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7 Face Washing Mistakes You Never Knew You Were Making

Now You Do!

Washing your face seems like a basic no-brainer: lather up, rinse off, and you’re good to go. But if your skin is still somehow lacking in the “fresh, dewy” department, maybe it’s time to take a closer look at your cleansing methods. As it turns out, a few seemingly harmless face-washing habits can lead to big skin problems, like excessive dryness or oiliness — and worse, some can even induce breakouts. Avoid these increasingly common cleansing blunders for better, clearer skin.

1You’re not choosing the correct products for your skin type. Using the right cleanser for your skin type—whether dry, oily, or acne-prone — can mean the difference between red, irritated skin and pore-less perfection. As a general rule of thumb, your cleanser of choice should completely remove all traces of makeup, dirt, excess oil and any other day-to-day grime, but it shouldn’t strip your skin of its natural supply of oils. Those who find themselves breaking out frequently or blotting away oil throughout the day should stick with an anti-inflammatory gel cleanser, recommends dermatologist and creator of Goldfaden MD, Dr. Gary Goldfaden. On the other hand, opt for a creamy wash or hydrating cleansing lotion if you find yourself with perpetually dehydrated skin.

2You can’t help but use hot water. As tempting as it is to turn up the heat, rinse your face with lukewarm water instead. Using hot water depletes your face’s moisture supply — and as a result, sends glands below the surface of your skin into oil-producing overdrive to combat the sudden dryness.

3You’re an avid exfoliator (and you didn’t even know it). Exfoliating can do wonders for the skin — sloughing off the dead cells that build up over time allows products to penetrate, but rough scrubs and too-frequent exfoliation can also cause unnecessary irritation. “If a scrub contains particles with jagged edges, it can create microscopic tears, and put you at risk for infection,” notes Dr. Jeanine Downie, a New York City-based dermatologist. Scrub up no more than two times a week to keep skin refreshed.

You may also want to re-consider your daily Clarisonic use — cleansing devices trap bacteria in their bristles and can have the same irritating effect as an everyday scrub, Dr. Downie says.

4You’re aren’t letting the products work their magic long enough. Don’t think of washing your face as a rinse-and-go activity. Most products need more than the mere ten seconds you spare them to work — especially acne washes designed to combat breakouts. Work the lather around your face for a full minute before turning the water on to rinse.

5You aren’t consistent when it comes to cleansing. Are your makeup remover wipes reserved for Friday nights (or more like early Saturday mornings)? Try sticking to the same routine — no matter the day or circumstance — rather than switching it up when you’re feeling a little bit lazy. “You should approach skincare as you would gearing up for a marathon. If you aren’t training consistently, you aren’t going to finish,” Dr. Downie explains. “If you aren’t committed to your skincare routine, you won’t see the results that you want."

6You’re washing your face with dirty hands. Before sudsing up, put down your iPhone and wash your hands. “Even if you don’t have any open wounds or visible breakouts, you need to make sure your hands are clean if you’re touching your face, or you risk introducing bacteria to the skin,” Dr. Goldfaden warns.

7You’re skipping out on sudsing up in the a.m. Even if your skin doesn’t feel dirty in the morning, don’t forgo a quick a.m. cleanse. “Washing your face after you wake up removes any natural oils that may have surfaced while you slept,” Dr. Downie says. Start fresh first thing with a quick rinse.

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