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This Is Exactly How Many Seconds You're Supposed To Spend Washing Your Face

Cleansing your face might feel like just another step in your routine, but it can be transformative — if you do it for long enough, that is.

If you’re already got your preferred cleanser on hand, this is one skin care tip that doesn’t require buying yet another product or adding complicated extra steps. All you need is to spend a little extra time washing your face. Sixty seconds, to be exact.

The “60-second cleanse” isn’t exactly new, but it has been having a resurgence. The idea is simple: instead of washing your face quickly, spend a full minute (or more) massaging cleanser into your skin. For some people on social media, making this one change led to smaller-looking pores and a brighter, clearer complexion. Even dermatologists are posting online about how the longer cleanse time can lead to improved skin care results, especially for those with acne-prone skin.

“I am a big fan of the 60-second face wash,” said Dr. Kellie Reed, a board-certified dermatologist at Westlake Dermatology in Austin, TX. “I think people are noticing positive changes because they are increasing their face-washing routine and paying more attention to cleansing the skin. I think the improvements are coming from more effectively removing makeup, dirt, and oil from the skin with the longer, more intentional wash,” she said.

A longer cleanse means more opportunity to completely clean skin of excess oil and dirt, but one of the biggest benefits is that the longer contact time with skin gives the active ingredients enough time to penetrate skin. Cleansers with exfoliating acids like glycolic or salicylic acid, or those using acne-specific cleansers with benzoyl peroxide, will be more effective when they aren’t washed off immediately.

“Most people only wash their face for about 15 seconds and it is not enough time for the ingredients in the cleanser to actually activate,” said Dr. Jeremy Brauer, a board-certified dermatologist at Spectrum Skin and Laser in New York City. “Ideally, people should wash their face for about 45-60 seconds. If you rinse the cleanser off your face too early it will not remove excess oil and dirt from your skin. The ingredients need to soak into the skin in order to do what they are supposed to,” he said.

For those new to skin care or who like to keep a streamlined routine, increasing your cleansing time is an easy way to boost your results without adding any new products. The barrier to entry is also low — as long as you have a cleanser, it’s a skin care tip you can test for yourself.

But depending on your skin and cleanser type, increasing your cleansing time could mean drier skin. If you find your skin feels tight or “squeaky-clean” after rinsing, it may be a sign that this particular method isn’t right for you. In this case, using a gentler cleanser or scaling back the amount of time it’s left on skin can be a good compromise.

How to incorporate the 60-second cleanse into your routine

While there isn’t much you need to do beyond massaging the cleanser into your skin for a full minute, the experts we spoke to have some additional tips to get the most out of your cleanse.

To start, Reed suggests using lukewarm water and a gentle cleanser. “I prefer a gentle cleanser rather than one with any harsh time ingredients for my 60-second face wash,” she said. (Brauer recommends cleansers made for all skin types from brands including CeraVe, Skinbetter Science, and Cetaphil). Then, use your hands to make circular motions to lather up the cleanser on your face. “Pay extra attention to any trouble zones. Makeup wearers may need longer than 60 seconds to adequately remove all makeup,” Reed said.

Both experts recommend washing your face both morning and night if you don’t have dry skin, but if you only have time for one, choose night time. “Cleansing at night allows your skin to repair overnight while you sleep. It is less important to wash your face in the morning, but if you have oily skin you will benefit greatly from washing your face both in the morning and at night,” Brauer said.

This nighttime cleanse is doubly important for makeup wearers and those following their cleanse with additional skin care steps. “In order to keep a healthy skin barrier and texture it is extremely important to wash your makeup off before bed,” Brauer added. “Without washing your face, other products such as serums and moisturizers will not be absorbed by the skin and may create excess oil and buildup.”

Check out some of our favorite dermatologist-recommended gentle cleansers below.

HuffPost and its publishing partners may receive a commission from some purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently curated by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.

A non-stripping face wash that leaves natural oils intact

It’s important to find a facial cleanser that won’t strip your skin of its natural oils and lipids, both of which are essential components to a healthy skin barrier. This lightweight gel cleanser contains a blend of oils to help restore moisture to the skin along with squalane, an emollient that mimics the skin’s natural oils.

A non-foaming hydrating everyday cleanser

“When it comes to cleansers, gentle and hydrating is best,” said Nkem Ugonabo, a dermatologist fellow at UnionDerm in New York City. This classic hydrating face wash by Cerave can be a great staple in your everyday skin care regimen, especially if you are sticking to the twice-a-day washing rule. The lotion-like consistency and non-foaming formula contains hyaluronic acid and essential ceramides necessary for ensuring a healthy barrier function. It’s also fragrance free, making it a great option for all skin types.

A cleansing balm with omegas for sensitive skin types

For ultra dry and sensitive skin types, dermatologist Joshua Zeichner recommended incorporating into your routine a milk cleansing balm, which can do a much better job of breaking down grime than face wash alone. This skin-softening balm by Paula’s Choice contains both jojoba and meadowfoam seed oils, omega-rich ingredients that can regulate the skin’s oil production and address rough texture. Just massage it into the skin to melt away makeup and debris, then follow with a face wash.

A hydrating foaming wash for acne-prone skin

“Foaming cleansers tend to be harsher on the skin than other types, but they’re a great option for people who have oily skin,” Zeichner said. “For people who are acne-prone, salicylic acid-containing cleanser can be useful to help remove dead cells from the surface of the skin that contribute to blocking the pores.”

Along with deeply cleaning pores, this gel-to-foam facial wash by Cerave can help address textured and bumpy skin while also being gentle enough for frequent use. Like all Cerave products, this cleanser incorporates ceramides for a stronger skin barrier as well as replenishing niacinamide.

A gentle micellar water to remove makeup before cleansing

DiAnne Davis, a Dallas-based board-certified dermatologist, previously recommended to HuffPost using a micellar water as a preliminary step in breaking down impurities, especially if you wear makeup or sunscreen. This toning and deep-cleaning solution by Evolve Organic Beauty contains moringa peptides and micellar molecules to attract and lift away debris without any harsh scrubbing. A dose of hyaluronic acid also leaves skin feeling hydrated and ready to draw in more moisture.

A skin barrier-supporting face wash

“The goal of cleansing is to remove soil from the outer skin layer without disrupting your skin barrier,” Zeichner explained. Using a hydrating lipid complex, this milky cleanser by Skinfix works up a rich lather and helps restore ceramides and fatty acids within the skin.

A silicone facial brush for irritation-free exfoliation

David told HuffPost that she personally loves manual silicone scrubbing pads, which can be a more affordable and sanitary alternative to other automatic face brushes. They can also be more gentle on the skin than harsh physical scrubs, which can cause micro-tears in the skin. This dual-textured exfoliating brush can give you massage-like clean, and the teardrop shape makes it easy to get into those harder-to-reach areas of your face.

An antimicrobial towel that’s ultra gentle on the skin

Jeannette Graf, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, told HuffPost that once you are done cleansing, “pat dry with a clean towel to avoid harmful bacteria, rather than rubbing.” This organic Supima cotton towel is luxurious in feeling and in the fact that it’s woven with pure silver to help eliminate acne- and odor-causing bacteria. It’s also ultra soft and highly absorbent, making it gentle on any skin prone to dryness or irritation.

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