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How often should I wash my face?

Do you tend to wash your face excessively in an attempt to reduce oiliness? If so, it is good to know that no scientific evidence states that the lack of washing is associated with acne or that frequent washing will improve our acne condition. On the same note, too vigorous cleansing and scrubbing can actually aggravate the inflammatory phase of the acne. In fact, antibacterial soaps that contain agents such as triclosan (i.e. a potent wide-spectrum antibacterial and antifungal agent) and chlorhexi­dine (i.e. a broad-spectrum anti-microbial agent sometimes used in antibacterial soaps) do not affect P. acnes. (i.e. Propionibacterium acnes, the culprit that is responsible for inflammatory acne). Therefore, antibacterial soaps are not meant for acne, with the exception of benzoyl peroxide wash, which does suppress and even kills P. acnes when used as a cleanser.

Our face or any skin that is over washed, will be more easily irritated and may look red or even have cuts in it, with the result of an irritant dermatitis (i.e. inflammation or irritation of the skin) that mimics acne. If our skin is then treated with medications designed to treat acne, the rash can actually worsen and start a negative cycle that remains unresponsive or is worsened by our subsequent acne treatments. If happened, the solution should be to wash less often, say no more than once or twice a day and substituting the existing cleanser with a gentle, surfactant-free gentle cleansers followed by a facial moisturizer. In short, it is important to keep our face clean without over- washing or scrubbing.

What is important is that the approach to washing should depend on our level of physical activity, such as whether our skin tends to be oily or dry as well as the amount of time that we are willing to spend on it. As a rule, washing in the evening is more important than washing in the morning. Do note that products we use should also vary depending on the season, i.e. more gentle, moisturizing products is more appropriate in the winter months, with only occasional exfoliation, while more drying, foaming cleansers and more frequent exfolia­tion may be better for the warmer and more humid summer season.

Another thing is, exfoliating cleansers are useful for all but the most sensitive skin types and should be used only once or twice a week or less depending on what are the other products that we are using and the sensitivity level of our skin. Hence, it wouldn’t be surprised to know that for some people, the only acne care and acne clear treatment that they need is the cleanser.

A variety of cleansers are available to serve different purposes, i.e. from foaming washes that are more drying (i.e. potentially more irri­tating too) to the no lathering cleansing milks that are the least irritating that usually provide little in the way of lather. Also some cleansers may contain microbeads to exfoliate while they clean. Finally, some cleansers come already packaged in cleansing cloths that may or may not require the addition of water before we use. In general, those medicated cleansers generally contain BP or salicylic acid or α-hydroxy acid (i.e. naturally occurring acids that are sometimes used in skin care products to promote the turnover of dead skin cells) in a variety of concen­trations or sulfa-type ingredients. For purposes, some cleansers are designed simply to rid our skin of accumulated sebum and to remove the makeup and daily dirt while others may be more aggressive with the goal of exfoliation of the dead upper layers of our skin. Still others are med­icated to specifically treat acne while cleansing.

However, if we are easily irritated by topical BP-based products, a BP cleanser may be the ideal option for an effective acne treatment. Although it is left on for only a few minutes before being rinsed (usually followed by a face moisturizer, which shall likely make our skin irritation low), yet the BP is still effective in its ability to reduce the amount of bacteria in our skin and help us treat the acne with minimal irritation.

For more acne topics, please refer to Contents Sitemap.

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