I'll admit it; the beauty arena can be a bit daunting and overcomplicated at times. Contouring and strobing and microneedling? I don't even know where to start, but washing your face -- how hard can it be?
Surprisingly, it's more of a process than you would think —not to mention most of us probably aren't doing it right.
The dated beauty tricks you've learned (cue soap and water) most likely aren't working in your favor—hence the annoying breakouts you're experiencing. I turned to a few savvy skincare experts to help set the record straight and maintain the complexion you actually deserve. Now, you'll head to the sink with confidence instead of with dread.
Soap & water is a no go
Still using bar soap like you did in your teens? Try again. "A common beauty mistake that I see clients make is they tend to grab whatever cleanser or bar of soap happens to be available in the shower that day," explains Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist and founder of her namesake line and salon. "It's horrible for your skin because it throws off the pH balance of the skin and causes either breakouts or extreme dryness. Bar soaps are too drying to handle cleansing the delicate skin on your face."
You don't need a tool to "deep clean"
"Tools such as Clarisonic are fantastic and have done a brilliant job at promoting the idea that radiant skin really begins with thorough cleansing," explains Amandine Isnard, Head of Product Development for EVE LOM. "When our cleanser was introduced 30 years ago, this technology did not exist.
Instead, a traditional ‘deep clean' and exfoliation was obtained from the muslin cloth, specially woven 100% cotton that when used with hot water works to open pores, improve blood circulation and gently exfoliate skin."
You might need a toner…then again, you might not
Toner is always a tricky subject when it comes to skincare. The verdict is still out on if you really need one—listen, even our experts couldn't agree! "A toner is a solution put on the skin after washing and depending on the type of skin, can have several actions," shares Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, Co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in Washington, D.C.
"Most people use toners as astringents to remove excess oil or makeup that their cleanser leaves behind. Others use it to pH balance the skin after cleansing. You can almost always can skip the toner if your cleanser is doing its job. Often toners just irritate the skin and are unnecessary. I only recommend toners for the most oily skin types."
Your cleanser choice actually does matter
Don't just walk aimlessly through the aisles of your local drugstore; actually think about your skin type. "If you have sensitive skin or suffer from eczema, a mild cleanser is best," shares Dr. Debra Jailman, author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist.
And don't forget to read the label before heading to the register. "Choose one with glycerin, ceramides or hyaluronic acid. If you have oily acne prone skin, an exfoliating cleanser is best—choose one with glycolic or salicylic acid."
Wash your face at least once per day
We get it, after the end of the day you are exhausted. But just like brushing your teeth (we hope you do that twice a day), you really shouldn't skip washing your face.
"Always wash your face at night before bed," shares Vargas. "Your body repairs itself at night and that won't happen without you removing all the dirt and grime of the day. Unless your skin is super oily, simply splashing water on your face in the morning is fine. For skin that breaks out regularly, you need to thoroughly cleanse twice a day."
A makeup wipe isn't ideal
Being lazy is not on the path to achieving great skin, but it can help in a pinch. "Using a makeup wipe is better than going to sleep with makeup on," shares Dr. Jailman. "But it's always better to wash your face before bed." Isnard chimes in, "It's better to remove your makeup than sleep in it, however, I would not advocate facial wipes as a regular routine [as part of your routine]. They just do not do the job as effectively as cleansing with water."
Multitask at work—not in the shower
As tempting as it might be, skip washing your face in the shower. Believe us, it's worth taking out 3 to 5 minutes to get it right.
"I recommend that my patients wash their faces at the sink [instead]," shares Dr. Tanzi. "[You can gauge the temperature more effectively] and should use lukewarm to cold water, which is better for delicate faces." While you can't "close" your pores—they aren't like doors—an icy splash is beneficial. "A cold finish stimulates circulation and can be hugely beneficial to the overall glow of your skin," Isnard chimes in."
Everything but water
Using that nasty towel hanging on the shower railing for your face? Pass! "Instead of drying your face with your bath towel, use a paper towel instead," advises Vargas. "If you are breaking out and use the same towel on your face for a few days, it will spread the bacteria—making the breakout even worse! A paper towel can be thrown away after use, so it helps to keep your complexion clean and clear."
Don't over exfoliate
"If you have dry skin I recommend once a week," explains Dr. Jailman. "For oily skin I recommend upping this to 2-3 times a week. However, if you overdo it your skin will turn red, dry and start to peel."
Keep it cute & clean
"[If you use a washcloth], we recommend laundering your cloth once every two uses to prevent bacteria build up," shares Isnard. "You can purchase our Muslin Cloths in packs of three, so you always have a fresh one to hand, even on laundry day." One important caveat? " Don't use your fingers to wash," shares Dr. Jailman. "There's often is bacteria under the nails [that can accelerate] breakouts."