Updated 12/02/2021. There are a number of reasons why you might splash your face with water throughout the day. You might do it as a quick and easy morning cleanse upon waking up in the morning. You might do it to cool down on a hot day or to refresh your skin when you’re feeling grimy or sweaty. While it may seem harmless, it can actually cause problems for your skin (seriously!). Keep reading to learn why splashing your face with water could be doing more harm than good and what you can do instead.
Why Is It Bad to Splash My Face With Water?
You may not think much of it, but this seemingly innocuous behavior is doing your skin more harm than good. Here’s why.
It Could Be Drying Out Your Skin
Splashing your face with water sets your skin up for something called transepidermal water loss (TEWL). This is when the outermost layer of our skin loses water to the surrounding air through evaporation. This happens because the skin has a hard time holding on to moisture by itself. It needs a little help from what we call occlusives. Occlusives are substances that create a barrier between your skin and the surrounding air. This keeps harmful substances (like potential irritants) out, and beneficial things (such as water) in. Your skin’s natural oils act as an occlusive, but many common ingredients found in moisturizers are occlusive as well.
If you splash your face with water and don’t seal it in with occlusive ingredients, the water will be pulled out by the air, leading to dehydration and a disrupted moisture barrier. This, in turn, can lead to even more dehydration. It’s a vicious cycle! (By the way, this is also the reason it’s so important to use your next product within 60 seconds of cleansing your face. I call this the Golden Minute Rule and it’s one of the easiest ways to care for your skin.)
It Could Leave Behind Harsh Minerals From Tap Water
Another reason splashing your face with water could be doing more harm than good is by depositing minerals on your skin. This will vary according to where you live, but it’s common for tap water to contain certain minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and iron. While these are fine for drinking, they can irritate the skin and exacerbate certain conditions, including breakouts and eczema. (Learn more about how tap water affects the skin.)
On top of all this, tap water tends to have a higher pH than our skin, which is yet another way it can potentially irritate your skin and disrupt your moisture barrier.
Given all this, you might be left wondering, “If tap water is so damaging, how am I supposed to wash my face?” This is where toner comes in. After using a pH-balanced, sulfate-free cleanser, I always recommend swiping an alcohol-free toner, such as the Elderberry Soothing Toner, over the skin. This will balance the pH level of your skin while removing impurities left behind by tap water. (It’s just one of five major reasons your skin can benefit from using an alcohol-free toner.)
It Could Be Removing Your Protective Products
It seems natural to splash your face with water to cool down or refresh your skin midday. However, chances are you’re rinsing away your moisturizer and/or sunscreen. Not only does this remove important protective ingredients and leave your skin vulnerable, but it also sensitizes your skin to heat in the long run. By eroding your moisturizer, you’re leaving your skin without a barrier so it becomes dehydrated and hot-feeling.
If you’re splashing your face with water first thing in the morning in place of cleansing, you may not be properly removing your nighttime products or your skin’s natural oils. This will also make your protective daytime ingredients, such as vitamin C and SPF, less effective and leave your skin vulnerable.
What Can I Do Instead of Splashing My Face With Water?
Now that you see how splashing your face with water could be disrupting your skin, here’s what you can do instead.
If You’re Feeling Hot and You Want to Cool Down…
Cold temperatures can benefit the skin in a number of ways. They can reduce redness and inflammation through the restriction of blood vessels. They can even help prevent pigmentation (that’s because heat stimulates melanin activity). Here are a few ways to cool your skin down without causing any negative effects.
- Use a jade roller that you keep in the fridge.
- Make ice cubes out of your favorite alcohol-free toner and gently glide them across the skin.
- Apply a water-based gel mask that you keep in the fridge.
- If you like tools and devices, you can use the Joanna Vargas Magic Glow Wand (it has a cooling setting) or the Georgia Louise Cryo Freeze Tool.
- In a pinch, gently press a bag of frozen vegetables against your skin!
If You Want to Save Time or You Don’t Like Cleansing in the Morning…
Sorry to disappoint, but there are no skincare hacks for you here! The fact of the matter is that cleansing your face in the morning takes about 60 seconds and has a lot of benefits.
If you’ve ever said something like, “My skin is actually worse when I cleanse in the morning, so I just splash it with water,” chances are you’re not using the right cleanser for your skin type. Regardless of your skin type, though, it’s important to use a sulfate-free cleanser. Sulfates disrupt the skin’s natural pH causing dryness, irritation, and sensitivity.
Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”