The sensation of a burning face during washing can be puzzling and concerning, prompting a closer look at the potential causes behind this discomfort. Understanding why your face burns when washing is crucial for maintaining skin health and comfort.

Several factors, including skincare products, water temperature, skin conditions like rosacea or sensitivity, and even certain ingredients in cleansers, can contribute to this sensation. Identifying the root cause of facial burning sensations can lead to adjustments in your skincare routine, product selection, or seeking professional advice for tailored solutions.

Delving deeper into this issue can help you achieve a soothing and effective cleansing routine for your skin's well-being. So, let's dive into some possible reasons why your face may burn when you wash it and explore ways to alleviate the discomfort.

Importance of pH Balance in Skincare

One possible culprit for a burning face during washing is the pH level of your skincare products. The skin's natural pH balance is slightly acidic, ranging from 4.5 to 5.5, which helps maintain a healthy barrier against bacteria and environmental factors. Any disruption in this balance can lead to irritation, dryness, and other skin issues.

Many cleansers have a high pH level, which can disrupt the skin's natural balance when used on the face. This can cause the skin to feel tight, itchy, or even burn during and after washing. It is essential to choose cleansers with a pH level close to that of the skin, preferably between 4 and 6, for gentle yet effective cleansing without causing discomfort.

Reasons Why Does My Face Burn When I Wash It

Aside from pH levels, there are several reasons why your face may burn during washing. Let's explore some of the other possible causes and how to address them:

Skincare Products

One common culprit behind a burning feeling on the face during washing is skincare products. Some cleansers and toners can contain ingredients that may irritate or sensitize the skin, causing a burning sensation when applied. It's essential to pay attention to the ingredients in your skincare products and opt for gentle formulas suitable for your skin type.

If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, it's best to avoid products with harsh chemicals like sulfates, alcohol, and fragrances. Instead, look for gentle and soothing ingredients like aloe vera, chamomile, or cucumber extract. Also, be mindful of using exfoliating products too frequently, as they can irritate the skin and cause burning sensations.

Water Temperature

The temperature of the water you use to wash your face can also play a role in the burning sensation. Extremely hot or cold water can strip the skin's natural oils and disrupt its barrier, leading to dryness, redness, and irritation.

It's best to rinse your face with lukewarm water, which is gentle on the skin and helps maintain its moisture balance. Irritated skin may also benefit from a cold compress after washing to soothe any burning or discomfort.

Skin Conditions

Skin conditions like rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis can cause facial burning during washing due to their underlying inflammation and sensitivity. These conditions require special care and attention, as harsh products or hot water can aggravate them further. 

Another possible cause of burning skin is that you are experiencing an allergy to an ingredient in the product. This can cause contact dermatitis, which presents itself as a red, itchy rash that can feel like a burn. If you experience this type of reaction, discontinue the use of the product and seek medical advice.

Ingredient Sensitivities

Some individuals may have specific ingredient sensitivities that can cause a burning feeling on the face when washing. This could be due to allergies or intolerances to certain chemicals, fragrances, or even natural extracts. If you experience a burning sensation with certain products, it's best to discontinue use and consult a dermatologist for patch testing.

Environmental Factors

Finally, environmental factors like pollution, wind, and extreme temperatures can also contribute to a burning sensation on the face during washing. These external stressors can weaken the skin's barrier and make it more susceptible to irritation.

It's crucial to protect your skin from these factors by using a gentle cleanser, applying moisturizer and sunscreen regularly, and avoiding prolonged exposure to harsh weather conditions.

Tips for Alleviating Facial Burning

Now that we've explored some possible reasons for facial burning during washing, here are some tips to help alleviate the discomfort and maintain a healthy skin barrier:

  • Choose skincare products with gentle and soothing ingredients suitable for your skin type. Face wash should have a pH level close to that of the skin (4-6).
  • Be mindful of water temperature and use lukewarm water to wash your face.
  • If you have a diagnosed skin condition, follow the recommended treatment plan and consult a dermatologist for tailored skincare advice.
  • If you experience burning sensations with certain products, discontinue use and opt for alternatives with different ingredients.
  • Consider incorporating a facial oil or moisturizer into your routine to help strengthen the skin barrier and reduce sensitivity.

What Are Some of the Most Common Cleansing Mistakes?

Along with understanding the causes of a burning face during washing, it's essential to be aware of common cleansing mistakes that can contribute to this issue. Some of these include:

  • Overwashing: Washing your face too frequently or for extended periods can strip away its natural oils and disrupt its barrier, leading to skin irritation and dryness.
  • Not removing makeup properly: Leaving traces of makeup on the skin can clog pores and cause inflammation, leading to a burning sensation during washing.
  • Using rough cloths or towels: Aggressive scrubbing with rough materials can irritate the skin and lead to a burning feeling during washing. It's best to use soft cloths or your hands for gentle cleansing.

Glycolic acid, salicylic acid, or benzoyl peroxide are some active ingredients often found in facial cleansers and toners that can cause a burning sensation if used too frequently or incorrectly.

What type of Cleanser Should I use for Dry, Sensitive Skin?

If you have dry, sensitive skin and experience facial burning during washing, it's essential to choose a gentle cleanser with a low pH level and soothing ingredients. Look for products labeled as "mild," "sensitive," or "gentle" and avoid harsh chemicals like sulfates, alcohol, and fragrances. Skin cells need a balanced pH to function correctly, and using a cleanser with a pH level closer to that of the skin can help maintain its barrier and prevent dryness and irritation.

Some recommended cleanser options for dry, sensitive skin include:

  • Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
  • Aveeno Ultra-Calming Hydrating Gel Cleanser
  • La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Face Cleanser

Remember to patch-test any new products before incorporating them into your routine, and consult a dermatologist for personalized skincare recommendations. Skin care is not one-size-fits-all, and by understanding the causes of facial burning during washing and making mindful choices, you can maintain a healthy, comfortable complexion.

Signs You Have a Damaged Skin Barrier

If you experience burning during washing and notice other signs like redness, dryness, flakiness, or increased sensitivity, it could be a sign of a damaged skin barrier. This is your skin's protective barrier layer that helps retain moisture and keep irritants out.

When the skin barrier is compromised, it can lead to various issues like acne, eczema, and increased sensitivity. It's crucial to take the necessary steps to repair and strengthen your skin barrier, such as using gentle products, avoiding overwashing, and incorporating moisturizers and serums into your routine.

Skin reacts to different factors, and it's essential to listen to its needs and adjust your skincare accordingly. Board-certified dermatologist Dr Ava Shamban suggests gently cleansing and moisturizing twice a day as the most important steps in maintaining a healthy skin barrier.

How to Heal a Damaged Skin Barrier

Some tips for healing a damaged skin barrier include:

  • Avoiding harsh products: As mentioned earlier, using gentle and soothing ingredients is crucial for repairing the skin barrier. Avoid products with harsh chemicals or fragrances that can further irritate the skin. To fix allergic reaction skin, look for products with ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide. Alpha hydroxy acids and vitamin C can also help improve skin texture and function.
  • Incorporating moisturizers and serums: Using hydrating products like facial oils, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides can help repair the skin barrier and retain moisture.
  • Protecting from environmental stressors: As mentioned earlier, pollution, wind, and extreme temperatures can damage the skin barrier. Protect your skin by using a moisturizer with SPF during the day and avoiding prolonged exposure to these factors.

If you continue to experience facial burning despite taking these measures, it's best to consult a dermatologist for further evaluation and personalized recommendations.


Is it good if face wash burns?

No, it is not normal or beneficial for your face wash to burn. It could be a sign of irritation or an underlying skin condition, and it's essential to address the issue and find suitable products that do not cause burning sensations during washing.

Why does my face burn when I shower?

Your face may burn when you shower due to hot water, harsh cleansers, or other factors that can irritate the skin and disrupt its barrier. It's best to use lukewarm water and gentle products for cleansing to avoid this issue.

Can I use soap to wash my face?

It's not recommended to use regular soap on your face as it can be too harsh and strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness and irritation. Instead, opt for a gentle facial cleanser specifically formulated for the face.

How often should I wash my face?

The frequency of washing your face depends on your skin type and lifestyle. Generally, it is recommended to cleanse twice a day - once in the morning and once at night before bed. Overwashing can strip the skin of its natural oils and disrupt its barrier, so it's essential to find a balance that works for your skin.


When your face burns after washing, it could be due to various factors. The sensation of burning could be a result of using hot water, harsh cleansers, or products with irritating ingredients that strip the skin's natural oils. 

Additionally, underlying skin conditions like rosacea, eczema, or allergies may also contribute to this discomfort. It's essential to evaluate your skincare routine, opt for gentle cleansers suitable for your skin type, and avoid over-washing or scrubbing vigorously.

Consulting a dermatologist can help identify any specific triggers or conditions causing the burning sensation and provide tailored solutions for a healthier and more comfortable skincare regimen. Prioritizing skin health through gentle care and appropriate products is key to avoiding unnecessary irritation and discomfort.

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