Hand washing has gotten all the attention lately (and rightfully so) because of the coronavirus pandemic, but with celebrities like singer Shawn Mendes and Sen. Elizabeth Warren say they don't wash their faces, the old "twice a day" rule has begun to be questioned.
The pop star prefers to "meditate a lot" because she believes that "if you're happy, you won't break out!" The glowing former Democratic presidential candidate uses Pond's moisturiser, but told Cosmopolitan: "I never wash my face." Actress Kristen Bell told Elle that she only cleanses once a day, at night, because she doesn't want to "wash off my own natural oils in the morning."
Before diving into how often you should wash, we need to start by defining what cleansing really means.
"When we talk about cleansing your face, we're usually talking about using a cleanser in addition to water," Nada Elbuluk, a dermatologist with Keck Medicine at USC and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Southern California, told HuffPost. "Something to help remove oil and dirt and things that build up on your face throughout the day that water alone won't do enough of."
When you completely abstain from washing your face, New York and New Jersey dermatologist Meghan Feely warned that "not cleansing can cause acne, especially after a day at the beach or after a workout, or for those who wear helmets or hats and may notice acne on the forehead if sweat is not rinsed off."
Even if you don't sweat, daily life comes into contact with elements that clog pores, and these elements should be removed regularly. "As we sleep and during the day, oils and dead skin cells build up on our skin," she says. "During the day, we are also exposed to environmental pollutants."
These pollutants "can be infectious, like bacteria or viruses," Elbuluk said. "It can be allergens, it can be dirt, it can be all kinds of things, but things that you don't want to have prolonged contact with your skin. Healthy skin is skin that is cleansed of those types of things. ”
Elbuluk noted that leaving makeup residue, dirt and/or oil hinders the effectiveness of products like sunscreen. "These products can't penetrate as well if your skin isn't clean because you have some sort of layer on it," - she said. "You reduce the effectiveness of those products."
However, our skin naturally exfoliates in the long run. "We're all like snakes, and our skin turns every 21 days," Rebecca Baxt, a New Jersey-based dermatologist, told HuffPost. "It happens naturally."
Makeup wearers like actress Sarah Hyland can rely on makeup wipes, which she told InStyle are "a godsend. ... That's what I use every day. I don't wash my face, I just do it."
"Sometimes [makeup wipes] are good to take the first layer off," Baxt said. "But I prefer to wash with a gentle soap or cleanser in cold to warm water with my finger tips, as opposed to makeup wipes. Those wipes have chemicals in them - so they can stay in a sealed container." There are people who are allergic to it."
Elbuluk recommends that people who use makeup still clean them after use. "They don't do all the same things as cleansers, which have specific biochemical properties to remove all the dirt and oil from the face," she said. "Wipes alone are usually not enough."
For people who already have acne, Baxt suggests "washing your face at least twice a day," while those with combination skin "will probably wash well enough once a day."
The same goes for those with dry skin. Dermatologist Steven Xu said they "may overdo it" by washing with a cleanser too often. "Cleansers remove the top of the skin and some of the natural oils that your body produces," - assistant professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine tells HuffPost. "That can be bad in the context of people with dry or sensitive skin."
Aging skin also tends to be drier and doesn't require washing twice a day. "As you age, you stop producing natural moisturizers like young skin does," Xu said. "So cleansers can be very harsh on skin that is a little more damaged."
He added, "People who don't wear a lot of makeup and don't put [products] on their face and don't get oily, that's the kind of skin that doesn't necessarily need to be washed religiously."
Elbuluk said washing can cause dryness: "Using a real cleanser is not needed more than twice a day," she said. "For people who wash more than twice a day, it tends to dry the face excessively without providing any additional benefits."
Basically, there's no "hard and fast rule when it comes to how often you wash your face," Xu said. "It all depends on your skin type and what you wash your face with.
Choosing a cleanser will depend on your skin type. "If you have sensitive skin, you can choose a gentle, alcohol-free cleanser," Feely said. "If you have acne-prone skin, you can choose one with ingredients such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide."
Elbuluk recommends cleansers from brands like Dove, Cetaphil and Cerave. "These are good for sensitive or regular combination skin," she said. "Try to keep it simple. A mild, gentle cleanser is usually enough for most people."
Baxt "has no problem" with people with dry skin using oil cleansers, but doesn't endorse them for people who regularly suffer from acne or already have oily skin. "I don't believe in putting more oil on your skin if you're oily," she said. "I have no problem with a cleansing oil if you have dry skin, but if you have acne, I'm not a fan."