Exactly When You Need to Wash Your Face

If you’re new to skin care probably not thought twice about when you cleanse your face. Some people do it whenever they shower (god forbid, with a 3-in-1 face hair and body wash), some do it bleary-eyed as soon as they wake up, and some every time they leave the gym to clean the sweat off and nothing more.

So when you’re posed with the seemingly simple question “are you washing your face enough, or too much?” it scares the uninitiated and perplexes the practiced alike.

How often should you wash your face? Are you doing it wrong? Will doing it too much or too little hurt your skin?

The answers are: it depends, maybe, and yes!

The potential problems with over-cleansing or under-cleansing

Firstly, there are several issues that could arise if you wash your face too often or too little.

Overwashing: If you’re cleansing more than your skin needs, either in frequency or in the choice of cleanser you make, it can start to become dehydrated, irritated and sensitive. This is because of a disruption of the balanced sebum that forms the skin barrier which keeps moisture locked between skin cells. You’ll notice a tight feeling that’s hard to quench, and increased redness and stinging sensations when applying products.

Underwashing: If you’re not cleansing often enough, your products may not sink into your skin effectively because of the old products and oils in their way Also, not cleansing off the grime from the day could lead to breakouts and even further free radical damage that causes ageing. You’ll probably start to notice more closed comedones and other non-inflammatory acne conditions.

Face washing factors to consider

So when thinking about you and your skin, there are a couple of things to take into account when figuring out how frequently you need to wash your face. What the right amount is will depend on three things:

  1. Skin type: Dry skin will need to be washed less often than oily skin, as a rule. If you are greasy, water isn’t enough to remove that film. However, if your skin is oily due to dehydration, you might have to tough out some oily days and cleanse less frequently to help bring things back in balance again. It should all calm down soon.
  2. Product weight: Those who use heavy occlusive creams or wear lots of makeup will need to remove these more frequently. This is to make sure your fresh products can penetrate effectively and aren’t being hindered by old products or makeup.
  3. Skin condition: People with eczema or sensitised skin might be more comfortable cleansing less to avoid unnecessary loss of precious moisture. Contrarily, those with acne could benefit from more frequent (but still gentle!) cleansing to combat bacterial spread.

So, what’s the best number of times to wash your face in a day?

Answer: at least once, no more than twice.

When it comes to deciding when in the day to cleanse, cleansing your skin in the evening is a must. Cleansing at this time will remove all the dirt, dust, oil and pollution from the day, as well as any leftover sunscreen, makeup or makeup remover that’s on your skin. I believe everyone should cleanse at least once at night.

If you feel like you need to remove overnight product or oils, or just to start off fresh in the morning then cleanse when you wake up too! Consider the factors we discussed earlier and give it a go if you think your skin would benefit from a second cleanse each day. You only need to cut back if you’re experiencing irritation or dryness. I’d say that most people choose to cleanse in the morning also, making twice a day the norm.

In other words, listen to your skin. Once a day might be enough for you, but feel free to cleanse twice if it makes you enjoy your routine more or get the maximum effectiveness from your products.

I advise against cleansing more often than twice, though, as your skin will start to feel dry and stripped. If you go the gym and get really sweaty during the day, try something like a micellar water to gently remove the sweat without doing a full cleanse – and always follow with a carefully chosen moisturiser!

How often do you wash your face?



  1. […] can damage, irritate and anger your skin in a couple of ways. Overwashing can counterintuitively make oil production worse, as well as dry out your skin. Unprotected sun […]

  2. […] traipse to the bathroom to rinse your face. I get it. But totally forgoing cleansing is a bad idea. It’s important to be consistent – so stay fresh and clean by instead keeping a no-rinse product like a packet of face wipes or […]

  3. […] Everybody’s skin is different, of course, but for most people a routine will be done twice a day. Once in the morning, before applying makeup or leaving the house, and once in the evening, before going to sleep. This system allows the protective elements of your routine to kick in before a long day of sun, air pollution, grease and bacteria, as well as the restorative steps to take off the traces of the day and treat your skin issues, so it can then absorb the healing products it needs overnight. If you’re interested in the potential effects of over- or under-washing, read more here. […]

  4. […] Drop the over-drying cleansing routine. Try to switch out to a richer, creamier cleanser to avoid stripping your skin dry. Something like Neutrogena Ultra Gentle or CeraVe Hydrating. Make sure you’re not overwashing your face. […]

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