9 Things You’re Probably Doing Wrong When You Wash Your Face

So, you think you know how to wash your face?

I certainly thought I did. After all, this was something that I’ve been doing nearly my whole, entire life.

I mean, I know I have troubles drawing the perfect, balanced cat-eye, and I mess up my eyeshadows pretty darn often. I can’t put on or remove my contact lenses without a mirror, and embarrassingly enough, I still get nicks from shaving every now and then.

But washing my face?

This is something that I should be an expert at!

Splash some water, lather on some cleanser, rinse and you’re done. Right?


It seems like there’s a little more to washing your face, and as with most things, the devil is in the details.

Find out if you’re making these rookie face-washing mistakes!

Mistake #1: Not Washing Your Hands First

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Talk about failing before you even start.

A surprising number of people do not wash their hands before washing their face.

Always wash those hands BEFORE you wash your face. Otherwise, you’re essentially just rubbing dirt onto your face. Really not something you want to do when you’re trying rid yourself of dirt.

Bottom Line: It’s really simple – wash your hands before washing your face.

Mistake #2: Washing Your Face With Hot Water

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If you’re cleansing your face with hot water, you’re actually damaging your skin.

Prolonged exposure to excessively hot water can dry out your skin and strip off its healthy, natural oils that heal and protect your skin.

But doesn’t hot water open pores?

Wrong… 🙁

Your pores aren’t like doors that can open or close. Pores just don’t have the muscles that allow them to do this.

Hot water may help to soften the plugs of oil and debris that’s trapped within your pores. This is useful mostly for the extraction of blackheads, but digging into your skin is always best left to the pros.

Bottom Line: Cleanse with lukewarm water between 37 – 43°C. None of that “hot water to open pores, cold water to close them” please.

Mistake #3: Choosing A Cleanser That Makes You Feel Squeaky Clean

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Squeaky clean is great for the dishes and for the floor (mum would be proud!), but certainly NOT for your face.

You might think that “cleansing well” means squeaky clean, but if your skin feels tight, dry or squeaky immediately after cleansing, then you’re using a cleanser that’s way too harsh for your face.

Hash cleansers can strip your skin of its natural oils, irritate the skin and may even increase oil production.

Ensure that your cleanser removes all your makeup, excess oil, sunscreen, and dirt, but does not leave your skin feeling tight or squeaky. A good way is to try to avoid harsh ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or alcohol.

Bottom Line: Squeaky clean is not for your face! Avoid harsh cleansers that may dry out your skin.

Mistake #4: Choosing A Cleanser That Isn’t Cleansing Well Enough

You’re not going for squeaky clean, but your cleanser still needs to be doing its job!

A good cleanser isn’t excessively harsh on your face, but removes all the things that need to be removed – excess oil and sebum, sunscreen, makeup, dirt, etc.

How do you know if your cleanser is cleaning your face properly?

Soak a cotton pad with some toner after cleansing and swipe it on your skin. If the cotton pad has traces of leftover makeup or looks slightly yellow, then your cleanser is probably not cleaning well enough. Get a stronger cleanser, or use a makeup remover or a cleansing oil before cleansing.

Bottom Line: While you don’t want avoid using harsh cleansers, your cleanser needs to be removing all traces of dirt, sebum and makeup from your face. Use the toner test to find out.

Mistake #5: Not Washing Your Face Long Enough

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Do you reaaaaally know how long you’re washing your face?

Try timing yourself tonight – the result might surprise you! It certainly surprised me. Turns out that I was washing my face at the pace of Speedy Gonzalez!

Most people only cleanse for 20 seconds, and it’s nowhere long enough.

You’ve spent all this time and money choosing the most amazing cleanser promising you rainbows and butterflies, but if it’s not spending any quality time on your face, how are you going to get all the wonderful benefits of the cleanser?

Think of washing your face as a mini pampering session and try taking at least 30 seconds to 1 minute to wash your face. Gently massage in circular motion to stimulate blood circulation, focusing on your T-zone. Also, don’t forget your jawline and along your hairline as well.

Pro tip – crazy as it sounds, I’ve found that singing 3 rounds of ABCs helps me hit the 60-second mark!

Bottom Line: You might think that you’re washing your face long enough, but most people spend less than 20secs. Practise your ABCs and sing 3 rounds of it while cleansing to get all the wonderful benefits of your cleanser.

Mistake #6: Your Addiction To Exfoliating

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Exfoliating is like a drug to me.

I used never exfoliate because it was too troublesome and I was too lazy, but once I started, I just couldn’t stop! I was hooked to that silky smooth texture post-exfoliation, and couldn’t wait to do it everyday!

Until I learnt that it was actually bad for me.

Exfoliating and scrubbing too often (and too hard!) can deeply upset the balance of your skin and dry it out, which may cause your skin to produce even more oil than usual.

So what’s a good number to aim a week?

Try not to go above 2 times a week when it comes to physical / manual exfoliators. These include washcloths, sonic brushes like Clarisonic, and face scrubs containing things like ground nutshells or seeds, coffee grounds, etc.

Bottom Line: Get over the addiction. Stick to exfoliating 1-2 times a week for glowing, radiant skin.

Mistake #7: Using The Same Towel To Dry From Head To Toe

Always, ALWAYS use a separate towel for your face.

You don’t want bacteria from elsewhere being transferred to your face, causing you to breakout.

And remember not to rub or wipe your face dry, as it can irritate and stretch your skin, causing premature wrinkles. Instead, softly pat your face dry with your face towel.

If your skin is particularly sensitive or dry, use a paper towel instead.

Bottom Line: Be hygienic and use a separate towel to dry your face. And don’t rub your face like you’re cleaning the kitchen sink.

Mistake #8: Reusing Your Face Towel Too Many Times

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If you’re anything like me and absolutely HATE doing laundry, here’s more bad news for you.

Bacteria thrives in damp, wet towels and when you reuse them, the bacteria can end up back on you! Not something you want to hear after you’ve cleansed your face so thoroughly.

Experts recommend that you change your face towel at least once or twice a week.

And when washing your face towel, remember to use a regular, hot-water wash cycle.

Bottom Line: Learn to love laundry and change your face towel at least once or twice a week.

Mistake #9: Not Cleansing In The Morning

Yes, please cleanse in the morning, ladies.

I know that there are sites and articles advising you against cleansing in the morning, but we really do think that it’s necessary considering the hot and humid weather in Malaysia.

Cleansing in the morning helps to remove oil, sweat, bacteria, dirt and all that pillow-grime built up from the night before. Yes, you do excrete oil and sweat throughout the night. And how many of you are really washing your sheets and pillowcases often enough? And by often, we mean once a week.

Plus, considering that you’ll be layering on some pretty amazing skincare products on your face, you’d want your skin to be nice and clean to absorb all the wonderful nutrients, right?

Bottom Line: In hot, humid Malaysia, it’s strongly advisable to cleanse in the morning. If you’re worried about irritating your skin, use a different cleanser in the morning that’s gentler on the skin.