A Guy’s Guide to Washing Your Face

Keeping in mind scientist and inventor George Washington Carver’s advice to “learn to do common things uncommonly well,” we offer a guide to washing your face. It is surely a common thing, but not easy to do well. Here’s what you need to know about technique, frequency, skin type, and product. The way you wash has dramatic effects on your skin. Read on for tips from dermatologist Dr. Neal Schultz, founder of DermTV.com.

Slough Regularly

Important distinction here: there’s cleansing—just cleaning your face—and then there’s exfoliating, where you scrub away dead skin cells. You want to exfoliate your face about twice a week. For more info and explanation, see our full exfoliation guide.

Get off the Grit

On the days you’re not exfoliating with a scrub, don’t neglect your face. Even worse, don’t use just any old plain bar soap—most of these will dry your skin out. You’ll want to use a gentle cleanser instead. Dr. Schultz says to always start with a damp face, then massage your cleanser all over using gentle circular motions. Make sure that you’re only massaging for only about 10-20 seconds. Rinse with warm (not hot or cold) water and pat—don't rub—skin dry with a towel. Wash your face in the morning and at night before you go to bed.

Ease Up

The most common mistake guys make is scrubbing their faces like they’re sanding the hull of a homemade boat. You want to remove dirt and oil, but too much washing or excessive scrubbing can irritate your skin and strip its natural oils, triggering breakouts and dryness. In golf they often say “let the club head do the work,” right? Well, let your cleanser do the work.

Go Custom

Your cleanser should match your skin type. The right wash will help you achieve and maintain normal oil and water balance, says Dr. Schultz. To find your ideal product, determine your type: dry, normal/combination, or oily. A good way to do this is to look at your face a few hours after cleansing. Is your skin matte and tight? It’s probably dry. If it’s already shiny, you’re probably oily. Is it somewhere in between? Then you fall into the normal/combination category.

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