Even if you've spent your waking hours indoors and makeup free, by the end of the day, there are still some things on your skin you're going to want to wash off before you hit the hay."Washing your face removes excess sebum and dead skin, which helps clear out our pores to prevent clogging," says board-certified dermatologist Morgan Rabach, MD. And of course, clogged pores are enemy number one for clear skin, since they're the main cause of pimples. "Cleaning your face also gets rid of other debris from the environment, which can lead to oxidative damage or stress in the skin cells, and removes bacteria and yeast which normally colonize the skin."
While dermatologists have said that skipping your a.m. face wash is A-okay, your p.m. one isn't really up for debate. "I think they're both important but if I had to choose I'd probably say the evening wash [is the most important] to remove dirt, pollution, oil, pollen, etc, that may have accumulated during the day," says board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, MD. Dr. Rabach adds that you're more likely to rack up a layer of sweat and oil during the day than at night, which you don't exactly want to leave sticking around while you sleep (because, ya know, clogged pores). And one more reason to lather up at night? "Cleansing your skin also helps the active ingredients in your creams penetrate during the night," says Dr. Rabach, since you're applying them to a clean canvas where they don't interact with anything else.
As far as choosing a cleanser for your bedtime wash goes, look for something gentle and soap-free, like the Dove Beauty Bar ($10) that will clean your skin without stripping it of its natural oils. If you're dealing with particular skin concerns, an active cleanser that will help to address them—like one of these—might be the way to go. No matter what type of cleanser you use, though, doing something at night is always going to be better than nothing. "Believe it or not, the mechanical act of washing does more for cleansing the skin than the actual soap itself," says Dr. Rabach.
To keep your routine streamlined, follow your face washing with a treatment, like retinol (which helps to stimulate cell turnover while you sleep), and a moisturizer (to keep skin hydrated), and you'll wake up with a happy, healthy complexion.
Want more skin-care 101? Check out the video below:
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