How Often Should You Wash Your Face? Signs You Are Overwashing Your Face

Written by , MA (English Literature) Ramona Sinha MA (English Literature) Experience: 11 years
Last Updated on

Washing your face is something that you can do even in your sleep, isn’t it? But, there are chances that you might be overdoing it. Those pesky breakouts on your face could be a result of overwashing your face. While we know that we need to wash our face regularly, the question is, how often should we do it? Keep scrolling for the answer.

How Often Should You Wash Your Face?

Irrespective of your skin type, you need to wash your face at least once a day in the evening. This is essential as you need to remove all the makeup, dirt, and traces of pollution from your face before you hit the bed.

Now, most of us wash our face twice a day – once in the morning, and once at night. While washing your face in the evening is a must, some believe that cleansing in the morning is not necessary. Why? It is because after you wake up, you don’t have much to remove from your face (like makeup and dirt). All night long, your skin produces natural oils that are good for your skin. Washing your face in the morning will strip away those natural oils. Hence, it is better to simply splash your face with water and skip the cleanser in the morning.

On the flip side, proponents of the twice-a-day cleansing routine believe that even when you sleep, your face is exposed to dirt, dust, and other irritants from the pillowcase and bedsheet. Moreover, you cannot see the minute dust particles in the air (even inside your home) that may settle on your skin. Thus, washing your face twice a day is a must.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association suggests washing your face not more than twice a day and, of course, after sweating heavily (1).

Confused about what you should do? Let us help.

If your skin feels dry and flaky right after waking up, it is better to skip the cleanser. Instead, you can use a facial oil to clean your face. It does not interfere with the natural oils on your face and gets rid of the dirt on it.

If you have sensitive skin, you can skip the cleanser and grab a facial oil or give both a miss and stick to plain water.

If your skin feels oily, you can use a mild cleanser to clean it. Also, if you work out and visit the gym regularly (be it in the morning or evening), it is better to wash your face after your workout session. It helps clean your skin pores and prevents them from getting clogged. You can also use gentle cleansing wipes.

While it is tempting to wash your face two to three times a day as it gives you a feeling of cleanliness, you often tend to overwash it, even if it is just twice a day! How do you know when you are overwashing your face? Find out in the next section.

Can You Tell If You Are Overwashing Your Face? Signs To Look For

Can You Tell If You Are Overwashing Your Face Signs To Look For
Image: Shutterstock

Yes, you can. Your skin will give you signs that you are cleaning it more than needed! Here are the signs to look for:

1. Your Skin Feels Dry And Tight

It is a common misconception that your skin should feel tight and dry after cleansing. That is not true. If your skin feels that way, it means that you are not using the right products. The wrong cleanser often overwashes your face and strips away its natural oils.

2. You Develop Breakouts And Rashes

When your skin is overwashed and feels dry and tight, it means that the natural oil barrier of your skin is compromised. Your skin is vulnerable to dust, dirt, and environmental irritants that can now easily get through the top layer of your skin and cause breakouts and rashes.

3. You Start Getting Acne

Drying products trick your skin into producing excess oil, which clogs the skin pores and causes acne. Hydrating your skin and keeping it moisturized is one of the most crucial steps in acne treatment. We often overlook this step and do not realize that dry skin can make us break out more.

4. Your Skin Turns Red And Flaky

If you see your skin flaking in the T-zone, it means you are overwashing your face. This condition looks similar to an allergic reaction or eczema. If ignored, it may develop into a rash with redness.

How should you wash your face to avoid these issues? The American Academy Of Dermatology Association suggests ways to wash your face correctly to avoid overwashing it. Check them out below.

Tips To Wash Your Face Properly

Tips To Wash Your Face Properly
Image: Shutterstock

These are recommendations made by the American Academy of Dermatology Association (1):

  • Always use a mild cleanser to wash your face.
  • Use lukewarm water to wash your face.
  • Use your fingertips, a mesh sponge, or a washcloth to apply the cleanser to your face.
  • Avoid scrubbing as it might irritate your skin.
  • After washing, pat your face dry with a soft towel.
  • Apply moisturizer to avoid irritation and dryness.

How you wash your face certainly makes a difference. Often, we unknowingly commit many mistakes while washing our face. Take a look at them so that you do not repeat them every day.

Mistakes To Avoid While Washing Your Face

1. Keeping The Water Temperature Too High

Hot water is the biggest enemy of your skin. It messes up the natural barrier of your skin, causing dryness, redness, rashes, and other damage. Use lukewarm water instead.

2. Using The Wrong Cleanser

Each skin type requires a different cleanser (discussed later in this article). Also, depending on specific skin conditions (like eczema, acne, or psoriasis), you may need to use specialized cleansers. Using the wrong cleanser can disrupt the balance of your skin and cause damage.

3. Using Soap Bar On Your Face

Soap bar is extremely harsh for your skin. It can dry out your skin and make it feel stretched out and tight.

4. Scrubbing For Too Long

When it comes to cleansing your skin, the length of time also matters. Over-scrubbing or over-lathering your face can irritate your skin. Don’t spend more than 20-30 seconds on washing your face.

5. Using Facial Cleanser To Remove Makeup

Your facial cleanser is not a makeup remover. If you think washing your face directly with a cleanser is going to take off all the makeup (even if you are wearing minimal makeup), you are wrong. Most makeup products are meant for long wear and need special products to remove them.

6. Using Only Makeup Remover Or Makeup Wipes To Cleanse Your Face

Cleansing your face with only makeup remover or makeup wipes is not a good idea because they contain lots of preservatives and chemicals that can damage your skin if left on for long. Moreover, these removers often leave behind a residue that needs to be removed thoroughly.

7. Using Your Body Towel To Wipe Your Face

You don’t want the bacteria on your body to be transferred to your face, do you? Use a separate towel to pat your face dry.

8. Not Using A Moisturizer Right After Cleansing

You should moisturize your face within 3 minutes of washing your face. Failing to do so can dehydrate your skin and make it tough to absorb any skin care products.

These are some common mistakes we often make while washing our face. However, it is not about how many times or how you are washing your face, but about the type of cleanser you are using. If you are using a cleanser that is too harsh on your skin, your skin will feel dry and irritated. Hence, it is important to pick the right cleanser. Here are the parameters you should keep in mind while choosing a cleanser.

Tips To Pick The Right Cleanser For Your Skin

Tips To Pick The Right Cleanser For Your Skin
Image: Shutterstock

If you have oily skin, try to pick products that:

  • Purify skin pores (like charcoal cleansers).
  • Have an oil-control formula.
  • Are pH-balanced.
  • Have a water-based gel formula.

If you have dry skin, try to pick products that:

  • Are hydrating (check for ingredients such as glycerin or essential oils).
  • Have a soap-free formula.

If you have combination skin, check for products that:

  • Are hydrating.
  • Control oil production.

For combination skin, pick products that:

  • Do not strip away the natural oils from your face.
  • Will cleanse your skin thoroughly.

If you have sensitive skin, go for products that:

  • Have a dense, creamy, and foam-like texture.
  • Contain skin-soothing ingredients, such as witch hazel, aloe vera, and willow bark.
  • Balance the pH level of your skin.
  • Are mild and gentle.

If you have normal skin, you are lucky because your skin is not as picky as the other skin types! Regardless, look for a cleanser with a non-drying formula and hydrating ingredients.

Skin barrier maintenance is crucial while washing your face. Whether you choose to wash your face once or twice, it depends on how well your skin can tolerate it. As long as your skin feels comfortable, you can either choose to wash your face just once a day or follow the AM-PM washing routine.

How many times a day do you wash your face? Let us know your thoughts on this matter in the comments section below.

1 sources

Stylecraze has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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Ramona Sinha
Ramona is an editor at StyleCraze with 11 years of experience in writing and editing. She has authored over 200 articles on skin and hair care. She graduated from the University of Calcutta, West Bengal, and did her post-graduation from the University of Kalyani, West Bengal.

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