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How to Wash Your Face Properly

“You’re not washing your face correctly,” my dermatologist with less than pleased with the progress of my acne.  She had promised that she could cure any case of The Zits, but mine was proving a challenge. 

“There’s a wrong way to wash your face?” I asked perplexed by the notion that your face could be clean and improperly washed at the same time.  But it turns out that she was right, I haven’t been washing my face properly.

Step 1: Wash your hands with antibacterial soap. 

Step 2: Remove makeup using a wipe or a cotton ball and makeup removing gel.  I like Say Yes to Blueberries Brightening Facial Wipes.

Step 3: Wet face using tepid water.  Cold water will shock your skin and cause your pores to close, so they won’t get clean.  Hot water will dry out the skin.  Neither of these scenarios is what you want.

Step 4: Lather a dime-sized amount of your favorite cleanser (I alternate Purity by Philosophy and Mario Badescu Glycolic Face Wash).  Using a circular motion, apply the soap the skin. 

For best results, begin on the forehead, work your way down the nose, to the cheeks and then to the chin.  Also, your should be applying a bit of pressure when you wash to stimulate bloodflow.

Step 5: Using a damp, soft wash cloth, go over the skin in circular motions.  As before, start at the forehead and then work your way down the face.  (Of course, this is why I own a Clairsonic.  It does the circular motions for me.)

Step 6: Turn the temperature setting on your faucet to cool, but not cold.  Now splash your face 5-7 times to ensure that you get a good rinse.  Then pat (don’t rub) dry with a clean washcloth or towel.

Before I left my dermatologist also reminded me to clean my cell phone and work phone with an antibacterial wipe once-a-week to ensure that the build-up doesn’t clog my pores. 



  1. L says:

    Belle, thanks for passing along the advice. I have keratosis pilaris (unfortunately not remedied by good face washing), and despite many trips to the dermatologist, I haven't heard this. I knew about hot water but am guilty of washing my face in cold water during the summer. Now I know better. My fingers are crossed that I notice an improvement in my pores.

    PS If anyone is looking for advice on KP remedies, I'm happy to share (just reply). I've found that a cocktail of strong OTC treatments is more effective that the prescription cream I used to apply.

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  2. Katie says:

    Hi Belle,
    I am an avid reader and adore your blog! After reading about your struggles with your complexion I thought i'd throw this out there-I used to have horrible hormonal acne, and was at my wits' end until my dermatologist prescribed spironolactone. Now my skin is completely clear. Before the spiro I spent a lot of money on different skin products, hoping that the right combo of topicals would get rid of the spots forever. With the spironolactone I don't have to use any topical treatments, I just wash my face with water and use a garden variety moisturizer. If your acne is hormonal I'd recommend looking into it.

    July 25, 2011/Reply
  3. Belle says:

    Didn't work for me. Thanks for the suggestion though.

    July 25, 2011/Reply
  4. AB says:

    I have kp as well, but as typical it comes with dry skin. My sister who is an esthetician taught me house to wash my face with oil… Yes I said oil! I make a mix of olive oil, castor oil and lavender oil. I massage my entire face to remove dirt and makeup ( works wonders on waterproof mascara) then use a very warm wet wash cloth to remove it thoroughly. It completely cleanses the skin without drying. She said she has clients with acne that couldn't believe the difference it made once they could get over the fact they didn't have to sandblast their face. I've never had a big problem with acne, but I know it works for me. I also use an enzyme treatment by alloette a few times a week to exfoliate. It's extremely gentle, but takes care of any dry, dull areas wonderfully.

    July 26, 2011/Reply
  5. R says:

    The oil treatment sounds very similar to a product by Dermalogica that I started using a night – Precleanse (https://www.dermstore.com/product_precleanse_6983.htm). I actually really like it before washing with a cleanser (at night using my Mia). My two new favorite anti-acne products right now are both by SkinCeuticals and quite expensive but have totally cleared up my skin. Its only been a few weeks so we'll see how it lasts but they are Blemish and Age defense (https://www.dermstore.com/product_Blemish+and+Age+Defense_32657.htm) and Clarifying Clay Mask (https://www.dermstore.com/product_Clarifying+Clay+Masque_1338.htm). I'm using 2 drops of the Blemish and Age Defense during the day (every other day for now) and the Clay Mask at night (Wed/Sundays). If I had to pick one, I'd definitely go with the Blemish and Age defense.

    July 26, 2011/Reply
  6. Meg says:


    What are the proportions of your 3 oils?

    August 2, 2011/Reply