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Are you washing your face wrong? Why does plain water make your skin dry? Why is it bad to wash your face with bar soap or body wash? In this article, we demystify all things related to a good face wash.


Much like brewing the perfect cup of a tea (as depicted in this quirky 1940s British documentary), the proper face washing ritual also mandates a very specific set of rules. As it turns out, it’s the one step we tend to consider least during our daily beauty/grooming ritual. Just splash some soap and water on your face and you’re good, right? Well, not quite…


By not properly washing, your proceeding skincare routine may not be as effective. Or worse, improperly washing your face could lead to breakouts, skin inflammation, dryness, or more.


The small act of washing your face can make you feel better overall. So read on to learn how to avoid the most common mistakes. And btw, even well-to-do beauty gurus make mistakes (as we all learned recently) so no shame if any of these mistakes sound like your routine – they’re all easy to fix.


Mistake 01: Incorrect Water Temperature


Water temperature should be lukewarm. Much like the story of Goldielocks and the Three Bears, water that’s too hot can dry out and strip the skin, while too-cold water won’t effectively remove dirt and grime. Both extremes can cause broken capillaries. Eek!


Mistake 02: Wrong Washcloth


Check your towel next time you pop by the bathroom. When was the last time you washed it? What’s the texture like – is it too rough? Consider this: you’ve just cleaned your face, and now you’re rubbing it again with residue from your nasty, old towel. Here’s an easy trick to avoid running to the washing machine – keep a few face towels on hand, and just use one side per wash.


As far as towel texture goes, you don’t need the softest, most luxurious towelette ever created – however, you should avoid course towels that can over-exfoliate skin and cause irritation (especially if your skin is prone to redness and inflammation).


Mistake 03: Letting Skin Dry Out Between Steps


Be careful not to wait too long between steps (specifically when using toner and moisturizer), or your skin could dry out. After washing, your skin has a bit of moisture on the surface, and products like essences, serums, and moisturizers (especially ones with Hyaluronic Acid) work by pulling in or sealing in that water. If you don’t work fast enough, the water will evaporate, leaving your skin cells dehydrated. We recommend spraying toner or essence after drying your face gently with a towel, then sealing it in with moisturizer, while the skin is still slightly damp.


Mistake 04: Using the Wrong Face Soap


Not all soaps are created equal – many are not worthy to grace the delicate skin on our face. Soap is actually pH-basic, and that can alter the natural acidity of our skin (causing dryness or oily skin, leading to breakouts). It’s very important to use a low pH (aka. pH-balanced), hydrating cleanser to protect the skin barrier. Even water is slightly too alkaline for skin – which is why using toner to rebalance skin should be a vital part of your skin care routine.


Struggling with acne? Harsh chemicals found in drugstore acne products are kind of a scam. They can actually over-strip and damage skin, causing further breakouts. Inflammation, irritation, and scarring from breakouts can be healed gently with natural plant-based ingredients like Centella Asiatica Extract and Madecassoside.


Mistake 05: Not Removing Make-Up and SPF Prior to Washing Your Face


Because the general recommendation is to use a gentle cleanser that’s safe on skin, we strongly encourage a pre-wash with an oil-based remover or balm cleanser to gently dissolve makeup, SPF, etc. to better prepare the face for a proper cleanse. One of our favorite K-Beauty products (aside from ours, of course!) is Banila Co’s magic Cleansing Balm – one is sold every 3 seconds in Seoul! It feels like butter on skin, a curious but delectable sensation. We love using it at night just before we lather up with our own Gel Cleanser.

Image via Alessio Albi