Skin Cleansing 101: Why Washing Your Face is Important

By Lela Lankerani, MD September 19, 2014 23 Comments

face washing

Remember complaining to your mom when she made you wash your face every day? It turns out mom was right: regular skin cleansing is critical to maintaining healthy looking and feeling skin. Let’s take a look at why facial cleansing is so important.

Removing Build Up

A common benefit of facial cleansing is the removal of dirt, oil, and other unwanted debris. Throughout the day the skin on your face is continually covered with bacteria, pollutants, viruses, dirt, and old (dead) skin cells. Daily facial washing removes these impurities to give the skin a fresh look. Without washing, your skin would be covered with a thick layer of dirt and grime which make it difficult for other products to penetrate the skin properly.

Boosting Hydration

Regular facial cleansing (along with the use of a good moisturizer) is also an important factor in helping the skin maintain a proper level of hydration. Dehydrated skin looks and feels rough, wrinkled and aged. Cleansing helps manage PH levels of the skin; enabling sufficient water and product retention.

Maintaining Clear Skin

Tiny glands under the skin produce oil called sebum to protect the skin from the dangers of the outside world. These glands use hair follicles within the skin as a pathway, allowing the oil to reach the skins surface (outer layer) to form a barrier that prevents the penetration of bacteria or other harmful agents.

Excessive dirt build up on the surface can cause blockages of the follicle, trapping sebum, sweat, and dead skin cells. The lack of sebum on the skins surface allows bacteria to penetrate the follicle causing inflammation. The final result is acne.

Proper skin cleansing clears pores of debris to prevent dirt buildup, allowing the sebum oil to reach the skin surface unimpeded; decreasing the chances of a breakout.

What Would Happen If You Stopped Washing?

If you completely stopped washing your face your pores would become clogged resulting in the development of serious acne. The skin could also experience a combination of severe redness, dryness and irritation from insufficient hydration. Finally your skin would generally appear dirty, oily, greasy and significantly aged.

Most likely you would develop an incredible itchiness; to the point where you would be forced to constantly scratch your face. This could lead to breaks of the skin which serve as entry points for infection. Moral of the story: practice proper skin cleansing!

Some Other Benefits of Cleansing

  • Regular cleansing is essential to keeping your skin looking radiant and healthy.
  • Cleansing helps anti-aging products and treatments work properly.
  • Cleansing helps maintain proper pore size.
  • Cleansing encourages proper skin hydration and prevents the production of excess oils.

How to Choose the Right Facial Cleansers

With literally hundreds of cleansing products to choose from here are some simple tips for selecting a great skin cleanser:

  • Know your skin type and choose a cleanser that’s a good match. If you have dry skin you’ll want to avoid cleansers with high alcohol content. People with oily skin need a cleanser with a lower PH level. For sensitive skin you’ll want a basic cleanser free from heavy fragrance and additives.
  • The delivery type of the cleanser matters. Cream based cleansers are great for dry skin while gel or foamy cleansers are better for oily skin types.
  • If you wear a lot of makeup you’ll want a cleanser targeted toward removal.
  • If you tend to sweat a lot from working out look for a product targeting clogged pores.
  • If you have concerns with allergies look for “natural” cleansers free of synthetic ingredients.
  • Most cleansers marketed as “gentle” are great at removing dirt without over drying and irritating the skin.
  • Selecting a cleanser with a balanced PH will help maintain your skins natural balance.
  • Make sure to take your time comparing products and looking at reviews. We offer a variety of skin cleansers online at iderma.

Lela Lankerani, MD

Lela Lankerani D.O. received her undergraduate degree in Biology at Washington University where she graduated cum laude. Dr. Lankerani has published articles in several scientific journals and has presented at national scholarly meetings including the American Academy of Dermatology and American Osteopathic Academy of Dermatology.


23 Responses to “Skin Cleansing 101: Why Washing Your Face is Important”

  1. Chelsea says:

    Great post, I’ve never given washing my face this much thought lol

  2. Lee says:

    Loved this post, it was very helpful. Keep on posting!

  3. Earl says:

    WASH YOUR FACE PEOPLE 🙂

  4. Stella says:

    Very helpful article, I just started a new cleansing regimen using a more natural product which has been working great. I have sensitive skin so other more harsh cleansers cause some irritation

  5. Julianna says:

    The final step in properly cleaning your face is important for achieving great skin. While the feeling of freshly washed skin is wonderful, it is crucial to always moisturize after cleansing your face. Your cleanser removes oil from your face, so an emollient is a great way to ensure your skin is healthy, hydrated, and glowing.

  6. Betty says:

    Great tips on here 🙂

  7. […] Skin Cleansing 101: Why Washing Your Face Is Important (West Lake Dermatology, Retrieved 25 May 2017) […]

  8. […] Skin Cleansing 101: Why Washing Your Face Is Important (West Lake Dermatology, Retrieved 25 May 2017) […]

  9. Alexa says:

    These are excellent recommendations! Thank you very much for the useful article! I would like to talk about my experience cleaning the face. I had skin problems, I used the services of cosmetologists, but it was expensive. Once on the Internet I found a wonderful way to clean the skin of the house! This is a pore vacuum extractor! https://porevacuumcleaners.com/ It works very simply and does not hurt my face, like mechanical cleansing from a cosmetologist.
    I’ll tell you how I cleanse my face. First I wash my face and follow the advice from your article, and then I cleanse my face with a vacuum extractor. The last step is humidification. And my skin is gorgeous and clean! I hope someone will use my experience!

  10. […] our pores. What happens when you get out of the habit of washing your face each night? According to dermatologists, the build up of dirt on your pores results in more acne breakouts, causing one to look dirty, […]

  11. […] your face the right way before you put the products in. It’s common knowledge that using the product on a cleansed face is beneficial.  Here is a video that precisely explains the right way to wash and pat dry your face to avoid […]

  12. […] you have to wash your face. There are few women who don’t know that. However, the consequences of missing a thorough cleanse […]

  13. […] According to the WD website, skin is polluted with bacteria, dirt, and dead skin cells. It is vital that you wash your face to rid your skin and pores with these impurities. […]

  14. […] for 2018. To start off, let’s talk cleansers, the very first step in all skincare. A cleanser removes dirt, oil and debris from the skin while balancing moisture and giving you a fresh base. But a cleanser should maintain […]

  15. Celestia says:

    It sure got my attention when you suggested choosing a cleansing material that will be a good match for my skin like how I should avoid product with high alcohol content if I have dry skin. I will surely do that, but in my case, I need a facial cleanser that stops oil because I have really oily skin. Aside from that, I also have thin and sensitive skin. Maybe I should begin considering the use of natural products as well. Thank you for sharing the tips!

  16. […] Staff. (2014). Skin Cleansing 101: Why Washing Your Face is Important. Westlake […]

  17. Greco says:

    I had a huge problem with acne when I was in middle school. It didn#t help that I worked a particularly dirty job where I would come home covered in a fine layer of dust and grime. I think if I had known about washing my face regularly, I think those products I used to treat my acne would have worked better! From now on, I will wash my face like you suggest, and I’ll write back and tell you all about the benefits.

  18. Todd says:

    I like how you said that cleaning your skin is important if you want to keep looking young for years to come. My wife is obsessed with looking younger than she really is and I am kind of glad for it. She looks great! Hopefully, she talks to a dermatology expert as often as possible to ensure that she isn’t doing any damage to her skin without knowing.

  19. […] Why is it important to wash your face? A: According to West Lake Dermatology , facial washing is important for removing dirt, oil and bacteria build-up in your face and it also […]

  20. […] Here are the reasons why you should start cleansing: […]

  21. Meg says:

    Some people don’t realize how important it is to wash their face.

  22. joy butler says:

    I have always been taught the importance of washing my face. I never know the effects it has besides just keeping you clean. I didn’t know it helps boost hydration and keeps your skin looking so much younger for a longer period of time. Now, I will be really sure to wash my face no matter what!

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