Almost 40% of people still have a major misconception about washing their faces


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Photo: Getty Images/Willie B Thomas

People rave about that special time of the day when they get to unhook their bras and let their chests breathe. And, I mean, same. But I have to admit: for me, personally, wiping off my makeup and cleansing my face feels even better. I can almost feel the stress of the day spilling down the drain along with my BB cream, mascara, and eyebrow pencil. Then, a nagging voice in the back of my head whispers: Is my skin clean, actually? 

I’m not the least bit alone, according to a recent survey conducted by skin care brand Cerave. Of the 2,000 adults polled, 37 percent said that they consider their skin “clean” when it felt tight, but derms say that’s far from the truth. “After washing your face, the skin should feel light and soft, but not tight,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD. “There is a perception that tight and dry equals clean, but it really represents post wash dryness, which is harmful to the skin.” The skin barrier is packed with natural oils that serve to protect your complexion from the harsher factors of your environment. Over-washing strips said oils—which is (obviously) not the way to give your skin a glow up.

“After washing your face, the skin should feel light and soft, but not tight.” —Joshua Zeichner, MD

Instead, Dr. Zeichner says your goal with each cleanse should be to remove excess dirt and oil, while letting the natural texture of the skin thrive. “If you see any visible dirt or soiling of the skin, if the skin looks or feels greasy, or if you have makeup on, it is important to wash your face,” he says. Jeannel Astarita, an esthetician in New York City, elaborates that the skin should feel smooth and free of residue—not squeaky clean. If your face feels sterile and dry after scrubbing, you’ve likely disrupted the skin microbiome. (Oh me, oh my!)

To accomplish this nightly skin care quest, dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD, recommends using circular motions to gently cleanse the skin for one to two minutes. Then, once you’ve rinsed your face, Astarita advises applying a lukewarm, damp towel, too. This will lock in the moisture and ensure you’ve removed any product from your nostrils and hairline. Layer on your products, and off to bed you go.

Did you know you’re not supposed to wash your face in the shower? True story. And if you’re thinking about using a loofah, just don’t

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