Is it OK if my skin is 'squeaky clean'?

By: Sarah Jourdain

Getting Beautiful Skin Image Gallery If you want to avoid irritated skin, don't attempt to get it "squeaky clean." See more pictures of ways to get beautiful skin.
© Wheatley

When it comes to your car, your dishes or your kitchen floor, squeaky clean is exactly what you're looking for. When you're washing your face, however, you don't necessarily want that same shiny finish.

Too much scrubbing and harsh cleansers can strip away natural -- and necessary -- oils from your skin. Even people with normally oily skin can overdo it. In fact, if you have acne, you'll benefit from a milder cleaning routine because cleansing skin that's already irritated from abrasive soaps, cleansers, toners or astringents is a recipe for a breakout. Instead, use a water- or milk-based cleanser twice daily. This will get rid of excess oil without removing those special oils that act as a natural barrier for your body.


If you want to avoid irritated skin, don't attempt to get it "squeaky clean." Visible redness, rashes, dry patches and other blemishes can mean that you aren't washing your skin gently enough. Use only your hands or a soft washcloth on your face. Avoid rough cleaning methods, like mesh bath sponges or loofahs, which can increase irritation.

Hot water might be a good way to kill germs on your hands, but the same rule doesn't apply to face washing. Extreme water temperatures -- including cold -- can irritate your face. Instead, stick with warm water and take a bath or shower that's no longer than 15 minutes; any longer can strip necessary oils from your skin.

A gentle treatment can mean the best possible results in your skin's appearance. To learn more about why squeaky clean is the wrong goal for skin care, visit the links on the following page.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Twelve Ways to Get Better Results from Acne Treatment." 1/14/09. (Accessed 9/2/09)
  • Begoun, Paula. "The Complete Beauty Bible." 2004. (Accessed 9/2/09)
  • Larson, Elaine. "Hygiene of the Skin: When Is Clean Too Clean?" Emerging Infections Diseases 2001. (Accessed 9/2/09)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Skin Care: Top Five Habits for Healthy Skin." 12/28/07. (Accessed 8/30/09)
  • Tourles, Stephanie. "Naturally Healthy Skin: Tips and Techniques for a Lifetime of Radiant Skin." 1999. (Accessed 9/2/09)