Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How often should faces be washed?"
I've heard that washing your face too much can be as hard on your skin as washing it too little. I have sensitive skin, and sometimes it seems dried out and oily at the same time. What should I do? How often should I wash my face?
Sensitive skin is a complaint that has become more common in recent years, and though dermatologists can sometimes use a very technical definition of what it means, most of us think if it as skin that is easily dry and irritated with minimal exposures to light, cosmetics, temperature changes, or soap and water. For those with sensitive skin, just about everyone else, it's true that washing your face too much can cause as many problems as not washing it enough. Washing your face more often than two times a day is not necessary and can actually cause your skin to produce more oils in reaction to the frequent wet-dry cycles caused by cleansing more frequently. It is also important to use appropriate skin care products. Wash your face gently and with your just your fingertips or hands. Scrubbing your face hard or using harsh soaps can only make things worse by increasing irritation and inflammation. You can try products such as Cetaphil or Eucerin skin cleansers which are designed to be much more gentle on skin. It is also important to use a oil-free moisturizer after washing your face to prevent your face from drying out. Applying the moisturizer within a few minutes of washing is best because it helps your skin absorb the product more completely. Finally, using a good sunscreen can prevent further irritation and protect your skin from being damaged by UV radiation. Be careful, though, because sunscreens can also be irritants; so look for one that is fragrance and oil-free. A primary care physician or a dermatologist can discuss the best ways to help improve your skin and help you find products that are right for you.
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