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How Many Times Should You Wash Your Face in a Day?
Washing our face comes pretty naturally. Whenever we feel sweaty or oily, our first instinct is to wipe it off and freshen up, and hot weather can make us feel dugyot pretty quickly. But how often should we actually wash our face? And how do we know if we’re washing it too often, or not enough?
Below, we do a quick review of what the top skincare experts have to say on the matter. Scroll on to find out!
How often should you wash your face?
Dermatologists agree that the general rule of skin care is to wash your face twice a day: once in the morning, and once in the evening. The benefits are countless: dirt-free and bacteria-free skin, regulated oil production, and proper levels of hydration, all of which keep our skin healthy and clear. So why do we still experience breakouts, irritation, and other problems if we’ve already been following the rule?
It’s a pretty simple rule, but there are also levels to it. What kind of cleanser you’re using should be considered, as well as your skin type. There are also special cases where you have to double cleanse if you wear makeup, which we will cover below.
But overall, you’ll need to properly wash your face twice a day with the right type of face wash or face oil.
Should you wash your face as often as possible?
Here’s the caveat: although dirt and dust and oil need to be removed daily in order to maintain healthy skin, it’s actually possible to mess it up by over-cleansing.
If you have oily skin, you may feel the need to wash your face as often as possible, but doing so can remove the natural oils that your skin needs to stay hydrated. And because your skin feels dehydrated, it’s going to produce more oil. So, it’s actually in your best interest to limit your face washing to just twice a day — even though it feels counterintuitive. We’ll talk more about the best face washing practices for your skin type in a bit.
But what about when our face is particularly sweaty, say, after a run or heavy exercise? Dr. Vicky Belo of Belo Medical Group says you can wash your face up to three times a day, max. “The [most you] can wash your face is three times a day. Five times a day is bad.”
How to recognize over- or under-washing
Over- or under-washing can be a huge problem that we may not even realize because we rarely look to our cleansing habits as the culprit.
To know if you’re not washing your face properly, licensed aesthetician Stephanie Ivonne told Healthline that we should be checking our beddings for any residue. If there are oily patches on your sheets or pillowcase when you wake up, then you may need to switch your cleanser or start washing twice a day if you haven’t yet.
On the other hand, if you’re over-washing, your face will always feel tight and dry. Red splotches may also appear in certain areas and you can experience irritated skin. This is common among people with dry or sensitive skin. The solution? Try switching to an oil-based cleanser, or swapping out your morning facial wash for water. An oil cleanser works differently than a foaming face wash and it’s better for those with sensitive/dry skin types. More on that below.
Can you just wash your face with water?
If you have sensitive skin, you can swap cleansing soap for water in the morning. This is because sensitive skin can experience excessive sensitivity when washing twice daily. Nonetheless, you should still use a mild cleanser in the evening.
How Often You Should Wash Your Face, Based on Skin Type
If you have sensitive skin…
Go for a gentle face wash rather than a harsh cleanser, making sure to avoid anything that has microbeads or exfoliants. If a twice-daily cleanse is too much for you, swap your cleanser for water in the morning.
If you have oily skin or acne-prone skin…
Don’t wash more than twice a day — thrice only if needed. You’ll still need to be gentle with your skin as over-cleansing can lead to excess oil production. Gentle cleansers are perfect because they won’t clog your pores; you can also look for oil-free products, such as a water-based cleanser, or those with anti-acne ingredients like salicylic acid. Avoid anything oil-based to prevent acne breakouts.
If you have dry skin…
Those with dry or sensitive skin should look for hydrating cleansers or cleansing oil. These products will help pack in moisture to your skin while delicately removing all the gunk that may build up.
If you notice any dry patches, irritation, or a tight feeling throughout the day when you wash your face twice, try swapping your AM cleanser for just water. Too much cleansing might be the reason your skin feels dry even when you moisturize, and a water-only rinse in the morning should help with your skin condition.
If you have combination skin…
Combination skin is when your t-zone is oily but the other parts are dry. This can be tricky because what is recommended for oily skin can cause irritation for dry skin, and vice versa. Generally, a gentle cleanser will work fine for the whole face, and anything with active ingredients or too much oil should be avoided.
More Cleansing Tips
1. Use a clean towel
Using a dirty towel when your face is still wet is going to lead to clogged pores or breakouts. Make sure the cloth you’re using to carefully pat dry your face after cleansing is clean.
2. Only use cool to warm water
Never use hot water to cleanse your face. This can strip your skin of necessary oils, and if done often enough, may lead to overproduction of sebum thereby causing breakouts.
3. Have a separate product just for exfoliating
If you’ve been under-cleansing, try adding an exfoliating product into your routine as relying solely on your cleanser may not be enough. A separate exfoliator such as glycolic acid or salicylic acid can address problems that lie beyond the surface level.
4. You may need a makeup remover in addition to your cleanser
A vast majority are wondering what happens if you wear makeup. Well, you’ll need to double-cleanse with a cleansing oil or makeup remover prior to your nighttime wash as a once-over cleanse isn’t likely to get your makeup properly removed.
Double cleansing helps remove makeup and its residue, so your regular cleanser can remove impurities underneath.
5. Use oil-free wipes for sweaty days
If you lead an active lifestyle, you’ve probably asked, “How often should you wash your face if you’re sweating all day long?” The twice-a-day rule still stands, but in between your morning cleanse and evening wash, skin care experts recommend using gentle, oil-free wipes to stay fresh.
Though an extra wash with cold or lukewarm water won’t hurt, sticking to gentle wipes is better for your skin barrier, so make sure to pack some in your gym bag.
At the end of the day, how often you should wash your face will be affected by your genetics and environment, but the twice-a-day rule is a rule for a reason.
We hope this blog helped remove the mystery surrounding this step in our skin care routines. Got any more questions? Feel free to comment them below.
Joey is an AB Psychology graduate of the University of St. La Salle – Bacolod. Her life’s passions include writing, film, and spending hours on end binge-watching fashion vloggers on Youtube.