Should You Wash Your Face in the Morning?

Should You Wash Your Face in the Morning?
29.02.2024

Dermatologists Say It Depends on Your Skin Type.

  • Though facial cleansing is an important way to remove excess oil, dead skin cells, and other debris, some people may not need to cleanse twice a day.
  • Depending on your skin type, washing your face in the morning and at night could lead to dryness or irritation, experts said.
  • If you decide to wash your face in the morning, consider using just water or a gentle cleanser that doesn’t leave the skin feeling tight or stripped.

Washing your face is an important way to keep your skin healthy and clean—but could cleansing your skin twice a day be causing more harm than good?

Most people have their usual morning and nighttime routines, which often involve some kind of skincare. But online, some people are warning that washing your face twice a day is too much of a good thing.

“If you are cleansing your skin morning and night, you may be over-stripping your skin, which results in a barrier dysfunction, breakout, redness, and more skin concerns,” said Maja, a medical aesthetician, in a TikTok posted last year.

Instead, creators are recommending that people only cleanse their faces at night.

Of course, there’s no doubt that face washing can be good for you—it plays an important role in removing dirt, oil, dead skin cells, makeup, and substances that clog pores and glands, Stephanie Saxton-Daniels, MD, board-certified dermatologist at Westlake Dermatology, told Health.

But if you just washed your face the night before, do you really need to do it again a few hours later?

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Here’s what experts had to say about how frequently you should be washing your face and what to keep in mind when experimenting with your skincare regimen.

Is It Really Necessary to Wash Your Face in the Morning? 

When it comes to how often someone should cleanse their skin, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Rather, it’s dependent on individual skin types, Carolyn Stull, MD, board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology, told Health.

For some people—particularly those with acne-prone or oily skin—face washing twice a day might be beneficial.

Morning face washing “can help remove excess sebum and dead skin cells, which can clog the pores,” Stull explained. It’s also a good way to get rid of residue from skincare products, including petroleum, waxes, butters, and heavy oils, she said.

Getting rid of this dirt, skin oil, and other debris in the morning reduces the likelihood of clogged pores and breakouts, said Stacey Tull, MD, MPH, board-certified dermatological surgeon and owner of St. Charles County Dermatologic Surgery. It could also prevent the accumulation of skin cells that can lead to a dull or unhealthy appearance, she said.

“Our metabolism still produces sebum [oil] and sheds skin cells in [our] sleep,” Tull told Health. “Even if you wash your face at night, you probably aren’t changing your pillowcases every night, so grime from bedding and hair will build up.”

Though cleansing your face in the morning can improve some people’s skin health, it’s not necessary for everyone.

People with sensitive skin or inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis may find cleansing twice a day too drying, said Stull.

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“It’s important not to overdo it,” she explained. “Stripping the skin of the natural lipids produced overnight can compromise skin barrier function, making the skin more susceptible to irritation.”

Washing the face too often can, in some cases, cause disruption of the skin’s microbiome and aggravate skin conditions such as perioral dermatitis or sensitive skin, Saxton-Daniels added.

In fact, for most people, she said, simply cleansing your face before bed should be sufficient.

Building a Healthy Skincare Routine 

If a person does want to try scaling back their face washing routine, there are still some ways they can refresh their skin in the morning. Simply splashing the face with water after you wake up could be a good option, Stull recommended.

Particularly, she said, “For those with sensitive or dry skin, using water with no cleanser in the morning may be sufficient and will not remove any of the protective lipids that help support your skin barrier.”

For people with an oilier complexion or those looking to remove product or residue from the night before, cleansing with micellar water in the morning can be useful, Stull added.

Other options to consider include hydrating mists, toners, or pre-moistened facial wipes, which can quickly and conveniently refresh the skin without the need for a full wash.

And when you do reach for a facial cleanser—whether it’s once or twice a day—it’s important to choose a product that’s most appropriate for your skin type and needs, Tull recommended.

For example, if you have sensitive or dry skin, consider using a non-soapy facial cleanser such as Cetaphil that is easy on the skin and unscented. It’s especially important to reach for these gentler products if you decide to clean your face in the morning—they can help support the skin barrier and won’t leave the skin feeling stripped or tight, said Stull.

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When building your skincare routine, there are several things that you should take into consideration: 

  • Skin type: Identify your skin type to choose products that cater to your needs. Dry, oily, combination, and sensitive skin types may require different products and ingredients.
  • Cleansing: Determine whether you need to wash your face in the morning. Some people may prefer a gentle morning cleanser, while others may use alternatives such as wipes or water.
  • Sunscreen: Apply sunscreen in the morning to help protect your skin from harmful UV rays, prevent premature aging, and lower the risk of skin cancer. Reach for sunscreens that offer broad-spectrum coverage with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Serums and treatments: Consider applying specific serums or treatments like vitamin C serums, hyaluronic acid, or niacinamide, which can target specific skin concerns like fine lines, discoloration, and hyperpigmentation.

For more specific skin concerns or individualized advice on creating a skincare routine, it’s always best to contact your dermatologist.

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