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(Am I Doing This Right?!) 9 Mistakes You Might Be Making While Washing Your Face

Mistakes You Might Be Making While Washing Your Face

Happy Thursday!! 

Kendall AND Jess here today for tag-team edition of “Am I Doing This Right?!” The series where we tackle a different adulting topic (that seems straightforward, but actually isn’t) each post, and break it down to examine how to do it *correctly.* Typically this is Kendall’s domain, but today, Jess is chiming in too, you know, due to the nature of the topic––SKINCARE!

More specifically–washing your face! 

Now, I know the topic of washing your face seems pretty straightforward, but actually, it’s pretty easy to mess up! If you’ve been dealing with skincare struggles–dryness, flakiness, dry in the morning, oily in the afternoon, breakouts––whatever! Chances are, your face-washing routine could be the culprit!

There’s nothing more frustrating than TRYING to do the right thing and not reaping the full benefits! So, in the spirit of the new year and fresh starts, let’s dive into face washing 101 to break any bad habits and continue the good ones to bring out our best skin — once and for all!

Here are 9 ways you might be sabotaging your skin while washing your face — and what to do instead!

1. Start out with a clean slate (clean hands and face towel!) 

Do you wash your hands before you begin your skincare routine? You have so much bacteria on your hands at a given time, and you don’t want to touch your face with dirty fingers as you’re applying your products!

Wash them well with hand soap and hot water before starting your routine. The same goes for your face towel–are you changing it regularly? You don’t want to dry your face with a dirty towel and transfer bacteria onto your just-washed face! Make sure you’re changing out your towels often. (While we’re here, your pillow case falls into this category too!)

2. Over washing

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to how often you should wash your face each day. So while washing your face twice a day might be exactly right, it could also be one too many!

If you’re battling stubborn, dry skin, try washing your face with cleanser once a day — at night. You can still splash water on your face in the morning and add moisturizer, SPF, etc., but giving your skin a break from your cleanser might be exactly what it needs. The only way to know? Give it a try! Keep an eye on your skin for a couple of weeks to see if once a day washing is the way to go!

Also, make sure you are using a microfiber washcloth! Most washcloths are too rough on your skin and can cause irritation or even damage.

3. Using *hot* water

Hot water is never the answer when it comes to your skin (outside of washing your hands)! According to the Baylor College of Medicine, showering in lukewarm water is best for protecting skin and to avoid stripping natural oils.

While it might feel good in the moment, especially in the winter, hot water wreaks havoc on your skin by stripping it of moisture and causing inflammation and irritation. So if you’re having problems with dryness, this is the first thing I recommend changing–try with lukewarm water instead.

4. Relying on makeup wipes

We’ve all been there — it’s late, you’re exhausted and fully washing your face is the last thing you want to do. So, you reach for some makeup wipes and call it a day. While this is totally fine from time to time, and is better than nothing at all, most wipes leave behind residue and don’t actually clean your face (or worse, actually lead to more breakouts!)

You definitely want to make sure to remove makeup AND clean at the same time. That process can look different based on what type of products you like to use–but if you like to be a “one step and done” kinda girl–try these makeup wipes. They both remove makeup and clean your skin. (As well as the traditional way? Personally, I don’t think so––so I’d recommend only using them to wash your face in a pinch!)

A big plus: they don’t leave it feeling greasy or stripped like other wipes do! If you are prone to falling asleep in your makeup, (or just falling asleep without washing your face) definitely keep these in your bedside drawer! They’re also perfect for your gym bag so you can wipe off your face post-workout and avoid sweat-induced breakouts!

5. Using a harsh cleanser

Not all cleansers are created equal! In fact, so many cleansers are full of chemicals (which isn’t doing your skin any favors) and things called sulfates (read all about sulfates and my favorite sulfate-free alternatives in this post) which are chemicals that make things like shampoo and face wash foamy–and it’s the same type of cleanser that’s in laundry detergent. ????

If you’re prone to breakouts, you also might be washing your face with a cleanser made specifically for acne, because isn’t that what you’re supposed to do!? Unfortunately, that can also do more harm than good. Not only are anti-acne products super drying and harsh (which in turn makes your skin produce more oil and then turns into a vicious cycle!) but they’re really made for teenage skin––not adult skin!

Jess’s Clean Cleanser Favorites + Reccos:

To remove makeup: 

Cleansing balm: I love this year-round and recommend it for ALL skin types! It leaves my skin insanely soft and hydrated–I love using it to remove my makeup, followed by a cleanser. (Sometimes I’ll also use it as my only cleanser, in which case, I’ll double cleanse!) You’ll want to use a gentle cloth (I use these!) to remove it. I also love using it as an overnight mask! I’ve even started putting it on my dry hands and feet before bed!

Coconut oil: While you won’t QUITE get the same results as the cleansing balm, a really budget-friendly way to remove makeup (and it’s also super hydrating and naturally antibacterial!) is removing with coconut oil. Rub some in your palms so it liquifies, apply to dry skin, and remove with a wet washcloth, then follow with your cleanser. Just make sure to fully remove it–or else it may clog your pores!

For normal skin:

Nourishing Cleanser: This is probably my favorite all-purpose and budget-friendly (under $30!) everyday cleanser for normal skin. It’s very gentle and it’s great at removing makeup too! It’s especially calming for irritated skin! **Note, if you have very dry skin, I’d probably recommend the cleansing milk below instead!

Cleansing Oil: Great for normal to dry skin. This cleanser is luxurious and I LOVE how the moisturizing oil turns to a milky cleanser with water. Apply on dry skin, rub around, splash with water, continue to rub for a few more seconds, and remove with a warm washcloth! I also love Caudalie’s version as well (one of my other favorite brands!) but I think I like Beautycounter’s more (and you get more bang for your buck with the size of the product!)

For dry skin:

Cleansing milk: This is what I recommend to everyone with dry dry skin! I love it SO much and it’s fantastic when your skin is super dry. Apply it on dry skin, rub around, and use a warm, wet cloth to remove. Removes makeup and cleanses all in one step!

Cleansing Oil: Great for normal to dry skin. This cleanser is luxurious and I LOVE how the moisturizing oil turns to a milky cleanser with water. Apply on dry skin, rub around, splash with water, continue to rub for a few more seconds, and remove with a warm washcloth! I also love Caudalie’s version as well (one of my other favorite brands!) but I think I like Beautycounter’s more (and you get more bang for your buck with the size of the product!)

For oily/combination/acne prone skin:

Charcoal bar: This no-fuss bar is perfect for the shower (I have it in mine!)–it lasts a really long time and since charcoal is naturally detoxifying, it’s great for fighting breakouts and balancing oily skin. (It’s good for body as well as face–which is also good for helping clear up any post-workout breakouts on your back or chest–that’s the worst.) I would not recommend this for those with dry skin though! OR if you do have dry-ish skin (occasionally) just alternate using this with another cleanser above.

Counter control clearing cleanser: A foaming cleanser that removes oil and makeup other impurities without harsh surfactants that can strip skin of moisture!

Ren Clarifying Clay Cleanser: I haven’t used this personally but several friends have been raving about this brand to me recently and this cleanser has great reviews for oily/breakout prone skin!!

A helpful note on dry/oily skin: 

I’ve received quite a few messages lately from my ladies with “oily” skin saying they’ve been having issues with dryness, or that their skin only gets oily LATER in the day–the cause is almost ALWAYS that they’re using products that are too harsh for them. (I.E. Acne face wash, astringents–those are not made for adult skin, and they’re exacerbating the issue!) If your skin is dry in patches or at the beginning of the day, and gets oily later, that means that your skin is producing excess oil to make up for the fact that it’s dry, so if you have an oily/dry problem, switch to a more hydrating face wash and stop using “drying” products, and this will likely do the trick!)


6. Cleansing in the shower

(This is one Kendall has added and I admit that I don’t want to believe her. ????I often wash my face in the shower! BUT…she has a point!!) 

While in theory washing your face while showering seems like you’re killing two birds with one stone, Kendall says, the shower is not an ideal place to wash your face or store your products! The hot temperatures and humidity can break down your products and make them less effective. Store your cleanser in a climate-controlled environment and wash your face with cool to lukewarm water post-shower. (Not to mention, it breaks my rule of not using hot water when washing your face! She’s right!!) 

7. Exfoliating too much

Grainy exfoliators (or even rough washcloths!!) can be unnecessarily harsh — especially when used too often! The best way to get boost circulation and avoid irritation? Some jagged physical exfoliators (I.E. “apricot scrub”–EEK!) can be the worst offenders because they can damage your skin. On the flip side, some acid-based exfoliators could be too harsh or strong, or you could be using them too often.

Depending on your skin type, you should be exfoliating once per week, working your way up. Twice per week seems to be the sweet spot for most people.

Here are some recommended exfoliators to start with!

Beautycounter’s Overnight Resurfacing Peel: my “holy grail” and favorite #1 most recommended skincare product––I love it so much, I wrote a whole post on it! It doesn’t just exfoliate, but transforms dull skin into a more even, glowing complexion (many people see a difference in just one night!). It targets everything from uneven skin tone, dry spots, dark spots, breakouts, fine lines, and gives you an overall glow!

I also LOVE Peter Thomas Roth’s FirmFX Enzyme Peel (the dead skin literally ROLLS UP it’s so gross but works so well. Great for surface level exfoliation!) It’s not *clean* per say, but it’s made without the major dirty offenders, and because you only have it on for a couple of minutes, it doesn’t sink into your skin, so it’s less of a worry for me!) If you’re having issues with dryness/flakiness and need a fast fix, this is your product.

What’s the difference between the two? The Beautycounter peel works over time, at a much deeper level, and helps with a lot more than just exfoliation but this one sloughs off the top layer of dead skin immediately, without damaging it, allowing for better moisturizer absorption and smoother makeup application!

M-61’s Supersoothe Microdermabrasion Scrub:  A friend recommended this to me and it’s next on my list to try out! While it’s a scrub, it’s SUPER gentle, and is meant to yield microdermabrasion results at home!

8. Rubbing dry

This one might be a tough habit to kick, too! It’s important to pat, not rub your face dry. Rubbing can tug the skin, causing irritation, redness, and even wrinkles. Remember that the skin on your face is very delicate, so treat it accordingly!

9. Not moisturizing right away

You’re not done washing your face until you’ve moisturized! According to the American Academy of Dermatology, moisturizers work by trapping existing moisture in your skin, which needs to be applied within minutes of bathing. When you apply serums and moisturizers right away while your skin is still damp, you maximize their effects by allowing for extra absorption!

[ggheading style=”light” size=”2″ text=”Custom Skincare + Makeup guides:”]

Want more skincare recommendations specifically for YOUR skin type!? Pop in your name and email address below to take a one-second survey and get custom recommendations for you! PLUS, you’ll be entered to win a mini of my favorite clean budget-friendly moisturizer, Weleda Skin Food! 


These may sound like little things, but they can make a BIG difference in your skin! Here’s to better skin in 2020. ????

You might also like these skincare posts:

8 Mistakes You’re Making in the Shower,

Ice Roller Benefits — Why You’ll Love this $12 Skincare Hack

 Check out more (Am I Doing This Right?!) posts here!