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Is TikTok Right, Do You Really Need to Wash Your Face in the Morning?

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Main image – Ohlamourstudio/Stocksy

You might know from my recent article about double cleansing that if there’s ever a time to wash your face, it’s the evening. 

This is because your skin needs to be thoroughly rinsed of daytime products like makeup and SPF, which are designed to stay on your face and therefore need a bit of extra help to come off.

But what about a morning cleanse too? With TikTokers everywhere encouraging us to cleanse in the mornings too (plus after exercise, leading to a possible, um, four cleanses a day), is this really something everyone actually *needs* to be doing?

iIf you’re hesitant because you’ve been told that you *have* to cleanse in the mornings, or because you think over-cleansing might cause dryness or breakouts, don’t panic. Here, skin experts Robin Emtage and Dr Jodi LoGerfo explain when a morning cleanse can be effective, how to not overdo it, and which skin types might want to consider adding a cleanser to their morning regime.

 


Should we all be washing our face in the mornings?

Emtage thinks no. She says simply splashing your face with water when you get up can suffice but that it depends on your skin type.

“For most people, especially those with normal, dry or sensitive skin, simply washing the face with cool water in the morning can be a gentle and effective way to clean the face and start the day,” she explains.

“It maintains the skin’s natural balance and avoids potential issues associated with over-cleansing.” And apparently, the emphasis should be on the word ‘cool’. “Cool water can have a calming and soothing effect on the skin in the morning, helping to reduce puffiness and stimulate blood circulation, giving a fresh and awake appearance to the face.”

 

Image – Ohlamourstudio/Stocksy

 


Ok, then who should be using a cleanser every morning?

Emtage says to add a cleanser into the mix, first of all, if you’ve got other skin concerns. “Individuals with specific skin concerns like excessive oiliness, acne or those using special night treatments might still benefit from using a mild cleanser in the morning,” she explains. “The key is to understand your skin’s needs and respond accordingly.”

Also, “sweaty sleepers,” she adds. “If you tend to sweat during the night, using a mild cleanser can help remove sweat and bacteria to prevent breakouts and irritation.” 

It can help those with oily and acne-prone skin too. “You can benefit from morning cleansing to remove excess oil and buildup that may have occurred overnight,” she adds. “This helps prevent clogged pores and breakouts.”

If you use a rich, medicated nighttime skin treatment, Emtage recommends using a cleanser first thing in the morning. “This helps to remove any residue and ensures a clean base for your daytime skincare and makeup,” she explains. 

Do you live or work in a city? “For those living in areas with high pollution levels, using a cleanser in the morning can help to remove particular matter and other pollutants that may have settled on the skin,” Emtage warns.

And keen exercisers listen up! “If you work out in the morning, using a mild cleanser after your workout can help remove sweat and bacteria, preventing breakouts and maintaining skin clarity,” she says. 

 


How to make the most of your morning cleanse

Rule number one is to make sure you’re choosing a cleanser that’s right for your skin type. And luckily cleansers today no longer need to strip the skin to do a good job. “Over the years, the market of skin cleansers has evolved greatly,” says Dr LoGerfo.

“Cleansing formulations are now mild and effective, removing dirt and oil from the skin, without being drying and irritating.  Skin cleansers containing emollients such as shea butter, mineral oil and petrolatum can alleviate the dryness associated with sensitive skin and atopic dermatitis.”

My favourite cleanser is Caudalie Vinopure Purifying Gel Cleanser (£20 from Look Fantastic UK /$28 from Look Fantastic US) which works wonders to reduce sebum from my oily skin, without drying it out. It gives it just the right amount of balance. 

 


The takeaway

Although it might feel like doing a morning cleanse might strip your skin of its natural oils, using water in any capacity is recommended. Even if that’s just wetting your face with a splash of cool water to ensure you’re not overdoing it with cleansing ingredients. 

All skin types should use water in the morning, only adding a cleanser if you’ve got excessive oiliness or breakouts, you’re using a heavy skin treatment at night, you sweat a lot or you live in a particularly polluted area.

 

Meet the experts

Robin Emtage is a beauty stylist and the founder of beauty company Silktage.

 

Dr Jodi LoGerfo is a skincare expert, Doctor of Nursing Practice and a Family Nurse Practitioner certified in Family Medicine and Dermatology.

 

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Beauty Editor

The former Beauty Editor of Glamour UK, Philippa has been a beauty and lifestyle journalist for over 16 years, picking up countless tips and tricks from makeup artists, hair stylists, dermatologists and celebrities. In that time she’s written for names like Cosmopolitan, The Sunday Times Style, The Telegraph, Grazia, Refinery 29 and Byrdie. Philippa lives in the UK with her husband, two children and their hyperactive cockapoo, Paddy.

Expertise: Makeup, hair care
Education: Oxford Brookes University
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