your skin is dry, try cleansing slightly less often to help restore your skin’s balance.

2. Using a Cleanser with Sulfates

Sulfates are chemicals that manufacturers use to make a product suds or lather up, so they’re common in shampoos, toothpastes, soaps, and yes, facial cleansers. The problem is that they often irritate and inflame skin. They also take a hefty toll on the environment because many sulfates are made from petroleum.

Instead, choose a sulfate-free facial cleanser. The sulfate-free movement has picked up plenty of steam so there are options in just about every variety you might want.

3. Using Hot Water

Most people assume that hot water will clean their face better, so they crank up the temperature. Unfortunately, this does more harm than good. Hot water strips the natural oils out of your skin and damages your skin’s moisture barrier, leaving your skin drier.

Here’s the tricky part, though: you shouldn’t use cold water either. The cold water can make it harder for your cleanser to get debris out of your pores. The best choice is a happy medium: lukewarm water.

4. Using Your Cleanser to Remove Your Makeup

It’s the end of the night and you’re tired. You need to remove your makeup and wash your face. You figure, “I might as well just use my cleanser – it’ll get rid of the makeup and any other debris at the same time, right?” Not exactly.

If you’re trying to do it all in one step, you’re likely to leave behind residue from your makeup in addition to excess facial oil because your cleanser just can’t get it all in one fell swoop. You’re risking waking up in the morning with dull-looking skin and possibly some new blemishes.

Instead, take the time to use a makeup remover first and then cleanse your skin. You’ll be shocked at the difference it makes.

5. Not Washing Your Hands First

You’re about to facepalm because this is something that makes so much sense but so few people think about it when they cleanse their face: you need to wash your hands first! If you’re using your unwashed hands to apply a cleanser, you’re rubbing new oils and debris from your hands onto your facial skin while you try to clean it, so you’re not getting as effective of a cleaning as you want.

It’s also important to use a clean towel to dry your face after cleansing. Otherwise, you’ve just washed the dirt away and then put new dirt and bacteria back on.

6. Scrubbing Like Your Life Depends on It

Scrubbing might clean your kitchen counter, but it’s not the way to go when cleaning your face. There’s a misconception that the harder you scrub, the cleaner your face will be.

In reality, scrubbing your face can irritate your skin. It can even accelerate your facial aging because all this pulling and tugging breaks down the collagen that keeps your skin firm. Yikes! The better method is to gently massage the cleanser on your skin. Take your time and let the cleanser do its job.

7. Skipping the Moisturizer

Who doesn’t love that feeling when your face is freshly washed? It’s smooth, soft, and incredibly fresh. If you just leave it at that, though, it won’t be so smooth and soft soon. It’ll be dry, flaky, and uncomfortable.

You probably noticed that most of the other tips on this list focus on keeping your skin from getting too dry when you wash it. Even if you follow all those tips, some people are still prone to dry skin. That’s why it’s important to always use a facial moisturizer after you cleanse, locking in the moisture and giving you all the benefits of your cleanser without the downsides.

Making Use of Your Facial Cleanser the Right Way

Cleansers are essential tools in your skin care routine, but like anything else, you have to use them the right way. The tips above can help you wash away all those unwanted oils, dead skin cells, and other frustrations for a brighter, healthier face.