9 Big Face Washing Mistakes, According To Experts

For something that seemingly could be described in three simple steps — turn on faucet, apply substance to face, rinse — knowing how to wash your face is actually a lot more involved than it seems. It all starts with an overwhelming product selection of face cleansers, exfoliants, and moisturizers (whose formulas are rife with common face washing mistakes already).

So, how is someone supposed to know which face washing tricks benefit your skin, and which ones are face washing mistakes in disguise? With all this confusion, it was time to call in some backup. This past week, I reached out to Dr. Jessica Weiser of the New York Dermatology Group. She’s a Board Certified Dermatologist who specializes in medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology, and her insights were extremely helpful.

Dr. Weiser had a lot to tell me about abrasives, healing ingredients, exfoliation, different skin types, and the washing techniques that suit them, and you’d be surprised by how many harmful products on the shelves totally contradict her advice. Want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your face washing routine? Here are the top skincare mistakes to avoid at all costs, according to an expert.

Course Scrubs And Harsh Beads Are Making Things Worse

Bee Naturals Soft Face Scrub, $17, Amazon

According to Dr. Weiser, over-exfoliation can actually cause more harm than good. “[While] proper exfoliation is useful to keep pores from clogging, and to encourage skin turnover and renewal, excessive exfoliation pulls away skin cells that are not ready to be sloughed, and this leads to irritation, inflammation, redness and even breakouts," she says.

Sticking to a soft scrub like Bee Naturals Soft Face Scrub can be a better bet, as it doesn’t contain any harsh beads or coarse exfoliants. Instead, this formula uses a delicate mixture of oatmeal, lavender bud powder, and kaolin clay to gently remove old skin while nourishing the skin underneath. Because the texture is very fine and contains no chemicals, parabens, or unnatural ingredients, it makes for an incredibly gentle weekly exfoliator.

Don't Settle for One-Size-Fits-All Formula; Find A Cleanser Suitable For Your Skin Type

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Purifying Foaming Cream Cleanser, $18, Amazon

“For dry sensitive skin, often cleansing once a day before bedtime is adequate,” says Dr. Weiser. Her exact formula recommendation? La Roche-Posay's Toleriane purifying foaming cream cleanser. It’s specifically created for those with particularly sensitive skin, as it’s allergy tested, fragrance free, made without parabens, and recommended by dermatologists worldwide. It has a light, foaming consistency that rinses easily to leave skin feeling soft and clean, and reviewers widely say that this is one of the best face washes they’ve ever used.

You Don’t Need Harsh Chemicals To Cleanse Your Skin

inVitamin Cleansing Micellar Water, $15, Amazon

“Micellar solutions are another excellent means for skin cleansing,” says Dr. Weiser, “because the small oil droplets scavenge debris, makeup, and excess oils but leave the skin soft and hydrated without stripping the skin surface." inVitamin Cleansing Micellar Water doesn't contain any harsh chemicals, alcohol, or foaming agents, but it does contain micelles, which are microscopic clusters of molecules that love water and oil. That means they cling onto any excess dirt, makeup, or impurities, pulling them out without damaging your skin’s delicate natural balance. It’s especially great at removing stubborn cosmetics like waterproof mascara or foundation, and because it leaves out all the harsh additives, it can be used on any type of skin, from dry to acne-prone.

Natural Remedies Can Be As Helpful As Synthetic Ones

Ella Grace Organics Rose Water, $17, Amazon

When I asked Dr. Weiser about natural remedies, she told me, “Rosewater hydrates, revitalizes, and moisturizes the skin while simultaneously reducing inflammation and redness.” Ella Grace Organics rose water has all of the healing qualities of rosewater without the drying alcohol fillers that are commonly added to other solutions. It tones skin and balances pH levels while replenishing essential vitamins and moisture. And, because this bottle also contains witch hazel, which helps with inflammation and excess oil production, skin will look clear and feel smooth. Reviewers say it’s especially great for people with sensitive skin, who tend to react negatively to harsh ingredients, and because it’s refreshing both in its feel and smell, it’s a go-to toner for the many users who swear by it.

Don’t Ignore Your Skin Cell Cycle — Promote New Growth

Peptide Complex Moisturizer, $19, Amazon

What exactly is a peptide, and what can it do for your skin? According to Dr. Weiser, “Peptides are segments of active proteins used to instruct cellular behavior. For example, peptides can signal collagen or elastin production, or may help promote skin healing to repair a wound.” Peptide Complex's moisturizer is a natural and organic cream that contains loads of peptides, along with healing and nourishing ingredients like jojoba oil, aloe, shea butter, sunflower oil, and green tea. Because cells are prompted to grow and repair, this cream is especially helpful when it comes to wrinkles, fine lines, dark spots, and acne scars. This moisturizer also contains hyaluronic acid, which Dr. Weiser also recommends because of its ultra-hydrating properties.

Don't Forget To Use Honey In Your Skincare Regiment

Bee Friendly Organic Honey Face Cleanser, $30, Amazon

When it came to natural remedies for skincare, Dr. Weiser says, “Honey has excellent wound-healing, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.” Bee Friendly's organic honey face cleanser contains all natural and raw Hawaiian wildflower honey, as well as a whole lot of other natural ingredients (like witch hazel, aloe vera, sweet orange oil, and geranium). Especially if you have oily skin that you wash multiple times a day, this cleanser is especially effective because it hydrates and clears without overly harsh astringents. It foams lavishly and rinses easily without leaving any tightness or residue behind, and because honey is naturally antibacterial, it’s great for reducing acne, as well. Needless to say, tons of people think this stuff is just the bee's knees.

If You're Letting Skin Lose Water Easily, Try Hyaluronic Acid for Hydration

Amara Organics Hyaluronic Acid Serum, $16, Amazon

“Hyaluronic acid creates a moisture barrier at the skin surface, and draws 1000 times its own weight in water to resuscitate dehydrated skin,” Dr. Weiser says, which is why Amara Organics hyaluronic acid serum is incredible when it comes to dry or tired skin. It’s one of the highest quality hyaluronic serums out there, as it contains hyaluronic acid that's botanically derived from the seeds of the Indian plant Cassia angustifolia. It doesn’t have any parabens or alcohol, but it does contain nourishing ingredients like aloe, witch hazel, and vitamins E and C. Reviewers say it absorbs into skin quickly and easily, without leaving a greasy residue, and skin is left looking hydrated, plump, and bright.

Don't Leave Dried-Out Skin Open to Damage — Help It Retain Protective Natural Oils

Herbal Choice Mari Organic Hemp Seed Oil, $18, Amazon

“The most important aspect of skin care is ensuring proper product application after cleansing to trap natural oils back into the skin,” Dr. Weiser says. She says ceramides, in particular, help your epidermis form a natural barrier, and you can find such moisture-retaining ceramides in hemp seed oil. Herbal Choice's Mari organic hemp seed oil contains absolutely nothing but 100 percent pure and USDA-certified organic hemp seed oil. Not only is this oil wonderful for balancing out oily skin and significantly improving acne and breakouts with fatty acids and vitamin D, but because it’s loaded with ceramides, it’s got loads of protective qualities. “Ceramides also help to retain skin’s natural moisture and protect the skin from chemical and environmental irritants,” says Dr. Weiser.

Skip The Sponges And Brushes; Go For Something Softer

Bamboo Baby Washcloths , $10, Amazon

“Sponges or brushes are not necessary for routine facial cleansing as part of a daily regimen,” says Dr. Weiser, as overusing facial cleansing brushes can have an overly abrasive effect. For a gentle cleansing routine that encourages skin growth instead of harm, Dr. Weiser suggests using clean hands or a very soft washcloth. Bamboo Baby washcloths are all the rage right now in skincare, as people are in awe of how soft they really are. These ones are made from durable, eco-friendly bamboo, which are significantly softer and more sanitary than cotton, due to bamboo’s antibacterial properties. They’re hypoallergenic, great for sensitive skin, 100 percent machine washable, and just the right size for facial cleaning. While these are safe and soft enough for newborn baby skin (which is admittedly their target demographic), loads of adult reviewers kept them for themselves.

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