There’s a proper order for applying skin care products and a correct way to wash your face, so it shouldn’t be too big of a surprise that there’s actually a right way to dry off your skin post-wash. Just like brushing your teeth, if you do it quickly and sloppily, your complexion is probably going to pay for it.
We’ve probably all at some point grabbed the first towel we could reach and quickly rubbed our faces until they seem dry enough in an effort to save some time. But in fact there's an ideal technique—gently pat your skin and never wipe or rub it—and it's important because of the below.
“Wiping your face gives you too much force, especially around eyes where skin is the most delicate, and can increase dark circles,” explains Dr. Jeanine B. Downie, director of Image Dermatology in Montclair, N.J. Using too much force can also disrupt any pre-existing conditions and exasperate their current state. “Wiping or rubbing can disrupt any current skin ailments such as pimples, razor burn, or broken blood vessels, and can also worsen any redness and inflammation,” Dr. Downie says.
Wash cloths and bath towels are both gentle enough that they’ll get you dry without causing any further irritation. Along with swapping your wash cloth for a clean one every three to four days, bath towels once a week, and not storing a wet wash cloth in the shower because it can brew bacteria, Dr. Downie stresses the importance of properly caring for them by not making these two common mistakes.
On laundry day, make sure you’re using a mild detergent on your towels. “Use a gentle detergent such as All Free & Clear Liquid Laundry Detergent ($12; target.com). The more unscented a detergent is, the less allergens it will have in it,” she explains. “Also, limit your use of fabric softener because it can also irritate skin.”
The other bad habit you need to forget: If you’re a smoker, Dr. Downie cannot emphasize enough that you should leave your cigarettes outside the bathroom. “Do not smoke in the bathroom. Doing so will allow the carcinogens from your cigarettes to settle into your towels.”