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How to Wash Your Face to Get Clearer Skin

Updated on November 10, 2018
Ria Fritz profile image

Ria is an elementary school teacher who rarely has time to do makeup, but still strives for the best beauty and skincare possible.


Wash Twice a Day

Get that bacteria off your face instead of letting it clog your pores all day! Many people only bother to wash their face when showering, or when removing makeup at the end of the day. Regardless of your shower schedule or makeup usage, dermatologists say it's important to wash your face first thing in the morning as well as right before bed.

You don't have to use the same products in the morning and evening - in fact, it may be better to use a gentler product at some point, as using a strong cleaner twice in one day may dry out your skin.


Moisturizing may seem counterintuitive if you have oily skin, but it's actually important for all skin types. Moisturizing right after cleaning your face helps prevent your skin from over-producing its own oils.

You may struggle to find an appropriate moisturizer at first, especially if you have oily skin. Look for a lightweight moisturizer that almost feels like water on your fingers. Neutrogena's Oil-Free Facial Moisturizer for Acne has been my go-to, especially since it has salicylic acid to help prevent pimples. Give your skin some time to adjust before deciding whether or not a product is working.

Wash with Warm Water

Cold water causes your pores to tighten up, preventing you from getting them as clean as possible. Hot water can irritate your face, creating a breeding ground for more pimples.

Your best bet is to wash your face with a water temperature that's a few degrees cooler than you normally shower with, especially if you like hot showers. For optimal results, try turning the temperature down before washing your face and hair in the shower.

Use a Gentle Toner

While strong astringents can have a powerful effect on breakouts, they're not always good for everyday use. In fact, by stripping your skin of its natural protective layers, astringents can actually set you up for more breakouts.

If you use a strong astringent and are still prone to acne, try backpedaling and using a gentler toner. Your skin may need some time to adjust, but check your results after 7-10 days and see if your oil and breakouts have decreased. A blend of tea tree oil and witch hazel is a good natural option, but make sure to use an organic tea tree oil from a reputable brand. I've used Plant Therapy's tea tree oil whenever I can get my hands on it. Be careful - cheap tea tree oil that's cut with fillers will only make your acne worse.

Even if you already have a good brand of toner picked out, try treating yourself by occasionally using cold peppermint tea as a toner. It smells amazing and is truly relaxing after a long day at work. You can even make yourself a cup of peppermint tea, cool off the tea bag, and then use the tea bag to cleanse your face!


Face products that contain citrus or tea tree oil can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, increasing your chances of getting sunburned. Take care to use sunscreen and a hat as needed.

Don't Over-Exfoliate

That chunky coffee scrub you saw on Pinterest may be great for feet, but it could be way too harsh for your face! Tiny abrasions on your face are prime territory for pimples to start forming. While removing dead skin is important, take care to use an appropriately smooth formula and don't scrub too hard. A homemade sugar or salt scrub should be fine, but if in doubt, stick to a dermatologist-recommended brand.

You also don't need to exfoliate every day. Exfoliation removes the skin's natural protective oils in addition to dead skin and grime, so you should aim to exfoliate every 2-3 days, or less often if you have dry skin.

Hydrate and Avoid Alcohol

Water is critical for your body's natural cleaning processes. It allows your body to filter out impurities, including the very bacteria that clogs your pores and causes pimples. Hopefully you already drink the doctor-recommended eight glasses of water a day, or at least drink something other than coffee!

But did you know that alcohol can indirectly cause breakouts? Alcohol affects your hormone levels, which in turn can affect oil production that causes acne. If you party hard one weekend and wake up with acne later the next week, there may be a reason why! Cut back on the drinking, or at least don't drink too much the weekend before your wedding.


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