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4 Key Signs You’re Not Washing Your Face as Well as You Think

4 Key Signs You’re Not Washing Your Face as Well as You Think

Even if you’re already routinely washing your face, there’s a possibility you’re not getting quite clean enough. With expert insight, we’re highlighting some key giveaways you could up the cleansing ante and learn how to properly wash your face.

Washing your face is one of the most important things you can do for your skin. Not just because it nixes, gunk, grime, excess oil, and product, but because it sets your skin up for the rest of your regimen. 

The process is easy enough, right? Wet, lather, and rinse! Sometimes, though, we cut corners by not using enough product, not spending long enough lathering, or by using products that aren’t adequately cutting through the grime. Below are some of the key signs that you’re not quite hitting the mark—some are more subtle than you’d think! 

There’s Makeup or Dirt Residue Where It Shouldn’t Be 

“You are missing the mark if you see makeup on the towel that you used to dry post-wash,” says Ann Marie Cilmi, a licensed esthetician and vice president of innovation for Face Haus. “You might also notice some on the cotton pads you use to swipe toner onto your skin.” Another good place to check is your pillow! (Pro Tip: Wash your pillowcase weekly no matter what.)

Your Skin Looks and Feels Clogged 

If you routinely battle whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples then there’s a possibility you’re not washing your skin well enough. Congestion can occur when product isn’t adequately removed. 

“Esthetician’s would agree this is one of our favorite concerns to hear because it’s usually quite an easy fix,” says Andrea Ghigliazza-Lembkey, esthetician and owner of a medical skin boutique in San Francisco. “Often, [congestion] is the result of using a product improperly, lack of exfoliation, insufficient hydration, or the biggest culprit—not properly cleansing the skin.”

You Wake Up With “Raccoon Eyes’

Eye makeup—including mascara, liner, and anything shimmery—is notoriously stubborn. While it’s less likely to cause breakouts, it can lead to irritated eyes. It’s also a big giveaway the rest of your face isn’t getting clean enough, either. 

“Use a makeup remover formulated specifically for the eyes,” says Cilmi. “Apply the product to a damp cotton round, place it on the eyes for a few seconds, then gently swipe.” Try Etude House SoonJung Lip & Eye Makeup Remover. It’s super gentle, nixes eye makeup like a champ, and nourishes your skin.

Your Products Are ‘Pilling’

Although you probably  haven’t heard this term before, you’ve definitely experienced this irritating skin care phenomenon once or twice.

“By skipping past a full cleansing routine, you are leaving behind an invisible layer of film. This layer creates a barrier, inhibiting your products from fully penetrating to work to their full capacity,” explains Ghigliazza-Lembkey.

What’s weirder, these layered ingredients can sometimes ‘pill’ when they interact with each other. This usually looks and feels like little eraser bits, and the more you rub or touch your skin the more you might create. An even bigger giveaway that your skin wasn’t washed well is if these bits have a dirty/brown tinge to them. Ick! 

How to Cleanse Properly 

To get the job done right, we recommend the double cleanse method. The first step in this proven hack is to apply an oil-based balm directly to dry skin and massage for about one to two minutes. 

“Allow the ingredients in the cleanser some time to do their magic dissolving residue from oil-based make-up, sunscreen and excess sebum. Then place a warm, soft, washcloth over your face compress and swipe away,” says Cilmi. 

Next, follow up with a gentle gel or foam cleanser to rinse away the rest. Spend one to two minutes here, as well. Really make sure that you’re touching every part of your face—especially spots that tend to get missed. These include the edges of your face, under your chin, your eyebrows, near your ears, and around your nose. Try the award-winning Then I Met You The Cleansing Duo for all of your double cleansing needs.

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