The 4-1-1 on Face Washing
Do you really need to wash your face in the morning, and the problem with over cleansing.
Written by Carlyn
Here it is—the million dollar question—Do I really need to wash my face in the morning?
We could be here allllll day discussing this question. Why is there so much controversy around how many times you should wash your face?!
We’ve teamed up with our expert dermatologist, Dr. Lisa Kellett, to give you the 4-1-1 on face washing: How many times should you wash your face and how does skin type play a role in
answering this question?
Do I need to wash my face in the morning?
DLK: Most people don’t actually need to cleanse their face in the morning because there is nothing that you’re doing at night—for the most part—that gets your face dirty. Most people go to sleep with a clean face, therefore your face is still clean in the morning. The exception would be people who are perhaps very prone to acne and have excess oil production, and people who need to apply a treatment product in the morning. Applying a treatment in the morning to moist skin will increase trans-epidermal absorption of that product. So in that case, having a wet and clean face can increase the efficacy of your morning products. However, for the most part, a quick splash of water does the job!
I want to emphasize that although over-cleansing is a common issue, especially with acne prone skin conditions, the type of cleanser being used for your specific skin condition is just as
important, if not more.
What is the difference between rinsing and washing / cleansing?
DLK: Rinsing is just splashing your face with water—you aren’t actually cleansing or cleaning. In the morning, a quick rinse with lukewarm water is really all you need if you aren’t applying morning treatments. A simple rinse will help you avoid over-cleansing, which can irritate the skin.
Face washing, especially if you are using a Polishing Gel Cleanser, removes dead skin cell layers called the stratum corneum on the surface of the skin. As I said earlier, removing this dead skin layer will help the skin to look fresher and for products to be absorbed into the skin more effectively.
What if I have oily skin?
DLK: For patients with oily skin, there is a tendency for them to over-cleanse. In fact, if you have oily skin, it’s better to use a treatment (for example, Benzoyl Peroxide) and to cleanse once a day, than to cleanse twice a day without using a treatment. Over-cleansing, especially in the winter, can cause dryness, irritation, redness, and dermatitis. For oily and acne-prone skin types, over-cleansing can worsen acne, making it appear more red and irritated.
For acne-prone skin, a Polishing Gel Cleanser is recommend. This contains small, environmentally-friendly beads which help to gently remove dead skin cells that plug the pilosebaceous units, also known as pores. For mature and aging skin, look for Vitamin A cleansers, since this ingredient encourages the stimulation of collagen.
What if I have dry skin?
DLK: If you have dry skin, over-cleansing can make the condition worse. So, a very mild gel cleanser is recommended. Avoiding cleansers with the actives of lactic acid, salicylic acid and glycolic acid is important too. These ingredients are strong, and can sometimes cause irritation for people with dry and sensitive skin. I would recommend cleansing once daily to remove makeup, and avoid washing in the morning. Over-cleansing with dry skin can cause skin concerns such as dermatitis.
For dermatitis and eczema, look for very mild cleansers that are non-foaming. The foam could strip and dry out the skin, making existing skin concerns worse. Something very mild and gentle is key.
So, do I need to cleanse my face in the morning?
DLK: Short answer—for most people, no. However, using a cleanser that is ideal for your personal skin condition is really important.
There is such a large emphasis (especially in North America) on cleanliness, that people often tend to over-cleanse. The tendency is for patients to over-cleanse rather than to under-cleanse,
especially during a pandemic. Patients that over-cleanse see me to help them with irritation, which is actually caused by the over-cleansing. So the results are definitely significant.
There are a number of skin cleansers available on the market. There is a cleanser for everyone! I recommend taking the time to seek out a cleanser that is ideal for your skin and your particular skin concerns.
Happy skincaring <3