How Often Do You Wash Your Face?

This morning I was poking around one of my favorite style-photography sites (the toujours-charmante Garance Doré’s) and saw the headline “Water.” In it, she pays her dermato a visit with a long list of questions and skincare concerns and comes away with just one startling piece of advice:

“Your skin is very good. It’s just exhausted. The only thing you need is to: Stop water.

I almost started to cry. I’ve been told for years that water is not good for my skin (is it good for anybody’s skin?) but I resist. I rebel. For me, being clean equals using water and something that foams a lot. I knew that one day at the turn of my century, I would pay the price of my mindlessness, but not unlike Pete Doherty, I prefered to ignore the advice of people who cared for me.

I was always choosing the dark side of the force, and that is to say : WATER

I’ve heard of this before and I think it’s definitely a French thing, but it got me thinking. How do you keep your face from getting wet in the shower? And if you’re not using any water but you are wearing makeup, then whaaaa? Using a cream cleanser and wiping it off with cotton? Wouldn’t that leave residue that you would then need a toner or something to get off? Seems laborious to me! And it also seems like it would necessitate more products, not fewer, which is not in keeping with my less-is-more philosophy. Maybe Garance’s skin is exhausted from the foaming cleanser she’s using? Who knows! My suspicion has always been that water is less of a problem; it’s what you use with it that can make your skin sad.

We’ve talked about being dirty over here before. We even roped you all into a no-soap challenge that was, in our estimation, a pretty big success! But we exempted washing your hair, your face and your underarms/privates because, well, that seemed the right thing to do.

There were times (years, actually) when I didn’t feel clean unless I washed my face upwards of three times a day, and wiped it down with alcohol-laced toners. Now I know better, and what works best for me is if I only wash my face at night, to get off my makeup, sunscreen and grime from the filthy city I live in. But I don’t wash it in the morning; I use a clean muslin cloth and wipe down with…water. At night I use Tata Harper’s Regenerating Cleanser.

What’s your take? Do you wash your face twice a day, and if so, why? And have you ever forsaken water?

Image via

64 Responses to “How Often Do You Wash Your Face?”
  1. Kayla says:

    When I was a teenager with acne, my dermatologist got me on birth control to clear me up — which did work. But now that I’m older and off the pill (IUD!) I did start breaking out a bit.

    I switched from conventional cleanser in the morning and evening to a mix of grapeseed oil + castor oil + jojoba oil + tea tree oil in the evening, which I run into my skin then steam with a hot, damp washcloth and wipe off (no rinsing, drying, or applying moisturizer needed). This takes off makeup, cleanses my skin and makes it super-soft. It’s also a great way to unwind after a long day!

    In the morning, I’ll exercise (a very essential part of keeping my skin glowing and clear), shower and just get my face a bit wet, then (when I’m out of the shower and dried off) apply a mix of rosewater and tea tree oil to my face with a soft cotton pad.

    This routine is working like a charm!

  2. Andreína (andre) says:

    One of the reasons why I’ve stopped showering and washing my face everyday is to conserve water. After I started with this not-so-routine “routine”, I’ve seen improvement, mostly with my face.
    I grab one of my vegetable sponges and wet it, apply my mix of fav oils (tea-tree, grape seed, jojoba and avocado), and wipe my makeup off, or just clean my skin that way.

    Taking a shower without touching my face has never been an issue for me, as I have been doing it for years! I just pretend I’m scared of the water and voila! no water hits my face, as I continuously avoid it!

  3. Annie says:

    I just thought I’d say, I’m 19 and I have not washed my face regularly for around 7 years. The most it will get is 3/4 washes every 6 months, just when I get the occasional spot which flakes a little, so I can remove the dry skin and bacteria. But spots only occur once a month (usually only if my hair becomes greasy quicker than usual/I can’t be bothered to wash it), if that, and very rarely flake like that so there’s ‘no need’. My skin is as clear as crystal. But maybe that’s because I’ve never worn make-up either.

    Remember, washing takes away the naturally good oils in skin, which is what moisturizer is supposed to bring back. I don’t see the point in wasting so much money on moisturizer when I can avoid removing the natural oil in the first place. If you’ve ever seen an old photograph from the 1920s and such, they can’t have been using much but the people’s skin is beautiful.

    Seriously, my skin is immaculate.

  4. Katie says:

    Very interesting post.
    Water could be a problem, if it’s full of chlorine, in which case it can dry the skin. There are companies that make water filters for the shower … you’re having a nice hot shower and all your pores are open and sucking in all that chlorine or ammonia, which I’ve recently been told is what some cities (LA for example) are using to ‘clean’ the city’s water because it’s cheaper than chlorine and the city is under a budget crunch. Not to mention that we’re breathing in chlorine or ammonia gas during that hot shower too.
    But other than that, I don’t think water in general is so much of a problem. I love washing off the energies from the day with a splash of water–I splash my face with water several times each day. But I never use a cleanser. Just water. And I apply oil to my face several times each day. I find that the oil actually pulls dirt or toxins out of the skin much better than soap. And of course an occasional trip to the sauna or wet steam can act as a deep cleansing for the face and the whole body. ; )

  5. Rachel says:

    I used to have really annoying skin…blotchy,dry in patches, oily and breaking out in patches. About a year ago I started experimenting with “clean” products. I now use a cleanser I made from a recipe in “do it gorgeously”. It is made from oils and it feels like a cold cream. It totally freaked me out at first because I thought it would break me out. But nope it seems to be having the opposite effect. My skin seems great. After i massage it in i wipe it off with acwarm cloth. I follow with a tee tree oil blend wipe that off with witch hazel. Then apply the Josie maran argan oil. I also use the Jane iredale magic mitt if I’ve worn a lot of makeup it is seriously the most amazing thing ever. My fifteen year old sister has bought them for all her friends.
    Btw is witch hazel ok? I love clean skin care because my skin is so much better I spend less money and I feel better knowing I’m not using all that chemical crap!

  6. Jen says:

    I haven’t washed my face with water in over 2 years – originally because I started having allergic reactions and hyperkeratosis. I switched to a combination of Olive, jojoba, apricot and grapeseed oils (2tbsp each) mixed with two vitamin E capsules (to prevent them going rancid) and whatever essential oils suit my fancy… rub on my face gently, and then take it off with witch hazel. Occasionally i’ll use rosemary hydrosol as a toner if my skin feels dirtier than normal. At first it was weird – but now I absolutely love my skin. It’s soft, clear and for the most part evenly toned. And i constantly get comments on how nice it looks.
    A lot of people feel when they first try it that it makes them break out more – but it’s actually your skin re-balancing. When you’ve been stripping the oils out of it for years – it’s use to constantly over producing, so it takes a little bit to calm down.
    I don’t worry too much about getting actual water on my face – I love swimming too much! But this face regime helps with balancing it all out. Besides, like most things – it’s knowing how and when to use it. A good facial steam is not a bad thing… just make sure to cool down after with a cold cloth and it’ll do wonders for your circulation.

  7. S. says:

    i wash my face, arms, feet and wipe my hair with water 5 times a day :) i’m muslim so i pray 5 times a day and it’s a must to wash before each prayer. all i use is moisturizer and i have never had any problems with my skin

  8. Darcel says:

    I use cetaphil which is a gentle skin cleanser. I have these white little bumps on my face. Help!!!!!

  9. stacey says:

    My story is kind of similar to jen’s i haven’t used soap on my face in 2 years. when i was using skin whitening products and it aggravated my skin much more.

  10. Yolka says:

    I just stumbled upon your article while writing a post about how often should you wash your face. :)
    Personally I wash my face twice a day and have never forsaken water. I wouldn’t know how you wash without water. Although I see Katie’s point about water filled with chloride. I might need to research into buying a water filter for my shower.
    I choose to wash my face twice a day because I have combination skin and if I don’t my face feels twice as oily and start breaking out like crazy. I actually have a full arsenal of face products I use now that are mostly anti-aging and my skin has never been clearer. Honestly, I have been fighting a loosing battle with acne since I turned 15 and I finally won about 6 month ago.
    But what works for me doesn’t always work for other people. Which is why I did give washing my face once a day a try but it didn’t work out. :)

  11. x80zero says:

    Sweat, tears, spit and mucus happens. You must have water to wash off the secretions, it’s a universal hygiene minimum. Ever see arm or leg skin after a cast comes off, all the smell and itch? That is what happens when there is no water. Derma-doctor just wanted more work at the clinic for the client.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] out of my shower head is necessarily doing me that many favors. I live in a super arid climate and as we’ve discussed in the past, some folks think water in and of itself can exacerbate dryness. I usually take off my makeup with […]

  2. […] more: Share this:TwitterFacebookTumblrPinterestPocketLinkedInRedditStumbleUponGoogleDiggLike this:Like […]

Leave A Comment