20 Face-Washing Habits That Are Aging Your Skin

When you're doing more harm than good

20 Face-Washing Habits That Are Aging Your Skin

While washing your face is a must for clean, glowing, and ageless skin, some of the bad cleansing habits you may have picked up along the way can lead to the exact opposite: wrinkles, laugh lines, that sort of thing. To make sure your complexion stays youthful and wrinkle-free down the road, there are a handful of skincare no-no’s to watch out for. Whether you’re not rinsing off post-workout, using face wipes, or washing with super-hot water, it’s time to change your ways. Herein, you’ll find all the habits you need to banish—stat.

woman washing face

Using a Face Wash That Contains Fragrance

Alcohol is a big no-no for your skin, but it’s not the only ingredient to avoid in your face wash. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), a common additive you’ll want to leave out of your skincare routine is fragrance, which can easily irritate your skin and lead to aging—especially if your skin is sensitive.

woman exfoliating her face


It’s bad practice to scrub your face too aggressively, and that definitely applies to exfoliation, too. According to celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau, exfoliating too harshly or too often can lead to wrinkle-causing inflammation. “A major cause of aging is chronic and prolonged inflammation,” she writes. While gently exfoliating a few nights a week is great for your skin, going overboard is only going to make you look older.

man washing his face at a sink in the bathroom

Not Washing Your Face in the Morning

Some people think their skin is still nice and clean from the night before, but Rouleau says skipping a morning face wash can seriously age your face. “The reason it’s important to wash your skin in the morning is that while you sleep at night, your skin is in repair-mode. This causes your skin to secrete toxins and sebum,” she writes. All of that build-up isn’t doing your skin any good. To make sure you have a clean slate for the day—and avoid future wrinkles!—wash with a gentle cleanser right when you wake up.

stack of washcloths

Using a Washcloth

Whether you’re in the shower or at the sink, don’t ever scrub your face with a washcloth. According to the AAD, it can irritate your skin and put you at risk of early aging. Instead, just use your hands to get the job done. It’ll save your complexion and help minimize your laundry pile.

face soap in hand

Using a Face Wash That Contains Alcohol

One of the worst things you can do for your skin is wash your face with something that contains alcohol, which is super drying and irritating to your skin—a major cause of accelerated aging, says the AAD. Before your next wash, check the ingredients on your go-to cleanser and make sure it doesn’t contain the extra-harsh additive.

woman washing her face

Overwashing Your Face

The cleaner your face, the better, right? While you want your face to be free of dirt and grime, don’t overdo it. According to the AAD, you should try to stick to a twice-a-day rule when it comes to cleansing since over-washing will only dry and irritate your skin—something that accelerates aging.

man washing his face

Being Too Rough

When you’re washing your face, you’ve gotta be careful: your skin is very delicate, after all. If you’re always harshly scrubbing away, you can easily irritate your skin and cause wrinkles to form, says the AAD. All it takes is a gentle wash to remove pollution, makeup, and other things that collect on your skin throughout the day.

sink with hot and cold water signs

Using Too Hot or Cold Water

If you love washing your face with steamy-hot or extra-cold water, stop now: According to plastic surgeon Dr. Terry Maffi, it’s best to stick with a happy medium. “For facial washing, the best water temperature is warm,” he writes. “Cold water doesn’t effectively remove the daily grime, and hot water may irritate and dry out your skin. Warm water helps loosen the dirt, but preserves your skin’s natural hydrating oils.”

bars of soap

Using Alkaline Bar Soaps

You might like the feeling of washing your face with bar soap. The issue is a lot of options on store shelves are very alkaline, which can lead to dryness and irritation, which can speed up the aging process. Instead, stick to gentler options that are made for your sensitive facial skin, not just a quick hand-wash.

girl sweating

Not Washing After Sweating

While derms say washing your face twice a day is a good rule of thumb, there’s one exception: washing your face after you workout as well. If you don’t, all that built-up sweat can irritate your skin, which could eventually lead to wrinkles, says the AAD. Because of that, cleanse your face as soon as you can after hitting the gym.

clarisonic face washing brush

Overusing Skin Cleansing Brushes

Everyone loves those fancy skin brushes like the Clarisonic. If you use one to wash your face, just make sure you don’t do so every night. “It can cause skin damage and may lead to premature aging if used too frequently,” Rouleau says. Unfortunately those bristles aren’t as gentle as people think.

drying face with towel

Roughly Drying Your Face

While your face-washing technique is important, so if how you dry your skin off afterward. Instead of tugging and pulling to get the water off, which can lead to wrinkles, the AAD recommends patting your face dry with a soft towel.


Using a Loofah

If you thought washcloths were a bad face-washing choice, loofahs are definitely worse. According to the AAD, the mesh material they use can wreak havoc on your skin, causing wrinkles from all that irritation.

woman taking off makeup

Not Removing Your Makeup

How many nights do you go to sleep without removing all your makeup? That negligence might save you time now, but it’s only going to cost you in the end. According to skincare expert and facialist Sonya Dakar, no one should ever go to bed without getting rid of all that foundation, concealer, bronzer, and other products, which can cause collagen breakdown and premature aging.

pulling skin

Pulling at Your Skin

It’s not just harshly drying your face that can lead to wrinkles down the line—it’s tugging and pulling at your face when you’re cleansing, too. While you’re washing, make make sure you’re not being too rough with your skin or you’ll be dealing with the consequences.

man splashing water on his face

Not Washing Your Face at Night

Washing your face in the morning is important to get rid of any oil that builds up while you’re sleeping, but washing your face at night is crucial, too. Whether you wear makeup or not, getting rid of all the irritating dirt and grime that builds up naturally or from touching your skin will help you stay wrinkle-free in the future.

woman using a makeup wipe

Using Face Wipes

Face wipes might help you remove makeup, dirt, and oil in seconds, but they’re not all good. Experts say all that repetitive tugging can cause some major problems. “Rubbing can cause low-grade inflammation that, over time, can promote skin pigmentation or even early wrinkling,” says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD. Especially around the extra-delicate eye area. 

woman washing her face with soap

Using the Wrong Cleanser for Your Skin Type

You’re not going to have flawless skin if you’re using the wrong cleansing product. According to Short Hills Dermatology Consultants, it’s best to choose specific options for your exact skin type, whether that’s dry, normal, combination, or oily. Always go for something that will get rid of the gunk without drying you out.

girl washing her face with soap

Not Applying Cleanser Correctly

Instead of aggressively rubbing cleanser into your skin to get your face squeaky-clean, which can lead to wrinkles, experts say it’s super-important to be as gentle as possible and use the right technique. To get the job done correctly, lightly massaging the product into your skin in an outward circular motion.

girl putting on face lotion

Not Using Lotion and Sunscreen Afterward

While washing your face correctly is key to reducing future wrinkles, so is what you do right after you’re finished. After drying your face, don’t wait to apply your moisturizer and sunscreen. Experts say using it right away will allow it to soak into your skin more effectively, keeping your complexion hydrated and youthful.

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