Washing your face. What’s the big deal?

Hey guys,

So, like most people, I have a tendency to not wash my face as much as I should. I either forget or remember once I lay down and don’t want to get back up. We all know that it’s important, but how important is it really? And how often?

Turns out, we should be washing our face twice a day. But here is the ‘scientific’ explanation…

Our skin creates a natural barrier between the dirt and toxins around us in our daily lives. Which means that your skin takes quite a beating.

The oil called sebum that our skin produces is the primary defense. This oil is produced by tiny sebaceous glands that exist midway down the shafts of our hair follicles. As sebum travels up and out of the hair follicle, it mixes with sweat and dead skin cells that are also migrating up the follicle. Upon reaching the surface of the skin, this mix (now joined by other lipids such as linoleic acid) spreads out and hardens, forming an armor-like coating that helps prevent bacteria and other invasive agents from penetrating the outer layer of skin.

Sounds like a reason to not wash our face at all right? Unfortunately, no…

When external dirt builds up or there’s increased production of oils or skin cells, blockages occur in the follicles. The mix of sebum, sweat and dead skin cells continues pushing up against the blockage and growing larger, creating a ‘traffic jam’ sort of situation in the follicle. Once bacteria arrives on the scene and inflammation occurs, you’ve got acne. Without washing, acne breakouts and blemishes occur, regardless of the cleanliness of your environment.

Washing your face won’t clear up current acne, but it DOES prevent future breakouts.

Now that we covered the why and how often, what should we actually use on our face?

Here’s the tricky part. Determine what skin type you have. (if you aren’t sure, head over to this article and take a look at the images with skin descriptions.) You also have to factor in any skin conditions you have. i.e. sensitive, rosacea, etc.

Skin is slightly acidic, with a pH around 5.5, and the cleanser you use should have a c2b9fbb5fb480c68b891fd980a978b57similar pH. (which means stay away from the soap) Make sure you use lukewarm water, not hot as that can excessively dry your skin. Avoid using washcloths and opt for just your fingers. They are gentler on your face which is more sensitive than the rest of your body.


A dermatologist may recommend that you use a wax- and oil-free cleanser for very dry or sensitive skin. Some ingredients that might be in this type of cleanser are glycerin, cetyl or stearyl alcohol, sulfate or sodium laurel. But stay away from any fragrance.  Another option for extremely dry or sensitive skin is a cleansing cream, which both removes makeup and cleans the face.

Rosacea and acne-prone should use gentle cleansers. For more information on rosecea, got to National Rosacea Society

Scrubs can be too harsh for many people to be used more than once a week, but there are gentler versions available. Some of the more abrasive scrubs contain ingredients such as ground fruit pits. The alternative is a gentler scrub made of polyethylene beads or sodium tetraborate decahydrate granules — these options might work for people who can tolerate some exfoliation, such as oily skin.

 If you use a topical face medication, wait several minutes. Your skin is at its most absorbent after you wash, and applying a medication too soon can be irritating. The American Academy of Dermatology warns that applying medication too soon can irritate skin and help perpetuate a cycle of further breakouts. Waiting five to 15 minutes should do the trick.


Talk about information overload! If you skipped to the end, here are the highlights:

  • Wash your face 2x a day
  • get a cleanser meant for your skin type
  • use luke-warm water and your fingers
  • wait 15 minutes to put on and topical treatments


American Academy of Dermatology

American Academy of Dermatology

American Academy of Dermatology

Let me know your favorite tip in the comments!


Talk to you soon,



Author: Sarah Fegley

Hey There, I’m Sarah Fegley. Your back porch sitting with a cup of coffee or tea and a plate full of PB&J next to my computer while I enjoy the sunshine with my dog and baby playing at my feet.

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