Prev Next

How Much Washing Can Dry Skin Take?

By Amalah

Here’s the deal: I don’t wash my face if I’m not wearing makeup. I know what you’re saying: “gotta wash off the grime of daily life, blah, blah, blah.” But I have dry skin; sometimes so dry that I apply a drop o’ vaseline to the cheeks come the winter. In the summer, when I don’t work and therefore don’t wear foundation, I’ll go days without washing, though I may stick my face under a hot shower. I’ve been doing this for 20 years.
BUT, I’m wearing makeup because summer is over and when I get home from work and prepare to workout, I face a dilemma. I run on an elliptical and that can be a major sweat-fest for me, so I want to wash off the makeup so that it doesn’t roll off my face in little drops that will gross out my 7 year old. Also, seems like that’s better for the skin. But, when I wash my face (mild Clinique bar —– been using it for more zit-free years than I care to remember), it feels a little dry afterward and so I put on some moisturizer (Lubriderm for sensitive dry skin…….because yes, my skin is that dry). But when I work out, that feels gummy and close and icky on my face.
Solutions? Should I just get a lighter moisturizer for the pre- workout wash? Do I need a better soap for washing my face? Should I workout with the makeup on my face and tell the kid to suck it up?
Sweaty in Jersey

clinique.jpgPersonally (translation = I have absolutely no scientific or medical explanation for this), I cannot use bar soaps of any kind, Clinique included. My skin is not very dry, but any type of bar cleanser sucks the life right out of my cheeks and leaves me with dry, flaky patches.
So. Have you tried a liquid cleanser? Have you tried ? Because on paper (or…uh….pixels), your ultra-dry skin sounds like a perfect match for Cetaphil. You can even use it without water, which is a HUUUUUGE perk for dry skin. Warm water — or not super-pure hard water in general — is extremely drying. (On that subject: the sticking-your-face-in-a-hot-shower thing? Not helping. It’s not really cleansing anything, and the hot water is stripping your skin of what little natural oil it produces.) Rubbing a little Cetaphil on your face pre- or post-workout will gently cleanse AND moisturize, hopefully solving the gummy problem you mentioned.
cetaphil.jpgAnother option — if you don’t like Cetaphil — would be downgrading to the “extra mild” version of Clinique’s soap and see if that makes any difference. (Although it bugs the CRAP out of me that Clinique doesn’t make the ingredients of their soaps readily available. The fragrance-free promise is all well and good, but what about other irritants? Sulfates? Menthol? Bah.) (P.S. and on the down low: Certain tin-foil-hat-wearing people on the Internet swear that Clinique and cleansing bars are virtually identical.) (Although they also claim that tin-foil hats are the season’s hottest accessory, so who knows.)
You don’t mention how often you use your moisturizer, although I hope you use it morning and night, regardless of washing and working out. I am not sure I can really get behind the idea of applying a body moisturizer to your face, but Lubriderm is non-comedogenic, so I won’t nitpick.
Personally, I’d prefer if you cleansed after your workout, and get the makeup and the sweat (which can be very irritating and burny to sensitive skin) off in one fell swoop, since your skin obviously won’t tolerate a before-and-after washing. Or workout in the morning, before you apply foundation. But since I’ve never ellipticalled a mile in your shoes, I don’t know what would make your skin the most comfortable. Try a liquid cleanser like Cetaphil at some point during the day, avoid the hot water, turn off the heating/AC while you work out and moisturize, moisturize, moist. ur. iiiiize.

Published October 21, 2007. Last updated October 21, 2007.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

icon icon
chat bubble icon