Cleansing your face may seem like a simple daily ritual, but there’s actually a right and wrong way to do it.
Effective cleansing doesn’t only require the right cleanser but also the right frequency. In other words, it’s possible to wash your face too little or too much.
However, effective skincare is not as simple as telling someone to cleanse a certain number of times per day. As with most things skincare, the answer is much more complex. But this guide from Nourishing Biologicals will make it as easy as possible.
Read on to discover signs that you’re washing your face too much and how you can repair your skin from overwashing.
What Are the Signs of Overwashing?
When we wash our face too much, it removes many of our natural oils. This can make the skin feel dry, tight, and overall uncomfortable. In some cases, the skin can also become more sensitive, with increasing redness and irritation.
Of course, the above symptoms don’t necessarily result from how often you wash your face. Some skincare products can also make the skin feel dry and tight because they’re designed to absorb excess oil. However, if you’re washing your face more than twice daily, it’s certainly a culprit.
The type of cleanser you use makes a difference, as well. If you have dry skin and use a cleanser that’s too harsh for your skin, then it can strip your skin of healthy oils, leading to excessive dryness. This typically happens with cleansers marketed to those with oily skin.
Intuitively, it makes sense to use harsh cleansers when oiliness is a problem. But drying products can make the skin overcompensate by producing even more oil. This may result in serious skin texture issues, such as dry patches combined with increased slickness in combination skin.
Also, exfoliating face cleansers can effectively draw out impurities and minimize the appearance of blemishes like blackheads, but they can also irritate the skin if over-used.
If you have sensitive skin, an alternative option for removing dead skin cell buildup is using a warm washcloth to gently wash away grime. When using this method, just make sure not to scrub too hard, or you might irritate your skin more.
Which Is the Best Cleanser?
If you wash your face no more than once or twice per day — but still experience irritation — then you’re probably not overwashing your face but using the wrong cleanser.
Many cleansers are marketed for oily, combination, or acne-prone skin types. But because of their harsh ingredients, they may only make these skin concerns worse.
Ingredient labels can be confusing, but they’re the best place to start if you’re buying a new cleanser. Some ingredients to watch out for include:
- Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
- Propylene glycol
- Benzoyl peroxide
- Synthetic dyes
So, the best cleanser won’t contain any of the above ingredients. But you don’t want a cleanser that only doesn’t dry out your skin — you might need one that will nourish it, as well.
Our Miracular Cleanser combines natural extracts and soothing botanicals that won’t strip your skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness, tightness, and irritation.
Our cleanser contains nourishing ingredients, such as shea butter, cucumber extract, and green tea extract, which can help soothe skin damaged by overwashing.
How Often Should You Wash Your Face?
It doesn’t matter what your skin type is. Whether your skin is oily and acne-prone or dry and sensitive, you should generally be washing your face at least once per day.
If you’re washing only one time, it should be done in the evening to remove the day’s makeup, oil buildup, and pollution exposure.
Of course, you can choose to cleanse again in the morning. If you use a certain skincare product at night, such as a retinol serum, washing it off with a cleanser is a must — otherwise, you risk getting a strong reaction from the sun. However, if you don’t have anything to remove, then cleansing in the morning may not be necessary.
That said, if you have acne-prone skin, you might actually benefit from washing your face twice daily. One study found that those who cleansed twice daily saw a modest improvement in their acne — compared to those who only cleansed once daily. (Those who cleansed three times per day didn’t see any additional benefits.)
And even if you don’t have acne, you may still benefit from additional cleansing. Even at night, we’re exposed to indoor pollutants. Plus, your skin’s oils can also build up while you sleep and even collect on your pillowcase. So, washing it off in the morning may not be a bad idea.
However, if your skin feels dry when you wake up, then skip your cleanser. Instead, splash some water on your face or use micellar water to give yourself a refreshing wake-up call.
So, in general, twice a day is the maximum you should wash your face. Doing anything more won’t be beneficial and may even dry out your face.
What If You Exercise?
This is the one exception to the twice-a-day cleansing rule. If you sweat (for any reason), you’ll need to clear it away. Otherwise, you’ll risk clogging your pores and triggering a breakout.
You can sweat even if you’re not exercising. Sometimes, just walking to and from work on a hot summer day can trigger sweating. But if you’re out and about, you can’t exactly run to a sink to wash your face. In this case, oil-free cleansing wipes can be a lifesaver.
But, even though they can remove sweat and sebum, wipes are not a substitute for cleansing — so make sure to wash your face as soon as you get home.
How Can I Heal Skin From Overwashing?
If your skin shows the signs of overwashing, then you have to give your skin barrier some time to repair itself.
While we definitely don’t recommend skipping cleansing, you might want to switch your facial cleanser to one that’s gentle and nourishing, like our Miracular Cleanser. You may also invest in a cleansing oil or micellar water, which are gentle ways to cleanse the skin.
We also recommend getting rid of any harsh products, especially those containing acids, retinoids, and bacteria-killing ingredients (e.g., salicylic acid). Instead, try to stick to products like toners and essences that are soothing and hydrating, such as our Skin Essence.
Natural oils are another great way to reduce irritation from overwashing. We’re especially fans of jojoba oil, which has many benefits beyond adding moisture to the skin. However, if you’re using natural oils, make sure they’re not essential oils, such as tea tree oil, as this can further fuel irritation.
Can You Wash Your Face With Just Water?
If using a cleanser dries out your face, you’re probably using the wrong cleanser for your skin. The solution is to find a gentle cleanser that doesn’t leave your skin tight and dry — instead of skipping cleanser altogether.
Using only water to cleanse isn’t a good idea if you have to remove makeup, oil, and sweat. Oil and water don’t mix, which is why this method of cleansing can’t dissolve everything that accumulates on your face during the day.
The result of using only water to cleanse can be clogged pores, increased breakouts, and greater skin irritation. This is why we recommend investing in a gentle cleanser that cleanses and nourishes your skin. With the right cleanser, even the driest and most sensitive skin types can cleanse twice a day.
Be Gentle With Your Skin
The face on your skin is much thinner than the rest of the body — this is why it requires extra TLC.
Using harsh cleansers and washing too often are two major ways that you can injure your skin’s protective barrier. Doing this also strips your skin of its natural oils, increases sensitivity, and makes wrinkles and fine lines more prominent.
If you suffer from aggravating skin conditions, like acne, you might think that using harsh products will bring relief. But no skin type benefits from harsh products. Instead, gentle and nourishing ingredients will bring the best results.
Not only that but doing too much can also lead to skin issues. A simple skincare routine, which includes cleansing at night, moisturizing with creams or lotions when it’s needed, and applying high-SPF sunscreen before getting sun exposure, is sometimes all that’s needed for your best skin.
Cleansing is an important part of any skincare routine. It’s necessary for removing makeup, oil, and pollution from your pores. Not doing this can lead to increased breakouts, irritation, and aging.
Of course, it’s possible to overdo cleansing. Unless you exercise during the day, you should be washing your face a maximum of two times: once at night and once in the morning. And many people can get away with cleansing just once per day.
Regardless of which route you take, the cleanser you use is extremely important. For a gentle and nourishing way to cleanse your skin, discover our anti-aging Miracular Cleanser today.