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How can I cleanse my skin without drying it out?

Maintaining a Cleansing Regimen
Take time to give your face the proper care it deserves.
Take time to give your face the proper care it deserves.

If you were to take the advice of a Hollywood aesthetician or a sales representative at a beauty counter, you might find yourself blocking out a big chunk of time from your daily schedule just to engage in an elaborate beauty ritual of prepping, cleansing and moisturizing your skin. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be that way. If your main goal is just to have clean, moisturized skin, you can do so without a lot of fuss and muss. All you really need is a mild cleanser (with moisturizer, if that suits your skin type) and warm water. The temperature of the water you wash with is quite important. Hot water will quickly dry out your skin by removing its oily layer. So as tempting as it may be to enjoy a steamy shower, it's better for your skin if you don't.

When it comes to how often you need to cleanse, it's probably not as frequently as you think. The most important time of day to wash your face is before bed. It's then that you'll be able to remove all of the day's buildup -- from sweat and pollutants to sunscreen and makeup. You don't need to wash your face again in the morning. Just splash it with a bit of water and you'll be ready to go. As far as baths and showers go, just one 15-minute excursion a day should be fine for most people. And as you cleanse, avoid the use of scrubbers and washcloths. Your hands are just as effective and are less likely to dry and irritate your skin. Afterward, be sure to pat, rather than rub, with a towel.

It's fine to follow your cleansing routine with other supplements for your skin, such as moisturizing lotions. However, to avoid drying, stay away from toners and astringents, which are generally alcohol-based.

Learn more about cleanser ingredients on the next page.