Dermatologists (and mothers everywhere) are always insisting that we wash our faces daily. But what does regular cleansing really do for your skin — and do you need to do it in the morning and at night?
We’ve got the inside scoop on why washing your face is so important — and whether or not it’s OK to skip it sometimes.
Why is washing your face so important?
It seems like a no-brainer, but in case you’re in the dark, bathing is a big deal — especially for your face. Here’s what daily cleansing can do:
- Removes pollutants. Every day, your face collects dirt and grime from the environment, which can lead to oxidative stress and a dull complexion.
- Eliminates buildup. Your skin is constantly producing sebum, which mixes with dead skin cells and accumulates on the skin’s surface.
- Keeps skin clear. When dirt, oil and debris build up, it can cause clogged pores, leading to blemishes.
- Helps products penetrate. Getting rid of the gunk coating your face allows your skincare products to work more effectively.
What happens when you don’t wash your face?
News flash: if you don’t wash your face, it’s going to get pretty dirty. Chances are you’ll start breaking out, and you can forget about getting your glow on — all that buildup (especially if you wear makeup) can suffocate your skin, leaving it irritated and dehydrated.
Not caring for your skin not only causes blemishes, it also accelerates the ageing process, as skin becomes inflamed and isn’t able to properly renew itself overnight.
How to wash your face
According to Dr. Sandra Lee (aka Dr. Pimple Popper), there are a few simple things to keep in mind when cleansing your face:
- Use lukewarm water. Washing your face actually decreases its moisture content, so use water that’s not too hot or too cold so you don’t shock your skin.
- Avoid washcloths or coarse buffers. Stick to fingertips or gentle sonic brushes, so you don’t create micro tears in your skin’s surface.
- Use a gentle exfoliant. Dr. Lee loves salicylic acid to keep pores clear and prevent dullness. Find it in SLMD Skincare Salicylic Acid Cleanser.
- Moisturise while skin’s still damp. Pat your face dry and apply a hydrating moisturiser like SLMD Skin Drink to minimise transepidermal water loss — which happens as water evaporates from your skin.
Do you have to wash your face twice a day?
Here’s the truth: skipping a cleanse every so often isn’t going to ruin your complexion. But if you go to bed without washing, you’re more likely to wake up in the morning with a new blemish (or two) — especially if you sleep in your makeup. In terms of time saved, spending an extra few minutes to properly cleanse your face can save you a week (or more) of dealing with an avoidable breakout.
When it comes to cleansing in the morning, there really is no hard and fast rule. Some skin types do fine with just a splash of water before moisturising — but if you’re blemish-prone, it’s best to keep up with your programme.
Dr. Lee’s last word
I encourage my patients to create a nightly skincare routine. Not only is it good for preventing blemishes and signs of ageing, it helps you wind down for the night. My own regimen starts with gently removing my makeup, then cleansing with Salicylic Acid Cleanser (use warm water — not hot!) and applying moisturiser while my skin is still damp. Maintaining this consistent routine does require a small commitment, but it certainly keeps my skin healthy.
—Dr. Sandra Lee