Face-Washing Basics

Face wipes, foaming washes, skin brushes ... there have never been so many ways to get clean. We've got a few basic rules to wash away the confusion.

Clean Sweep
Washing your face is the single most important step in skin care -- it preps the canvas for the rest of your healthy-skin regimen, says Erin Gilbert, M.D., Ph.D., a dermatologist in New York City. To get the most out of it, follow these guidelines and make it a ritual.

Twice Is the Charm
For normal or oily skin, washing morning and evening is sufficient to remove pore-clogging makeup and other debris of the day, like bacteria and pollutants. Dry skin types can skip the morning cleanse, but more than twice a day will dehydrate anyone.

Give It a Rub
The skin responds to tactile feedback; massaging the cheeks and around the eyes while you cleanse has been shown to increase blood flow as well as collagen production. Don't skip the area around your forehead and behind your ears, where excess dirt and grime accumulate.

Keep It Cool
Wash with warm water -- hot temperatures remove the natural layer of oil, drying out skin.

Try a Tool
Skin brushes -- which have an oscillating head and bristles to help loosen dirt -- stimulate skin and may improve its texture. The automatic timers on some make sure you give your skin enough TLC. Just be careful if you have sensitivity or acne, as brushes can make inflammation worse.

Two to try: Clarisonic Mia, $149, clarisonic.com; Olay Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System, $25, amazon.com

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