How To Wash Your Face, Or The 6 Skincare Mistakes You've Been Making Your Whole Life

Since puberty, at the very least, I diligently washed my face each morning and each night in hopes to cure my acne-prone skin — only to feel like an oil slick by 3 PM. What the heck? I was doing everything right, right? Nope! Turns out I was washing my face wrong for way too long. It amazed me that no one gave me a pamphlet when I was young specifically for body grooming. I knew that I was a crappy shaver, I was well aware that my eyeliner skills hadn't advanced since 8th grade, and sadly, my father put in my contacts throughout junior high AND high school. But, face washing? That's something I could've sworn I was doing right.

Every five years or so, a vital piece of information pertaining to face-washing would be casually dropped in conversation through friends, my sister, or doctors. I thought I was the only one, given my track record of being HORRIBLE at following any step-by-step list of instructions, until a friend of mine mentioned that she started washing her face twice a day and removing makeup before bed only a couple of years ago. "No one told me I had to!" she exclaimed. Now, it may seem like common sense, but everyone has a knowledge gap and ours apparently was washing our face wrong well into our twenties.

As I found out years ago, washing your face isn't just about splashing water and soap on your face twice a day as fast as you can in order to get to work or bed. Those little details from the time you turn on the water until the time you dry your face is what can be standing in between you and beautiful, clear skin. Personally, I hate wearing makeup, I get it everywhere, I hate buying and replacing it, and I always forget I'm wearing it thus, rubbing my eyes and having it completely smeared on my face. So, in order to keep a foundation-free face as often as possible, I try to take good care of my skin. That's why I've followed these essential rules of face cleansing.

1. Wash Those Hands

Here's a rule that's very easy to ignore: Wash your hands before you wash your face. I mean, if you don't, you're essentially just rubbing dirt into your pores. Sick.

Try Puracy Vanilla & Lavender All-Natural Hand Soap, $7, Amazon

2. Use The Right Water

Not all water is created equal: Hot water can cause dry skin, and ice cold water can be just as bad. Choose lukewarm water always and you'll start seeing results. PS: Would you never even think of drinking the tap water in your house? Then don't put it on your face. If it's not good enough for inside, it definitely isn't good enough for your exterior either. I'm not saying you have to cleanse your skin with Evian, but it's smart to boil tap water and let it cool before you wash.

3. Take Off Your Makeup First

As a teenager, I would wash my face and "take my makeup off" at the same time, which is probably why I woke up everyday desperately needing concealer. Now, I take my makeup off first with a homemade makeup remover. That way, my cleanser can work deep into my pores without mineral powder getting in the way.

Try Neutrogena Makeup Remover Wipes, $7, Amazon

4. Don't Rush

I am definitely guilty of rushing through routines, including my skincare. Take your time massaging your cleanser into your face without scrubbing. When you're done, rinse the cleanser off completely, making sure nothing is left behind. It's similar to hand washing clothes: If you leave soap behind, it will surely get dirty faster.

5. Speaking of Cleansers...

Over-medicating your face with topical ointments and chemicals is a sure way to irritate your skin and enter a never-ending cycle of problems. (An acne treatment that leads to dryness which leads to an oily moisturizer that leads to acne which leads to... you get it.) One thing you can do to limit the amount of irritation on your face is to control the different products you put on your face. The ingredients in these products are totally safe to use... until you start to pile up several different ones, because chances are they haven't been tested together. Buying all your products from the same line can reduce the amount of skin woes. Or, of course, you can make your own all-natural products at home.

Trader Joe's Spa Face Wash with Tea Tree Oil, $11, Amazon

6. Don't Forget To Brush

I used my hands to wash my face for most of my life. I felt my fingers could be gentler than a washcloth but, although that may be true, I wasn't able to deep clean like a washcloth could. Recently, I was introduced to a brush that I can't put down, the Sonic Radiance Clarisonic brush and I can't be stopped. To be honest, it took me a while to get used the brush, but after a few weeks I noticed a decrease in clogged pores. If you aren't a fan of the time it takes to efficiently scrub your face with your hands then getting a brush is definitely the way to go — just be sure to pick one with soft bristles if you have sensitive skin.

Clarisonic Radiance System, $249, Amazon

Image: Giphy; gosheshe, peapod labs, Danilo Bandiera/Flickr; Amazon.com