Updated 12/21/21. Throughout the years, a lot of my clients have told me that they don’t understand the point of washing their faces in the morning because their skin is already clean from being washed the night before. Some even go so far as to say that their skin feels better when they don’t cleanse in the morning. This is certainly valid, but I truly believe that cleansing your skin in the morning is important. In this post, I’ll tell you why.
Why It’s Important to Wash Your Face in the Morning
There are three reasons why I believe a morning cleanse should be part of everyone’s routine.
1. You Need to Remove Traces of Ingredients Meant for Nighttime Use
The products you use at night are generally meant for nighttime use only (especially those that contain exfoliating acids, retinol, or prescription retinoids). These products are formulated to create positive change while you sleep, which is when your skin is in repair mode. While these products are all fully absorbed by morning, you want to ensure any traces of them are off of your skin so your protective daytime products (like sunscreen and vitamin C) are uninhibited and can work their absolute best.
2. You Don’t Want Your Skin’s Oils to Erode Protective Daytime Products Like Sunscreen
When you sleep at night, your skin secretes toxins and sebum (oil), which could prevent daytime products from working as effectively as possible. For example, oily skin types may need to apply sunscreen more often than dry skin types because oil can break down SPF, which leaves you vulnerable to sun damage. Washing your face in the morning gives your skin a clean slate so protective products work as effectively as possible and last longer on the skin.
3. You Don’t Want Oil from Your Nighttime Products to Interfere with Daytime Products
Even if your skin doesn’t produce much oil and you’re more of a dry skin type, it’s more than likely that you’re using emollient, oil-based products at night. This creates a film on the skin that needs to be washed off. Otherwise, it could be creating a barrier for daytime products that follow (plus, if you use hand cream at night and sleep with your hands near your face, the oils in the cream can transfer onto your face). Again, it’s a good idea to wash your face in the morning so your daytime products can absorb and work as effectively as possible.
How to Wash Your Face in the Morning Without Disrupting Your Skin
Some people shy away from washing their face in the morning because they think it’s stripping their skin of moisture. Here’s the thing, though—if you’re using a gentle, sulfate-free cleanser with the proper pH, then it’s not going to cause a drying effect. I recommend using a gel cleanser in the morning to remove excess oil. At night, I recommend using a creamy-textured cleanser to remove dirt and makeup. To find out which cleanser is best for your specific skin type, take the skin type quiz!
Of course, any time you cleanse your skin, you have a 60-second window before moisture evaporation starts to occur (I call this the Golden Minute Rule). This means you want to get your next product on your skin quickly to lock in moisture. This is one of eight cleansing mistakes I often see people make.
There you have it. You want to have a clean slate in the morning, so your sunscreen can be the star of the show. After all, sunscreen is hands down the most effective anti-aging product that will ever touch your skin. Everyone wants a “miracle” product that will make their skin look more youthful, and sunscreen is it.
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.”