How To Wash Your Face

Updated 4/21/16. While the method of washing your face may seem obvious, there is actually a correct way to cleanse. Everyone should understand the importance of cleansers and how to best use them. Following these simple steps will give you the most optimal results!


Step 1: Apply a nickel-size amount of gel cleanser to damp skin. Always make sure your skin is damp because applying a gel cleanser directly to dry skin makes it too concentrated. Water is what activates the cleansing agents, so in addition to your face, keep your fingertips damp for proper dispersion. See my recommendations for sulfate-free cleansing gels.

Step 2: Massage in circular motions for 30 seconds. Rinse well as it is important you leave no residue.

Step 3: While this step is optional, you can give your skin a final wipe with a gentle facial sponge, washcloth or a baby washcloth.

Step 4: Immediately follow with an alcohol-free toner, an antioxidant serum and sunscreen moisturizer. Read why it’s important to not leave your skin bare for longer than 60 seconds after cleansing.

Is washing the face really necessary in the morning? After all, I just washed the night before? I hear these questions a lot and they are certainly valid thoughts, but cleansing your skin in the morning is truly important. The reason why it’s important to wash your skin in the morning is because while you sleep at night, your skin is in repair mode and will secrete toxins and sebum, which can prevent your morning products from working most effectively. When you wash your skin in the morning, you’re removing any oil and your heavier nighttime products so that your daytime products (particularly SPF moisturizer) can get into the skin better, since it will have a clean slate. Also, the nighttime products that are on your skin often times contain ingredients that are suitable for evening (not day) use, such as acids and retinol. These should be cleansed from the skin in the mornings to avoid any reactions or potential irritation.

For red, sensitive skin:  It is never advised to use hot water when cleansing, as this can weaken capillary walls, resulting in long-term redness.  Always use lukewarm or, ideally, cool water. If you wash your face in the shower, make sure you change the temperature when cleansing your face.

For tired, dull-looking skin: If your skin doesn’t get pink easily, it’s helpful to use fairly warm to hot water to cleanse the skin, as heat will dilate the blood vessels allowing the skin to accommodate more nutrient-rich blood. For an additional boost of brightening, use Luxe Mint Cleansing Gel to revive circulation in the morning.


Step 1: Apply a cleansing lotion directly onto dry skin, using a portion the size of a quarter. Cleansing lotions work to dissolve makeup and oil, dirt and debris that have built up during the day.  In this instance, the key is applying the cleansing lotion to dry skin first so that the it doesn’t get diluted. The emollients in the cleanser will attach themselves to the emollients used in liquid foundations to properly break them down for effective makeup removal. See my recommendations for cleansing lotions. (Be sure to remove eye makeup first. Read how to properly remove eye makeup.)

Step 2: Massage in circular motions for 60 seconds over dry skin. Next, wet fingertips and work through again for 15 seconds. This breaks down the makeup thoroughly.  Rinse well.

Step 3: A washcloth or facial sponge is mandatory for evening cleansing.  In the morning, a facial sponge or a washcloth is optional, but by evening, broken down makeup physically needs to be lifted off the skin. You’ll notice that once you wipe over the skin with a washcloth or sponge, the makeup will then appear on the cloth. (For stubborn foundation makeup, you may want to cleanse a second time.) Please bear in mind that a cleansing lotion won’t give you that super “clean” feeling like gel cleansers do because it is a gentler form of cleansing.  Trust me, if you use a cleansing lotion the way I have suggested, your skin will be clean and free of makeup.

What about other types of cleansers? Avoid the use of cleansing creams that are tissued off. This type leaves a residue of oil and creates a barrier that doesn’t allow for absorption of active ingredients in your serums and moisturizers, which will prevent them from working at their full potential. Some of these are made with petrolatum or mineral oil, which are not healthy for the skin. I’m also not a fan of using cleansing oils for the same reason. They leave  unnecessary residue on the skin.

Are cleansing wipes okay to cleanse the face? No. I believe they are not the best choice for healthy skin. Why? Cleansing wipes don’t effectively clean the skin. Instead they just smear dirt, bacteria, oil and makeup across it. Essentially, it is like applying cleanser to your face and then not washing it off. The cleansing agents are designed to breakdown debris, but it’s the rinsing action from water that actually removes it. They are easy and convenient, but nothing will ever be as effective as proper cleansing with water.

What about using a sonic facial brush, such as Clarisonic? I definitely have an opinion on this. Simply put, a sonic cleansing brush has a similar action on the face as a facial scrub. It’s uses bristles (instead of beads or grains) to lift off dead skin cell buildup and any possible makeup that could be attached to those cells. The companies that make these brushes suggest you one every time you cleanse, but common sense implies that using a facial scrub twice a day would be way too much, right? Exfoliating too much causes a whole host of problems that are not helping your skin AT ALL. You can read all of my thoughts about this here.

Read: Is Washing Your Face With A Bar Of Soap Bad For My Skin?
Read: Five Reasons To Wash Your Skin Before Bedtime
Read: Four Skin Care Ingredients Your Facial Cleanser Should Never Contain

Which skin care products are best for you? See our nine skin types or take the Skin Type Quiz and get products recommended.

Need expert advice from a licensed esthetician? Schedule a virtual consultation to get customized advice in person, over the phone or online via Skype or FaceTime.

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Content found on, including: text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.