5 Mistakes You Make When You Wash Your Face

Three face washes to wash your face

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 important washing your face is as the first step in your skincare routine. Knowing how to wash your face properly, in my opinion, lays down the foundation for everything else in your routine to work – serums, essence, 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. Check through this list of super common (I admittedly still do some of them) face-washing mistakes so you know how to avoid them.

You’re not taking your makeup off first. 

In a certain beauty-based Facebook group, I was confronted for the first time by women who did not remove their makeup before washing their faces. I was shocked (to put it lightly), especially since they were complaining about breaking out due to makeup. One of my first makeup-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 prepped face.

Luckily, there are literally SO MANY OPTIONS to choose from for makeup removal. My current personal fave is using a cleansing oil*—it breaks down everything, even stubborn waterproof mascara. The one I reach for time and time again is the Hada Labo Cleansing Oil*. There’s also micellar water, cleansing balms, and makeup wipes – literally every kind of makeup remover for every kind of person. Cleansing oils and balms have the added benefit of being able to melt down into pores and sometimes pull out things called ‘grits’ in the skincare community. 

They’re totally YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary) – some people never get grits and some people get them every time. There are even makeup remover wipes, however, I haven’t found a wipe that I like. The fabric is always too irritating for my skin and the remover not strong enough to actually take off my makeup. However, if these work for you, keep it up – just don’t forget to cleanse or rinse after.


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. 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 (CosRx Good Morning 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. 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.


You’re forgetting your neck.

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 micellar water 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. Taking skincare all the way down my neck and sometimes to my décolletage also makes me feel like a ~real adult~ too.


You’re being too rough on your face.

You really don’t need to be vigorously scrubbing 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. Put down the apricot scrub and save it for your booty, legs, and feet.

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 to 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.


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. 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.

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!

Have you committed any of these skincare sins before? Or do you have even more amazing tips to share? Lemme know!

A xx

i purchased these products / contains affiliate links*
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