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Face Washing Mistakes You Never Knew You Were Making

By Stacey Feintuch

Created: 03/25/2016
Last Updated: 03/25/2016

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You wash your face when you wake up and before you go to bed—it's a no-brainer. In fact, it's the least complicated part of your beauty routine. But did you know that you may be making some mistakes with this skin-care regimen?

Some seemingly harmless habits may make your skin not look as fresh, healthy or glowing as it could be.

Here are some common face-washing blunders you may be committing at the sink. With a few tweaks, you'll be on the path to clearer, more radiant skin.

You use hot water. Like a nice warm shower, you may tend to wash your face with hot water because it feels good. But for a gentle and effective cleanse, go for lukewarm or cool temperatures at the sink. Hot water gets rid of your face's moisture. In turn, your face produces more oil to combat its dryness. Plus, it dilates the blood vessels and capillaries under your skin, making you look red and flushed.

You wash your face with your hands. Put the phone down! Make sure your hands are clean if you're touching your face. Otherwise, you may be putting bacteria on your skin.

You use the wrong cleanser. If you use a cleanser that's too harsh, it can make skin irritated, red or tight. And if it's too gentle, you'll have to wash hard or twice just to get a thorough cleanse. The right cleanser won't strip away too much of the skin's healthy cells or natural oils. And it will get rid of makeup, grime, excess oils and dirt completely. Typically, you want a creamy wash or hydrating cleansing lotion if you have dry to normal skin to help keep it moisturized. Use a gel or foaming cleanser if you have skin that is a combination or oily. If you have acne-prone skin, opt for a wash with salicylic acid, which helps treat skin conditions. Also look for a cleanser that's sulfate-free; otherwise it will be too harsh on the skin. Speak to your dermatologist to help find one that's right for you.

You wash your face too much. Overdoing it on washing can make your skin look older and irritate it to the point that it overproduces oil. Don't wash skin more than twice a day (though it's OK to wash your face before or after a workout).

You don't cleanse in the morning. Wash your face when you wake up, even if it doesn't feel dirty. That way you remove any dirt or oils that accumulated overnight (such as from your pillowcase). You can just wash with a splash of warm water if you cleansed at bedtime.

You don't let products sit long enough. Most products need some time to work. Lather your face for at least a minute before rinsing to give the cleanser time to work its magic.

You fail to rinse thoroughly. If you don't rinse well enough, reside will build up. And that can dry out skin and clog pores. Be sure to rinse your nose, hairline and jaw line, all spots that people often neglect to rinse.

You exfoliate too much. When you exfoliate, you slough off dead skin cells, which helps improve your skin's tone and texture. But you want to exfoliate in moderation; otherwise, you'll irritate your skin. Consider exfoliating at night, which is when your skin produces new cells. And don't exfoliate more than two or three times a week.

You use facial wipes too often. Yes, cleansing wipes are convenient when you're in a hurry or on the go (such as at the gym). But don't use them as a substitute for your regular cleanser. Once you have time, use your regular cleanser to thoroughly clean your face. Wipes may not remove all the oil, makeup and dirt from the skin.

You rub your face dry. Fight the urge to rub your face dry. Yes, it can feel good. But you can harm your skin with too much pulling and tugging. You can cause inflammation, which makes skin red and irritated. Instead, pat skin dry gently. Press or blot dry with a clean, dry, soft towel or washcloth (consider a baby washcloth which is softer and less likely to cause irritation).

You don't apply a moisturizer fast enough. Put on moisturizers immediately after you cleanse. Applying a hydrating moisturizer will help lock in the moisture you got when you washed your skin. And putting on moisturizer when skin is still damp will make it easier for the ingredients to seep into your skin.

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