How to Wash Your Face Correctly: Tips From Knockout Beauty Founder Cayli Cavaco Reck

The Mega Rinse. Credit: Christine Morrison

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While a national study revealed that nearly 80% of Americans wash their face incorrectly, given the influx of products, myths and research – particularly around aging – I would venture to say the number is closer to triple digits. Although a seemingly menial task, washing your face properly is vital to achieving healthy skin – and ensuring all your other skincare products work effectively.

TQE was thrilled to sit down with Cayli Cavaco Reck, founder of Knockout Beauty, for expert advice. While Cayli was born into the world of fashion (her parents legendarily worked at Vogue together), and started her career amongst designers post-college, skincare and beauty is her true calling. What began as an Instagram coined “Knocking on Forty” to discuss skincare has flourished into multiple retail locations and significant online presence, both selling curated brands, as well as a skincare consultancy.

Step away from the makeup wipes, as we learn how to properly wash our face from this skincare insider and expert.

Knockout Beauty Founder, Cayli Cavaco Reck
Credit: @knockoutbeauty

TQE: To kick things off, should you start with dry or wet skin?

CCR: “You want the products to work as they are intended, and that means being applied to a dry face (especially when wearing sunscreen!), so they can interact with the skin directly. If you are using a product like a cleansing booster, you may need to add a little water to ‘activate’ the product.”

TQE: How long should you wash your face – and what is the best water temperature?

CCR: “You need to recognize when your face feels clean, knowing that ‘squeaky’ does not mean clean. After working cleanser into your skin, make sure the makeup/sunscreen/dirt comes off with a mega rinse; the best indicator that you are done is when you feel the cleanser is all off. Some products (such as an oil cleanser or a balm) may require some ‘tooth’ to get them off so have a washcloth or muslin cloth available.

Depending on the cleanser, you may need to adjust the water temperature, but warm water is generally a good rule.”

TQE: Tell us more about the “mega rinse” – this is a signature step for you!

CCR: “The more water you use, the better – and the less you need a washcloth. Rinse as long as it takes, until you do not feel any residue. If you are wiping off makeup on your towel after cleansing, you need to go back in for another cleanse.”

TQE: When should you double cleanse? Do you always have to start with an oil cleanser?

CCR: “This idea, invented in Japan/South Korea, was about deeply cleansing skin to prepare it to accept the next ingredients. You don’t have to start with an oil cleanser; you just need to be using two different cleansing agents.

A prime reason to double cleanse is to remove makeup. By incorporating two variations of cleanser – starting with a hydrating, then following up with an enzyme cleanser (which can also be left on as a mask so the cleansing action occurs as you leave it on) you ensure you get off all of your makeup – and sunscreen.”

TQE: What do you think about the “Triple cleanse” – and when would this be necessary?

CCR: “A triple cleanse goes from thickest to thinnest. Starting with a balm, for example, to remove makeup, followed by a creamy cleanser then finishing with a gel cleanser. Most often a triple cleanse is done by those with acneic skin, as all the emollients need to be removed for the skin to get clean.”

TQE: How do you select the best cleanser(s)?

CCR: “We want a cleanser that balances our skin’s acidity – it gets off balance throughout the day from dirt, makeup, oils and more. Achieving the pH balance does not mean “squeaky clean” but rather striving for protected ‘normal’ (which is acidified) skin. A balm cleanser, for example, rarely provides pH balance skin needs.

To find your ideal cleanser, first consider your skin type and lifestyle. If you wear a lot of makeup/sunscreen, you need an emollient cleanser to get rid of the top layer. Between ages 30 and 65, a cleansing lotion works well.”

TQE: How much (and when) should you exfoliate?

CCR: “The frequency of exfoliation depends on your skin – and skin concerns. The goal is to have exfoliation reveal beautiful new skin, without causing any upset or damage. You don’t want this to lead to inflammation.

Because we slow down cell turnover with each decade, younger skin needs less exfoliation; aging skin requires it far more often as supplemental support.”

TQE: What do you think of makeup wipes?

CCR: “They just push dirt around.  They don’t lift or rinse the skin in any way. The chemicals used to preserve the wipes are also not good – often fragranced, not to mention bad for the environment. It’s no surprise that none of my favorite cleanser brands make wipes.

If you are going to use makeup wipes, don’t bother using any other skincare products. Either the molecules are too large, and ingredients cannot penetrate through, or the wipe is stripping your skin far too much.”

TQE: Do you need to wash morning and night?

CCR: “I care only about the science, not opinions, about this and it says we should be washing our face morning and night because a lot of the active ingredients we are asking the skin to take on (and use) require the ability to penetrate the skin. If we are not preparing the skin to receive the product, we have wasted our money.

Even without makeup to remove, you can’t just splash water on your face in the am. Washing your skin every morning is balancing the pH, allowing for product penetration (as you likely had on a heavy emollient the night before), and is an opportunity to rehydrate skin (we lose a liter of water at night).”

TQE: Do you need a toner to get skin clean?

CCR: “A toner is not a cleansing step, but it is an opportunity to further balance the skin and get a calming response. In addition, a toner allows for better penetration of your other products. It’s a step not to miss.”

TQE: Do you recommend any tools?

CCR: “I do like an Ultrasonic cleaner because it gives satisfaction to people who want to ‘squeeze things’ on their face. I don’t, however, like a cleansing brush not because of the brush, but due to the microbials living in them.

It’s far more important to become good at cleansing your face with your hands.”

Learn more from Cayli’s vast knowledge of skincare – and makeup - by visiting @knockoutbeauty, where she does nearly nightly IG lives, or website which features Cayli’s curated products and offers (even virtual!) skin consultations.

Start saving face with Cayli’s cleansing favorites:

Editrix

I. Demigod (Ayurvedic Cleansing Oil)

$85
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MSB Medical Spirit of Beauty

Cleanser 2+

$95
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Hyper!

Hyper Even Gentle Brightening Cleanser

$28
$28
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MBR Medical Beauty Research

Enzyme Cleansing Booster • Pure Perfection 100 N

$262
$262
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MSB Medical Spirit of Beauty

Day by Day Enzyme Powder

$180
$180
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Reflekt

Reflekt 1 Daily Exfoliating Face Wash

$34
$34
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January Labs

Pure & Gentle Cleansing Gel

$16
$16
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Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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