Close-up of a woman's cheek with white foamy face wash

There are few absolute truths in skincare because all of us have different skin. While one person might exfoliate every day, another with sensitive skin might find a weekly scrub just right. Some pros swear by slathering on SPF every morning, but others will skip for a little medicinal sun absorption instead. Opinions in the beauty world always vary. Which takes us to the age-old debate about good ol’ step one: what’s the best way to wash your face?

For many proponents of the ‘less is more’ way of life, washing just with water in the morning can prevent skin from constant stripping. And we’ve met some water washers with great skin. But for the ‘do the most’ camp, keeping things squeaky clean, then feeding the skin with nourishing products is the only way to live. Many Korean skincare fans will are proponents of the multi-step cleansing process with an oil cleanser and a gentle cleanser.

So, which is correct? Skincare is ultimately an intuitive process. Listen to what your skin is telling you it needs and choose between these two methods below. Or stick with your own routine – and tell us what it is in the comments below!
On Double-Washing

January Olds is an aesthetician and founder of January Labs skincare who is self-proclaimed obsessive compulsive about washing her face, cleansing three to four times a day.

I usually wash my face in the morning, then after my workouts and before I go to bed. Some might find this a bit much, but it is really the ONLY way to keep the pores clean and small. My esthetician is always amazed by how little extractions I need when get facials….she says it’s a true testament to the product I created specifically so I could wash my face 3-4 times a day without drying my skin out. As a trained aesthetician and product educator, I can attest that all those myths on over-washing your face are not true……with the caveat that you’re using the right sulfate-free cleanser. When I created the January Labs Pure & Gentle Cleanser, the key ingredient I was looking for was Willow Bark, a natural salicylic acid to keep the skin lightly exfoliated and also help with inflammation and acne. I also made sure that the bottle was large enough to last with all the many times I wash my face a day!

On Washing With Water

Adina Grigore, founder of SW Basics, author of the Skin Cleanse explains why she only washes her face with water.

My love for washing with water started out of desperation. My skin was in a complete and total crisis. I was itchy, red, inflamed, oily and dry at the same time, and constantly breaking out. But I was doing everything “right.” Cleansing, toning, moisturizing, spot treating, seruming, massaging, aromatherapying, yogaing. Plus I was eating super healthy, and my skincare routine was full of wholesome, natural products. I couldn’t figure it out, so I gave up. I started rinsing with water as a break for myself, but to still feel somewhat clean. The results were miraculous and permanent. I experienced immediate relief. My skin got brighter, clearer, and calmer. To this day, I’ve pared back to a small handful of products I use sporadically. Otherwise, I only wash with water.

Your skin knows how to take care of itself. It produces its own moisture, flushes toxins, and kills harmful bacteria. It doesn’t need your help. Water is slippery enough to cleanse your skin of excess dirt and sweat. Let your hands do the work of a face wash (we’re all so afraid of our hands these days, clean them well and get over it). Not even the safest, cleanest products in the world can compete with the simplicity of water. If high-quality beauty products are your greens juice that’s great, I’m not saying to get rid of them, just like I wouldn’t tell you to quit drinking your greens. But I would tell you that you have to keep drinking water, too. It sounds silly but it’s one of our life forces, and it’s a really powerful one.

Plus, let’s talk about how much time you save when you wash with water. My entire routine takes me under two minutes. If I get a little dry, I dab on some oil. When I want to add more products in, I do. But to me, the idea that you need to layer on products to get good skin is completely false. I didn’t have good skin until I switched to this routine, and now I feel like I’m more in tune with my skin, while simultaneously experiencing virtually no flare-ups but way, way more free time (that I fill telling people about washing with water).

How do you wash your face? Share in the comments below, and
check out a few of our face cleansers here.

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