How Long Should You Be Washing Your Face?

How Long Should You Be Washing Your Face?

How Long Should You Be Washing Your Face?

By now, we all know the importance of washing your face every single day (yes, even on the days where you skip makeup or are so tired, you can’t really be bothered). But when it comes to washing your face the correct way, there’s a lot of misinformation circulating. Today, we turned to three experts to find out just how long you should be washing your face in order to make the most of your cleanser and keep your skin free of excess oil, debris and makeup. So, the next time you feel like falling into bed without washing your face after a long day, keep these tips in mind — it may not take quite as long as you think to whisk away all of your makeup, especially if you’re using the right cleansing products.

How Long Should You Be Washing Your Face?

“The general face wash routine should not take a substantial amount of time,” says Dr. Teresa Song, a board-certified dermatologist at Marmur Medical. “As long as the surfaces are lathered with the cleanser for a few seconds you can rinse off; the duration is probably 30 to 60 seconds.”

Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick agrees, adding, “Those who are using a medicated cleanser, such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, should ensure that the cleanser is on for long enough to have an effect, which generally is about 60 seconds.” 

The exception to this rule is based on skin type and the amount of makeup you wear. Our experts confirm that those with dry, sensitive skin may only want to cleanse their face for 30 seconds, as prolonged contact with water and surfactants can further dry out the skin. But if your skin is on the oily side, or if you are wearing heavy makeup, “you can experiment with cleansing longer, up to a max of two minutes,” adds Dr. Brooke Jeffy, board-certified dermatologist and founder of BTWN. Two minutes may seem like a long time, but as evidenced by the video below, there are plenty of fun things you can do in the same amount of time.

The Best Cleansers for Washing Your Face

CeraVe Hydrating Foaming Oil Cleanser

Beloved by our editors with dry, sensitive skin and combination skin alike, this gently foaming oil cleanser works well on its own as a gentle first step in a double cleansing routine. Packed with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, squalane and triglycerides, it comforts the skin’s moisture barrier and leaves you with lasting hydration, while also breaking down makeup, dirt and oils. If you find that a lot of face washes give your skin a dry, tight feeling, we encourage you to give this formula a try. Note that it’s even gentle enough for eczema-prone skin.

Thayers pH Balancing Gentle Face Wash with Aloe Vera

This jelly-to-foam cleanser is infused with aloe vera and leaves your skin soft, moisturized and comfortable, even after a full two-minute cleanse. The thick, cushiony formula feels soothing on the skin and helps balance its pH levels — perfect for those who struggle with excess oil in some parts of the face and dry, flaky patches in others. Those who are sensitive to scent will also appreciate that this pick is fragrance-free.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Facial Cleanser

Recommended by Dr. Song, this ultra-gentle cleanser is an ideal option for those with dry, normal and sensitive skin types. Formulated with La Roche-Posay’s proprietary prebiotic thermal spring water, as well as ceramide-3 and niacinamide, it helps to maintain your skin’s pH and natural moisture barrier. Reviewers love the non-drying feel and the fact that it doesn’t irritate sensitive skin.

Youth To The People Superfood Cleanser

Like a green juice for your face, this gel cleanser provides a burst of refreshment that balances and thoroughly cleans your skin. Best for normal, dry, combination and oily skin types, it effectively clears buildup in pores and takes off makeup without stripping essential moisture. The proprietary superfood blend includes kale, spinach, green tea and vitamins C and E, giving your skin a boost of antioxidants.


Colorescience Barrier Pro 1-Step Cleanser

Forget double cleansing, especially after a long day or night out. This cleanser breaks down makeup, sunscreen, oil and debris in a single step. It combines three molecular weights of hyaluronic acid with antioxidant-rich prickly pear cactus extract, hydrolyzed pea protein and squalane, among other hydrating ingredients, balancing the skin’s moisture barrier and helping to soften texture.

BTWN Daily Cleanser

Formulated with all skin types and ages in mind (it’s suitable for kids six and up), this mildly foaming cleanser helps take the day away without stripping the skin. Lactic acid provides gentle exfoliation, while ingredients like glycerin, panthenol and green tea extract have a soothing effect.

MMSkincare Luscious Moisturizing Cleanser

Also recommended by Dr. Song, this cleanser helps take away makeup and stubborn sunscreen with a gentle, non-foaming formula. It’s full of antioxidant-packed ingredients, such as Co-Q10, green tea, white tea and orange extract.