Playing it Safe with Face Cleansing

Washing Face

It’s been long-touted that washing your face properly is the secret to unlocking the fountain of youth. But with all the facial cleansers, gadgets and products on the market these days, it’s hard to know what works and what doesn’t. One thing we know for sure, no matter what you decide to use, there’s nothing more important for the health of your precious skin than washing it right and on the regular.

Why is it SO Important to Wash your Face?

Think of what your skin goes through in the course of a day. From the moment you wash your face in the morning, your face is constantly exposed to all kinds of elements – your makeup, the environment both inside and out, and don’t even get us started on your hands. Not only does regular and proper face washing help minimize the effects of these elements, it does a whole host of other great things for your skin. It promotes cellular renewal by eliminating dead skin, it stimulates the skin’s microcirculation1, it fends off breakouts, it helps unclogs pores and most importantly, it lets your skin breathe.

However, just committing to washing your face isn’t going to do the trick – it’s just as, if not, more important to use the right cleansers and tools. You can actually do more harm than good if you’re using the wrong products.  

What's Wrong with Regular Soap Anyway?

Sure regular bar soap may work well for your body, but your face is a different story. Though it’s true that many soaps are now formulated with gentler ingredients, they will still be far more drying than facial cleansers created specifically for your face. The binders required to hold that bar of soap together alone are enough to disrupt the fragility of the facial skin barrier.

How To Wash Your Face Properly

Hot or cold water? Once or twice daily? It’s time to set the record straight.

Water Temperature

The consensus here is that hot water tends to dry out the skin, while cold water doesn’t remove dirt and oil very well (remember, grease doesn’t come off your dishes in cold water either). For best results, forget the extremes and turn the tap to lukewarm.

Daily Cleansing

As tempting as it is to skip the night cleanse and head straight to bed, it’s not a good idea. Our skin needs to be cleaned twice a day, no questions asked. Once in the morning to refresh the skin from perspiration and sebum accumulated overnight (which can lead to irritation and clogged pores). Then again at night to remove the day’s impurities and let your skin breathe. On the other side of the coin, over-washing (or cleansing more than twice a day) can zap the skin of moisture and lead to dryness and irritation3. Twice daily is the magic number.

Get Your Tools Ready

Before you pick your cleanser, you must choose your tool. Sure your hands can do the job, but some require a little more help to get right in there. Let’s look at what’s getting all the attention.

Facial Brushes

Cleansing facial brushes, like the ever-popular Clairsonic, promise a deeper, more exfoliating clean than your daily without the use of chemicals or gritty particles. While it does a good job of exfoliating, it still may be a little too hard for some as it can fall into the category of over-cleansing. Those with sensitive skin should be extra wary of inflammation and broken capillaries that can happen as a result. As with any new product or tool, be sure to do your research or even schedule an appointment with a dermatologist to see if a facial brush is right for you.

Cotton Pads

Generally inexpensive, some feel that the cotton pad is best for hygenic reasons – you use it once and then you throw it away. On the down side, they tend to soak up a lot of product so you may end up spending more than you bargained for. They can also be a little rougher on the skin than a regular cotton face cloth.

Cotton Face Cloths

Another popular method for facial cleansing? The cotton cloth. It really helps a little cleanser go a long way. It also does a great job gently exfoliating (even for those with sensitive skin). The problem here is, most people don’t wash cloths between each use, a move that enables bacteria growth. People also tend to use the same cloth they used on their body for the rest of their face. That’s a big no-no.

Microfibre Cloths

A little newer to the face cleaning game, this is the one to watch. If we’ve learned anything from cleaning the house with microfibre, it works wonders at picking up dirt and grime. Thanks to the thousands of tiny fibres that have been woven together to make up magical microfibre, this powerful cleaning cloth does the same for the face - completely removing makeup, gently exfoliating, and clearing clogged pores all while respecting the PH levels in the skin.

You have the Tool, Now You Need the Ammo

Not just any ammo will do, this is another area you need to pay careful attention to as not all skin types are created equal.

Choose the Right Cleanser

Different skin types require different ingredients for proper care4. For example, if you have oily or sensitive skin, an oil-based cleanser likely won’t work as efficiently as one that is formulated to properly cleanse oily skin. If you have normal-dry skin you will want to choose a cleanser that doesn’t over-dry or strip your skin of essential oils. Be sure to choose the right one for your skin to avoid irritation5.

But First, Remove that Makeup

Depending on how much makeup you use, you may need to remove it first to give your cleanser a hand. If left on, cosmetics, environmental impurities and dirt can wreck havoc on your skin leading to irritation and allergic reactions6. If you’re prone to sensitive skin, this extra step in the cleansing routine might be a little jarring. For this, we recommend using a gentler makeup remover, like micellar water. In fact, micellar water can be used not only as a makeup remover, but as a great cleanser and moisturizer as well. So if you’re looking for the ultimate do-it-all product, micellar water is definitely worth looking into7.

Proper face cleaning is essential to maintain a happy, healthy glow. It rids your skin of impurities, keeping it balanced and hydrated. If you’re still unsure about what products are best for you, make an appointment with your dermatologist. Together you can discuss the different options available and decide what’s best. To try a dermatologist developed skincare routine, click here to see our free 15-day Anti-Aging sample kit.


  1. Journal of Internal Medication (1997) Microcirculation: its significance in clinical and molecular medication. Retrieved from:
  2. Dermatol Res Pract. (2012) Cleansing Formulations That Respect Skin Barrier Integrity. Retrieved from:\
  3. Joanna Mimi Choi B.A., Vincent K.Lew B.A., Alexa B. Kimball M.D., M.P.H (2006) A Single-Blinded, Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial Evaluating The Effect of Face Washing on Acne Vulgaris. Retrieved from:
  4. Indian J Dermatol. (2011) Cleansers and their role in various dermatologial disorders. Retrieved from:
  5. Jensen, Robinson (2006) Methods for manufacturing an enhanced cosmetic skin care toner. Retrieved from:
  6. Journal of Internal Medication (1997) Microcirculation: its significance in clinical and molecular medication. Retrieved from:
  7. Draelos Z, Hornby S, Walters RM, Appa Y. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2013 Dec;12(4):314-21. doi: 10.1111/jocd.12061. Hydrophobically modified polymers can minimize skin irritation potential caused by surfactant-based cleansers. Retrieved from:
  1. Why is it SO Important to Wash your Face?
  2. What's Wrong with Regular Soap Anyway?
  3. How To Wash Your Face Properly
  4. Get Your Tools Ready
  5. You have the Tool, Now You Need the Ammo