Why Face Wash?
A face wash is the foundation upon which your skincare routine is built. If you apply lotions, creams, or serums to dirty skin, it traps the dirt and grime close to your skin. This increases the risk of acne and other skin problems.
Washing your face—even with good ol' soap and water—eliminates all germs, dirt, and dead skin cells, leaving your skin a blank canvas ready for the application of skincare products. If you want your skincare routine to have maximum effect, you must wash your face first!
Who Should Use Face Washes?
The answer: everyone!
We all need to get rid of dirt, germs, and dead skin cells in order to have healthy skin. However, the type of face wash you use will depend on your skin type.
Men with Sensitive Skin – Sensitive skin is prone to acne, rashes, and irritation. You have to choose face washes that are hypoallergenic and intended specifically for sensitive skin. Aloe, chamomile, and olive oil are among the best ingredients for sensitive skin, as they are soothing and protective. Be careful not to scrub too vigorously!
Men with Oily Skin – Oily skin is skin that produces an excess amount of sebum (skin oil). However, remember that your skin is producing the oil according to what it feels is necessary to protect itself. Getting rid of all the oil on your skin will just INCREASE oil production further. Coconut-based cleansers will help to get rid of germs and dirt without eliminating all the oils.
Men with Dry Skin – Dry skin produces far less oil and thus is more prone to damage from wind, sunlight, and environmental toxins. You want to steer clear of anything that is excessively drying, but use aloe, Vitamin E, almond oil, and olive oil-based face washes to clean your face. A bit of oil in the face wash and cleanser will help to protect your skin and reduce dryness.
Men with Combination Skin – This is when things get a bit challenging! Combination skin means your skin is oily in some spots (usually the T-zone) and dry in others (usually your cheeks and around your eyes and mouth). Our recommendation: use a face wash for sensitive skin, but wash your T-zone once or twice more throughout the day.
Men with Aging Skin – Aging skin will begin to show wrinkles, smile lines, sagging, and other signs of aging. You need a face wash that is rejuvenating and hydrating, including antioxidants and collagen producing ingredients like Vitamin C and proteins. Thankfully, there are anti-aging face washes that you can use (with an anti-aging serum) to stop your skin from aging too quickly.
Facial Cleanser Ingredients You Want
ALWAYS read the list of ingredients in your facial cleanser/face wash products. It's vital that you understand which chemicals and natural ingredients are included in the cleansers.
Here are a few of the most highly-recommended ingredients to look for:
- Aloe Vera is a natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory ingredient that will soothe your skin. It's ideal for those with sensitive skin!
- Jojoba oil is a potent anti-acne and antibacterial agent. It also helps to encourage better nutrient absorption into your skin and will eliminate dead skin cells from your pores. However, it can be very potent, so those with sensitive skin will need to find jojoba oil in a very low concentration.
- Vitamin E is one of the most important nutrients in the human diet. When applied directly to the skin, it can lock in moisture and form a barrier to keep out dirt, germs, radiation, and environmental toxins.
- Shea butter is thick and highly moisturizing. It's rich in unsaturated fatty acids that are also protective against oxidative stress and the cellular damage sustained daily by your skin. It can soothe and hydrate your skin very effectively.
- Glycerin, often mixed with panthenol, and is one of the most effective ingredients to hydrate your skin.
- Salicylic acid is an anti-acne ingredient that can help to reduce pimples and acne breakouts. Be warned: it can be too strong for sensitive skin.
- Alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid and lactic acid are excellent exfoliators and moisturizers. They're also far less likely to cause skin irritation than exfoliators like salts and sugars.
- Allantoin is a potent anti-inflammatory ingredient that can do wonders to hydrate your skin.
- Ceramides are waxy lipid (fat) molecules that are highly effective at absorbing and retaining water, improving hydration of your skin.
- Rose hip oil is a potent source of Vitamin C, which is needed for the production of collagen. It's one of the best natural anti-aging ingredients, and can reduce inflammation.
- Hyaluronic acid is a humectant that will encourage better moisturizing and water retention even in sensitive skin.
- Tea tree oil is a potent antiseptic, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory agent. It's a very strong ingredient, so men with sensitive skin should use it with caution.
- Decyl glucoside is a cleansing agent, but it's so mild that it's often used in baby products. It's one of the best ingredients for men with sensitive skin.
- Bisabolol is derived from chamomile, and is one of the chemicals that makes chamomile so effective at soothing and reducing irritation.
- Soapwart is an organic ingredient that can calm skin problems (acne, eczema, psoriasis, etc.) and produces a beautiful lather—making it ideal for chemical-free face washes.
- Natural oils like grapefruit, sage leaf, and lemon are potent antibacterial agents that can help to cleanse oily skin without increasing sebum production.
Facial Cleanser Ingredients to Avoid
Many facial cleansers (especially cheaper options) will use chemicals for cleansing because they are inexpensive, potent, and highly effective. However, some chemicals can be dangerous and speed up the degradation of your skin. Read the list of ingredients on your face wash to make sure it doesn't contain any of the following:
- Sodium Lauryl/Ammonium Lauryl/Sodium Laureth/Ammonium Laureth Sulfate – These sulfates are cleansing agents that can eliminate skin oils, but can also irritate your skin and help your body absorb other harmful chemicals.
- Parabens – These preservatives contain estrogen-like properties that can mimic breast cancer.
- Phthalates – These are hormone disruptors that can lead to reproductive problems and increase your risk of breast cancer.
- Synthetic colors – These colorants are often derived from petroleum and are known carcinogens and irritants.
- Fragrances – The chemicals used to produce fragrances can lead to dermatitis, allergies, respiratory distress, and even hormone disruption.
- Propylene glycol –This skin-conditioning agent is an irritant that can cause dermatitis and irritation.
If you see any of these ingredients in your face wash, get rid of it!
How to Wash Your Face Properly
This may sound silly, but do you know how to wash your face properly? And by that we don't mean splashing water over your face and drying off with a towel. No, we mean actually using a face wash to give your face a thorough cleansing.
Here are the steps of a proper face wash:
Step 1: Take a shower. Yes, that's right, your face wash should happen after the shower. The heat and steam will help to open up your pores, maximizing the effectiveness of the wash.
(Note: If you want to wash your face but don't have time to shower, use water that is lukewarm, not hot. Applying hot water directly to your face can make it more sensitive, thus more prone to irritation.)
Step 2: Apply face wash. Pour a nickel-sized dollop of face wash into your hands and apply it to your face. Use gentle circular motions to rub it into your skin. Be careful not to rub too vigorously—excessive scrubbing can damage your skin, which could lead to excessive oil production. Be gentle with your skin and let the facial cleanser do the work.
Step 3: Rinse with cool water. Now that you've cleansed your pores, you want to close them so more dirt and germs can't get in. Cool water (not cold) will help to shut your pores. Give your face a gentle rinse to eliminate all traces of the face wash.
Step 4: Pat your skin dry. Rubbing your skin (like most of us guys do) can stretch it out, leading to premature wrinkles. Rubbing also creates friction, which can cause excessive oil production or irritation for men with sensitive skin. Pat your skin dry gently with a clean towel.
Step 5: Let the skincare continue. Follow up your face wash with a good moisturizing lotion, anti-aging serum, or wrinkle cream. You've cleansed your face—now it's time to hydrate, nourish, and protect it!
After a good face wash, your skin should feel fresh and clean, but not scrubbed clean or stretched tight. If the skin feels tight, it's a sign it's too dry. Over-dry skin is more prone to irritation, rashes, and acne, not to mention excessive sebum production.
NEVER, EVER wash your face using hand soap. The ingredients in a bar of regular soap are intended to kill germs on your hands, but the skin on your hands is far more resistant to damage than your sensitive face skin. The chemicals of bar soap—natural, organic, or generic—are too strong for your face.
When to Wash Your Face
What is the best time of day for you to wash your face? Should you cleanse in the morning, after work, or just before going to bed?
Morning – You've been sleeping on a pillow no doubt covered in dead skin cells, dried oils, and other dirt and germs. You need to give your face a thorough cleansing.
If you take a shower in the morning, use it as an opportunity to wash your face. Even if you don't shower, make sure to wash your face thoroughly before heading off to the office. Morning cleansing will refresh your skin and eliminate impurities and dead skin cells. Plus, after your face is clean, you can apply a lotion or cream to protect your skin all day long.
Evening – Before going to bed, you want to give your face a gentle wash—but don't finish by applying more lotions and creams. The last thing you want is for your skin to be covered in a layer of oil overnight. The oil will just increase the amount of dead skin cells and grime clinging to your skin from your pillow.
For your nightly wash, you don't need a facial cleanser—warm water will do the trick just fine. After your wash, apply an anti-aging serum (something light and non-comedogenic) to hydrate and refresh your skin overnight.
Other Ways to Care for Your Face
Once you're done with your face wash, try these tips to keep the skin of your face healthy and fresh:
- Wash daily. Twice, if you have oily skin. Daily washes will help to combat acne and other skin conditions.
- Protect after you wash. Apply a layer of moisturizing cream to your face after washing it. This will protect your skin from sun, wind, aging, and environmental toxins.
- Use eye cream. The skin around your eyes and mouth is highly prone to wear. After cleansing your face, use an eye cream to prevent wrinkle lines.
- Try a cleansing mask. If you want to give your skin a "deep clean", use a cleansing mask once every few weeks to do a thorough job.
- Wash after using sunscreen. The oils and chemicals in sunscreen can be harsh on your skin, so make sure to wash thoroughly (using warm water and a gentle face wash) after you return indoors.
- Don't wash before going out into the sun. The washing process can leave your skin dry and vulnerable. Make sure to give your skin time to relax and recover after a thorough wash before going out into direct sunlight.