For the longest time, whenever my friends and co-workers asked about cleansing products with hyped ingredients, I’d answer: “It doesn’t matter. How long does that stay on your skin? Like 10 seconds? That’s not enough for any ingredient to work.”
Turns out, I was wrong.
To be pedantic, though, I’m also right: If you’re racing through your washing routine in under a minute, that’s not giving much time for “special ingredients” to work. But I was wrong to assume that having green tea or rose extracts in your cleanser was solely a marketing gimmick.
Active ingredients are great for people with specific concerns and a minimal routine — but for any kind of cleanser to work its best magic, you need to be gently washing your skin for 60 seconds.
Imagine trying to add fresh paint after barely sanding off old paint. It might look OK, but you’re just an extra minute away from it being better.
The magic of following the #60SecondRule
There’s no verified study about how long you should be washing your face. Most sites say 20 to 30 seconds, which could be based off the .
So, where does 60 seconds historically come from? Likely aesthetician experience, user trial and error, and word of mouth.
From my experience as a self-experimenter and someone who used to get facials once a week as a teen, 60 seconds makes sense. Sixty seconds is about the time cycle every facialist has spent massaging my skin with cleansers and creams.
It just didn’t occur to me to think about it again until Nayamka Roberts-Smith of LaBeautyologist retweeted Cosmo’s story about her 60-second rule. In one tweet, I got all the flashbacks of my 22-year-old self, fresh out of college, struggling to find my identity again, and fighting acne breakouts that terrorized my self-esteem.
After trying product after diet after picking pores open, I finally adopted an oil-cleansing routine recommended by r/SkincareAddiction. It involved massaging my face for a minute or two with oils, a hot towel, and mandelic acid toner. Within a week, my whiteheads, acne, and blackheads disappeared.
And for years, I thought the toner was my answer.
But in the last nine months, after seeing a skin care specialist to repair my skin barrier, I’ve toned down on acids and 10-step routines. While my skin improved drastically, it was still missing *dat glow*.
Thanks to Roberts-Smith, I realize it may actually be the 60-second rule.
For the last two nights, I’ve also dipped my toes back into intentionally washing my skin for a full minute.
On the first day, a minute felt like torture, especially given how bad my mental health was, but I worked around it using “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” to distract and time myself. (A played-out scene in comedy is approximately two to three minutes.)
For the first 15 or so seconds, as I massaged my skin, nothing much happened. But around the 30-sec mark, I started to feel little balls of dirt and grime pilling up between my fingers and on my face.
Just as Roberts-Smith promised, things were unclogging. If you’ve never been baptized, or have been baptized, well, one minute of cleansing is essentially what you’re doing to your skin — blessing the s*** out of it.
As proof that it really works, my cotton pads have stayed white after I’ve wiped my face down with toner. In the past, I assumed the toner helped remove extra grime because my cleanser sucked. Turns out, I don’t know how to wash my face well enough to effectively soften dirt and dissolve sebum blockage.
Plus, all that wasted product! My toners, serums, and essences were probably less effective because my skin barrier was less than optimal. Imagine trying to add fresh paint after barely sanding off old paint. It might look OK, but you’re just an extra minute away from it being better.
A minute is something most people can afford
For most skin care enthusiasts, you probably already spend 15 seconds of that minute washing your face, and going on a little longer won’t hurt. For people who don’t wash their face at all, try doing this in the shower. And if you really have a hard time not rushing through, think about investing in a tool, like a Clarisonic or a kojac sponge, to slow you down.
I’m going to keep up with this rule for a long time.
I’m not sure why I forgot about it (yes I do, it’s definitely laziness), but I’m so glad Roberts-Smith has re-blessed everyone with this knowledge. I’d post photos, but my skin has always been photographically fine, and problems are so minimal compared to the real concerns Roberts-Smith has helped others clear up with her rule.
If you do want to see amazing results, others who have been on this train forever have been posting to the #60SecondRule hashtag on Twitter.
As for me, I’m going to keep doing this every night. Maybe it was a case of brain drain, but I’d given up on optimizing my skin for the last few months. While the relief of not caring — resigning that it is what it is — and not spending more money or wishing I was wearing someone else’s skin has been nice, the excitement of thicker, more resilient, smoother, and softer skin is just admittedly better.
And it only takes one minute.
Christal Yuen is an editor at Healthline who writes and edits content revolving around sex, beauty, health, and wellness. She’s constantly looking for ways to help readers forge their own health journey. You can find her on Twitter.