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How Often Can and Should You Wash Your Face?

Washing your face regularly is the basis of taking care of your skin, but is it possible to wash your face too much? Here, two dermatologists give us their input on how often to cleanse your skin, and the right products to do it with.

It’s safe to say that summer can take a serious toll on the skin. Between increased sun exposure, some pretty intense sweating, and a bucket load of SPF to boot, your skin has a lot of adjusting to do. I don’t know about you, but when I sweat and have pounds of SPF on my face, I’m tempted to wash my face multiple times throughout the day in order to keep my skin clear and feeling clean. But is it possible to wash your face too much? I spoke to two dermatologists to get to the bottom of it. 

So…how often should I cleanse?

Susan Bard, MD, a board certified dermatologist, recommends “washing no more than once or twice a day, as doing so can strip the skin of its natural oil, leading to [either] dryness [or] compensatory overproduction of oil.” What I found interesting about her answer was that she said “one or twice.” In all honesty, I believed twice to be the standard across the board, and I always questioned those who claimed to not wash their face in the morning, but if I have one takeaway, it’s this: do as little as possible to strip your skin of natural oils. 

What are the signs I’ve overdone it? 

Now that we know it is possible to wash your face too much, what signs should you look out for to know that you’ve overdone it? First and foremost, pay attention to how your skin feels. Does it feel taut, rough, and tight? Is it flaking, peeling, or generally irritated? 
These are all common signs that skin is dehydrated, and has likely been over- washed. While these are the most common signs of over-washing, excessive oiliness, as Dr. Susan Bard mentioned, is also a possibility. If you notice you’re breaking out more frequently or find yourself extra slick with oil, it might be time to take a step back from washing and focus on hydration. It seems counterintuitive, but it’s true! 

What can I use to cleanse throughout the day? 

What about those unbearable days where you just HAVE to wipe something over your face to help you and your skin feel refreshed? Dr. Sonam Yadav, another board-certified dermatologist, has a few ideas.
First, she states that “rinsing with cold water is advisable” for helping you feel clean without overdoing it on your skin. If you’re looking for a deeper clean, she recommends micellar water. She explains, “a micellar water suspension contains small balls of cleansing oil and purified water. It’s [both] gentle on skin and effective for cleansing makeup and grime by drawing out the impurities from the surface, easily wiped away on a cotton ball. Micellar water is great for cleansing on the go, on a plane, or in a forest, or when sleepy [and] lying in bed. It doesn’t need water to be used on the skin [and] it’s also effectively doing double duty as a moisturizer. It is best for dry and sensitive skin,” but oily and acne-prone skin types can use it as well.
“The advantage is its convenience, good cleansing ability, and non drying quality, unlike soaps and stronger face washes,” she says, making it perfect to refresh throughout the day.
If you’re not a fan of micellar water, a mid-day oil cleanse is also a fantastic option. The oil will help to break up sebum, dirt, and sunscreen while leaving your skin hydrated and not stripped of oils. 

What should I reapply after I’ve cleansed? 

Of course, if you’re cleansing your face throughout the day, you’ll need to reapply some of your essentials to keep your routine up to par. This definitely varies from person to person and routine to routine, but be sure to reapply the essentials such as a light layer of moisture and of course a fresh layer of SPF (which you should be reapplying every two hours, anyway!).
If you’re oily and acne prone, you might benefit from using a witch hazel toner, as well, to keep pores and active breakouts as calm as possible. Most importantly: these mid-day cleanses are NOT the time to be using face washes with acids or any exfoliating treatment. Leave that for the night time to ensure no sun damage is done! 

Shop some of our favorite gentle cleansers below!

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