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Facial Cleansing: 9 Ways You’re Doing it Wrong

Before the wide variety of skin products that emerged  in the cosmetics industry today, proper hygiene has been known to be the pillar of proper skin care. Proper cleansing is a crucial step to a healthy skin.

Let’s see how you can improve your facial washing technique by going through the list of ways you might be washing your face wrong

1.    Not Washing Your Hands First

Let’s start with the basic – clean hands. Wash hands with regular hand soap – because duh… cleaning face with dirty hands is just so wrong.


2.    Using warm water to wash face

Have you heard about the beauty tip that says “wash face with warm water to open pores”? Well, proceed with caution due to two main reasons:

  1. Pores do not open and close at varying temperature.
  2. It may in fact, cause skin irritation when washing warm water with soap.

A study done by Berardesca E et al (1995) has found out that consistent washing of face with warm water (we’re talking about 40 degrees celcius warm here).

A study on effects of temperature on surfactant-induced irritation

A study on effects of temperature on surfactant-induced irritation

Though significant effects were not observed directly after washing, negative effects become statistically significant after repetition.  The surfactant used in the study is SLS which is a known sensitizing ingredient in cleansers.

Even if your cleanser does not contain SLS, it is best to play it safe to stay away from high temperature when washing face.

3. You Don’t Double-Cleanse

Double Cleansing is the use of oil cleansers to remove oil-soluble matter on skin before using your regular facial wash. Oil-soluble materials include your sebum, pigments from makeup, emollients and some product preservatives and fillers. For me, Double-cleansing isn’t always necessary especially if you don’t put too much product on your face. However, if you have full-make up on, or you have layers of products applied on your face, it may be necessary.

Double Cleansing Method

The cosmetic industry has done so much improvement in formulations to make their products more Long-lasting and water-proof. So it makes sense that we should step up our cleansing routine too, Yes?


4. Not using Mechanical Tools to Aid Cleansing

Surfactants are the active ingredients in all cleansers that are responsible in removing dirt and oil from your face. Let us take a look at how surfactants actually work:

Cleansing Agents: Their Micellar mode of action

Surfactants in cleansers attract non-water soluble matters and encapsulates them in tiny spherical micelles. It means that surfactants makes dirt and oil suspend in water. Our cleansers still need mechanical removal of dirt and proper rinsing for thorough cleaning. Though massaging our face with our hands works, using cleansing aids with higher surface area significantly improve your cleaning efficiency.

Here are some examples of Cleansing Aids:

Facial Cleansing tools

Facial Cleansing tools

Caution: Keep our cleansing tools clean. If you cant keep ‘em clean, better use your clean hands.

5. Using Dirty Linen to wipe face

A harmless comedone can instantly get inflamed when colonized by bacteria. Don’t make your washing efforts come to waste by drying your face with dirty cloth.

6. Washing too Often

What actually happens when we wet our face? In thermodynamics, the rate at which water evaporates from a surface is proportional to the amount of water in the surface. It means that when your face is wet, water evaporates from your skin much faster.

transepidermal water loss when cleansing

Transepidermal water loss is the evaporation of water from the skin

It’s okay if it’s just water that evaporating – that’s the whole point of drying right? The problem is that a portion of our moisture from deeper layer of your skin also evaporates with the water on the surface. Washing with water, along with frequent stripping of sebum caused by cleansers can result to dryness.


7. You Exfoliate too Often, or too much

overexfoliation when cleansing

Using too concentrated exfoliating products, exfoliating too often or rubbing face too harshly can lead to over exfoliation

There are two ways on how you can possibly over-exfoliate: 1. You are exfoliating too often 2. Your products are too concentrated for your skin’s sensitivity.

Skin’s tolerance to exfoliant concentration vary from person to person. When using exfoliants, always start spot test, and apply at one to two days interval. In case the product doesn’t suit you, a patch of redness is better than walking outside looking like a ripe tomato.

8. You don’t rinse properly

jawline acne from improper cleansing

Acne around the jawline sometimes developed from improper rinsing of cleansing products that accumulate in this area.

Some people have acne around the jawline  because it’s the area that’s often not rinsed thoroughly with water when washing face. Retained Cleansers on face can become food for bacteria, or may contain comedogenic substances that can clog pores.


9. You don’t moisturize right after

facial cleansing

Immediately moisturize face after you pat it dry. Do not wait too long either. Stripping off sebum on our face makes it vulnerable to dryness. Make sure you moisturize every time you wash your face.



Article written by:

Anne Porter

Hi! I’m Anne. I am a chemical engineer from Cebu, Philippines. I created Zarins Beautylab because of my love for cosmetics, skin care products and all other stuff that makes me (and you) look and feel beautiful. My semesters of chemistry courses come in handy as I explain the science behind different beauty products: which works and how it works. Well, Sometimes its science and sometimes its just good ol’ common sense.

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