My skincare routine—if you can even call it that—consists of splashing water on my face before bed and occasionally putting on moisturizer (no, I don't even take my makeup off). And while I'm constantly being shamed for my habits, it turns out I'm not alone. According to a recent study, almost half of Americans wash their face wrong, if at all.
In fact, 55 percent of people say they don't cleanse their face each day, a statistic that my dermatologist would definitely shake her head at. So what are we doing wrong with our skin, particularly when it comes to our faces? Below is what the study found, plus our beauty expert's tips for washing your face the right way.
The most common face-washing mistakes
The study found that 48 percent of Americans don't use cleanser when they wash their face—and even more shocking, almost half admit to using shampoo or conditioner or hand soap instead. Not only are people choosing the wrong products (a.k.a ones that aren't meant for facial skin), but many are also using the same washcloth up to four times before washing it. For reference, experts say you should use a clean cloth every single time.
Additionally, 45 percent confessed they buy products without the advice of a skincare expert like a dermatologist—which may be why over a third either use the wrong cleanser based on their skin type or end up just using water (guilty!) which doesn't really clean your face at all.
Why washing your face is so important
There's a reason your mom used to always nag you to wash your face before bed—it really does save (and sanitize) your skin. "Washing your face is important for removing dirt and oil," says our lifestyle writer, Jessica Kasparian. "Cleansing every morning and night is best because you'll remove any oil or bacteria from sleeping in the morning and then remove whatever you encountered during the day when you wash at night."
She adds that if you wear makeup (or put any product on your skin), washing daily is especially important. "You always want to start with a clean face—most moisturizers or serums even say this on the packaging," she explains.
How to wash your face correctly
Kasparian's number one tip (besides washing both morning and night)? "Be gentle! There's no need to tug or scrub the skin, or use scalding hot water. A good cleanser will put in most of the work, so there's no need to put yourself through anything unpleasant," she says. And for anyone who wears makeup, she recommends using micellar water prior to cleansing and then swiping a cotton pad with toner over your face to check that you've completely removed it all.
And as for which products to use, Kasparian personally swears by the Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser. "It's very gentle on the skin and it doesn't irritate my eyes at all when removing eye makeup," she says, adding, "I recommend this to anyone with sensitive skin or anyone looking for a mild but effective cleanser." She also likes the cult-favorite CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser, which is popular with YouTube beauty gurus.