How to Wash Your Face Properly (Avoid 5 Worst Mistakes)


I know what you’re thinking.

“I KNOW how to wash my face! Why are you even writing about this?”

But it’s only because I want to share with you how bloody important washing your face is as the first step in your skincare routine – so here’s how to wash your face!

Having perfectly prepped and cleansed skin, in my opinion, lays down the foundation for everything else in your routine to work – serums, essences, moisturisers, etc. If you’re not washing your face properly (and with the right stuff) then you may as well not have any kind of routine at all. It doesn’t mater how good your skincare is if you don’t know how to wash your face!

There are some critical steps to be aware of – as a little sneak preview, some of it has to do with makeup removal and some of it has to do with knowing what is the best facewash for you. Let’s get started!

How to Wash Your Face Properly: Avoid These Mistakes

There are a lot of dos and dont’s when it comes to skincare; here are five common mistakes that could be holding you back from your clear skin goals. 

1) You’re not taking your makeup off first. 

In certain beauty-based Facebook group, I was confronted for the first time by women who did not remove their makeup before washing their faces. Knowing how to properly wash your face starts with removing makeup beforehand! 

I was shocked (to put it lightly). One of my first beauty-related memories is my mom pressing makeup remover and a pack of cotton pads into my hands, around the time that she gave me the “okay” to start wearing makeup. 

I was frankly shocked that this wasn’t the norm for many women. Makeup removal is the first step to a perfectly clean face!

Luckily, there are literally SO MANY OPTIONS to choose from for makeup removal so you can wash your face properly. One combination I started out with is biphase makeup remover (for eye/lip makeup) + micellar water. Lately, my favourite has to be cleansing oil (specifically the Hada Labo Gokujyun Oil). 

Cleansing oils and balms are my personal favourite because they dissolve so much more than just makeup. When using the double cleansing method, they help to thoroughly (yet gently) remove excess oils from the skin, leaving it fresh and clean!

2) You’re using the wrong cleanser for your skin type. 

The only thing more crucial than removing your makeup is what you actually wash your face WITH. Always use the best face wash for you; a very simple guide is that the more foamy a cleanser is, the more drying it has the potential to be. 

As an oily-skinned gal, I always kind of figured that my skin was working pretty well with foaming face washes marketed specifically to my oily skin. I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

I didn’t realise how desensitised I had become to how taut my skin felt after cleansing with a foamy cleanser – it was literally SO thirsty for moisture afterwards. Now that I use something really gentle, my skin just feels clean and soft. 

Lemme share with you what I look for in a cleanser:

  • Not medicated. This means no additional acids, acne treatments, whatever. I only want my cleanser to do one job – clean my face.
  • Not stripping. A lot of the time this is in the same vein as ‘not foaming’ but I know there are some properly formulated cleansers out there that can foam without being stripping. 
  • Actually formulated for the face, meaning they are pH balanced to be neutral or lower in pH. Most body washes and even some cleansers are higher in pH which is very disruptive to the skin’s natural acid mantle. 

My skin is happiest with cleansers that are neutral or just below neutral. I didn’t have very much luck with a low pH cleanser but my skin is definitely not happy with high pH, alkaline cleansers either. You can usually tell when something is alkaline by its slippery, soapy feel. 

By default, soap bars are alkaline – so skip them when it comes to your face!

Your skin may also feel dry and tight after rinsing – a red flag that something isn’t right. I personally really enjoy the Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser, but there are a lot of gentle and hydrating cleansers out there to choose from.

3) You’re forgetting your neck.

Knowing how to wash your face properly doesn’t stop at your jawline! This is super important, especially if you wear makeup and blend it down your neck. I’m not gonna lie, this is one that I started doing recently and my neck is SIGNIFICANTLY less ‘gunky’ (ew) when I swipe over it with some toner on a cotton pad

When your neck is properly cleaned and prepped, it can make the most of all the goodness in your other skincare. Not forgetting your neck also applies to applying serums, treatments, and sunscreen FYI! It’s the best way to avoid having a premature turkey neck.

4) You’re being too rough on your face.

You really don’t need to vigorously scrub your face with handfuls of exfoliating scrub every day, as if doing so would actually scrub away any imperfections and blemishes (Pro tip: It doesn’t). 

So much abrasive rubbing irritates the crap out of your skin – believe me, I’ve been there before. Physical scrubs are best for 1-2x a week, MAX!

You might also be too rough on your face by overzealously rubbing a dry towel over and over your scrunched up face to make sure you’ve gotten every drop of water off it, BUT this isn’t necessary. It’s overly irritating for your face too. 

I’ve had my face literally sting after drying because I was too keen to dry it off with my towel. What I like to do to stop myself doing this (or anything bad for my skin really ahaha) is ask myself “How would an esthetician do this?”. All you need to do is gently pat pat pat all over your face with a towel to dry it properly – just like an esthetician would. 

5) You’re using water that’s too hot.

I know gals – I also prefer my showers as hot as the depths of Hell, but the reality is too hot of a shower is messing with the natural oils in your skin. How to wash your face for the best skincare results means treating your skin WELL; and using hot water can have unintended irritating effects. 

When you take away too much of the natural oil produced by your skin, you’re left with irritated skin which is left vulnerable to acne and dryness. 

This is why I usually turn down the heat when it’s time to wash my face in the shower, and use room temperature water to wash my face in the morning – my face is a lot happier for it.

So, How Often Should You Wash Your Face?

Understanding how to use face wash correctly and how many times a day to wash your face (ideally, morning and night) is vital for maintaining healthy skin of your skin. Over-washing can strip the skin, while under-washing can leave it vulnerable to buildup and breakouts. There’s a careful balancing act!

The ideal balance is twice a day; once in the morning, and once at night. If you have oily skin, don’t fall for the myth that you need to wash it more than that!

Key Takeaways

And there you have it – your no-nonsense guide to how to wash your face. From debunking the myth that all cleansers are created equal to stressing the non-negotiable step of makeup removal, we’ve covered the essential dos and don’ts that promise to elevate your skincare game from good to glowingly great. 

Remember, whether it’s choosing the best face wash for your unique skin type or figuring out how many times a day to wash your face, it’s the simple changes that can make all the difference.

Now that we’ve gone through this clearly super exhaustive list about face washing (who knew this would be such an important topic?), go forth and cleanse for happy, glowing skin!

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