How to Wash Your Face Properly

The right way to cleanse your skin in just a few easy steps

woman washing face
Always use lukewarm -- never hot -- water. Sean Justice/Photodisc/Getty Images

There's no one exact, perfect way to wash your face properly. Some women are rinse-and-go kind of people who don't put a lot of effort and time into their skin, either because they're super busy or they're blessed with amazing skin that doesn't need a ton of care. Other women (you know who you are) are really into skincare and want to know the best way to care for their skin so it looks its very best and ages well.

In this article, I share a simple 5-step process to washing your face. If you have a special occasion, or you are really into skincare, you should check out my article, How to Cleanse Your Face the Expert Way. You'll learn how to cleanse your skin as a facialist would.

Before we start, make sure you choose a cleanser that's formulated for your skin type. That's super important. See my list of the best cleansers by skin type.

Step 1: Rinse your face in lukewarm water.

Hot water can strip your skin of its natural oils and cold water can cause your skin to tighten up. Warm water is always your best bet.

Step 2: Put a dime-sized amount of cleanser on your fingers

Dot the cleanser on your forehead, cheeks and chin and then massage your face in a circular motion, making sure to get around the nose and the chin. If you tend to get blackheads or your skin is dry and flaking, use a cleanser that also exfoliates.

A cheap trick is to add a small amount of brown sugar to your cleanser when you wash.

And don't forget your neck, unless you tend to cleanse it in the shower, as I do.

See my list of the Best Facial Cleansers. 

Step 3: Rinse your face in warm water.

Use a washcloth for extra exfoliating goodness. I like to use super thin, baby washcloths when rinsing my face.

Pat your skin dry. 

Step 4: Apply toner if you have oily skin.

Toner can exacerbate dryness and a good cleanser should remove any makeup and impurities. Toners are controversial and usually unnecessary (see my article, Are Toners Necessary?). That said, if you love yours, don't stop!

Step 5: Apply an oil serum or moisturizer.

Never skip the moisturizer or oil serum. If it's daytime, apply sunscreen, which also acts as moisturizer. If you like to use eye cream, apply it around the eyes by dotting it in (never rubbing) with your ring finger.

If you are seeking a more intensive way to wash your face that includes facialist's tips, don't miss my article, How to Cleanse Your Face the Expert Way.