Clean, don't overclean, your face

facewashing2-150x150If you’re like a lot people, you believe a clean face is the foundation of a clear complexion. But if you are one of the 40 to 50 million Americans with acne, your efforts to keep your complexion clear by frequently washing your face may actually do more harm than good.

Overcleaning the skin can lead to a breakdown of the skin’s natural protective barrier and stripping away of natural oils. When acne-prone skin is washed multiple times a day with harsh soaps or cleansers, the stage is set for increased skin irritation and a stronger likelihood that the topical medications needed to treat acne will be less well tolerated.

Instead of overcleaning, I recommend the following regimen for people with acne-prone skin.

  1. Limit washing to no more than twice a day, and after sweating.
  2. Wash with plain water or a gentle, alcohol-free, liquid cleanser.
  3. Use your fingertips to apply the cleanser and don’t scrub to reduce irritation.
  4. Rinse with lukewarm (not hot) water.
  5. Replenish your complexion with a fragrance-free, oil-free (non-comedogenic) moisturizer only if your natural oil is not sufficient.

If your skin tends to be more oily than dry, a medicated cleanser containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide will usually do the trick. Avoid the sun and tanning beds, since some acne medications increase the skin’s sensitivity to ultraviolet light.

If you want to learn more about how to care for acne-prone skin, contact a Board certified dermatologist at SSDP. We’ll be happy to help.

For tips on how to wash your face and keep your complexion looking clean and fresh, watch this short video from the American Academy of Dermatology, Face-washing 101.


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