There are a number of reasons someone might splash their face with water. You might do it as a quick and easy morning cleanse, to cool down on a hot summer’s day, or to refresh when you’re feeling grimy or sweaty. While splashing your face may seem harmless, it can actually cause problems for your skin and lead to unwanted side effects. It’s something I’ve noticed a lot of clients and customers doing (especially now that it’s getting hotter out), so I thought I’d address it. In this post, I’ll explain how splashing your face with water could be harming your skin and what you can do instead.
Why Splashing Your Face With Water is Damaging Your Skin
You may not think much of splashing your face with water, but this seemingly innocuous behavior is doing your skin more harm than good. Here’s how.
Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL)
First and foremost, 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.
The reason splashing your face accelerates this process is that water acts as a magnet for the surrounding air and will be pulled out of your skin if you don’t seal it in. As moisture evaporates from your skin, it causes dehydration. This dehydration caused by TEWL can disrupt your skin’s protective moisture barrier, which in turn can lead to even more dehydration. It’s a vicious cycle!
Harsh Minerals From Tap Water
Another way you’re damaging your skin by splashing it with tap water is by depositing harsh minerals and chemicals. This will vary depending on where you live, but it’s common for tap water to contain minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron. While these are fine for drinking, they can irritate skin and exacerbate certain conditions like acne or eczema.
On top of all this, tap water tends to have a higher pH than our skin—another factor that can cause irritation and disruption of your natural 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 cleansing with a pH-balanced, sulfate-free face wash, I always recommend swiping an alcohol-free toner over the skin. This will balance the pH level of your skin while removing impurities left behind by tap water. Still not convinced? Here are five reasons you should be using an alcohol-free toner.
Removing Protective Products
It seems natural to splash your face with water midday to cool down or refresh. But, 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 more 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 less effective and leave your skin vulnerable.
What to Do Instead of Splashing Your Face
Now that you understand how splashing your face with water is actually harming your skin, here’s what you can do instead.
If You’re Feeling Hot and Want to Cool Down Midday
Cold temperatures can benefit the skin in a number of ways: they reduce inflammation and redness by restricting blood vessels, help prevent pigmentation, and can temporarily make pores appear tighter. Here are a few great ways to cool your skin down without causing any negative side effects.
- Use a jade roller kept in the fridge
- Use ice cubes made out of your favorite alcohol-free toner
- Apply a water-based gel mask kept in the fridge. If you’re wearing makeup and don’t want to disturb it, you can also try a reusable sheet mask with cooling gel inside.
- If you like tools and devices, I like the Joanna Vargas Magic Glow Wand (it has a cooling setting) or the Georgia Louise Cryo Freeze Tool.
- Of course, if you’re in a pinch, a bag of frozen peas will also do!
If You Feel Sweaty or Grimy and Need a Refresh
There’s nothing worse than feeling sweaty and sticky, but again, simply splashing your face with water is not the solution! As I’ve said, it might make you feel better temporarily but will ultimately just lead to a cycle of dehydration and sensitization.
Instead, try putting some of your toner in a spray bottle and misting your skin. I’m not a fan of traditional face mists because most of them are water-based and will cause TEWL, just like splashing your face with tap water. I remember, for example, when the Evian Water face mists were really popular a few years ago and shuddering. Remember, water acts as a magnet for the surrounding air and will be pulled out of your skin if you don’t seal it in. Have you ever licked your lips to relieve them of dryness, only to find that they keep getting drier and drier? It’s the same concept, and the only solution is to use a well-formulated lip balm with ingredients that will lock moisture into your lips so it doesn’t evaporate.
If you’re misting your skin with a toner, I really like Moisture Infusion Toner for this reason. It includes ingredients such as black cumin and raspberry seed oils, B3 (niacinamide), and sodium hyaluronate, the largest form of hyaluronic acid. These ingredients all help prevent TEWL to keep your skin happy and hydrated. Of course these days, skincare products are becoming more sophisticated so you can certainly find face mists on the market that are specifically created to prevent moisture from evaporating out of your skin.
If You Want to Save Time or Don’t Like Cleansing in the Morning
Sorry to disappoint, but unfortunately, I don’t have any skincare “hacks” for you here! Cleansing your face in the morning takes about sixty 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, it’s so important to use a sulfate-free cleanser without artificial fragrances or dyes. Sulfates disrupt the skin’s natural pH causing dryness, irritation, and sensitivity.
Here are eight common cleansing mistakes you need to stop making.
I hope you found this post helpful! Hopefully, you come away with a better understanding of how water and moisture interact with the skin as well as a few helpful tips for cooling and refreshing your skin now that it’s summer.
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.”