Sometimes, bad habits manage to weasel their little ineffective, counterproductive selves into even the simplest of tasks. Take washing your face, for instance. You wet your skin. Work in some cleanser. And rinse it off. It’s washing your face, not rocket science, right? Right – and wrong. While you may have the basic steps down, you may be sabotaging the effectiveness of your skin care routine with these 5 commonly made face-washing mistakes. Mistake #1: Wiping Instead of Washing Face wipes are really, really, really, ridiculously convenient. If stubborn eye makeup leaves you looking like a raccoon, they may be your go-to. But wipes are no replacement for a good cleansing. Sure, they may make work of yesterday’s liner, but they don’t even touch the deep dirt oil, and bacteria that clogs pores and causes breakouts. If you can’t seem to part with your beloved face wipes, be sure to use them before washing your face. Mistake #2: Cranking Up the Heat If you prefer your showers hot enough to boil a lobster, we’ve got some bad news: you’re doing it wrong. Your skin’s natural oils become more fluid in the heat (think: heated butter) and are easily stripped away by water and even the gentlest facial cleansers. “Ideally, you’d want to take cooler showers because they’re less irritating and drying to your skin,” explains Dr. J. Mark Jackson, Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the University of Louisville. “Of course, that’s kind of a hard sell in these colder winter months. So, if you insist on taking a warm – not hot – shower, make sure you apply moisturizer immediately after drying off to help replenish and seal in oils lost while bathing.” Mistake #3: Using the Wrong Cleanser Before adding any product to your skin regimen, you should have a good understanding of what your skin is before deciding what it needs. Be it oily, dry, or anywhere in between, there are countless products on the market that are made specifically for your skin type. Beware of cleansers that smell good or lather well as these often contain sulfates and fragrances that can irritate your skin. The gentler the better. Mistake #4: Exfoliating Too Often It’s no secret that you’re constantly shedding skin cells – on average, you’ll shed 30,000 to 40,000 dead skin cells every minute! While you may think that exfoliating with every wash is just helping that natural process along, it may be doing more harm than good. The overuse of abrasive exfoliators is effectively scratching your skin raw, leading to skin damage, irritation, and accelerated aging. Instead, opt for gentle exfoliants containing natural ingredients and minimally abrasive particulates and reduce your use to 1-2 times per week. Mistake #5: Overly Aggressive Drying Your tough exterior is surprisingly delicate – and it’s at its most delicate when freshly washed. Rubbing your face dry with a towel after washing is kind of like waxing your sports car with block of sand paper. Aggressive rubbing can irritate or damage the skin – causing redness, wrinkles, or microlesions. Now that we’ve cleared up those face-washing missteps, you can clear the way for a process that will leave your skin healthy, happy, and, well, clear. For more skin care best practices, look to the professionals at Forefront Dermatology. To find the Forefront physician nearest you, visit the Locations page today.