This Is Officially The Best Way To Wash Your Face

best way to wash your face

Unsplash/Brian Fraser

You’ve been taking care of your skin since your grade school days, so it might seem a little ridiculous to have to ask decades later about the best way to wash your face. But honestly, most of us could use a refresher in this department. Years of skincare fads and trends have left us with some pretty bad habits — not to mention our own bizarre patterns and outright laziness. So if you’re struggling in the skincare department and you’re ready for some dermatologist-approved answers, here’s officially the best way to wash your face.

Wash your hands.

That’s right — don’t even think about washing your face with dirty hands. That would just defeat the purpose, wouldn’t it? Use a simple soap and water to make sure your commute, kitchen, workout and whatever else are far away from your fingers before they start touching those sensitive pores.

Remove that makeup.

Sorry, folks, but a single round of cleanser isn’t going to rid your skin of your full makeup routine and a day’s worth of dirt and grime. So grab an oil-based makeup remover and wipe all of those products off your face. Only then can you begin the actual washing process.

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Suds up and massage.

Now, select a gentle cleanser regardless of how oily or acne-prone your skin may be. When it comes to daily (or twice-daily) rinsing, you want to avoid overly drying out and irritating your skin. Brands like Cetaphil, Neutrogena and CeraVe all have great gentle, creamy cleanser options at super affordable prices that are safe for frequent use.

Once you’ve picked your product, portion out enough to create a solid lather across your face. With your fingertips, massage the skin in a circular motion, moving counter to the direction of your hair growth to effectively cleanse even hard-to-access pores. Make sure you don’t skimp on the harder-to-navigate areas like along your hairline, around your mouth and under your chin. And while you may be tempted to scrub with a washcloth, when it comes to daily washing, your fingertips provide the perfect amount of cleansing power.

Skip those exfoliants.

We have an important distinction to make here: washing and exfoliating are not one and the same. You wash your face daily — sometimes twice daily — to keep your pores clean and happy. You exfoliate once or twice a week to slough off excess dead skin cells and make it easier to keep those pores clean and happy. So when it comes to your cleansing routine, skip the exfoliating scrubs. They will have their time to shine, but it’s not now.

Watch that water temp.

Time to rinse all the suds away! And while you might be tempted to blast the heat to create a steam effect, lukewarm water is the best option for your skin. Water that’s too hot can actually be irritating and overly drying to skin, leaving you red and blotchy after your washing routine. Icy cold water also isn’t ideal because it tells your pores to lock up before you’re done rinsing away all the icky stuff. So stick to the middle of the road, and you’ll be in good shape.

Be gentle AF when drying.

Again, there’s no need to scrub your face dry with a towel. Soft pats will do the trick to absorb excess water and leave your skin feeling calm and soothed.

The more important thing here, though, is the cleanliness of your face towel. It’s critical that you use a truly clean cloth every time you wash your face, no matter how out of control your linen laundry becomes by the end of the week. We recommend investing in a big pack of washcloths from Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond so you don’t have to stress about running out of clean towels all week long.

Consistency is key.

This entire process only works if you stick with it. While it’s ideal that you wash your face once in the morning when you wake up and once in the evening before you go to bed, the more critical of the two is that PM rinse. So if you’d rather stick with a once-a-day routine to minimize skin irritation — or the amount of effort you have to put in, in general — make sure you wash your face at night. That way, you never leaving your makeup on longer than you should, you keep your pillowcases as clean as possible and you give your skin a healthy, clean base from which it can heal and regenerate while you sleep.