By Joanne Rosa

Overnight, summer left and fall officially arrived. The humidity is gone, the temperature has dropped from the 70s to the 50s, and the blustery fall weather is here. Some of us may have even turned on the central heating in our house, and began eating like we are going into hibernation.

There’s not much we can do about the changing seasons, but there is one way we can help our skin, and that’s by washing our face correctly. It’s the first thing we should do when we wake up, and the last thing we do before we go to bed, but chances are, we’ve been doing it wrong for years.

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Celebrity dermatologist and author of “The Beauty of Dirty Skin” Dr. Whitney Bowe gave us tips on how to combat the common mistakes we make while washing our face.

The Bad News
Let’s get right to it. The bad news is you’ve probably been washing your face all wrong. The biggest mistakes people make when washing their face are:

– Using harsh antibacterial soaps
– Alcohol based toners and washcloths
– Using loofah, buff puffs, and body brushes on face
– Over cleansing (most common)

We all want to attain “that squeaky clean feeling,” which is why we end up being too hard on ourselves, literally. Our facial skin is a delicate part of our body! Instead of treating it with care, we often act like we’re washing the greasy Thanksgiving turkey pan. “In the short term, over cleansing will not be too disruptive, but chronically over cleansing—especially with harsh cleansers—not only strips the skin of its natural oils, but it wipes away those beneficial bacteria that actually keep your skin healthy!”

How to Wash Your Face the Right Way
There is a correct way to wash your face, and Dr. Bowe broke it down for all of our Wendy Watchers.

Morning
Find a gentle, pH balanced, non-soap hydrating skin cleanser that is water-based. Look for words like “gentle,” “mild,” and “non-irritating.” When washing your face, use lukewarm water and your fingertips only.

Evening
If you’re not a big makeup person, and don’t live in a city, you can just use the same water-based cleanser you used in the morning. Just like the morning, use lukewarm water and your fingertips only.

Makeup and Air Pollutants
When it comes to getting rid of face and eye makeup, or pollutants that landed on your face and eyes during the day, we need to make sure all of that gunk is removed. Double cleansing is an excellent way to do this. If you’ve been wearing eye makeup, heavy or long wear foundation, or live in or near a city (where pollution rates are high), make sure you wash twice. This means using an oil-based cleanser followed by a gentle water-based cleanser.

The Exfoliation of It All
Forget the fountain of youth; exfoliating our skin is the key to combating premature aging of the skin.

“Exfoliants smooth skin’s outer surface and speed up cellular turnover. They can also help brown spots fade, unclog pores, and smooth out fine lines over time, if used regularly.”

However, regularly does not mean to use liberally everyday. “If you use them too frequently, they can disrupt the skin barrier and, consequently lead to inflammation that triggers skin conditions… just like so much of everything else in life: Moderation is key.”

When it comes to finding the right type of exfoliation, Dr. Bowe recommends looking for exfoliators that contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). “[They’re] the all-star chemical exfoliants in this department. You can find these ingredients in over-the-counter products… AHAs, BHAs, and retinoids all can do amazing things for our skin. But they cannot be used liberally every day, especially all together. If used too frequently, or at concentrations that the skin isn’t ready to tolerate, they can do damage.”

Practice makes perfect. It’s important to remember that exfoliation “takes some experimentation. Most people can get away with exfoliating their skin once or twice a week. Everyone will have a different tolerance for various methods and formulas. You are walking a fine line between polishing your skin to perfection, and making yourself vulnerable to irritation.” Try not to cross that line!

A Note on Washing Your Face
It used to be that we wanted to get rid of every trace of life (i.e. bacteria) from our faces. Today, we know better. In Dr. Bowe’s book “The Beauty of Dirty Skin,” she helps redefine what “clean skin” means. Dr. Bowe explained to us that “American skincare brands now understand that ‘clean’ still means you have trillions of microbes creeping all over your skin. When I used to conduct microbiology experiments, I had to maintain the right temperature, humidity, and pH in order to encourage one strain of bacteria to grow, while preventing another from contaminating my petri dish. I even had to put certain ingredients in the culture medium (‘food’ for the bacteria) that would selectively allow one strain to grow over the other. That’s where the research is heading now in the skincare world.”

Grab your copy of “The Beauty of Dirty Skin” today.