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How to know if you are overwashing your face

21 Feb 2024
How to know if you are overwashing your face

Cleansers give us joy! Simple as. Oils, balms, gels, the difference in textures, the scent, the ritual of washing off daily dirt and grime - cleansing your face can be awesome. Cleansing is the first and crucial step in keeping our skin healthy, bouncy, and plump. But sometimes, in our enthusiasm, we can overdo it. How can we tell if we are overwashing our face? What are some of the signs to look for? How often should we cleanse?

Skin is the body's largest organ. Our lipid barrier is a thin, protective layer of lipids, amino and fatty acids, and sebum. It is the uppermost part of the Stratum Corneum. It protects us against environmental pollutants, reduces the risk of irritation, and keeps our skin hydrated. When we overwash our faces, the lipid barrier gets disrupted. It can lead to Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL).

What are common signs you might be overwashing our face?

The skin feels "squeaky" clean, taut, and tight. Uncomfortably so. If our face feels like that after a cleanse, the cleanser we are using either has too high a pH or isn't suitable for our skin type. Alternatively, it might mean we are washing our faces too often.

While yes, many believe that a "squeaky" clean feeling means we have "properly" washed our faces, nothing could be further from the truth. The skin should feel clean AND comfortable. Sudden breakouts and excessive oiliness can also happen. If we overwash our faces, we strip the skin of its natural oils. The oil glands will overproduce oil to compensate, which can lead to more breakouts.

Other common signs are dry patches of skin and redness. Likewise, some might experience rashes. Since the lipid barrier is disrupted, the skin is more prone to inflammation.

How often should you wash your face?


Skincare experts recommend washing our faces twice a day. Once in the morning to remove the sweat and products applied the night before. Once in the evening to remove makeup, sunscreen, daily dirt, and grime and prep our face for the rest of the skincare routine.

That said, if you exercise regularly and sweat a lot during a workout, it is understandable you'll want to wash your face afterward. On the other end of the spectrum, if your skin is super dry, you might want to skip your morning cleanse.

How can you balance out your skin if you overwashed your face?

  • Determine what is causing your face to feel tight and uncomfortable. Are you washing your face more than twice per day? In this instance, the cause of irritation might be the frequency. If you are washing your face twice per day and your skin still feels uncomfortable, you'll need to switch to another cleanser. Look for a low pH cleanser that will clean the face without stripping the skin of its natural oils.
  • Adjust your skincare routine to include products that contain skin-repairing and soothing ingredients. These will help to repair and restore the moisture barrier. Think Ceramides, sterols, lipids, Niacinamide, and Hyaluronic acid.
  • Try not to rub in or lather the cleanser too aggressively, as this can irritate the skin further.

Overwashing your face can make the skin feel uncomfortable. However, once you detect a problem, it is easy to adjust your routine and help your skin return to its balanced state.

Learn more about the importance of finding a suitable cleanser for your skin type and how to cleanse your face the right way.