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How to Wash Your Face the Right Way

Could washing your face the right way be the secret the better skin? According to Rebecca Tung, MD, chair of dermatology at Loyola University Chicago, the simple skin care step is more impactful than you might think.”I’ve seen patients with really sensitive skin who ‘wash’ their faces with just water,” she says. “That can lead to excess collections of acne-causing bacteria and yeast that result in seborrhoeic dermatitis—sort of like dandruff on your face.” Here, Tung demystifies the perfect clean.

1. Wash at least every night, if not twice a day.

“At the minimum, washing your face before you go to bed is critical,” Tung says. Yes, that’s even if you’re not wearing a smidge of makeup. To ace face washing, suds up morning and night. And always wash or use a wipe after a workout to fend off sweat-induced breakouts.

2. Remove your makeup.

That long-wear eye makeup and foundation isn’t going to come off with cleanser alone. Use an oil-based makeup remover. Or keep a pack of face wipes like on your bedside table so there’s no excuse.

3. Divide and conquer with two face washes.

Not sure how to choose the best face wash for your skin? You can’t go wrong with a soap-free cleanser, which is gentle enough to use on any skin type. Wet your face, and use circular motions to massage it onto your skin. Aim for at least 30 seconds of washing to let the cleanser do its job. If you tend to break out in your T-zone or get blackheads on your nose, take care of those trouble spots with an acne treatment that contains either benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Those ingredients need to stay on your skin for about one minute to be effective. The truly acne prone can use a treatment wash all over, but overuse on any skin type can lead to redness and peeling.

4. Use warm to cool water.

“A lot of patients want to use hot water. They feel like they’re almost giving themselves a little steam treatment, but it can be very irritating to skin,” Tung says. Stick to lukewarm or cool water. Post-workout, try Tung’s trick to cut down redness and flushing: Splash your face with cold water, which constricts blood vessels.

5. Consider power washing.

When it comes to getting the most intense clean, a powered cleansing tool does a more thorough, uniform job of cleaning off surface dirt than your hands or even a washcloth. Need more incentive to try one? “A tool tightens pores and increases the cell turnover of your skin. It’ll help reduce acne and even minimize sun damage,” Tung says. Plus, seeing it on your bathroom sink is better than a sticky-note reminder screaming, “Wash your face!”

6. Gently pat dry.

You’re at the finish line: Gently pat skin dry with a clean, dry face towel.