Why Does My Face Feel Tight After Washing?

Many of us like that squeaky-clean feeling after we’ve showered, brushed our teeth, and washed our face. Everything feels fresh! And for some, the feeling of tight skin after cleansing is associated with that clean feeling.

However, while squeaky-clean is great for your windows or countertops, the same isn’t true for your skin. Skin shouldn’t feel tight after cleansing. Rather, it should feel smooth, moisturized and refreshed.

Harsh Cleansers

If your skin feels tight after cleansing, your cleanser might be too strong for your skin type, and could be damaging your skin. Over-the-counter bar or liquid soaps with a big, foamy lather can actually be high in pH levels (alkaline) that strip away your natural oil production. Our skin needs that protective acid mantle (a thin film on the surface of our skin) that acts as a barrier to bacteria, viruses and other harmful contaminants that can penetrate into the skin.

Our recommendation: choose a cleansing gel, soap or lotion that is “sulfate-free” and avoid ingredients like Sodium Lauryl (Laureth) Sulfate and Ammonium Lauryl (Laureth) Sulfate. These detergents can irritate your eyes and skin, and remove moisture. When our skin is stripped entirely of our natural oil production, it can lead to skin issues. 

Too-Hot Water

Taking a hot shower feels great -- no argument there. But although our bodies like the feel of hot water, our skin doesn’t.

Skin is the only organ that protects us from the outside environment. It’s smart enough to automatically build an acid mantle on the layer of our skin to prevent toxins from entering, but when we use overly hot water, it strips that natural oil and causes our skin to feel too tight.

Use lukewarm water when washing your face to avoid losing moisture and prevent your skin from getting dry or irritated.

Over-Washing

Cleansing your face more than twice a day can leave your skin dehydrated, dry and dull. If you have oily skin, you may want to change your facial moisturizer or try adding a facial toner to balance your skin’s pH level, instead of over-washing your skin. Our skin needs moisture to stay healthy and supple, and too much washing can remove that much-needed moisture.

Over-exfoliating can also damage the skin's lipid barrier, which can make your face red, puffy, or even swollen. The excessive scrubbing can remove the layers of your skin, and also remove helpful elastin and collagen. Give your skin time between exfoliating, as these proteins keep our skin flexible and elastic.

Why is it Bad to Have Tight Skin After Washing?

When your skin is stripped of moisture, you’re more prone to developing fine lines and wrinkles. It also tampers with your natural oil production, which may lead to faster oil production. This can, in turn, actually lead to more breakouts. 

It works like this: when our skin is dehydrated, it confuses oil with moisture. It overcompensates by producing more oil, when in reality your skin needs ingredients that deliver water to the cells, like hyaluronic acid, propylene glycol, alpha hydroxy acids, urea, or glycerin/glycerol. When these naturally-derived ingredients are used in your cleansers and moisturizers (without the addition of harsh chemicals), you’ll find your face no longer feels tight. Instead, it should feel refreshed, supple and smooth.

Moisturizer After Cleansing

After cleansing, immediately apply moisturizer within 60 seconds. This way, your skin can seal in the moisture while it's damp and prevent tightness or dryness.

We also recommend using lotions and creams with natural ingredients that are gentle on skin, like shea butter, cocoa butter, jojoba, and aloe vera. Try adding plant-based facial oils to improve skin's elasticity, and to help reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

Moisturizing regularly can reduce skin problems, and help to keep your complexion looking and feeling youthful and balanced.

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