How often you should wash depends on your skin type.
For those who already get acne, Baxt suggests they “wash their face at least twice a day,” while someone with combination skin will “probably be well enough washing once a day.”
The same goes for people with dry skin. Dermatologist Steven Xu said they “can overdo it” by washing with a cleanser too often. “Cleansers strip away the top of your skin and some of the natural oils your body makes,” the assistant professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine tells HuffPost. “That can be bad in the context of people with dry or sensitive skin.”
Ageing skin tends to be more dry, too, and doesn’t require being washed twice a day. “As you get older, you stop making natural moisturisers that young skin does,” Xu said. “So cleaners can be extra harsh on skin that’s a little bit more weathered.”
He added, “People who don’t wear a lot of makeup and don’t put [products] on their face and don’t really get oily, that’s the kind of skin type that doesn’t necessarily need to be washing their face religiously.”
Elbuluk said over-washing can cause dryness, too: “Using an actual cleanser is not needed more than twice a day,” she said. “For people who wash more than twice a day, it tends to over-dry the face without adding any additional benefit.”
What you wash with matters.
Basically, there’s no “hard and fast rule when it comes to frequency of face washing,” Xu said. “It all depends on your skin type and what you’re washing your face with.”
The choice of a cleanser will be guided by your skin type. “If you have sensitive skin, you can select a gentle, non-alcohol-based cleanser,” Feely said. “If you have acne-prone skin, you may choose one with ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.”
Elbuluk recommends cleansers from brands like Dove, Cetaphil or Cerave. “Those are good ones for sensitive or regular combination-type skin,” she said. “Try to keep it simple: A mild gentle cleanser is usually sufficient for most people.”
Baxt “has no problem” with people with dry skin using oil cleansers, but she doesn’t endorse them for those who regularly get acne or already have oily skin. “I’m not a believer in, if you’re oily, put more oil on your skin,” she said. “I don’t have a problem with an oil cleanser if you have dry skin, but if you’re acne prone, I’m not a fan.”
So just like every body is different, so is every face. “Washing your face,” Baxt said, “really depends on what kind of skin you have.”