Cleansing and exfoliating are two of the most important components of healthy-looking and healthy-feeling skin. There are a wide variety of cleansers, scrubs, and peels on the market to serve these very purposes. With that in mind, how do you know which ones to use? And what’s the best way to cleanse and exfoliate? Below is a step-by-step explanation of how to properly clean and exfoliate your face.
Wet your face
You’ll want to start by wetting your face with warm water. You can either splash warm water on your face several times until it is thoroughly wet, or you can run hot water over a towel and lay the towel over your face for two minutes.
Warm water will help open your pores for deeper cleansing, and the hot towel will enhance this effect. Take care when using the hot towel method, however. If the towel is too hot, it could irritate your face. Also, if you have very sensitive skin, the hot towel could bother your skin and should be avoided.
Apply a gentle facial cleanser
You’ll want to use a roughly dime-sized amount of facial cleanser and rub it gently onto your face in circular motions with your fingertips. Don’t use hand soap or body wash to wash your face, as this will likely dry out your skin.
For sensitive skin – Be sure to use a cleanser or face wash that is for sensitive skin, without harsh chemicals or preservatives. Do this once a day.
For dry skin – You’ll want to use a cleanser formulated for dry skin and wash your face once daily to avoid stripping away too many oils and drying your skin out.
For oily or acne prone skin – Use a cleanser that is formulated to treat acne, with ingredients like salicylic acid. Wash your face once in the morning and once at night to help reduce oil buildup.
Rinse and pat dry
Rinse your face with either warm or cool or cold water. Colder water has the added benefit of helping to close your pores back up to prevent dirt from entering them, and is invigorating for some, though may be too jarring for others.
Pat your skin dry gently with a hand towel. DO NOT RUB. Rubbing can irritate or damage your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin or acne.
It is important to moisturize your face immediately after washing, as washing can dry out your skin. Rub a dime-sized amount of moisturizer gently onto your entire face until it is fully absorbed.
For oily or acne-prone skin – Be sure to use an oil-free moisturizer. For those with acne, use a moisturizer with acne-treating ingredients.
Exfoliating is something you should not do more than once a week. It’s a great way to help clear your pores and remove dead skin buildup but overdoing it can irritate your skin.
To exfoliate, wet your face with warm water and rub a gentle scrub onto your face, and then rinse with warm water.
Alternatively, you can exfoliate chemically with a gentle peel, such as glycolic acid. This is a milder approach than using a scrub and can be done as often as once a day, based on how your skin reacts.
For a more in-depth look at exfoliating, and a more detailed comparison of scrubs and chemical peels, check out our article Exfoliating Peeling Skin: Glycolic Acid Peels or Facial Scrubs?