Your cleansing regimen can help keep you looking young—or add years to your appearance. Fortunately, there are ways to achieve optimal cleanliness without stripping your skin of essential oils.

Face Washing 101

The biggest mistake most of us make is in washing too often. Unless your face is covered in dirt, you should avoid washing it more than once or twice a day. Cleanse it well each night then follow up with a rich moisturizer to help it rehydrate and repair while you sleep. In the mornings, splashing water on your face or a gentle wash is all you need.

The 6-Step Face Wash

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Splash lukewarm water on your face to moisten it.
  3. Squeeze a teaspoon of cleanser into your palm and gently work it into your skin, avoiding the eye area.
  4. Rinse your face with clean lukewarm water.
  5. Pat (don't rub!) it dry with a towel.
  6. Moisturize. (Apply sunscreen or moisturizer containing SPF in the morning.)

Facial Skin Tips

  • Use a gentle cleanser or hydrating soap.
  • Use lukewarm water so it doesn't irritate your skin.
  • Don't spend too long washing your face. Extra scrubbing can irritate and wear out skin.
  • Skip the alcohol-based toner. If you like the way toners feel, try a non-alcohol based one to remove makeup and oil at the end of the day. Be sure to apply a night moisturizer afterwards.
  • Exfoliate your skin at least once a week. Use a gentle scrub and apply with your fingers or a very soft cloth. Most sponges are too rough for facial skin.
  • Apply moisturizer twice a day, even to oily skin (Unless your dermatologist has instructed you differently).
  • Wear sunscreen during the day, every day, no matter what the weather.
  • Apply a night cream or heavier moisturizer without sunscreen before going to bed.
  • When unsure how much moisturizer to use, tune into what your skin tells you. If it feels tight, add lotion until it feels balanced.

Tips for Acne Sufferers

  • Look for oil-free and non-comedogenic cleansers. People with inflammatory acne should steer clear of scrubbing agents.
  • If you're on medication for your acne, choose a cleanser formulated for normal skin so that you don't end up unwittingly using conflicting medications that can irritate your skin.
  • Use your hands to wash your face and pat—don't rub—it dry.
  • Don't spend more than 10 seconds washing your face.