washing face
Aging Well

Face Washing Mistakes Can Age You

Skincare is a unique process for everyone. Beauty routines range from the systematically meticulous to borderline nonexistent. But the truth of the matter is that no matter where you lie in the skincare spectrum, you could be making mistakes that cause your skin to age simply by washing your face incorrectly.

I counsel patients on cosmetic procedures, maintaining results, optimizing their skincare, and preventative measures. While skin treatments, injectables, and surgery can help maintain the visual appearance, your basic skincare goes a long way toward preventing premature aging.

You Are Washing Your Face Incorrectly If You Do the Following:

Using too much toner

Facial toners are an essential part of any beauty routine. However, using too much toner can dry out the skin and may even lead to more sebum production as your glands attempt to overcompensate. If you find your skin feeling tight or irritated after applying toner, you may be using too much, and this is especially true if you have sensitive or combination skin. Some toners come in a spray bottle, which is great for applying a light layer over the skin after cleansing. If not, simply pour a few drops of toner on a cotton pad and gently glide it across the face.

Also, many toners have alcohol-based ingredients, such as denatured alcohol, in them. Avoid toners with these ingredients at all costs as they will dry the skin completely and remove natural oils needed to keep the skin moist and healthy.

Products that are too harsh

As consumers become more sophisticated, they inquire about ingredients such as retinol. They know it is super hydrating and great for the skin, but they don’t understand that skincare needs to be sustainable, so they ask for the strongest, most active form of prescription retinoid. This is a mistake.

Any credible doctor will first assess the condition of your skin alongside the products and treatments you are already using in order to determine if you need prescription retinol or if a less active form sold over-the-counter is better for you. Retinol in less active forms will have similar effects without irritating the skin as much, which will be helpful to you as you continue using a product on your skin over time.

Scrubbing too hard

Instead of rubbing and scrubbing your face to try to get it squeaky clean, your motions with your cleanser should be as gentle as possible. Your hands should not be doing all the work! Scrubbing the skin too harshly or with materials that add exfoliation can cause micro-tears in the skin as well as excessive elimination of essential oils, which leaves the skin dry.

Over exfoliating

While gently exfoliating a few nights a week can do wonders for the skin, it’s easy to go overboard. What keeps your skin looking fresh, young, and hydrated is preserving the outer layer’s glow by lightly helping it shed old skin cells and moisturizing to help cell turnover. However, the danger is that many people don’t think to consider their loofah or washcloth as an exfoliation tool. Even if you are only using an exfoliant a few days a week, if you are scrubbing with a harsher material every day you could be exfoliating more than you intend and that can cause dryness, red patches, dehydration, and hyperpigmentation.

Washing with hot water

Though it might feel good, using hot water to cleanse your face can actually dehydrate it. Hot water can be abrasive, stripping the skin of its natural oils, leaving it dry and flaky. This can also lead to acne flare, breakouts, and skin irritation. For best results, rinse your face with lukewarm or cool water – not cold either – to help constrict blood vessels. Hot water enlarges your pores, and this can affect the oil production of the skin as well as the texture of it.

hot and cold faucets

Washing more than twice a day

You may be thinking, the cleaner, the better, right? Think again. Overwashing your face can actually damage the skin’s natural protective system, which then can affect how easily the environment irritates your skin, how efficiently you retain moisture, and—over time—cause you to show early signs of aging such as fine lines and dry patches. As a general rule of thumb, you should not be washing your face more than twice a day. If you have an activity like working out or an outdoor sport in the middle of the day, try to use a bland soap or cleanser to wash away dirt and sweat without further irritating the skin.

Forgetting to follow up with a moisturizer

The best times to apply moisturizer are after the shower or after applying toner. This will help prevent excessive dryness, and it will help skin to retain moisture. Moisturizers also come with a combination of vitamins and lipids that help the skin heal irritations, strengthen its protective functions, and look smoother and healthier.

Washing with whatever soap is available.

Many people are guilty of this one. People may think that soap is soap and a clean face is just a clean face, but you could be damaging your skin and aging yourself by washing your face with any available hand soap. Soaps with fragrances can be especially irritating to the skin. Overall, these soaps are not made for the face, and while this may be a minimalist approach, it borders on detrimental as hand soaps are dehydrating and lack many of the ingredients that optimize your skin’s complexion.

Manish Shah, M.D., F.A.C.S. is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center teaching cosmetic surgery to the plastic surgery residents. He is a past Chief of Plastic Surgery at Denver Health Medical Center. He also maintains a private practice in Aesthetic and Plastic Surgery in Cherry Creek. For more information, visit http://www.drmanishshah.com.


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