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How Often Should You Wash Your Face?

For a sparkling fresh visage, how often does a dude need to wash his face? Well, just like your face, this is unique to you. How frequently you need to hit up your cleanser will vary according to factors ranging from your skin type to where you live. That said, this is a pretty straightforward diagnosis, so let's break it down and get you on your way to a clean yet balanced face. 

The One-Size-Fits-All, Dermatologist-Approved Approach to Cleanser

It's pretty obvious that under-washing your face will lead to breakouts or, at the very least, some gross build up, but overwashing also has its pitfalls, including dry skin. Barring other factors we'll get into shortly, let's save you a trip to the dermatologist and a co-pay and repeat what we've been told by derms ad nauseam: most people should wash their face twice a day, in the morning right after waking up and again before bed. In the morning, you're taking off the night's sebum and bacteria, and at night, you get rid of pollutants and grime. Easy.

But! There's always a but when it comes to skincare.

Wash Your Face According to Your Skin Type

Right before we get personal with your skincare, we do want to say this: no matter your skin type, you need to wash your face at night. Please don't go to bed with a day's worth of dirt sinking into your pores; it's gross. 

  1. Normal skin: You lucky dude. Your skin doesn't do anything weird, so your face-washing routine doesn't have to, either. Most cleansers should work fine for you, so long as they are, in fact, meant for human faces. Wash morning and night, don't get lazy, and sub in dish soap, and you'll be grand. 
  2. Dry skin: Foaming face washes may be too drying for you, given that the typical cleanser foaming agents are sulfates, which are basically detergent. Avoid these. Look for gentle cleansers or moisturizing cleansing milks and cleansing lotions, which will wash away build-up without sucking you dry. On the plus side, you might be the one dude who benefits from only cleansing once per day. Don't skip rinsing and moisturizing in the morning, however.
  3. Oily skin: You're a twice-a-day dude when it comes to washing your face, and a face wash containing salicylic acid is your ally. Don't go crazy over-washing, even if you're tempted — this can strip your skin, with the paradoxical effect of encouraging more sebum production and breakouts, as your confused face attempts to find a balance.
  4. Combination skin: The worst of both worlds, sorry. You'll probably want to wash your face twice a day, then make sure you hit your dry areas with a decent moisturizer. If you go with a gentle cleanser, follow it with a swipe of astringent toner on your T-zone (forehead, nose, chin) to make sure you really get all the grime off.
  5. Sensitive skin: You can have any of the above skin types and be a sensitive dude, so this isn't really a "type" per se, nor does it dictate how often you need to wash your face. You do have to avoid sulfates, essential oils, excessive fragrance, and harsh preservatives in whatever cleanser you choose. 

Finally, unless you have majorly acne-prone skin and are thus understandably reluctant to mess with your face too much, don't be afraid to experiment with what frequency works best for you. 

Try two weeks of twice-daily cleansing, followed by two weeks of nighttime only. If more impurities (whiteheads, blackheads, full-on zits) show up on the once-a-day cycle, it's back to morning cleansing. On the flip side, if you notice your skin stays clear and seems less dry when you rinse with water in the morning and only break out the soap at night, great! You're released from washing your face twice a day. Note: if you live in a city, the chances this will work drop dramatically. Country dudes, however, have the benefit of cleaner air and, thus, cleaner pores. 

Seemingly Basic Yet Non-Obvious Facial Cleanser Tips

Let's go over some of the ways that we, grown men, may be washing our faces wrong. 

  1. Don't wash your face with scalding hot water. This strips your natural oils, leading to dryness, which in turn messes up your skin barrier. Lukewarm water will suffice, so don't torture yourself/run up the hot water bill.
  2. For basically the same reasons, please don't overdo it on the exfoliation. Twice a week is plenty for removing the build-up of dead skin cells and keeping both flaky skin and breakouts at bay. 
  3. If you feel like you're having a hard time drawing out impurities with your hands alone, lightly scrub your face with a washcloth when you cleanse. There's definitely no need for fancy tools here — just be sure your washcloth is clean.
  4. That "tight" skin feeling after washing your face is a warning sign that your cleansing routine is too harsh. Switch to a sulfate-free or gentle cleanser before this backfires, and you wind up red, irritated, or broken out. 
  5. If you're pressed for time or just too drunk to deal with soap, it's better to sub in a hack than skip facial cleansing altogether. Face wipes will sweep away grime, gunk, and excess oil. Steal your girlfriend's makeup wipes or, much better, keep your own dude-designated wipes on hand. 

Everything Else You Need to Know About Men's Skin Care, Condensed

Having established your skin type and face washing frequency, let's talk about what happens after the cleanser. We've gone into minute detail on this before, but if you're not up for a screed on men's skincare routines, follow these basic rules, and you'll be looking good. 

Layer products from lightest to heaviest. Toner, which balances your skin's PH, comes after a cleanser. Next up is a moisturizer, which makes your skin feel and look nice. If you're exfoliating, do this twice per week after nighttime cleansing, using either a physical scrub or a chemical exfoliant, like glycolic acid. Finally, don't cancel out all your effort and investment in skincare products by burning yourself. If you're going to be outside for any substantial period, use sunscreen after morning moisturizing.

And with that, we hope you're feeling clean but not tight, smooth but not over-exfoliated, and generally in a good place cleansing-wise all around.

So Fresh, So Clean

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