5 Signs You’re Probably Cleansing Your Face Wrong (and What to Do Instead)


For many of us, cleansing our face at the end of the day is a pretty basic, boring thing to check off the to-do list. The actives are the fun part, right? Who cares about the cleansing step?

However, the cleansing step is actually very important. Probably the most important. And without it, the rest of your skincare won’t be able to do its job.

But how do you know if you're washing your face properly? And which cleanser is the best for your skin type?

Let's chat about a few things to know for the next time you cleanse your face.

What Is a Cleanser and Why Do You Need One?

A cleanser is a product designed to remove makeup, oil and debris from the skin. Using the right one for your skin type will help you achieve and maintain healthy skin.

Meh, but do I really need one? Why should I care about cleanser?

Well... because clogged pores, dullness and skin texture. Also acne breakouts and irritation.

It's true, not washing your face properly may lead to all of the above. And even if your skincare arsenal is packed with the best products money can buy, applying them without removing your makeup and sunscreen properly is basically setting yourself up for failure.

Dirt, makeup, sunscreen and oil are much harder to remove from the skin than you think. If you skip this step, your other skincare products won't work.

You can learn more about how to cleanse with the best cleanser for your skin type in this YouTube video below.

Am I Washing My Face Properly?

Great question. Here are five signs you probably aren't cleansing correctly:

1. If you’re opting for a makeup wipe at the end of the day and nothing else.

2. If you wake up and you have makeup residue on your pillow.

3. If after cleansing, you dry your face with a white towel and see makeup on there.

4. If your products don’t seem to be working like they’re supposed to.

5. If your skin texture is getting to you or you keep getting recurring breakouts. (This is especially common around your hairline where a lot of people leave makeup.)

How To Wash Your Face and Remove Makeup.

Now we are all in agreement on just how important cleansing is (right?!), here are some easy tips to ensure you're removing your makeup properly at the end of the day.

1. Remove your makeup before you cleanse.

If you wear a lot of makeup, I want you to take off it off before you actually go in with your cleanser. I promise, it's not that much more work but you'll notice a big difference.

I suggest trying Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micelle Solution 250ml - it's the OG of micellar waters for a reason. Micellar waters were made specifically to remove makeup while also being gentle on the skin. They contain micelles that attract and bind to the oily stuff on your skin (makeup, sunscreen, grime) and this one comes at a very good price point.

Want to remove your makeup by double cleansing? Apply a cleansing balm or oil like Medik8 Lipid-Balance Cleansing Oil 140ml onto dry skin and watch as even the most stubborn makeup melts away. You can then follow this with your favourite water-based on active cleanser. Or both if you've got the time and motivation.

Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar WaterBioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water

2. Cleanse for at least 60 seconds.

A lot of people tend to cleanse their face as quickly as they brush their teeth. And we all know we need to brush our teeth for longer. Ditto for our face.

Do you think 15 seconds is enough? Spending at least 60 seconds is more ideal. Plus, cleansing for longer will also ensure the ingredients in your cleanser actually have the time to dissolve and break down any makeup/sunscreen/dirt from the day.

If 60 seconds sounds like an eternity to you, then start with 30 seconds. The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser is an amazing cleanser for this and won’t strip your skin.

Prefer an exfoliating cleanser? Aspect Illuminating Polish 220ml and Cosmedix Purity Clean Exfoliating Cleanser are two of my favourites, but there's an exception to the rule. Manually scrubbing your face for a long time will become way too much, so take your time with your first cleanser and keep the scrubbing to a minimum.

You can listen to more info on different types of cleansers for different skin types in this episode of the Skincare School podcast below.

3. Cleanse right up to your hair line.

Where you cleanse your face is just as important as the cleanser you use.

Did you know a lot of my clients tend to break out or experience congestion along their hair line? This is often because they've stopped cleansing a few centimetres from the hair line, leaving product and grime there to get comfy.

This is why it's important to tie your hair back or use a headband when washing your face. If you work late nights, don't have the time or think a splash of water in the shower gets the job done, I get it - this is coming from a mum of three kids under five here.

Keep your micellar water and some cotton rounds by the bed, or your cleanser in the shower. You'll thank me in the morning.

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