Is It Actually Bad to Wash Your Face in the Shower? Dermatologists Weigh In
Showering is my favorite part of the day. It’s where I perform Beyoncé deep cuts, where I clear my head, where I wash away the crust of slumber in the morning and the grime after a long day at work. But it’s also where I cleanse my face. If you search “washing your face in shower” on Google, a bevy of articles populate that warn against it. But is it actually that bad? Am I really doing more harm than good to my skin? After falling down a Google rabbit hole, I decided the only logical way to debunk this beauty myth was to go straight to a few credible sources. Ahead, Dr. Patricia Farris and Dr. Camile Verovic set the record straight.
Is it good or bad to wash your face in the shower?
There’s no right or wrong answer, according to Dr. Verovic. “First things first, you shouldn’t be taking super long hot showers because it dries out your skin, so you should apply that same line of thinking to your face. If you spend a long time cleansing or exfoliating your skin—whether it’s mechanical or chemical—you wouldn’t want to do that in the shower. Maybe you take quick showers and, sometimes, it’s more convenient for you to do your skincare. In that case, if it works for you, then do it.” Dr. Patricia Farris expresses the same sentiments, adding, “It doesn’t matter where you wash your face, as long as you wash it twice a day.”
Does washing your face in the shower cause acne?
“Washing your face in the shower removes dirt, sebum, makeup, debris, and pollution just as it would elsewhere. There is no evidence that washing in the shower causes breakouts,” Dr. Farris explains. “If you are using a salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or benzoyl peroxide, those agents in a cleanser will help clear your acne. If you have chest or back acne, it’s good to keep cleansers like these in the shower so they can be used daily.”
Is it better to wash your face in the morning or at night?
If you pack on the products in the nighttime, Dr. Farris advises giving your face a good wash in the morning. “You should absolutely wash your face in the morning,” she says. “Washing in the morning may not seem as important as washing at night, but most of us are using a night cream or anti-aging product like retinol. Washing in the morning removes the night products, leaving a fresh canvas for your morning products and make-up.” But doing a lot to your skin at night time and then following suit with another routine in the morning can be a bit much, Dr. Verovic says. “If you tend to use very drying agents such as retinoids night, and you do most of your treatments—masks, chemical exfoliators, etc.—at night, then you should just rinse your face off without cleanser in the morning.”
What about the 60-second rule?
“I don’t know who made up that rule. Social media? I don’t think about time when I wash my face, I know some people think about time when brushing their teeth, but your face isn’t like your teeth—it’s not something you want to scrub or expose water to for a long time,” says Dr. Verovic. “If you’re doing proper cleansing and moisturizing, you don’t have to adhere to that rule.”
Should you be using hot or cold water to wash your face? Is one better than the other?
You know that myth about hot water opening up your pores and cold water closing it? According to both Dr. Farris and Dr. Verovic, it’s just that: a myth. “When using a cleanser that foams, or when removing makeup, I find it best to cleanse with lukewarm water,” says Dr. Farris. “Hot water can dehydrate the skin, and cold water, contrary to what you’ve been told, wont tighten your pores. If you have redness or inflammation in your skin, cool water can help soothe and reduce redness by constricting blood vessels.”