Proper face washing is the first step to achieving healthy-looking skin. Not sure what to do or which products to use? Read on for a practical guide to putting your best face forward.

Knowing your skin

There’s a fine line between skin that’s clear of impurities and skin that’s been over-cleaned. The epidermis has a natural protective barrier, known as the hydrolipidic film, which needs to stay intact for optimal skin health. This thin layer, composed of water and sebum, forms a barrier against contamination from the external environment and helps skin remain soft and healthy.

When you scrub or wash too much with the wrong product, you risk stripping your skin of its protective shield. Dry skin becomes even more moisture-deficient, and oily skin might act up and produce even more sebum to compensate for the hydration loss.

The ultimate culprit? Soap with a high pH level. Its alkaline nature clashes with skin’s acidic exterior, otherwise known as the skin’s defense mechanism. Chemistry aside, it’s simple enough to remember that you should avoid soap, even if you love the squeaky-clean feeling it provides. That means not only getting rid of soap bars, but also of cleansers containing soap.

Picking the right cleanser

Take a closer look to find the face wash suited to your skin. Do you tend to feel dry or more on the oily side? Is your skin sensitive or dull-looking? Once you figure out what’s missing, find an appropriate formula with active ingredients that will target your skin’s needs.

Normal to dry skin

Look for key words like “moisturizing” and “revitalizing.” The right cleanser will be both clarifying and hydrating for your skin.

Product Pick: Revitalizing Face Wash

Soothing and refreshing, thanks to Aloe vera and methol, this cleanser revives dull skin in need of a boost.

Combination to oily skin

If you have oily skin (more than 50% of men do), make sure you don’t over-clean. Skin does need some sebum to keep its natural balance. Since soaps dry skin out, the sebaceous glands go into overdrive, producing even more sebum to rehydrate skin. Avoid this vicious cycle by choosing a cleanser with a purifying effect. To keep oily sheen at bay, wash your face morning and night, and after any intense physical activity.

Product Pick: Oil Control Face Wash

This gentle yet effective cleanser relies on zinc gluconate to regulate sebum production and reduce bacterial growth, along with salicylic acid to help shed dead skin cells and witch hazel, a natural astringent.

Sensitive skin

Pamper your face with a product that respects the skin’s natural pH. Avoid irritating ingredients and look for a soothing formula that is hypoallergenic and free of fragrance, dyes, oil, alcohol and, of course, soap.

Product Pick: Soothing Face Wash

This formula contains allantoin, a natural, plant-based ingredient with soothing and healing properties, as well as provitamin B5, renowned for its moisturizing and restorative properties.

Washing your face the right way

Once you’ve found the right product, make sure to use it the right way. Here are a few tips:

• Cleaning your face in the shower is ideal, as steam helps open pores, allowing your face wash to seep deeper below the skin’s surface.

• Not sure how much product to use? A quarter-size dollop should do the trick.

• Avoid using very hot water, which can dry out your skin and cause irritation and redness. Squeeze the product into your wet palms, lather up and use the tips of your fingers to clean in gentle, circular motions. Make sure you go all the way from your hairline to the base of your neck.

• Rinse with cold water to close up your pores. Make sure to splash your face multiple times to thoroughly rinse off all the product.

• Pat your skin dry with a towel. Do not rub!

• Apply a moisturizer immediately after cleansing. This will help seal the skin’s natural hydration barrier. Be sure to use a moisturizer specially formulated for men’s skin, which tends to be thicker and oilier than women’s.

• Repeat these steps morning and night. Washing after waking up will help kick-start the day and energize your face. Your skin will accumulate impurities during the day, so cleansing before bed will rid the skin of excess sebum and bacteria that would otherwise sit on your face while you sleep.

Pro-Tip

If you like that extra-clean feeling, use a scrub two to three times per week. Exfoliants cleanse deeply, which is all the more important in urban environments and after any strenuous activities or sports.