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Ask Dr. Schultz | Skin Care Guides | How to Properly Cleanse Your Face

How to Properly Cleanse Your Face

Cleansing might seem like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised at the small mistakes you’re making in this simple step. Leading NYC dermatologist and BeautyRx founder Dr. Schultz knows that with the right products and ingredients, you can get the bright, beautiful skin you crave. But to get that gorgeous transformation, he wants you to get the most out of every step in your skincare routine—including the most basic step: cleansing. When you’re ready to get serious about achieving your most beautiful skin, knowing how to properly cleanse your face is a must.

How to Properly Cleanse Your Face

It might seem obvious, but cleansing is an integral part of any skincare routine no matter your age. You may no longer be a teenager, but even in your forties and beyond, properly cleansing your skin is the first step towards your skin looking its youngest and most vibrant. Throughout the day, many things can settle on your skin, from dirt and pollution to previously applied skincare products, makeup, and even excess oil—in short, a lot is sticking to your skin. Cleansing removes all of this debris to give your skin a fresh start. It also allows your other products to work better by giving them a clean slate to penetrate, which sets you up for consistent results each time you use them.

While you may recognize that cleansers are a skincare essential, have you ever stopped to consider how they clean your skin? All of the debris sitting on your skin is dissolved in or embedded in your facial oils; therefore, plain water isn't enough to clean your face since water and oil don't mix. Cleansers contain surfactants to help clean this oil—which contains all that dirt and debris—off your face. These surfactants have an organic compound that is both water- and oil-soluble (amphiphilic) to help oil and water combine and properly strip your face of debris.

Dr. Schultz takes it one step further and explains that cleansing doesn’t stop with a cleanser. You must also use a toner. Watch this video as Dr. Schultz shows you how to get the most out of your cleansing routine by adding a toner into the mix:


When Should I Cleanse My Face?

Remember the three products that are essential to a solid skincare routine? Exfoliants, antioxidants, and sunscreen. In order to get the most transformative effect out of those powerful products, you must use a cleanser and toner first. In order for any other skincare product to work at its full potential, you first need to remove any residual build-up on your skin's surface, whether it be dirt, debris, excess oil, make-up, or dead cells, and that's exactly what proper cleansing does for your skin. Whether it’s your sunscreen during the day, or exfoliants and antioxidants at night, make sure to cleanse and tone before applying any of those products to get the most out of them.

How Often Should I Cleanse My Face?

Aside from the moments where you just have to wash away all of the surface debris that accumulates on your skin, the daily use of a cleanser and toner, once in the morning and once at night, helps you maintain that clear and radiant complexion.

Exfoliate or Cleanse Face First?

The quick answer to this question is cleanse first, exfoliate second. As we mentioned above, properly cleansing and toning sets the stage for all your products, including your exfoliant, to work at their highest capacity.

But what happens to your cleansing routine if you use a combination exfoliating cleanser? Because the exfoliant in a daily cleanser will be at a much lower strength than your normal exfoliating products, you can still use this gentle cleanser in the morning and at night. Gently massage a teaspoon-sized amount of cleanser onto your moistened skin for 15–30 seconds. Rinse with warm water and pat dry. You can then follow it with toner, as per usual, and the rest of your favorite products.

3 Steps to Cleanse Face

The quick three steps you need to follow to properly cleanse your face are:

1. Use a cleanser.

2. Use a toner.

3. Use all your other products, especially sunscreen and exfoliants.

Because the gentle nature of your cleanser allows you to use it every day without irritation, it can’t get all of the dirt and debris off your skin—so, as mentioned above, that’s where toner comes in. From his decades of experience in understanding the skin and perfecting the cleansing process, Dr. Schultz explains, “The two-step cleansing and toning process not only prepares the facial skin to allow the active ingredients in corrective products to perform in optimum fashion, but it also enhances their ability to fix what is broken, that is, to improve your color and texture.” After cleansing, finishing with a toner removes excess impurities and helps your skin retain moisture as well.

After your face is freshly clean, it is ready to absorb any other products you have in your skincare arsenal. After cleansing is the best time to use your sunscreen (in the morning) to protect your skin and your exfoliants (at night) to clear off dead skin cells and revitalize your skin while you sleep.

Your At-Home Regimen

To get the cleanest, freshest skin: start with a cleanser, finish cleansing your skin with a toner, and then apply any and all of your favorite skincare products. Once you’ve properly cleansed your skin, you’ll get the most out of every other product in your medicine cabinet. So make proper cleansing twice a day a part of your regular routine and fall in love with your fresh, clear, beautiful skin.

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