How To Cleanse Like a Dermatologist
Face Washing 101
A facial cleanser is the foundation of any skincare routine. This basic yet essential product removes dirt and oil from the skin’s surface and sets the stage for the rest of your routine. Ahead, learn how to wash your face properly in this straightforward cleansing guide.
Cleansing Dos & Don’ts
Cleansing incorrectly can lead to a disrupted skin barrier and leave your skin feeling uncomfortable, tight, and dry. To help you get the most out of your cleansing routine, we’re sharing our top cleansing “dos” and “don’ts” to keep in mind when following a skincare routine for hydrated, healthy-looking skin.
1. Find the Right Cleanser Formula
Do: Choose a cleanser based on your skin type
Face washes are not one-size-fits-all skincare products. Choosing the best facial wash for your specific skin type can help effectively clean your skin without unwanted side effects (such as sensitivity,flaking, or itching).
Don’t: Choose harsh, drying formulas
Some cleansers contain harsh, drying ingredients that can weaken the skin barrier. To help gently cleanse your skin without leaving it feeling dry or stripped, CeraVe cleansers are formulated without alcohol, sulfates, or fragrance.
2. Choose the Ideal Cleansing Frequency
Although everyone’s skin is unique, there are a few general guidelines that can help you decide how often to wash your face. For help finding the ideal cleansing frequency for your skin’s individual needs, consult with your doctor or a board-certified dermatologist.
Do: Cleanse your face twice daily, plus after sweating
Stick to a consistent routine that includes twice-daily cleansing: once in the morning and once at night. It’s also important to cleanse your skin after working out or doing any activity that causes you to sweat heavily.
Don’t: Wash your face too often (or not enough)
Over-cleansing and under-cleansing can both impact your skin’s appearance. On one hand, washing too frequently can strip your skin of important moisture. At the same time, not cleansing often enough can cause a buildup of pore-clogging dirt, oil, and bacteria.
3. Follow the Advice of Dermatologists
Do: Listen to the experts and seek help when needed
As mentioned above, harsh cleansers can damage your skin barrier, letting irritants in and moisture out. We recommend choosing a dermatologist-recommended skincare brand with gentle cleansersthat can remove oil, dirt, and makeup without compromising the skin barrier.
It’s also important to seek the help of a board-certified dermatologist when needed. Your dermatologist can help answer any questions you may have about specific skin concerns and offer professional guidance or treatment options as needed.
Don’t: Skip moisturizer and sunscreen after washing your face
Besides cleanser, moisturizer and sunscreen are two skincare routine basics that every good regimen needs. Moisturizer helps hydrate your skin and prevent moisture loss, while sunscreen helps protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. In some cases, it’s possible to find both moisturizer and sunscreen in a single formula, such as CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion With Sunscreen.
For help choosing the right products for your specific skin type and skin concerns, use the Find My Skincare Solution tool below.
Step-By-Step Skincare Routine
Find a CeraVe Cleanser for Your Skin Type
Frequently Asked Questions
What does a cleanser do?
A cleanser is a skincare product designed to gently lift oil, dirt, sweat, dead skin cells, and makeup from the skin’s surface. These impurities are then carried away with rinsing. A good cleanser will help prevent the accumulation of residue while leaving the skin’s barrier intact.
All CeraVe cleansers are formulated with three essential ceramides to lock in moisture and help maintain your protective skin barrier. They also feature beneficial ingredients to help target specific concerns and support healthy-looking skin, such as niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and salicylic acid.
How often should I wash my face?
Ideally, you should wash your face twice daily, once in the morning and again in the evening. You might also consider cleansing after any activity where your face becomes visibly covered with sweat. However, it’s important to remember that every individual’s skin is unique and the right cleansing frequency may vary based on your skin’s needs. When in doubt, speak to your dermatologist about how often to cleanse.
How long should I leave a cleanser on my face?
This can vary from cleanser to cleanser. Always read the product's packaging carefully and apply per the instructions. When washing your face, remember to apply your cleanser in a circular motion using your fingertips (without pulling or tugging too harshly on your face). Once finished, rinse the cleanser thoroughly with lukewarm water and lightly pat your skin dry using a clean, soft towel.
Can I cleanse my face with only water?
Some people wonder whether water alone is enough to properly cleanse their skin. However, water typically isn’t enough to thoroughly cleanse your skin and adequately dissolve oils. This is because much of the “gunk” that can accumulate on your skin throughout the day is not water-soluble, meaning it can’t be broken down by water.
Should I use hot water or cold water to wash my face?
It’s generally best to avoid extreme temperatures when cleansing. This includes washing with very hot or cold water. Steaming hot water can strip beneficial oils from your skin and weaken your skin’s moisture barrier. This, in turn, can worsen dryness and leave your skin feeling uncomfortable after cleansing—especially for those with dry or sensitive skin types. A moderate, lukewarm temperature is recommended instead. This can help keep your skin feeling calm and balanced.
Should I wash my face in the shower?
Washing your face in the shower is perfectly fine, as long as you’re using dermatologist-approved face cleansers, a gentle cleansing technique, and applying with clean hands and fingertips. Try to avoid taking excessively long, hot showers, as this may cause skin dryness.
Will scrubbing my skin harder give me a deeper cleanse?
Scrubbing or rubbing your skin aggressively won’t give your skin a deeper cleanse. On the contrary, it may actually cause redness or irritation. Harsh scrubbing also isn’t necessary to dry your skin off post-cleanse. Being rough or using scratchy fabrics can irritate your skin.