How Long Should I Leave a Cleanser On My Face?

Cleansers don't need to be absorbed by your skin. Here's how to determine how long to leave a cleanser on your face.

Though they might promise to cure your skin of everything that's ever ailed it, facial cleansers aren't a miracle products. They're not really skin treatments, either. A good cleanser simply gets your skin clean, eliminating excess oil and debris without drying out or irritating your skin.

Some cleansers help address specific skin problems. For example, Skinstitut Glycolic Cleanser 12% provides gentle anti-ageing exfoliation. But you shouldn't rely on a cleanser alone to treat your skin.


How Long Should I Leave a Cleanser On My Face?How Long Should I Leave a Cleanser On My Face?


How Long Should I Leave Cleanser On?

It's not necessary to leave your cleanser on your skin for more than a few seconds. Indeed, trying to use your cleanser as a mask or moisturiser can dry out your face and reduce the effectiveness of your daily skincare routine.

Some cleanser labels indicate how long the product should stay on your skin. Exceeding this recommendation won't improve your complexion, so stick to the package instructions. Rather letting your cleanser sit, spend that time gently massaging it into your skin and then rinsing.

If the package doesn't specify how long to leave the cleanser on your face, aim for 30 to 60 seconds. Even if your skin is very oily or dirty, cleanser shouldn't stay on your skin longer than two minutes.

What Happens If I Leave Cleanser On Too Long?

Leaving your cleanser on for a few extra seconds isn't going to destroy your skin. Even a few extra minutes are unlikely to cause lasting harm if it's an isolated occurrence. But consistently letting cleansers sit on your face longer than is necessary can cause a number of skin problems, including:

  • Sensitivity and reactions. This is common with acne-fighting cleansers that contain benzoyl peroxide.

  • Excessive dryness. Virtually all cleansers can dry your skin if you leave them on for too long.

  • Irritation of your eyes, nose, and mouth. Salicylic and glycolic acids are often to blame.


How Long Should I Leave a Cleanser On My Face?How Long Should I Leave a Cleanser On My Face?


Getting the Most Out of Your Cleanser

Want to get the most out of your daily cleansing ritual? Don't just wait while you let a cleanser soak into your skin. Instead, try these simple solutions:

  • Add a cleansing brush such as the FOREO The Luna 2 – Normal Skin to your skincare routine and get gentle exfoliation and a deeper clean. Everyone loves the Clarisonic line of products.

  • Don't scrub your face. Instead, use your fingers, a flannel, or a brush to gently massage in soft circles. 

  • Don't cleanse more often than you need to. Ideally, you should wash your face after you exercise and after removing makeup/before bed. Limit your cleansing routine to no more than twice per day, unless directed otherwise by a dermatologist.

  • Consider switching cleansers If you're tempted to scrub hard, wash frequently, or leave the cleanser on your face so that it will 'work better', you probably need a different product.

  • Don't forget to moisturise! Moisturiser restores balance to your skin, replacing the oils that cleansing so often strips from your complexion.


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