This Is How Often A Dermatologist Says You Need To Wash Your Face

No matter whether you use the priciest of products or you're on a drugstore budget, one thing holds true: any good skincare routine has to start off with a good cleaning. If your face is dirty underneath the moisturizer, concealer, foundation, and any and all other types of warpaint to which you may be partial... well, that mess underneath is going to get worse and worse and harder and harder to cover up. So yes, wash your face — that's something on which we can all agree.

Just how often should you be washing it, though, and when? And is there such a thing as too much washing? These are all good questions, so for some equally good answers, we sought out the advice of a professional: Dr. Ronald Moy, a dermatologist whose clinic is Moy Fincher Chipps Facial Plastic and Dermatology in Beverly Hills. Not only is Dr. Moy currently working in the field, but he is also a past president of the American Academy of Dermatology, the Pacific Dermatologic Association, and the American Society of Dermatology, so he obviously knows a thing or two about skincare.

How skin type can affect washing frequency

Moy says that, as could be expected, people with oily and/or acne-prone skin will need to wash their faces more frequently than those with drier skin. In fact, if your skin is on the dry side, he says that cleansing once per day is ideal, explaining, "Typically, the skin does not produce excess oils, so washing twice daily can sometimes be too stripping or over-drying to the skin."

But what about those with combination skin? In that case, Moy recommends cleansing twice a day, although says just once per day may be sufficient. If you wear makeup or exercise daily, though, he says in that case you should wash twice a day no matter your skin type, and then follow up by using a hydrating moisturizer.

Should the seasons affect your skincare routine?

Low humidity, according to Moy, can cause facial dryness, so yes, you may need to vary your washing routine in the winter (or if you live in a dry climate where it is dry year-round). Moy advises that if you have dry or even combination skin, you may be able to skip washing your entire face and just focus, instead, on the more oil-prone T-zone area.

Moy also has some advice as to what type of skincare products you should be using during these dry periods: "I recommend introducing a hydrating mild cleanser into your skincare routine during the winter," since this type of cleanser will "not disrupt the skin barrier [but instead] keep it moisturized." He also says it's important to "avoid... scrubs and exfoliants to not over-chap the skin."

This time of day is the best for face-washing

So if you're one of the lucky ones with not-too-oily skin, and you're also not a daily makeup wearer or gym bunny, what time of day should you be washing your face? Assuming you're only performing this daily ritual just once, Moy says nighttime is best. "It is best to wash... after the skin is exposed to the deposition of pollutants and chemicals, which can cause DNA damage to the skin," he explains.

Moy isn't the only dermatologist recommending a nighttime wash over a morning one. Allure spoke with Joshua Zeichner, an assistant professor in Mount Sinai Medical Center's dermatology department, and Jason Emer, another Beverly Hills cosmetic dermatologist and aesthetic surgeon, and both agreed that night time is the best time to clean off the day's grime. As Zeichner put it, agreeing with Moy's assessment, "At night, you want to remove the dirt, oil, and particulate matter that accumulate during the day." Makes sense, if you think about it — after all, how dirty is your face going to get by morning if all it's doing is just sleeping on a pillow?

Be careful not to over-wash

While washing your face is a good thing, excessive face washing... not so much. According to Moy, "Over-washing can cause irritation, redness, and chapped skin." So how do you know you're washing your face too much? He says, "Changes in skin texture and appearance are often the main indicators."

How frequently you clean your face, Moy says, will depend on a number of different factors. Not only the season and your skin type, but also your age plays a role in determining how often you'll want to wash (younger skin, after all, tends to be more pimple-prone, while older skin plus dryness equals wrinkles). One more thing you should take into account is what type of product you're using. Moy says while mild soaps won't usually cause any irritation, "cleanser with exfoliating ingredients, alcohol, salicylic acid for breakouts, or alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid... can be over stripping to the skin." Such products are to be avoided during winter months or whenever your skin is showing signs of irritation.