Are You "Over-Cleansing" Your Skin?

cleansing skin

Design by Tiana Crispino

If you've been having skin problems, one thing to consider is your skincare regimen. You might be over-cleansing your skin.

Your skin naturally acts as a barrier, meaning it keeps out what it's supposed to (dirt and free radicals like environmental pollution) while keeping in the good stuff (moisture and yes, some oils). When you over-cleanse your skin, or use harsh cleansing chemicals, you can strip your skin of the oils that keep it healthy and balanced and damage your skin barrier.

While you should wash your face every night to get rid of that dirt that can clog pores, you should be careful of over-cleansing skin so that it feels taut and tight. Skin that feels taut and tight after cleansing is a potential sign that you may be over-cleansing or using too harsh a cleanser for your skin type.

Be careful of cleansers with alcohol, which can strip skin of its essential oils.

Some potential effects of over-cleansing include:

  • Rashes: Products that should sit on the skin might permeate skin if the natural barrier is damaged.
  • Adult acne: Cleansing your skin more than twice a day may damage the skin barrier, and acne is strongly associated with skin barrier damage.

The key here is balance. You want your skin to feel "dewy." Taut and tight is bad; dewy and moisturized is good.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Mukhopadhyay P. Cleansers and their role in various dermatological disordersIndian J Dermatol. 2011;56(1):2-6. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.77542

  2. Cartner T, Brand N, Tian K, et al. Effect of different alcohols on stratum corneum kallikrein 5 and phospholipase A2 together with epidermal keratinocytes and skin irritationInt J Cosmet Sci. 2017;39(2):188-196. doi:10.1111/ics.12364

  3. Thiboutot D, Del Rosso JQ. Acne vulgaris and the epidermal barrier: Is acne vulgaris associated with inherent epidermal abnormalities that cause impairment of barrier functions? do any topical acne therapies alter the structural and/or functional integrity of the epidermal barrier?J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2013;6(2):18-24.

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