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How To Wash Your Face (AKA- Do You Need a Clarisonic?)

Dermatologist Face Washing Tips

We all do it. I know I do. We get lazy and just rub some cleanser on our face using our fingers. That definitely happens at my house. While this lazy cleaning is definitely better than nothing, it isn’t great to wake up and find mascara marks on your pillowcase or to have chin breakouts after a few days. I’ve been getting a lot of questions from readers recently about deep cleaning brushes as well. Should you use them every night? Do you have to use a Clarisonic, or are there cheaper options that are acceptable? (Check out my review and comparison of deep cleaning cleaning facial brushes) What about that sonic action of the Clarisonic, does is really make a big difference?

So, I decided to ask the experts. I posed those exact questions to dermatologists, and here’s what they had to say! Don’t forget to check out Dermatologist’s Favorite Facial Cleansers!

Are women washing their face wrong? Should we always be using a Clarisonic, a wash cloth, are our cleansers to harsh or should we (or should we not) be using toner? What are your thoughts on how to properly wash the face, and what to avoid?

• I like washing once per day at night. It is really each person’s preference on using a home classing device, a soft wash cloth or just hand washing.
• Best is to avoid using a classing agent that is too harsh or being too aggressive with a home cleansing device or washcloth. I like to first rinse with warm water then use a mild cleanser to remove any dirt and make up and then rinse again with warm water, pat dry and use appropriate skin care products after cleansing.
– Brian Zelickson, MD is the founder of MD Complete Skincare

• Sonic cleansers are proven to remove dirt and makeup more effectively than washing by hand. But that doesn’t necessary mean every woman needs to go out and buy a Clarisonic. If washing your face by hand and exfoliating a few times a week gives you a great complexion, then keep doing what works for you.
• Toners are meant to balance pH levels after a thorough cleansing. Be mindful of what toner you use though. Some are alcohol based and strip skin of natural oils even further.
• Avoid over exfoliating. Although exfoliating is necessary to remove dead skin cells, over exfoliating can leave skin flaky and sensitive.
• Know your skin type and choose a cleanser accordingly. For example, if you have oily, sensitive skin, don’t reach for a cream cleanser. Research skin care products for any harmful ingredients, especially if you have sensitive skin, before purchasing.
– David Bank, MD is a Dermatologist at The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery in Mount Kisco, NY

• It’s important to use a clean washcloth every time we cleanse our face, so as to avoid introducing any bacteria into the skin from the previous time you washed your face.
• Always use tepid water, not hot, when cleansing the face. If your skin is dry or sensitive, a gentle cleanser is the way to go.
Eric Schweiger, MD is a Dermatologist at Clear Clinic Acne Treatment Center in New York City

• It is safe for all skin types to gently cleanse without a spinning brushing, using a simple gentle cleanser like Cetaphil.
• The spinning brushes are helpful to exfoliate if they’re used with an exfoliating cleanser, but should be cleansed properly between uses and may occasionally irritate or flare-up the skin.
Karen Stolman, MD is a Dermatologist in Salt Lake City and she writes Skinality

• Most people wash their face wrong because they wash it with their fingertips and there’s bacteria under the fingernails.
• I’m a big fan of sonic cleansing systems so I like the Clarisonic. If you choose not to use this then use a washcloth and change it every time you wash your face. Otherwise wash your face with a cotton pad.
• I like mild cleansers unless you have very oily skin and then you should use an exfoliating cleanser.
• You should only use a toner on an oily t-zone.
Debra Jaliman, MD is a Dermatologist in New York City

• You want to use something to help loosen up your dirt and makeup, that’s why Clarisonics are all the rage now. Be sure to use luke warm water and rub up and out in circular motions if not using a Clarisonic.
– Haley Kulow is a makeup artist and esthetician in New York City

Is a Clarisonic necessary or is any deep cleansing brush ok? Does the sonic action (rather than rotation) make a big difference in cleaning the skin or in anti-aging?

• Clarisonic is just one of many sonic cleansing brushes. There are various powerful, deep cleaning brushes that work just as well.
• The sonic action is what takes off layers of dead skin to allow new skin through. It is more effective in cleansing compared to hand washing but everyday use may be excessive for sensitive skin. However it does remove dirt, makeup and pollutants that may cause skin to age more rapidly.
– David Bank, MD is a Dermatologist at The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery in Mount Kisco, NY

• The spinning/moving brushes are meant to assist in exfoliation, and simulate in-office or spa microdermabrasion. Microdermabrasion both in-office with a stronger device and the home versions both have a handful of studies to support that they help exfoliate.
• Exfoliation is helpful for acne, brown spots, melasma, wrinkles, and dry skin.
Karen Stolman, MD is a Dermatologist in Salt Lake City and she writes Skinality

• I’m a big fan of the Clarisonic because of the sonic technology. It also offers a choice of different brush heads for different skin types. The Foreo is another small handheld option which does not require brush heads.
• Sonic cleansing is superior to a washcloth. There is also research that it helps exfoliate the skin so antiaging products penetrate better.
Debra Jaliman, MD is a Dermatologist in New York City

• It’s debatable, the important thing is to get all the dirt, makeup and sweat dislodged and off your face so your skin can breath properly.
– Haley Kulow is a makeup artist and esthetician in New York City

Guide to Face Wash, Eye Makeup Removers and more!
My complete guide to facial cleansing, including an overview on how cleansers work, common ingredients, product recommendations and tons of reviews!

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About Me

I’m a doctor, a mommy and a bit of a beauty addict. If you let me, I can take 2 hours to get ready in the morning. Really. I'm on a quest for faster beauty that works!

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