How Often Should You Cleanse (If You Have Acne)?

If you have oily, acne-prone skin, chances are you have been led to believe that washing your face multiple times a day is the number one rule for having clear skin.

As an Esthetician, I’m here to tell you that’s completely wrong. Below, I’ll will explain why.

how often should you wash your face if you have acne

NB: If you’re someone with oily/acne-prone skin, you need my new book “The Ingredients Handbook for Acne-Prone Skin“. Download it here.

What Causes Acne?

Your skin has tiny passages that we all know as pores. Each single pore is an opening to a follicle and the follicle is made up of a single hair and a sebaceous gland.

The sebaceous or oil gland releases an oily substance called sebum which travels up and out of the pore. It remains on your skin to keep it moisturized and lubricated.

How cool it is that we produce our own moisturizer?

It only gets better.

This oily film keeps the skin soft and protected from bacteria and pollution. It is on the acidic side of the pH scale, which in simple terms is the oilier side.

Sebum has mild bactericidal properties to keep harmful bacteria at bay.

Well, if this sebum is supposed to protect me from bacteria, why do I have acne on my face? 

Acne develops when the pores on your skin become blocked with excess sebum, accumulation of dead skin cells, and bacteria buildup. This mixture of dead skin cells and overgrowth of bad bacteria clogs the pores and prevents the natural oil from escaping and it remains trapped inside the follicle.

It is meant to stay on the skin’s surface, and not under it, so it’s basically trying to tell us that we should grab a cleanser and get rid of the blockage.

How Often Should You Cleanse Your Face?

Cleanse Once A Day

Overwashing your face, especially with harsh products, can lead to significant moisture loss, dehydration, and irritation.

The general rule is to use common sense. But, using my common sense combined with a lack of knowledge, led me into washing my face three times.

Whenever I get a little bit of superficial oiliness throughout the day, you would find me in the bathroom, scrubbing my face with a damn soap from the pharmacy from fear that the little bit of oil will somehow aggravate my acne.

As soon as I switched to washing my face ONCE a day, my condition started improving significantly.

And I wasn’t imagining things. My overly supportive friends and family noticed too and didn’t hold back with sharing compliments on how much better my skin looked.

I stopped washing my face in the morning completely and noticed that it was becoming less and less oily as I went along.

Why?

Because I wasn’t overdrying it with harsh cleansers and frequent washing, so after some time my skin didn’t feel the need to produce excess sebum to make up for the lack of hydration.

Washing my face once a day gave my skin a chance to be in its natural state, and boy it didn’t disappoint at all.

How to Choose The Right Cleanser?

the best cleansers for clear skin
REVIEWED: The Best Cleanser For Clear & Glowing Skin

While washing with water may seem most convenient, this is rarely a good idea.

Yes, my grandma washes her face only with water and swears she’s never had a pimple in her life, but I like to do it otherwise.

When we are blessed (or spoiled) to choose from the endless options on how to improve the condition of our skin, washing our face with soap and water is just not good enough.

Water can dry out the skin, especially if you enjoy splashing hot water on your face (like I used to) and will do a very poor job in removing the surface dirt, bacteria, sweat, pollution, makeup, and whatnot.

Needless to say, this method cannot prevent the gunk from getting inside your pores and clogging them.

But, choosing the right cleanser for your skin type can be a challenge on its own due to the rather bold claims written on the packaging.

The most important thing in a cleanser is the pH.

Let’s have a quick throwback to chemistry class: pH is a scale that measures acidity and alkalinity. Zero is the most acidic (oily) and 14 the most alkaline (dry).

The pH balance of our skin is between 4.6 – 6, which makes it slightly acidic due to the production of sebum.

This means that healthy skin is supposed to be on the oily side because the acidic environment supports the growth of the skin’s natural bacteria – the good kind. 

Moreover, it is the ideal environment for the enzymes which seal in hydration and shed the dead skin cells to function properly.

In simple words, our skin needs to remain acidic to fight environmental factors and protect itself.

In order to remain clean and healthy, we need to wash our face with a cleanser that has a pH of 5.5. You can recognize that a cleanser may be a bit too harsh for your skin if it leaves the skin “squeaky-clean” after washing.

This removes the build-up of dirt, but it also strips the protective barrier of your skin and leaves it exposed to harmful microorganisms and harsh environmental factors that can cause acne, dryness, irritation, and all hell.

A pH-balanced cleanser is your friend regardless of the formulation or texture of the product.


OILY SKIN PRONE TO CONSTANT ACNE-BREAKOUTS?

simone sydel licensed esthetician

I've coached hundreds of clients just like you helping them tame their oily and acne-prone skin.


I've had my battle with acne. I know what it's like when your skin seems to be conspiring against you


The good news is, I can now show how to manage it!


My new book will help you understand your skin better so you can make informed decisions about what products would work best for your specific needs.

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