Have you washed your face and felt your skin was tight and dry afterward?
Despite the common association of this feeling with being “squeaky clean,” a dermatologist warned that it’s actually an unfavorable sign for your skin.
In an interview with Metro, Dr. Justine Hextall, a consulting dermatologist affiliated with the skincare brand La Roche-Posay, explained that the tight, dry sensation post-cleansing could stem from three potential factors: a damaged skin barrier, usage of a harsh cleanser or the temperature of the water used for cleansing. It could also be an indication that you have “very dry skin.”
Hextall elaborated on the causes behind that dry sensation following cleansing.
“If your skin feels dry after washing your face, it usually means the cleanser is too harsh, stripping the skin barrier [the outermost layer of the skin] and ultimately leading to moisture loss,” Hextall told the publication.
The dermatologist said she consistently advises her patients that if the skin feels tight and “squeaky clean” following a cleanse, it often indicates a shift in the skin’s pH, which can potentially harm the skin barrier with continued occurrence.
When your skin barrier is damaged, you might experience various skin issues like dryness, flakiness, itching, rough or discolored patches, acne, inflammation, and an increased risk of skin infections, according to Healthline.
“After cleansing, skin should feel soft and hydrated — you should not be reaching for your moisturizer,” Hextall said.
That dry feeling after cleansing could also be a sign that the water you’re using is hard, the dermatologist warned.
Hard water contains elevated levels of dissolved minerals, primarily calcium and magnesium, according to Water Science School.
In contrast, soft water lacks these minerals, resulting in quicker and easier lathering, reducing the need for more product, as per Metro.
Hextall explained that the minerals contained in hard water like calcium and magnesium are known to potentially irritate the skin and disturb its natural barrier, causing skin sensitivity, dryness, irritation, and scalp flaking.
“Hard water finds it harder to remove soaps and shampoos from the skin and hair, as it reacts with the fatty acids in the soaps, creating residue that sits on the skin and hair, causing dryness,” the dermatologist said.
Another reason for that dry feeling after cleansing is you might be washing your face with hot water from the shower, according to Hextall.
“If you wash your face in the shower and the water temperature is too hot this will dry skin,” the dermatologist explained.
Additionally, contact between the skin, especially the delicate facial area, and shampoos or shower gels can result in skin dryness and irritation.
To address this concern, the doctor suggested cleansing the facial skin after taking a shower.
In instances of excessive dryness, irritation, or sensitivity, her recommendation includes applying a moisturizer to the face before showering. This preemptive measure acts as a shield against the potential effects of hard water and soaps.