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How important is washing your face really?

We ask our Etre Vous experts to come clean about what regularly skipping a cleanse can really do to your skin

Celebrity cleansing routines have a dirty little secret. But before you start throwing away your cleanser - wait one moment. This is more of a dermatological indiscretion than a crime.

In a GQ interview Salma Hayek addresses a tweet asking for her skincare regime and explains: “My grandmother taught me never to wash my face in the morning. It's not disgusting, guys. What happens at night is that your skin produces all the oils that your skin needs to look youthful. It regenerates. Wash your skin really well at night, but don't wash the hard work off your skin in the morning.”

Cameron Diaz went even further, revealing that she doesn't wash her face much at all on Michelle Visage’s podcast Rule Breakers.

But, is cutting back on cleansing actually the key to having A-list skin? We asked the experts to sort skincare fact from fiction before you go cold turkey.

How important is cleansing?

Simply put: cleaning the skin is fundamental to skin health, according to Etre Vous Expert and Aesthetic Doctor, Anna Hemming. “Cleaning the surface oils and dead skin away from the skin aids circulation and protection of the skin barrier, and stops the skin from becoming dehydrated, sensitive dull, pigmented and congested," explains Hemming.

How often should you be washing your face? 

Like with most steps in your skincare regime - this should be entirely tailored to your skin. “As a general rule I’d recommend cleansing your face twice a day, in the morning and evening,” explains Etre Vous Expert, registered pharmacist and cosmetic practitioner Dr Awatif Mandour.

Dry, sensitive, sensitised or oily skin? See how your skin reacts to cleansing,“if you have very dry or sensitive skin, you may only need to cleanse once a day, preferably at night. On the flip side,if you have oily skin or are exposed to pollutants, you may need to cleanse more often,” adds Mandour.

How can you ensure your cleanse is as skin-friendly as possible? 

“Avoid using hot water as this can dry out the skin and opt for gentle cleansers as these will benefit all skin types and concerns, look for a product that is free from harsh detergents and fragrances as these can strip the skin of its natural oils and cause irritation,” shares Mandour. Think sodium lauryl sulphate, fragrances with phthalates, propylene glycol, paraffin, mineral oil, butylene glycol and isopropyl alcohol.

Is double cleansing a must?

Double cleansing drifted into our consciousness alongside elaborate K-beauty skincare regimes in the 2010s - but what are the actual benefits or drawbacks of washing your face twice?

“Double cleansing can be beneficial for some skin types - especially those with oily or acne-prone skin. The first step involves using an oil-based cleanser to remove makeup, dirt, and excess oil from the surface of the skin. The second step involves using a water-based cleanser to remove any remaining impurities and cleanse the skin more deeply.”

Not simply repeating your cleanse, a double cleanse involves switching up what you’re washing your face with to achieve a more effective clean, rather than stripping skin. Going again and adding a third cleanser isn’t out of the question either.

“In my programs I use a three-step cleansing method: initially cleaning the skin, followed by an exfoliating scrub to remove unwanted dead skin cells and a final removal of unwanted oils. This process enables prevention and correction serums to enter deeper into the epidermis where they can act on the cells responsible for concerns and further skin health,” says Hemming.

But beware of a adopting this cleansing style if your skin is dry or sensitive. Double cleansing may be too harsh and could lead to further irritation for those skin types, so stick to washing once.

Is there a skin-friendly way to skip a cleanse? 

If you need to skip one cleanse a day then, like Hayek, it’s generally better to skip the morning cleanse rather than the evening one - and not just because it allows you to hit snooze for 10 more minutes.
“Your skin accumulates dirt, oil, skin products and pollutants throughout the day and it is important to remove these impurities before going to bed,” explains Mandour.

However, some treatments, serums, moisturisers, or night creams applied pre sleep need to be washed off in the morning before putting on your daytime products and it’s also the ideal time to slough off the dead skin cells that your retinol-based products have loosened up too.

But generally, if you’re swerving a morning cleanse then you can also swerve the negatives - with the right skincare and providing your bedding is changed once a week.

Anna Hemming, Aesthetic Doctor

Dr Anna Hemming MBChB BSc DFFP MRCGP is a highly respected and skilled aesthetic doctor working in London. Conference...

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