How to Clean Your Face

A man washing his face.

How did it come to this – scouring the Internet to find out how to clean your face? Your face. You would think something so intimately ours would be intuitive to clean. Don’t feel bad. Chaos, misinformation, and confusion arise anytime an industry can benefit from our insecurities. The many products and noisy slogans of the beauty empires have all but eclipsed the well-researched advice of dermatologists and health experts.

The beauty industry would have you endlessly applying or fussing until you’re going at your skin with a rasp. You should only clean your face once or twice daily. A fine, natural balance of oils, acids, and cell turnover is happening at the surface level of your skin; it doesn’t need that much help. If it does, you should see a dermatologist rather than endlessly experiment with products that could further damage your skin. Below I’ll show you how to clean your face using a well-researched, common sense approach.

How to Clean Your Face Sanely

  1. face in a handheld mirrorKnow your skin type. First, there is “normal” (1) balanced skin. It is not too oily or too dry; it will feel smooth to the touch. Next, there is (2) oily skin. While oily skinned individuals are prone to acne, at least their skin maintains elasticity well as they age. (3) Dry-skinned individuals usually don’t have to deal with acne, but dry skin is easily irritated and can age prematurely if not moisturized regularly. Those with (4) combination skin may have patches of normal skin surrounded by dry or oily skin. Monitor your face now and then for changes. You are not locked into one skin type. Hormonal changes, stress, age, and the weather can all lead to a change in your skin type and how you clean your face.
  2. a pair of hands being washedWash your hands first. You hands have been opening doors, touching and scratching your body, and giving high fives. Don’t transfer germs and bacteria from your hands to your face. When finished washing, rinse well to prevent transferring hand soap – which is much harsher than facial soap. To prevent this, you could also get crazy by washing your hands with a facial cleanser.
  3. faucetsUse warm water to wet your face. Not too hot, not too cold. Think tepid. You don’t need to use scorching hot magma to clean your face effectively. Hot water can dry out your face and damage capillaries. In fact, any dermatologist is going to tell you to limit showering and bathing time (3 minutes tops) and use warm water. On the other end of the thermometer, cold water fails to open pores and doesn’t have the cleaning power to remove grime and filth.
  4. bottle of mild soap creamUse a mild soap designed for your skin type. Place a small amount of cleanser on your fingertips and gently massage your face using small circles, moving from your forehead down to your neck. For dry skin, you’ll want a cleanser with added oils or fats and that doesn’t contain alcohol. For oily, acne-prone skin, you may want to try something that contains salicylic acid, which can help diminish oil buildup and reduce inflammation. For information on organic cleansers, look to the bottom of the page.
  5. rinsing face over the sinkRinse and pat dry your newly clean face. Again, use warm water to rinse from your hair line to your neck. When finished, gently pat dry. Many people believe it is necessary to grind their faces into a towel in an attempt to remove everything down to the dermis and subcutaneous tissue. While you may enjoy that just-got-butchered look, it is important to leave a little moisture on the skin.
  6. jar of moisturizerMoisturize for your skin type. It probably seems counterintuitive to moisturize both balanced and oily skin types, but your dermatologist would recommend it. Balanced skin may not need to be moisturized as often, and you’ll want something water or silicone based. For oily skin, you’ll also want something water based that is clearly labeled “non-comedogenic” (won’t block pores). Dry skin requires something heavier (oil-based) to lock moisture in and keep it hydrated longer. Now that you have learned how to clean your face, read on to find out more about choosing safe products.

About the Products You Use to Clean Your Face

When it comes to the products we put on our face and body, the FDA imposes few restrictions and tests very little. Buyer beware. Producers of cleansers, cosmetics, moisturizers and lotions don’t have to list the ingredients of their products anywhere. They have proprietary rights, which override your rights as a consumer. They may choose to list some ingredients on the package, if only to ease your mind, but even then they are vague and downright deceiving. If certain ingredients are “active”, what are the passive ones? Depleted uranium? Arsenic? Call me a cynic, but I don’t trust any profit-driven, bottom line-minded company at all. If their profit margins swell along with your tumors, everyone gets a Christmas bonus. At least you have a clean face? There are a few lines of defense against this absence of ethics. In 1995, the Organic Consumer’s Association forced the USDA to allow body care products to become “organic certified.” The national organic standards, while not perfect, are strict. Look for the seal that says “USDA Organic” for your skin care products. Another great tool for consumers is the Environmental Working Group (EWG). This nonprofit organization thoroughly tests products for toxicity and represents what true government regulation should be. Go to their home page and search for the products you currently use. You may have to rethink how to clean your face.

Clean Your Face Naturally

purple blob with question mark over itSkin Deep: Cosmetics Safety Database. This massive database is the creation of the Environmental Working Group – a nonprofit dedicated to keeping consumers and the environment safe. The database is user friendly, and it boasts over a third of all personal care products on the market. Really, the companies that sell consumer goods and our own government should be ensuring our safety, but that isn’t happening. Companies can put whatever they like in their products without having to list ingredients. Why should you trust profit-driven industries in an era when greed has intensified by untold orders of magnitude? Check out some of your skin care products on this database. You’ll probably have to reconsider how to clean your face.

Earthly bodies bookEarthly Bodies and Heavenly Hair: Natural and Healthy Personal Care for Every Body. This book is part of a growing genre that aims to defy the expensive and confusing personal care industries. It is well organized into sections for your face, body, mouth, hair, and so on. It boasts over 450 simple recipes that usually involve staples you already have in your home. You can buy this book on Amazon.