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Should you be washing your face four times a day?


January OldsThese days, there are endless ways to wash a face—with mud, charcoal, balms, or all kinds of oils. But one California skin-care expert swears by a cleansing technique that I’d never heard before: She washes her face up to four times per day.

“I know it sounds a little fanatical, but there’s a reason behind it,” promises January Olds, founder of January Labs, a skin-care line that combines potent botanicals with high-performance ingredients such as peptides, antioxidants, and hyaluronic acid.

Now, before you mutter “OCD” under your breath, hear her out—each scrub-down has a good reason behind it. “Generally, in the morning I wash my face, and then I work out and wash again after that,” she explains. “If I’m going out to dinner, I cleanse before I apply any makeup, and then I do it again before bed.” It suddenly sounds more reasonable (if not a bit familiar), right?

But what I had to find out was this: how does she avoid drying out her skin, and actually get better skin for all the washing up?

It helps that Olds—a trained aesthetician who previously held corporate positions at Clarins and Epicuren—was able to formulate a cleanser specifically for her slightly mad method. “When I developed my cleansing gel, I wanted a product that was safe enough to wash as many times as you want without experiencing dryness,” she says.

The biggest benefit to constant cleansing, according to Olds (aside from that delicious fresh-and-clean feeling): All that washing prevents dead skin from building up, which means fewer facials. And when she does get one, she says she rarely needs extractions (bonus!).

Read on to discover three more of Olds’ tips for frequent face-washers—and make your bathroom a little more comfortable, because you might just end up spending extra time in there. —Erin Magner

1. Detox your medicine cabinet.
It might sound silly, but not all cleansers are, well, clean. Olds says it’s vital to choose a product without harsh chemicals, especially if you’re washing multiple times per day. “Sulfate-free products are the way to go,” she stresses, referring to one of the most common irritants in many facial cleansers. (Here are 7 cleaner cleansers to try.)

2. Keep it simple.
“I generally stay away from cleansing with any devices or washcloths,” says Olds. Instead, she suggests choosing a facial wash with a very gentle exfoliant like willow bark, a naturally occurring salicylic acid (she uses it in January Labs’ Pure & Gentle cleanser). “Just use your hands and rinse the skin with water.”

3. Give your skin some love.
If you’re taking the time to wash your face frequently, you may as well make it enjoyable. “Usually when I cleanse, I give my face a little massage,” says Olds. “If you can take the time and really work out areas of concern—like around the chin, nose, and forehead area—it’s really beneficial.” Just don’t fall asleep at the sink.

Perhaps this leads you to wonder, Is your workout ruining your skin? or why women say they’re willing to risk raccoon eyes after spin class and clogged pores to look great at the gym. Find out here!

(Photo: January Olds)