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HEALTH: How many times should you wash your face each day?

Theo Thimou Monday, May 16 th 2016

Skin care is a multi-billion industry in the United States. By 2018, the market is expected to reach nearly $11 billion, according to industry estimates.

If you’re a consumer, you know that health & beauty aids can take a big bite out of your wallet already. So it’s important to make sure you’re not wasting money by overdoing your hygiene routine.

Read more: 8 foods you should never reheat in the microwave

How often should you wash your face?

Experts are split on the question of how often to do something as basic as wash your face each day!

Some like Gervaise Gerstner, a Manhattan dermatologist and consultant for L’OrĂ©al Paris, says once a day is fine as long as you do it at night to remove that day’s worth of exposure to the elements.

“Your skin has just slept on a pillow, it is clean, it doesn’t necessarily need to be washed,” Gerstner says.

Others say two times a day is the optimal washing schedule — once in the morning and once in the evening.

“I’m always cautious and try to prevent people from over-cleansing and creating dryness and irritation,” says Dr. Terrence Keaney, a dermatologist working with Dove Men+Care.

There is, however, one caveat to the Noah’s Ark rule of two washes a day. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) says it’s acceptable to squeeze in a third wash if you sweat heavily after physical activity.

Perspiration can cause irritation, and wearing a hat or helmet can exacerbate the perspiration problem. So the AAD recommends washing as soon as possible after heavily sweating.

Why all the difference in opinion?

The surfactants present in most cleaning products are there to remove dirt and oil from your face. But they can also remove beneficial oils from the outermost layer of the skin, known as your stratum corneum.

It’s similar to what happens when you wash your hair too much; you remove all the sebum, which is healthful oil secreted from your scalp.

So washing your face without over-washing it is actually a delicate balancing act!

“When you wash your face, the soap or cleanser that you’re using not only strips away the oil and sweat, but also strips away some of the natural lipids in the skin, so it can be potentially irritating,” Keaney told Business Insider.

Here are some tips from the AAD to help improve your face-washing experience:

  1. Use a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser that does not contain alcohol.
  2. Wet your face with lukewarm water and use your fingertips to apply cleanser. Using a washcloth, mesh sponge or anything other than your fingertips can irritate your skin.
  3. Resist the temptation to scrub your skin because scrubbing irritates the skin.
  4. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry with a soft towel.
  5. Apply moisturizer if your skin is dry or itchy. Be gentle when applying any cream around your eyes so you do not pull too hard on this delicate skin.
  6. Limit washing to twice a day and after sweating. Wash your face once in the morning and once at night. Also wash your skin as soon as possible after sweating.


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