Dr. Macrene

Dr. Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, a board-certified dermatologist with a clinical practice on Park Avenue in New York, is recognized worldwide as an authority on dermatology, laser surgery, and cutting-edge skincare ingredients. She holds BA, MD, and PhD degrees from Harvard and is an Assistant Clinical Professor at Yale.

We've posted a number of tips from Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, the New York-based dermatologist with a BA, MD, and PhD from Harvard. Why? Well, she's brilliant, and she has a unique scientific and clinical background that makes her a master at identifying and evaluating the effect of active molecules on aging skin. Recently, she pointed out to us that improper cleansing methods and products can cause unnecessary harm to skin: she often sees her patients over wash, over scrub, and over dry their faces in that single skincare step. Read on so that you don't make the same mistakes.

AYLA: Can you share your top cleansing tips with our readers?
Dr. ALEXIADES-ARMENAKAS: Of course! Here are my top 10 tips for a good face washing routine.

1.) Choose the right cleanser. Cleansers should help clean and prep skin for active delivery of skincare ingredients from serums and creams. Opt for a mild, moisturizing cleanser that removes oil and residue without leaving your skin dry, tight, or flaky.

2.) Hands first. Wash your hands thoroughly before you begin washing your face. You don't want all the bacteria from your hands to transfer onto your face.

3.) Lukewarm water. Rinsing your face with cool water to close your pores is just a myth; water that is too hot or too cold will only shock and irritate skin, causing broken capillaries.

4.) Don't be so direct. Never apply cleanser directly without moistening your face first. Most cleansers are too harsh and need to be diluted with water. Use one pump of product and create a lather with your fingertips first. Apply using a gentle, circular motion to loosen dirt.

5.) Rinse and repeat. Residual products will dry out your skin and clog pores. Keep rinsing until all the cleanser is removed from your skin. Don't forget to rinse your hairline, neck, and the sides of your nose. These are places often missed and can lead to skin irritations.

6.) Too much exfoliating can be a bad thing. Acids and buffing agents are meant to smooth skin by removing dead skin cells, but exfoliate too often and you run the risk of stripping and drying out the new layer. Over time, this will weaken the skin's natural barrier.

7.) Your washcloth may cause abrasions and wrinkles. Fingertips are always best, but if you must use a washcloth, make sure it's clean, and never rub. The skin on your face is delicate, and rubbing too harshly with a towel can lead to abrasion and wrinkles over the years.

8.) Lock in moisture. While your skin is still damp, apply a moisturizer to seal the moisture balance before your water evaporates off the skin's surface.

9.) Too much of a good thing. Washing your face 2-3 times a day is healthy, but over cleansing will disrupt natural barrier functions and can actually make conditions like acne and rosacea worse.

10.) A good night's rest begins with clean skin. Never go to sleep without a proper facial cleanse. Skin pollutants left overnight can cause seborrheic dermatitis, overnight yeast buildup that results in redness and scaling.

Note from Ayla: Luckily for you, Dr. Alexiades-Armenakas has created a cleanser herself that is some stellar stuff. Learn about the 37 Extreme Actives Cleansing Treatment here. Want more? Check out her anti-aging moisturizing cream for Balanced to Oily skin here and the Extra Rich formula for Balanced to Dry skin here.

About Dr. Alexiades-Armenakas: Macrene, who holds a BA, MD, and PhD from Harvard, is a Diplomate of both the American and European Boards of Dermatology and Assistant Clinical Professor at Yale University School of Medicine. She runs a dermatology, laser surgery and research center in Manhattan and a lab-based skin care research company. Dr. Alexiades-Armenakas has numerous publications and discoveries in the fields of basic science, dermatology and laser surgery. Her practice and academic work are focused on topical dermatologic anti-cancer and anti-aging therapies, laser technology and skin rejuvenation. Learn more about Macrene’s impressive background here.

Any topic discussed in this article is not intended as medical advice. If you have a medical concern, please check with your doctor.