For as long as most of us can remember, we have consistently been taught to cleanse our skin twice daily – once in the morning, and again in the evenings. But are we washing our faces too heavy-handedly? This is a contentious topic that incites debate between many different skin professionals. While there are countless considerations and variables, the short answer is – you may not need to!
Morning vs Evening Cleanse
There are many reasons why cleansing the skin twice per day is beneficial. Cleansing in the morning will remove bacteria that accumulates overnight due to a buildup of sweat and oils secreted during sleep. This is especially true for warm sleepers and stomach sleepers. Cleansing at night is required to remove sunscreen and makeup applied during the daytime, and rid the skin of contaminants, dirt, and environmental pollutants. For the majority of the population, who go about their activities during daylight hours, the evening cleanse is arguably the most important. Physical activity and stress incurs more sebum and sweat, which accumulates more microbes and more significant pore blockages than those manifested during sleep. This is only exacerbated further by makeup and sunscreen application.
During sleep, the body is in its rest and recovery phase. Cellular functions are a lot slower, including sebum and sweat secretions, so the skin is producing less waste products. Overnight, the skin is working to repair and regenerate, which is when targeted serums with the same goals will support these functions. A clean canvas and thorough moisturisation before bed is therefore crucial to aid in the skin’s reparative processes.
Are You Over-Cleansing?
Many individuals will experience oiliness and bacterial accumulation by both the morning and the evening, and so will benefit from cleansing twice daily. However, many individuals may find that their skin just doesn’t need cleansing more than once per day. Those with very dry, fragile, or sensitive skin may find this applies to them. Research tells us that over-cleansing and over-stripping the skin of its necessary oils and hydrating factors, thereby impairing barrier function, is much more harmful than under-cleansing. According to this study, “excessive cleansing may be unfavorable as it deprives skin of its natural protective barrier.” Those who do not experience significant oil levels upon waking in the morning therefore may benefit from a water-only cleanse, as opposed to a full facial wash.
Daytime products are designed to be removed at night, whereas nighttime products are designed to work over longer time periods. You might even benefit from skipping your morning cleanse and leaving them on to work their magic that little bit longer!
What Is Water Cleansing?
Water cleanses can be used to replace a traditional cleanse when the use of a cleanser is not necessary. This will leave oils and barrier function intact, but allow individuals to reap some of the benefits of a traditional cleanse. Washing the face for 1-2 minutes with just water will help to boost circulation, drain lymphatic fluid (given lymphatic drainage pathways are used) and reduce stress and sympathetic nervous system activity much in the same way that using a cream or foaming cleanser would. Using warm water can increase oxygen-rich blood flow to the skin further, while cold water can stimulate the vagus nerve for added stress reduction.
Suffice to say, if we had to choose only one time to cleanse our skin, nighttime would be the clear choice. While many stand to benefit most from two facial cleanses per day, if you ever feel that your skin simply doesn’t require a morning wash, the water cleanse method may just be for you.