This Is Exactly How Many Seconds You’re Supposed To Spend Washing Your Face

If you’re not massaging your cleanser into your skin for this long, you may not be reaping all the benefits.

Cleansing your face might feel like just another step in your routine, but it can be transformative — if you do it for long enough, that is.

If you’re already got your preferred cleanser on hand, this is one skin care tip that doesn’t require buying yet another product or adding complicated extra steps. All you need is to spend a little extra time washing your face. Sixty seconds, to be exact.

The “60-second cleanse” isn’t exactly new, but it has been having a resurgence. The idea is simple: instead of washing your face quickly, spend a full minute (or more) massaging cleanser into your skin. For some people on social media, making this one change led to smaller-looking pores and a brighter, clearer complexion. Even dermatologists are posting online about how the longer cleanse time can lead to improved skin care results, especially for those with acne-prone skin.

“I am a big fan of the 60-second face wash,” said Dr. Kellie Reed, a board-certified dermatologist at Westlake Dermatology in Austin, TX. “I think people are noticing positive changes because they are increasing their face-washing routine and paying more attention to cleansing the skin. I think the improvements are coming from more effectively removing makeup, dirt, and oil from the skin with the longer, more intentional wash,” she said.

A longer cleanse means more opportunity to completely clean skin of excess oil and dirt, but one of the biggest benefits is that the longer contact time with skin gives the active ingredients enough time to penetrate skin. Cleansers with exfoliating acids like glycolic or salicylic acid, or those using acne-specific cleansers with benzoyl peroxide, will be more effective when they aren’t washed off immediately.

“Most people only wash their face for about 15 seconds and it is not enough time for the ingredients in the cleanser to actually activate,” said Dr. Jeremy Brauer, a board-certified dermatologist at Spectrum Skin and Laser in New York City. “Ideally, people should wash their face for about 45-60 seconds. If you rinse the cleanser off your face too early it will not remove excess oil and dirt from your skin. The ingredients need to soak into the skin in order to do what they are supposed to,” he said.

For those new to skin care or who like to keep a streamlined routine, increasing your cleansing time is an easy way to boost your results without adding any new products. The barrier to entry is also low — as long as you have a cleanser, it’s a skin care tip you can test for yourself.

But depending on your skin and cleanser type, increasing your cleansing time could mean drier skin. If you find your skin feels tight or “squeaky-clean” after rinsing, it may be a sign that this particular method isn’t right for you. In this case, using a gentler cleanser or scaling back the amount of time it’s left on skin can be a good compromise.

How to incorporate the 60-second cleanse into your routine

While there isn’t much you need to do beyond massaging the cleanser into your skin for a full minute, the experts we spoke to have some additional tips to get the most out of your cleanse.

To start, Reed suggests using lukewarm water and a gentle cleanser. “I prefer a gentle cleanser rather than one with any harsh time ingredients for my 60-second face wash,” she said. (Brauer recommends cleansers made for all skin types from brands including CeraVe, Skinbetter Science, and Cetaphil). Then, use your hands to make circular motions to lather up the cleanser on your face. “Pay extra attention to any trouble zones. Makeup wearers may need longer than 60 seconds to adequately remove all makeup,” Reed said.

Both experts recommend washing your face both morning and night if you don’t have dry skin, but if you only have time for one, choose night time. “Cleansing at night allows your skin to repair overnight while you sleep. It is less important to wash your face in the morning, but if you have oily skin you will benefit greatly from washing your face both in the morning and at night,” Brauer said.

This nighttime cleanse is doubly important for makeup wearers and those following their cleanse with additional skin care steps. “In order to keep a healthy skin barrier and texture it is extremely important to wash your makeup off before bed,” Brauer added. “Without washing your face, other products such as serums and moisturizers will not be absorbed by the skin and may create excess oil and buildup.”

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