So, you’ve cleansed your face, and now you’ve got to dry it, so you can get on with the rest of your skincare routine. You reach for your towel because that’s what towels are there for, to dry, and you rub it over your skin, rub-rub-rubbing until your face is fully dry.
Good … right?
The thing about towels, though, is that they’re a magnet for bacteria. We often keep them in damp environments (our bathrooms), and they tend to retain moisture for long periods of time, after they’ve collected dead skin cells and oils from our faces and bodies. These towels then hang on our towel racks, collecting dust and dirt — and basically being very hospitable environments for bad bacteria.
Ultimately, the way you dry your face generally isn’t going to have the deepest impact; it is, of course, much more important to use the right cleanser that’s gentle but effective, that will cleanse your face deeply without irritating it or stripping it dry. However, if you have sensitive skin, skin that’s prone to breakouts, or dry skin, thinking about how you dry your skin might be something worth thinking about.
Instead of using a towel that’s been sitting around, collecting bacteria, here are three options you might consider.
Use small face towels — and use them once.
Using a clean towel every time helps limit the amount of bacteria your skin is exposed to. Look for something that is soft and wicks away water quickly, and keep in mind to blot the excess water away, patting the towel against your skin gently instead of rubbing and, potentially, pulling and tugging at your skin. You don’t have to blot hard, either, because you don’t need your skin to be thoroughly, completely dry — leaving skin damp actually helps it better absorb the ingredients in your products.
Also, make sure you wash your towels in hot water. Lukewarm or cold water likely won’t kill bacteria as effectively as hot water will.
Alternately, opt for a paper towel to remove excess water.
Purchasing and maintaining a collection of individual face towels might not be the most practical option for you, and towels also need to be laundered. Towels, no matter how soft, also might be a little too harsh for your sensitive skin, or maybe you just want to keep things simple. Maybe water ends up everywhere around your sink because it’s too small, so you like to wipe down your sink after you cleanse.
Whatever the reason, paper towels can be an option to dry your face after cleansing, and, even when using a paper towel, you should still use the same technique — blot the excess water off your face gently, and leave your skin damp, not thoroughly, completely dried.
And, of course, make sure to opt for recycled paper towels! Seventh Generation is a cost-efficient, recycled paper towel that is easily accessible.
Another option: air dry!
By this, we don’t mean to leave your face wet and dripping as you sit around, waiting for your face to dry. Use your hands to clear excess water from your face, giving yourself a little face massage in the process.
Start by making wide circles on your cheeks with your hands, starting by your lips and pushing upward toward your ears, shaking off excess water with each circle made. Then, press your thumbs on the underside of your chin, moving them up your jaw to your ear, also shaking away excess water. Your face should be left damp and feeling refreshed from your brief massage, ready for your skincare routine.
Whatever option you use, go for gentle. And, like we said above, don’t dry your face completely because you ideally want your skin to be damp when you apply your products. Damp skin helps active ingredients penetrate your skin more easily, and it also means that products don’t have to work double-time to moisten skin as they’re absorbed. Having some dampness on your skin is also great for when you apply your moisturizer because the occlusives will be able to help seal in that extra moisture.
This is not to say that skincare products are ineffective when applied to dry skin, and it’s also not to say that damp skin vs. dry skin is going to be the determining factor in how your skin looks and feels. However, it’s probably fair to say that you’re investing good money and time into your skincare, so why not try to maximize the efficacy of your products?
Also, remember that glass skin — skin that is so clear and poreless that it appears translucent like glass — is basically healthy, hydrated skin, so think of drying your skin as simply removing the excess water, so your skin isn’t wet. Leave your skin damp, so it can drink in all the beneficial ingredients from your products — and, ultimately, so your skin can look and feel more hydrated.