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Rinse and Repeat. And Repeat. And Repeat.

By Amalah

Dear Amalah,
I have a wierd skin issue. Well, a skin & religion issue.
I have really dry skin in the cheek area, like itchy patchy, stop-picking-at-that dry skin. The T-zone area is not dry, but not very oily either. I used Philosophy’s Hope in a Jar and the cheeks were still dry so I had to switch to the one for dry or sensitive skin. It works better but feels kind of greasy on the T-zone area. But I’m okay with it.
The real problem is that I wash my face five times a day. I’m muslim and I make prayers five times a day and you have to wash up beforehand, which includes rinsing your hands, arms, face ears, nose, mouth and feet in water. This happens at 5am, 1pm, 4pm, 6pm and 11pm (or so). I do to skincare thing in the morning and evening, but its just too much to reapply a full moisturizer three more times during the day. Is there something I could be doing to make my skin better? Is there a lighter kind of moisturizer-kind of product and is it okay to use that much? Also it’s winter and in a pinch I have been known to just smother my face in Aveeno hand lotion. I’m guessing I should stop that?

Wow, you guys have been on fire with the head-scratcher questions lately. I kind of love it, especially since it gives me an excuse for the all the endless lurking in the Health & Beauty aisles at Target, because now I have a purpose! I am seeking inspiration! For the people!
Before it was just creepy and a little sad.
ANYWAY. Yes, the washing five times a day is going to be killer on dry skin. My face feels itchy and tight just from thinking about it.
I’ve got a slew of different ideas (of varying potential and quality and obviousness) for you, so I’m just going to list them all out and you can pick and choose which one(s) sound(s) the best(est)(s).
img_gentle_cleanser_seal.jpg1) Cetaphil. Old skool! Cetaphil is a non-soap cleanser/moisturizer combo, and if I can get all bossy for a second (HA), I don’t want soap coming NEAR your face, ever. The constant face-washing is stripping all the natural oils from your face, and you don’t need a cleanser taking even more. There are lots of soap-free cleansers out there, but Cetaphil is my favorite for super-dry or sensitive skin. Bonus: it can be used without water for long-lasting protection. Double Bonus: is cheapy cheap.
2) Curel. My combination skin gets ridiculous in the winter, and I’ve finally accepted the fact that I need to use two moisturizers — one for my oily, blackhead-prone T-zone and one for my patchy dry cheeks. I use Philosophy Hope in a Bottle on my T-zone but followed the advice y’all gave in the comments and started using Curel on the dry areas, since even us hardcore product junkies have to cry uncle at some point over the price of all this stuff.
If you’re not having problems with clogged pores or irritation from any of the ingredients, I see no reason why you can’t use as much moisturizer as you want. I’d avoid lathering up your T-zone every time, but rubbing a gentle moisturizer on your cheeks after each washing is totally fine. And since you can use the Curel on your hands as well, you can just swap the Aveeno hand lotion for the Curel and ta-da! It’s a single-bottle, low-maintenance routine that won’t cost a lot of money.
(Oh! Totally not skin related, but the same combo trick is also good for taming frizzy hair. Just moisturize your hands and then rub them over your hair for instant smoothiness. I love when products pull double-duty.)
3) Bottled water. A lot of the dryness could be due to the water you’re using. Hard water will dry your skin out like CRAZY, so consider washing your face with bottled mineral or distilled water instead. (You also might want to drink more of the stuff too.) Also, the water you use on your face should be no warmer than room temperature — the hotter the water, the dryer your skin.
4) Humidifiers. If you don’t have one already, get a humidifier going in your bedroom every night. In fact, anyone who ever complains about itchy “winter skin” should use one.
borba.jpg5) BORBA. This is one is mostly to offset all the inexpensive stuff I’ve recommended, because where’s the fun in that? Right? The somewhat-kooky BORBA line is based on the idea that while we can slather our skin with liquid diamonds or whatever the hell all the livelong day, really healthy skin comes from within. Proper vitamins and hydration and such. Which…kind of hard to argue with, no? The lychee powders and drinks are recommended for very dry skin, and in your case, with the constant washing off / reapplication of products routine that must get REALLY OLD, this could be a less annoying way to achieve balanced skin.

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.

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Great advice! I love it when I am already doing what you have recommended. Cetaphil is what I use all winter. I use the moisturizer too. I still have to use a little Curel on my cheeks (really dry patches on the apples – probably due to my rosecea). I use Philosophy in the spring and summer. Keep the great advice coming!


I have been using Hope in a Jar and it was a little tough to use all over. So I took your advice and tried the Curel. I love it. I have never been able to use lotion on my face. It always burns because my skin is so sensitive. I use Hope in a Jar on my T-zone and then the Curel on my cheeks and chin. And everywhere else. It is cheap and fabulous. You are my guru Amalah!


Love me some Cetaphil in the winter. As a sort-of related question for Amy and the rest of you, if you wash your face and use a gentle SPF 15 moisturizer in the morning and don’t put any makeup on during the day (I work at home), do you wash your face again before you use your heavy-duty, anti-aging, night-time moisturizer, or can you just slap on the moisturizer before bed? I, too, don’t like the idea of washing too many times because of the dryness. Thanks!


Oh thank God. I am like an oily little monster and don’t worry too much about the drying thing.. but I watched my husband’s perfect skin start to fall apart when I visited him, doing all that washing. He is contrary and refuses to use moisturizer or anything of the sort (although I am tricking him into sunscreen moisturizer slowly, mostly by using his religion to my advantage and guilting him into it (like a proper religious person should.)) Cetaphil! I had forgotten about that! I can totally get him to use that, I bet. Now, if I can only… Read more »


I have another (late) idea. Burt’s Bees Complexion mist. They make four different kinds: Cucumber, Grapefruit, Lavendar and my favorite (and perhaps best for you?): Carrot. The nice thing about these is that you mist them on your face so it’s 1. quick and 2. you don’t have to touch your hands to your face. These facts make it easy for a little moisturizing on the go and in public; you don’t have to get your hands all gross or get your face all gross with your hands. It’s light enough that you can do it all day! The carrot… Read more »