You're Washing Your Face All Wrong, Says This Skin Expert

Photographed by Erin Yamagata
Like washing your hair and brushing your teeth, you probably think you have your face washing routine nailed by now. It's not exactly rocket science, is it? But if you wash your face in the shower, it's possible you might be doing your skin more harm than good.
Talking to The Gloss, dermatologist Dr Elizabeth Tanzi mentioned that she advises her patients wash their face in the sink as opposed to the shower – and for good reason: the inability to control the temperature easily may result in redness and other skin issues. "I recommend that my patients wash their faces at the sink [instead]," explained Dr Tanzi, who says to use "lukewarm to cold water, which is better for delicate faces."
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Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist and author of The Skincare Bible: Your No-Nonsense Guide To Great Skin, believes that we can overthink simple things like where we wash our face, but agrees that wherever you do it, the water used should ideally be warm and not too hot. "This goes for face and body," Dr Mahto told R29. "Yes, water in the shower can be too hot, but that's because most of us take showers that are too hot, anyway." In other words, turn the temperature down in general.
One thing that most experts agree on is using a separate facial cleanser to your shower gel. "Never use shower gel on your face," advises Tristan Lee, skin expert and author of Munch, Move, Moisturise! If you have 'normal' or 'combination' skin, he advises investing in a mild foaming face wash morning and night. Cleanse for up to one minute to make sure all makeup, oil and daily grime is removed.
A facial cleanser is also more likely to contain targeted ingredients than shower gel, and this is especially important if you have acne or your skin is prone to dryness. For acne, Dr Mahto often recommends Jan Marini Bioglycolic Face Cleanser, in the evening and La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Cleansing Gel, in the morning. If your skin is on the dry side, R29 rates CeraVe's Hydrating Cleanser.
Talking to Hellogiggles, celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas suggests using a separate face towel to your bath towel, as bacteria could potentially make breakouts worse, but Dr Mahto mentions that this isn't really necessary. "Personally, I don't use a different face and bath towel," she told R29. "We are covered in microbes, so I don't think it matters too much!"
But if you are going to wash your face in the shower, it might be worth doing it after you've conditioned your hair. "Heavy conditioners can trap bacteria and block pores and this is why they are a culprit for forehead acne," explained Dr Mahto. How? "Conditioner is designed to hydrate older, more brittle hair and it often contains quite heavy ingredients such as petrolatum, jojoba oil, shea butter or other oil based products," – all of which can also clog skin when used in skincare. As a solution, Dr Sam Bunting suggests washing your face last to remove any residue.
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