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Cost-benefit analysis: washing your face mid-day

The habit: Washing your face mid-day. 

The costs

Keeping your face clean and hydrated can be delicate balance. 

Experts agree that regardless of the season or skin type, you should wash your face in the morning to remove oil that’s built up over night and bacteria that lives on your pillow or hair, and at night to remove oil, dirt, and debris that can clog pores. 

But over-cleansing can strip the skin of its natural oil barrier, which acts as a protective shield to keep the epidermis soft and supple, explains Leah Gilmore, New York City–based senior manager of spa operations at Equinox. This can cause your skin to dry out or to over-produce oil as a way to balance itself out, which can lead to acne breakouts, she adds.

The benefits: 

During a workout, you accumulate pore-clogging substances on your skin: sweat from a raised heart rate, dirt from the outdoors, and debris from air pollution or makeup. 

Water isn’t enough to clear these out, so cleansing again is necessary to avoid breakouts, bacterial infections of the hair follicles (called folliculitis), or overgrowth of the yeast that lives on the skin, says San Francisco-based dermatologist Caren Campbell, MD.

The final analysis: 

If you go to the gym with makeup already applied, use a gentle wipe like those from Cetaphil beforehand to minimize clogged pores. If you work out in the morning, wait to wash your face after exercising. 

Cleanse after a midday workout with a seasonally-appropriate cleanser or a face wipe, Campbell advises. In the summer, use SkinCeuticals LHA cleansing gel, and switch to a gentle, moisturizing cleanser like Kypris Cleanser Concentrate or SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser for the winter.

Compensate for the dryness that comes from a third wash by moisturizing afterwards with hyaluronic acid like the B5 Hydrating Gel from Skinceuticals. If your skin is especially dry, follow with a lotion like Kiehl’s Serum-Infused Water Cream in the warmer months, or a rich cream (like this one from Fresh) when it's cold.

Photo: Serge Guerand / Blaublut-Edition.com