Skin Cleansing 101: Why Washing Your Face is Important

Written by Lela Lankerani, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist on September 19, 2014 48 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 in our clinics as well as our online store.

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.

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

  1. Avatar Chelsea says:

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

  2. Avatar Lee says:

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

  3. Avatar Earl says:


  4. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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! 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar Meg says:

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

  22. Avatar 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!

  23. Avatar Dr. Mitchell says:

    Great reminder that washing your face can help manage the PH levels of your skin!

  24. Avatar David says:

    I didn’t know that excessive dirt build up traps sweat, sebum, and dead skin which allows bacteria to penetrate the follicle and cause inflammation. I struggle with acne pretty bad, so that I often have pain on my face. Because of this, I’ll have to wash my face more and look for other organic acne treatment options.

  25. Avatar Lee says:

    Wash your face kids!!!!!!! 🙂

    • Avatar Anselem says:

      Well written Lela Lankerani D.O.

      Washing your face with a mild and natural facial cleanser, twice a day (morning and night) especially at (night) is just a way to get rid of pore-clogging impurities and preparing your skin ready to absorb other skin-care treatments. However it’s also important your audeinces should know how to correctly pick a facial cleanser suitable to their skin type.

      We wrote a great post on the best cleansers for each skin type here: If you feel it will help your readers please share it!


  26. Avatar Serra says:

    Please please wash your face 🙂

  27. Avatar Jamie says:

    Best cleanser I’ve bumped into was an ultrasonic skin scrubber.
    I’ve got mine at
    It’s a top of the line scrubber, but not everyone can afford it.

  28. Great article.. Really loved it!!

  29. Nice article. Got nice info thanks!

  30. Avatar hanan says:

    lmao it was so helpful my mom isn’t convinced tho

  31. Avatar Micheal says:

    Washing your face with a mild and natural facial cleanser, twice a day (morning and night) especially at (night) is just a way to get rid of pore-clogging impurities and preparing your skin ready to absorb other skin-care treatments! If you think it would be beneficial to your readers, we would be honored if you shared our post on cleansing:

  32. Avatar Suzannah says:

    Hi Lela Lankerani, I came across this article and wanted to ask if I could repost it in my blog (we are having our website completely reworked) as I think it is such a great, well written, to the point article on cleansing the skin. You would be sited as the author and I also understand if you prefer us not to.
    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Suzannah,

      We’re glad you enjoyed the article! You can re-post it on your blog. All our marketing team asks is that you add an “originally posted” link back to this post.

      We hope that works for you!

      WD Staff

  33. Avatar Micheal says:

    Great reminder that washing your face can help manage the PH levels of your skin!

  34. Avatar amie says:

    wash your face kids, this solves it all.

  35. Avatar Tyson says:

    Hey, Lela Lankerani Its a great work. The blog is really worth informative.
    In the present scenario of varying atmospheric temperature, facial cleansing is so much done repeatedly due to dirt and excess oil contamination on the face. Lack of proper cleansing of the face on a daily basis even leads to many other worse skin conditions.
    As the blog suggests skincare has to be taken seriously. The right selection of skincare supplements is the key to it.
    I suggest Cetaphil gentle skin cleansers because it removes impurities without stripping skin and helps to maintain the skin’s natural pH balance. So one can trust the brand as it is the ideal cleanser for all skin types.
    We also share our insights on skin health articles. Hope this could help the readers choose the right skincare product they need.

  36. Avatar Sbloaded says:

    What a great write up Lela
    Face washing is really essential, I made some review on best and affordable vitamin c serums for oily face and sensitive skin which might be helpful to your readers

  37. Avatar Dani says:

    I really love this post Lela keep the good work

  38. Avatar Taylor says:

    You made a good point when you shared that it is important to choose the right type of skincare depending on your skin type. It’s the most important step in keeping the skin radiant and healthy.

  39. Avatar Keanu says:

    Wash in the morning and wash at night!

  40. Avatar sameera says:

    Excellent Article. We live in an environment where there is pollution more than air. Hence, it becomes more important to wash your face to remove dirt, oil and bacteria. Choosing a good facial cleanser considering your skin type is equally important as it helps the skin maintaining a proper level of hydration.Therefore I use Glomed C Facewash for my oily skin as it is the beast cleanser for an oily skin.Thanks for posting this and taking the time to explain in so detail.

  41. Avatar Samaina says:

    Hey, Lela Lankerani. It’s an excellent work. The blog is really worth sharing with my family and friends. In the present situation of changing environment which is getting polluted day by day, facial cleansing has become so much important and done frequently due to dirt and excess oil which gets deposited on the face. Lack of proper cleansing of the face on a daily basis even leads to many other worse skin conditions. As you suggest in your blog, skincare has to be taken seriously. The right selection of skincare products considering your skin type is the important step towards a bright and healthy skin.

  42. Avatar Riya says:

    Great article! My favourite cleanser is the birch sap facial cleanser from Skog. It deeply cleanses and is so soothing. Makes my skin feel great.

  43. with regular facial cleansing you can keep a healthy and glowing skin. A pore vacuum cleaner helps in clearing out your clogged pores. Here are 10 best pore vacuum cleaners that you can buy in 2021 to remove dead skin cells, dirt, and other impurities.

  44. Avatar Eli says:

    I’m glad you talked about how you must wash your face regularly! Recently, I started to notice some acne marks on my face, and it got me worried. I think it’s time that I start caring more about my skincare, so I’ll be sure to read your tips out. Thanks for the advice on how washing your face helps with pore-size control.

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