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Reasons to Avoid Using a Hand Towel to Dry Your Face

Reasons to Avoid Using a Hand Towel to Dry Your Face

Many people start their mornings by cleansing their face to freshen up, eliminating sweat and dirt accumulated overnight. While there’s a temptation to experiment with various skincare products and follow trendy beauty routines, there’s a crucial item in the bathroom that may harbor bacteria, potentially counteracting the benefits of expensive skincare products. “Beauty routines”

Consultant dermatologist Dr. Jinah Yoo warns that hand towels in the bathroom can accumulate dirt and natural skin bacteria. Despite the common practice of using the same towel for both washing and drying the face, Yoo advises individuals to use a separate towel specifically for their facial hygiene. “Beauty routines”

While it’s widely known that towels harbor numerous germs and bacteria, the extent of their filthiness might come as a surprise to many. A study conducted in 2014 demonstrated that coliform bacteria were present on 89 percent of towels, with over 25 percent showing traces of E. coli.

Understanding the significant bacterial presence on towels may lead individuals to reconsider using the same cloth to dry their face.

Transfer of Bacteria

The next time you reach for the bathroom towel to dry your face, take a moment to think about all the surfaces your hands have come into contact with and how frequently you use that same towel to dry them.


Yoo, the founder of Maylin x Jinah Yoo Dermatology, emphasized to he beauty here that using the same towel for both face and body isn’t just about transferring bacteria and fungus. She pointed out that fragrances, moisturizers, and hair products left on the towel can lead to breakouts, pore blockages, and skin irritation.

Yoo highlighted that when combined with dead skin cells and natural oils, this creates a mix that can trigger acne flares and infections.

To address this issue, Yoo suggested ideally washing towels after each use, although up to three uses may be acceptable.

A YouGov survey from 2019 found that most respondents washed their towels after two or three uses, with 32 percent adhering to this hygiene practice. About 23 percent admitted to washing towels only after four or five uses.

Interestingly, 16 percent of the 2,900 participants reported washing towels after every use, while 6 percent were unsure how many times they used their towel before washing it.

Yoo warned that bathroom towels can serve as a “perfect breeding ground for bacteria,” potentially harming the skin’s barrier and worsening acne issues.

She explained that when towels are wet, they can transfer fungus and bacteria to the skin, leading to breakouts. Additionally, aggressive drying with a towel can inflame the skin, causing a condition called acne mechanica.

Acne mechanica arises from constant pressure and friction on the skin, which can disrupt the skin’s lipid barrier and dehydrate the epidermis. For those with acne-prone skin, Yoo recommended thoroughly washing towels after each use or replacing them every three uses.

Let It Dry Air Dry Instead

Realizing the extent to which our towels harbor bacteria can be quite unsettling, leading some individuals to consider abandoning their use altogether. Dr. Adrienne O’Connell, a medical director and president of Laguna Beach Aesthetics, advocates for skipping towel usage entirely and allowing the skin to air-dry instead.


O’Connell shared with HE BEAUTY HERE her perspective on the dilemma of drying the face after washing. She advises her patients to opt for air-drying for several reasons.

Firstly, air-drying bypasses the risk of using a towel that could harbor bacteria and potentially cause irritation if rubbed against the face. Additionally, when the face is allowed to air-dry, it facilitates better absorption of post-wash skincare products due to the skin retaining some moisture.

To avoid the potential transfer of bacteria from towels, O’Connell suggests air-drying as the preferred option. However, if using a towel is unavoidable, she recommends using a dedicated facial towel and changing it daily. Furthermore, she advises washing towels in water heated to at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit to effectively eliminate bacteria.

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