Facial Cleansing 101: How to Properly Clean Your Face

When it comes to cleaning your face, most people focus on the products applied instead of technique. Sure, the items you invest in are important, but how you apply them is just as vital. There is a specific art to facial cleansing that will ensure your products work to the best of their abilities and guarantee that you do not inadvertently damage the delicate skin on your face. Here are eight steps to properly cleanse your face.

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1. Wash your hands

The first step to washing your face is to make sure your hands are clean. After all, is it not counterintuitive to cleanse your face with hands that are packed with germs and bacteria? If you have no idea how long you should be washing your hands to make sure they’re clean, then remember this: The Centers for Disease Control recommend singing “Happy Birthday” twice while washing your hands.

2. Remove eye makeup

Taking off eye makeup prior to cleansing your face is the most efficient system, since it allows your cleanser to work on a bare face and eliminates the extra step of removing dark eye makeup residue after you have washed your face. The quick rule of thumb is to remove makeup and then work on deep cleansing. This prevents the eye makeup residue from clogging your pores and dirtying your skin all over again.

And if you’re considering not removing your eye makeup, then think again! Leaving on mascara can result in lash loss — and nobody wants less eyelashes — while leaving eyeliner on can cause premature wrinkling, as the skin near your eyes is more delicate than the rest of your face, let alone body.

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3. Wet your face before using suds

Before you apply your cleanser, splash lukewarm water onto your face. It is extremely important that the temperature of the water is not too hot and not too cold. Water that is too hot can break your capillaries, and water that is too cold can tighten your pores before you remove the dirt.

4. Apply product properly

When applying cleanser, use your fingertips and rotate the product on your face in small, circular motions. This will allow the product to treat each area of your face and let it absorb into your skin. Some easy-to-forget facial cleansing spots include your hairline, hooks near your nose, your neck, and behind your ears.

Speaking of cleansers, be sure to pick one that suits your skin. If you have dry skin, then look for one that does not strip your face of all its natural oils. And if you have oily skin, consider an oil-based cleanser — the “oil fighting oil” technique is popular, as it trains your skin to produce less oil over time.

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5. Remove product gently

Remove your cleanser by splashing your face with cool water — the cool water tightens your pores. After the product is removed, use a clean towel to pat your face dry. It is important to use a clean towel, since a moist, previously used towel can harbor bacteria. A great option is to use disposable cotton pads to dry your face.

6. Moisturize

The final step in properly cleaning your face is important for achieving great skin. While the feeling of freshly washed skin is wonderful, it is crucial to always moisturize after cleansing your face. Your cleanser removes oil from your face, so an emollient is a great way to ensure your skin is healthy, hydrated, and glowing.

When picking a moisturizer, it is important to know your skin. If you have acne-prone skin, then consider a moisturizer that battles pimples; if you have dry skin, then opt for a heavier cream; and if you have oily skin, then look for a lightweight product that battles oil. Oh, and needless to say, opt for a moisturizer with an SPF of 30 or more when hydrating in the morning.

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7. Exfoliate

Depending on your skin type, be sure to exfoliate at least once a week with a scrub. While this is not ideal for a day-to-day cleansing ritual, it is important for eliminating dead skin. If you have dry skin, then consider exfoliating your face twice a week, and be sure to scrub your neck, as well. (A quick DIY scrub is mixing two parts sugar with one part olive oil.) That said, be warned that there is such a thing as exfoliating too much, so be sure you don’t use an exfoliator that is too abrasive.

8. Use clean bedding

Don’t forget to wash your sheets (and your pillowcases), as they can often harbor bacteria that can bother your skin. Not convinced? Consider this: Your pillowcase and your toilets have the same bacteria. So much so that scientists cannot distinguish between the two. If you’ll be putting in the extra work of cleaning your face properly, then do yourself a favor and make sure your bedding is clean, as well.

With these eight tips in your arsenal, you will be well on your way to healthy skin. Know that most dermatologists recommend washing your face twice a day — once in the morning and once before going to bed is a good routine.

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