As far as appearances go, your face may be your most important asset. And while you might think washing your face is a fairly straightforward process — wet, lather, rinse, dry — the reality is there are right and wrong ways to do it.
“When it comes to cleansing your face, less is more,” says Jungho Kwon, M.D., a dermatologist at Henry Ford Health.
Face Washing Basics
The Internet boasts plenty of advice about how to best clean your face (and plenty of expensive products to help you do it), but more important than any skin cleansing tool is a solid face washing routine. Try these six strategies to keep your skin clean and healthy:
- Be consistent: Sunscreen, makeup, oil and environmental toxins can irritate or damage your skin, so it’s important to wash your face once or twice a day. “People who have oily skin may want to wash their faces more than twice per day, but that can backfire by stimulating an overproduction of oil,” Dr. Kwon says. A better approach: Make sure your face is clean when you turn in for the night and after sweating. Skipping morning cleansing may be okay, particularly if you have dry skin.
- Keep it simple: Whether you have dry or oily skin, keep your face cleaning routine to a minimum. “Choose a nonirritating cleanser, such as CeraVe® or Cetaphil®, which won’t strip away the natural oils and protective barriers in your skin,” Dr. Kwon says. Look for terms such as “soap-free” or “no soap” on labels. Not only do soap-based cleansers make you more prone to dry skin and acne, they can also lead to premature aging by drying out your skin.
- Use your fingers: Use your fingertips to gently cleanse your face in a circular motion, but don’t scrub.
- Watch the temp: When you’re washing your face, cool or lukewarm water is best. Hot water may feel good on the skin, but it also strips away natural oils.
- Consider an exfoliator: “Using an exfoliator once or twice a week can help eliminate dead skin cells and rejuvenate the skin, especially if you’re in your 30s or 40s, when your skin begins thinning,” Dr. Kwon says.
- Pat dry: After you wash your face, pat your skin dry with a towel. Resist the urge to tug, pull or rub the towel against your skin, especially around the eye area. “The skin surrounding the eyes is more delicate and vulnerable,” Dr. Kwon says.
Extra Tips for Keeping Skin Clean and Healthy
The look and feel of your face is often your first indication that something isn’t right with your skin care regimen. If you’re unusually oily or dry, consider streamlining your routine with a soap-free cleanser and avoiding any extras. Notice a skin rash or trouble spot? See a dermatologist.
“If you have a mole that changes in size or shape, or a sore that doesn’t heal within a few weeks, make an appointment with a dermatologist,” Dr. Kwon says. When it comes to skin cancer, your best defense is vigilance. Wear sunscreen, take stock of your moles and see a dermatologist at least once a year.
To find a doctor or dermatologist at Henry Ford, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936).
Dr. Jungho Kwon is senior staff dermatologist and sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Centers in Troy and West Bloomfield (on Farmington Road).