Skin-Care Tips

A Dermatologist Is Begging You to Stop Making These Face-Washing Mistakes

Zoe Weiner

Welcome to Dear Derm, our video series in which dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD, shares serious skin-care realness. In each episode, she’ll answer your most burning beauty questions and give you all the tools you need to take your glow game to the next level. See All

Dermatologists are well-equipped to answer all of your skin-related brain busters, like, “what products should I be using if my skin is oily and dry?” “What’s the deal with topical collagen?” and “Do hair loss supplements actually work?” But the most common skin questions MDs get actually have to do with the most seemingly simple part of your routine. In the latest episode of Dear Derm, we asked board-certified dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD, to spill the deets on the skin subjects her patients are frequently confused about. And the one that made the top of the list? The right way to wash your face.

Washing your face the right way is the most important element of keeping your skin clean and healthy. While it may seem like an easy lather-and-rinse regimen is all you need, there are certain small things you should be doing when you cleanse that can make or break the effectiveness of your routine. For example, did you know that some cleansers need to stay on your face longer than others? Or that micellar water doesn’t actually wash your face? Because I, a beauty editor, did not.

Dr. Gohara breaks down a whopping eight face-washing no-no’s in the video (click the vid above to see all of them!), but one that will truly blow your mind? “Soap” and “cleanser” are two totally different things, and one of them has no place on your skin. “Never, ever, ever, ever use a soap on your face,” says Dr. Gohara. Why? Because traditional soap has a pH of nine, which is too basic for healthy skin (which has a pH of seven). This will cause disruption in your protective layer, otherwise known as the skin’s acid mantle, which could cause irritation, creating dryness, acne, or redness. Instead, Dr. Gohara recommends washing with a “pH neutral gentle cleanser, so it actually keeps your skin barrier healthy or destroy it like a soap would do.” She’s a fan of the Dove Beauty Bar ($4), which she uses on her own face, while Well+Good editors are partial to Fresh Soy Face Cleanser ($38) and Holifrog Tashmoo Water Lily Nourishing Milky Wash ($38).

So even if you’re remembering to wash your makeup off at the end of every day (which, for what it’s worth, is an absolute must), there are a whole lot of mistakes you might be making while you’re doing it. To find out what the rest of them are—and hear about three other skin-care mistakes that make Dr. Gohara want to scream—press play on the video above. And if you’ve got more questions for her? Join our Beauty Geek Facebook group and ask away.

This is the one ingredient Dr. Gohara says everyone should be using by the time they turn 30. Plus, why you should never wash your face in the shower.

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