Are You Washing Your Face Too Much, Causing Acne?

Is You Face Too Clean?

By Yancy Lael

The advice comes early on, for most of us – usually before we’ve even hit puberty: if you want healthy skin, wash it morning and night. That message is especially reinforced for those who struggle with oily, acne-prone skin. If you want to control the oil and breakouts, wash your face more and dry your skin out with astringents.

It makes perfect sense, right? It certainly seems totally logical.

But what if it’s not only wrong… but making your skin far worse?

Is Washing Your Face Making You Break Out?

When you wash your face, you are washing off more than just the dirt and makeup – you’re washing off the layer of sebum your skin produces. That’s the point of washing and battling that oily skin, of course… But you may have already noticed that this course of action will get you exactly what you don’t want: oily, acne-prone skin.

The truth is, the beauty industry has fed us a myth that keeps us dependent upon overusing products that are drying and damaging. The myth is that our skin needs constant management and upkeep. In reality, our bodies are magnificent organisms that know exactly what to do to stay healthy.

The oil our skin produces is important – it protects our skin and keeps it nice and supple. (And we want supple skin, don’t we?) Our body knows exactly the right amount of oil to produce in order to take care of the skin. When we wash that oil off, the body immediately seeks to rebalance itself by producing more oil. The more oil you remove, the more oil your body will produce. And the more oil your body produces, the more acne-prone your skin will become.

How To Prevent Breakouts

In order to avoid the oily-skin-acne-trap, I’m going to give you the simplest advice you’ve ever gotten: Stop washing your face so much!

If you wash your face thoroughly at night and have removed all your makeup, then you don’t need to wash it in the morning. A few splashes of warm water is more than enough.

Further, cutting back on astringents – or eliminating them altogether – would do acne-prone skin a world of good. Most astringents remove too much sebum, exacerbating the problem you are trying to correct. If you can’t live without an astringent, try something very gentle like an alcohol-free witch hazel (try Thayer’s Unscented Witch Hazel, $10.20) and be sure not to exceed one application per day.

If you want to get really radical, give up your soap, entirely! Try cleaning your skin with oil (sounds crazy, we know!) or replace your soap with something non-traditional like oatmeal or honey. These cleanse the skin just as effectively as soap but without the drying effect, which will prevent your skin from producing an overabundance of oil.

Wait, I Should Just Stop Washing My Face??

The only downside to washing the skin less often is that you may experience a period of readjustment in which the skin is drier or even oilier than usual and you might also experience a few breakouts. At times like these, you’ve got to remember the big picture: You’re training your skin to be healthy for the long haul. The results will be worth waiting for. Give your skin 6-8 weeks to readjust before throwing in the towel.

The best part about washing your face less often is that you are laying the groundwork for a lifetime of healthy skin by simply allowing your skin’s oil production and bacteria to get back in balance.

Not sold? If you’re stuck on washing your skin to a squeaky finish, apply non pore-clogging oil to your skin as a moisturizer to send your skin the message that it has all the oil it needs!

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