STUDY: Majority of people don’t wash their face and if they do they’re doing it incorrectly

6 min readAug 5, 2019
(Photo by Tadeusz Lakota on Unsplash)

When it comes to having clean skin, Americans are making some major mistakes — new research found the majority are washing their faces incorrectly or not at all.

A poll of 2,000 Americans found that the biggest “skin sin” people reported was not washing their face at night, which is important for removing dirt and excess oil accrued throughout the day.

Fifty-two percent have used bar soap on their face and 44 percent of those surveyed have used hand soap, not realizing the consequences these types of products have on their skin.

Conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with CeraVe for National Cleanse Your Skin Week, the study examined the overall skincare habits of Americans, uncovering the major sins and the reasons behind them.

It found that 36 percent had no idea they were harming their skin by using hand soap to wash it — and this lack of knowledge was something many respondents felt.

Forty-two percent didn’t know what types of products were best for their skin, while a further 36 percent didn’t realize they should be washing their face every night.

And 45 percent don’t seek the advice of a dermatologist for their skincare, choosing instead to buy products they learn about themselves.

Beyond having a lack of knowledge on proper skincare habits, 35 percent revealed they think they have poor skincare habits.

In fact, 41 percent have washed their face with hot water instead of lukewarm while 39 percent have skipped washing their face after a workout leaving sweat and oil to seep into skin.

Some more of the biggest offenders included shaving without the use of any shaving cream (38 percent), using the wrong type of cleanser based on skin type (37 percent) and cleaning their face without washing their hands first (34 percent).

Also high on the list was going more than two weeks without washing the sheets or pillowcases (27 percent) and going more than one month without washing makeup brushes (26 percent).

An additional 47 percent will fall asleep with their makeup on — with 11 percent admitting to doing so often.

Skincare is confusing for many. From liquid and gel to bar and cloth, 53 percent of those studied find themselves confused about what type of cleanser to use on their skin.

But that’s not all that leaves Americans perplexed when it comes to their skincare and skin health. Forty-seven percent are completely unsure about how often they should be cleansing their skin.

Even if Americans knew when and how to cleanse, it turns out 44 percent would still find themselves baffled when trying to find the right cleanser for their skin type.

Another perplexing cleansing issue involves how skin should feel post-cleanse (43 percent). After cleansing the skin, 37 percent of those studied said that they think their skin should actually feel tight — which is incorrect.

As a result of this lack of knowledge about their skin, Americans find themselves skipping this part of a skincare regimen, if they even have one to begin with. Whether it’s not knowing which type of cleanser to use (28 percent) or simply being too tired (61 percent), Americans skip washing their face for a number of reasons.

“Cleansing is essential for healthy and hydrated skin, but it’s a step that tends to cause confusion. As the №1 dermatologist-recommended skincare brand, CeraVe® knows that a proper skincare routine starts with cleansing and has created National Cleanse Your Skin Week to shed light on the importance of cleansers and how you don’t need to compromise your skin to achieve a clean, healthy look and feel,” stated Derrick Booker, Vice President of Marketing of CeraVe.


  1. When it comes to the ultimate skin sin, more than half of respondents (55 percent) admit that they don’t cleanse their skin daily, despite the dermatologist recommendation of twice per day — morning and night!
  2. Of those who do wash their face, 48 percent say they have never used a cleanser to do so.
  3. Meanwhile, 47 percent say they have used shampoo or conditioner to wash their face and 41 percent say they have used hand soap — none of which are appropriate substitutes for a face cleanser.
  4. More than one-quarter of respondents (27 percent) say they have gone more than the recommended two weeks without washing their bed sheets and pillowcases, leaving skin susceptible to breakouts and irritation from sweat, oil and bacteria buildup.
  5. While many people use washcloths for cleansing, 42 percent of respondents will use the same cloth up to four times without washing it and 16 percent will even reuse it up to seven times. It’s actually recommended you wash after each use!
  6. Two-fifths of respondents (41 percent) admit that they use hot water when washing their face instead of the dermatologist-recommended lukewarm water.
  7. More than half of respondents (53 percent) say they only use water when washing their faces, which doesn’t actually cleanse skin.
  8. Makeup brushes can accumulate bacteria, oil and dead skin, so they should be cleaned regularly to avoid clogging pores. However, one-quarter of respondents (26 percent) admit that they have gone more than one month without washing makeup brushes, which can cause breakouts and irritation.
  9. Rubbing skin with a towel may be tempting because it seems like the quickest way to dry skin, but it can also lead to dryness, irritation and redness. Still, 41 percent of respondents say this is their choice method to dry their face after cleansing. Next time skip the rub and gently pat dry in a circular motion until damp and then apply a moisturizer.
  10. Not cleansing immediately after a workout can cause sweat to clog pores and trigger breakouts and redness, yet 40 percent of respondents admit that they have skipped a cleanse immediately following a workout.


  1. Cleanser 58%
  2. Just water 53%
  3. Washcloth 44%
  4. Liquid hand soap 41%
  5. Bar soap 37%


  1. Warm water 54%
  2. Bar soap 52%
  3. Cleanser 52%
  4. Cold water 44%
  5. Face wipe 43%
  6. Hand soap 41%
  7. Shower gel 38%
  8. Hot water 32%
  9. Micellar water 29%
  10. Shampoo 26%


  1. What type of cleanser to use 53%
  2. How often I should cleanse 47%
  3. Finding the right cleanser for skin type 44%
  4. How skin should feel after cleansing 43%
  5. Knowing my skin type 33%


  1. Too tired 61%
  2. Forgetting 47%
  3. Too much of a hassle/inconvenience 33%
  4. Don’t feel like I need to 32%
  5. Not knowing which type of cleanser to use 28%

>> Download the video & infographic for this research story <<

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