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Why Dry Cleansing Might Just Change Your Skin

Why Dry Cleansing Might Just Change Your Skin

Washing your face is one of those habits you probably do every morning and night. And, most likely, it involves slathering cleanser onto your damp face then rinsing it off, right?

Well, there’s a new skincare technique that’s going viral on social media, making many of us reconsider our cleansing routine.

It’s called dry cleansing (or dry washing) and it’s essentially exactly what it sounds like: applying cleanser to dry skin.

Ahead, hear more about the dry cleansing technique, all its benefits, and how to dry cleanse your skin.


What is Dry Cleansing?

Dry cleansing is the method of massaging cleanser onto dry skin with dry hands without initially adding water, followed by massaging skin with wet hands and then rinsing off your facial cleanser.

Unlike double cleansing, which involves applying cleansing oils or balms to dry skin, dry cleansing can be performed with other types of cleansers including oil-, balm-, or cream-based cleansers. Foaming cleansers are a no-no, according to dermatologists.

"Lipid-free cleansing lotions don't actually need water to cleanse the skin," says Joshua Ziechner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in the dermatology department at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. "These are the hydrating, lotion-like cleansers that do not lather. They can be applied directly to the face with your fingertips, rubbed in, and wiped off in the absence of water."

While this cleansing method might sound a little strange, it can have huge skincare benefits...


Dry Cleansing Benefits

Even the derms are a fan of dry cleansing, as long as you’re using a hydrating cleanser for the job that suits your skin type — and needs.

One of the biggest benefits of dry cleansing is that you get a deeper cleanse. When you add water to your cleanser, you basically dilute the formula. Dry cleansing allows you to get the most out of your cleanser, providing a more concentrated delivery of active ingredients. Whether that be retinol, salicylic acid, or benzoyl peroxide, these actives will work even harder and help with everything from breakouts to oily skin and dullness.

If you’re after a deep cleanse to remove the buildup of grime, impurities, and dead skin cells, dry cleansing is probably the best way to do it.

New Jersey-based esthetician Rosalia Fiske swears by the technique. “Dry washing is the best-kept secret in the home skin care universe,” she says.


Downsides of Dry Cleansing

In spite of all its benefits, washing your face with an undiluted cleanser can have a few downsides, especially if you have sensitive skin. According to the derms, cleansers with exfoliating acids or benzoyl peroxide can leave skin red, dry, and irritated if you’re not diluting them and you have sensitive skin.

While dry cleansing should work well on oily skin and even acne-prone skin, if you feel like the method isn’t improving your symptoms or you’re experiencing dryness, skip the practice and stick to wet washing.

Whenever you make changes in your skincare routine, it’s always important to pay attention to how your skin reacts to the changes.


What Type of Cleanser to Use?

According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Loretta Ciraldo, M.D., “Look for cleansers with skin-friendly and hydrating actives.” Ideally, you want a gentle cleanser with nourishing ingredients like natural oils, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides.

Dr. Ciraldo recommends letting cleansers sit on the skin for a few minutes and then rinsing off with “10 splashes of tepid water.” 

The type of cleanser you use really depends on your skin type and concerns. If you have dry or sensitive skin, opt for a gentle, hydrating cleanser that’ll support skin barrier function. For those with normal, oily, or acne-prone skin, bring in actives like salicylic acid but make sure you wash them off well with lukewarm water to avoid irritation.


How to Dry Cleanse Skin

Fancy giving dry cleansing a go? Here’s a step by step guide to dry washing your face.


Step 1: Start with the Right Cleanser

The best cleanser for dry cleansing is one with nourishing actives like hyaluronic acid, aloe, plant oils, and ceramides. Stay away from foaming cleansers which typically contain surfactants that are harsh on skin.

Step 2: Massage into Dry Skin

Using dry hands, massage the cleanser into your dry face using circular motions and upward strokes. This’ll help get that cleanser into your pores, loosening dirt, debris, and oil. Leave it on your skin for a couple of minutes to let it works its pore-clearing action.

Step 3: Massage Again with Wet Hands

Next, wet your hands with warm, but not hot water, which tends to be dehydrating. Repeat the massaging action — only this time with wet hands to help wash away the dirt and grime that the cleanser broke up.

Step 4: Rinse with Warm Water

Splash your face with tepid water to fully wash away the cleanser, then pat skin dry with a clean towel.

Step 5: Moisturize

It’s super important to replenish lost moisture after cleansing. You can do this by applying a hydrating serum or face cream, like Rainbow’s Hydrate Serum, a formula of hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 that secures day-long dewiness. This is also your chance to apply other skincare products like treatment serums and sunscreen!


Is Dry Cleansing Worth it?

As far as what the derms say, there are a number of benefits to dry cleansing your skin. If you’re looking to get the most out of your cleanser and its active ingredients, applying it to a dry face can ensure you get optimum absorption of the ingredients — and thus, better benefits.

That said, if you have dry or sensitive skin, dry cleansing might not be for you if you’re using a product with potentially irritating ingredients like exfoliating acids or benzoyl peroxide.

Like with any new skincare technique, it’s always best to try it and see how your skin responds to it. If you’re seeing positive results from it, keep going! If it’s irritating or drying out your skin, stick to your regular cleansing method.


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