Q: Is soap and water all I need for good facial hygiene?
A: Soap and water are important, but there’s more to it. Use these three steps to keep your skin looking healthy and smooth, with minimal blemishes:
Step 1: Wash with pH-balanced soap. Every person has an acid mantle that forms a protective layer over the skin to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi. If it loses its acidity, the skin becomes more prone to damage and infection.
How do you lose this protective acidity? By washing your face with ordinary soaps, which are usually basic (the opposite of acidic). This type of soap removes the mantle that seals in moisture. The benefit of using a pH-balanced soap is that your pores will look smaller if they’re kept free of oils and dirt.
Ideally, you should wash your face twice daily, but you don’t need to spend more than a few seconds doing it. Excessive rubbing can aggravate acne. Skip soaps with colors and fragrances. They just add residue and increase the chance of an allergic reaction.
Step 2: Moisturize. Typically, your skin soaks up moisture to keep itself looking fresh and smooth. Healthy moisturizers don’t disturb the acid mantle of the skin or clog pores. We prefer natural moisturizers, such as squalene (made from olives), avocado oil, walnut butter, aloe and cocoa butter, plus ones that are proven to be hypoallergenic—meaning that they don’t cause allergic reactions. To seal in the moisture, apply moisturizer while you’re still damp from the shower.
Step 3: Use sunblock. The sun is your skin’s biggest enemy, and using sunblock will keep your skin looking healthy and young.
Michael F. Roizen, MD, is Professor of Internal Medicine and Anesthesiology, Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. He has co-founded 12 companies, including the popular websites RealAge.com and YOUBeauty.com.
Mehmet C. Oz, MD, is Vice-Chair and Professor of Surgery at Columbia University and director of the Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program at New York Presbyterian Hospital. His TV show—The Dr. Oz Show— recently won its third Emmy, with Dr. Oz his second as the best daytime talk show host.