5 common face washing mistakes

Is your soap a big nope? Here’s how to tell.

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas
Jul 24, 2020 · 3 min read

Woman smiling and applying cleanser to face in front of a plant and gray tile background
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

I’ll forever be jealous of those influencers with flawless skin that can just squirt some hand soap on a loofah and never have a breakout in their lives. For the rest of us, though, we often have to pay more attention to detail when it comes to how we wash our face. As someone who struggles with acne and dry, sensitive skin, there’s been a lot of trial and error when it comes to face wash. Mistakes were made and my skin paid dearly. Here’s what I learned the hard way (so you don’t have to).

1. Don’t wash with hot water

It’s usually best to wash with lukewarm water (that includes showers!). Why? Hot water can strip your skin of natural protective oils and may weaken your skin’s natural protective barrier. In other words, washing in hot water may irritate your skin, leading to dryness and increased skin sensitivity.

2. No scrubs

Move over, apricot kernels! Exfoliating face scrubs aren’t normally meant for everyday use. And even if you’re not using an exfoliating face wash, scrubbing your skin too hard may lead to irritation. And be careful not to overuse tools like rotating brushes! Read the guide to physical exfoliation for more info on scrub safety.

3. Don’t rely on cleansing wipes

Cleansing wipes are convenient for on-the-go, and they can be super helpful for removing makeup. But a lot of cleansing wipes contain harsh ingredients (hello, alcohol). That means they can be irritating, especially on hot, sweaty skin. So, if you don’t have time to shower, splash some lukewarm water on your face post-workout and leave the cleansing wipes at home.

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4. It’s just not the right one for you

You can get the most out of your cleanser by choosing the right one for your skin type. The tl;dr is that foaming cleansers are often best for oily skin while hydrating cleansers are often best for dry skin. Acne cleansers with ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, AHAs (like glycolic acid or lactic acid), or salicylic acid can be helpful, too — but they may cause irritation for those with sensitive skin.

5. Look out for bad ingredients

When my acne was at its worst, I was using a bargain-priced drugstore cleanser that had sodium lauryl sulfate as its main ingredient — no wonder my skin didn’t get any better! Don’t be like me: make sure your facial cleanser is free of harsh or potentially pore-clogging ingredients. I recommend using the cosDNA test when making decisions about what products to buy. You can also check out some of our face wash reviews:

There’s also the Curology cleanser, which is specially formulated with everything your skin needs (and nothing extra). Designed by dermatologists, the cleanser works into a gentle, lightly foaming lather to simply clean your skin, leaving it balanced, hydrated, soft, and refreshed. You can try it at no cost when you sign up for a free trial of Curology (just pay $4.95 plus tax to cover shipping + handling).

Curology is a custom skincare subscription box that pairs you with an in-house medical provider, licensed to practice in your state. They’ll prescribe you a custom cream with a mix of 3 active ingredients to treat skin concerns like acne, hyperpigmentation, and skin texture. We also offer an ever-growing line of products to complete your skincare routine. So go ahead and start your #SkincareJourney — Curology’s got your back!

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas

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