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3 Reasons Not to Wash Your Face in the Morning, According to Dermatologists

You may want to take washing your face off your morning to-do-list.

What's the first thing do you do when you get up in the morning? Most of us have a routine to help us kick off the day; maybe yours is using the bathroom, brushing your teeth, making coffee, working out, and hopping into the shower. But if washing your face is on that morning to-do list, you may want to reconsider.

Sure, conventional wisdom says we need to at least splash water on our faces to wash the sleep out of our eyes, but some people swear by not washing their faces in the morning (or even not at all!).

Best Life asked the experts—a dermatologist, a dermatology nurse, and an esthetician—what their feelings are on face-washing in general, and whether it's really necessary to wash your face in the morning. Read on to find out whether simplifying your morning routine could make your skin healthier, and what all of our experts say is non-negotiable when it comes to cleansing.

READ THIS NEXT: What Happens If You Don't Shower for a Month, According to Doctors.

Washing your face can dry it out.

Man looking at his dry skin in the mirror

While all three experts we spoke to say you can wash your face in the morning (one even called it "essential"), there was some disagreement among them—and if your skin gets dry easily, some say you may want to skip that morning wash.

"Although dermatologists speak often of washing your face twice daily, not everyone needs to, or even should be doing that," says dermatologist Dustin Portela, DO, FAAD. "Each time you cleanse your face, you will remove some of the natural oils that your skin produces. For this reason, individuals with dry or sensitive skin may benefit from skipping a wash in the morning."

But does he wash his face in the morning? "Washing in the morning with a cleanser can be optional, but it is a practice I usually employ," admits Portela.

Whether you wash your face in the morning or not, definitely don't do it in the shower, says celebrity esthetician Taylor Worden. "Hot water hitting your face can break capillaries, and it dries out your skin," she warns.

Washing your face at night is more important.

Woman washing face.
gpointstudio / iStock

If you're like many people, it's hard enough to do all the things you need to do every day even one time, let alone twice. And if you're going to wash your face just once a day, it should be at night, Portela says.

"In most cases, the end of the day is the time you should be cleansing your face, as you've then had more exposure to dirt and pollution over a 16-18 hour period," he explains. "The six-to-eight hours you spend in bed does not expose your skin to much."

Dermatology nurse Jennifer Edwards, NP-C, of Schweiger Dermatology Group, adds that, "At bedtime, washing your face removes makeup, excess oil, bacteria, and environmental pollutants, which can clog your pores. The nighttime wash is especially important, preparing your skin for acne or anti-aging skincare treatments."

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It's better to pay attention to your skin, not the clock.

oman wear white bathrobe looking in mirror see first mimic wrinkles feels stressed, face skin lose elasticity changes after 30s, aging process, need cosmetology facial treatment concept

Rather than following a hard-and-fast rule regarding what time of day to wash your face, the experts we spoke to said we should tailor our skincare routine to our own needs.

"If you have a dirty job, or are involved in athletics, it may be helpful to use a cleansing wipe following work or sports to remove some of the dirt and sweat you accumulate if you aren't able to wash your face right away," says Portela.

Worden, who advises her clients to wash their faces after working out and before bed, adds, "I always like to do an extra face wash after getting off a plane."

No matter when you do it, Portela emphasizes that you really should be washing your face every day. "I do recommend washing your skin at least once daily. If you are using a gentle cleanser, you won't really disrupt your skin microbiome," he notes. "Removing a bit of that excess oil can help to decrease the risk of problems like seborrheic dermatitis, and potentially rosacea."

No matter what time of day you wash your face, don't use hot water.

young black man splashing water on face
Daxiao Productions/Shutterstock

There's one thing all three experts agree on: Never, ever wash your face with hot water. "Hot water can do more damage to your skin barrier and may dry you out quicker," says Portela.

"Always wash your face with lukewarm water and your fingertips," Edwards, who is not a fan of washcloths, recommends. "Hot water and abrasive cloths can irritate and dry out the skin."

And speaking of your fingertips, Worden, who already warned against using hot water on your face in the shower, has one more (hot!) tip about what to do before you wash your face: "Wash your hands first."

Elizabeth Laura Nelson
Elizabeth Laura Nelson is the Deputy Health Editor at Best Life. A mom and a marathon runner, she’s passionate about all aspects of health and wellness. Read more
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