Washing your face is as simple as using soap and water, right?
Not quite, dermatologists say. How you wash your face can make a difference in your appearance.
“It’s important for people to treat the face with care. Never scrub the skin or use harsh products as doing so irritates the skin, which makes skin look worse,” said Thomas E Rohrer, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in private practice in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Face washing tips from the pros
For healthier-looking skin, Dr Rohrer recommends people follow these tips to keep their faces looking healthy.
1) Use a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser that does not contain alcohol.
2) Wet your face with lukewarm water and use your fingertips to apply cleanser. Using a washcloth, mesh sponge or anything other than your fingertips can irritate your skin.
3) Resist the temptation to scrub your skin because scrubbing irritates the skin.
4) Rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry with a soft towel.
5) Apply moisturizer if your skin is dry or itchy. Be gentle when applying any cream around your eyes so you do not pull too hard on this delicate skin.
6) Limit washing to twice a day and after sweating. Wash your face once in the morning and once at night, as well as after sweating heavily. Perspiration, especially when wearing a hat or helmet, irritates the skin. Wash your skin as soon as possible after sweating.
The American Academy of Dermatology adds that, during puberty — and especially if they’re dealing with acne — kids should wash their faces twice a day with warm water together with a mild cleanser, which works like soap but is gentler so it doesn’t dry it out.
Skip the oil cleansing method
Hype for a new trend in skin care called the “oil cleansing method” (OCM) is making the rounds.
The scientific-sounding theory behind OCM is the “like dissolves like” premise — that because the face produces oil, then applying natural oils to the face should clean facial skin better than soap and water.
While it might sound logical to some, a skin expert at the University of Cincinnati (UC) says the method could exacerbate preexisting skin conditions, such as acne.
“Oil is not something dangerous to use on your face, but if you are prone to breakouts, it’s something I would avoid,” says Emily Moosbrugger, MD, a UC Health dermatologist, who adds that oil can potentially clog pores, not clean them.
Of course, a few cosmetic manufacturers are already capitalizing on the OCM trend, but it’s being touted more by word of mouth and online recipes, with the 2:1 mixture of castor oil, and some other type of vegetable-based oil, such as olive oil.
Although the majority of patients have an existing skin problem when they see a dermatologist, Moosbrugger says she advises face washing for the general population in the same way she does patients with problem skin.
“When we tell people how to wash their faces, we typically tell them to avoid harsh cleansers with alcohol, some of the antibacterial soaps, and heavily perfumed soaps,” she says. “We do recommend mild, water-based cleansers, but we do not recommend oil cleansing.”