Cleansing your face the right way is not just a basic part of your skincare routine but a crucial step in how your skin looks and feels. If you haven’t been using the two-step technique and the two-minute rule, you’ve been doing it all wrong. Here’s how to get it right. Starting with a gentle cleanser is important. The right ingredients won’t dry out your skin and they allow moisturizing and antiaging products to absorb more effectively. A harsh face wash that strips your skin of natural emollients leaves moisturizer struggling trying to get skin back to its baseline. Follow up with the right technique to wake up your skin to its dewy, glowing best. This is what you need to know for your freshest face.

Find the right formula

Don’t spend on formulas with expensive retinol or antioxidants when you’re only going to wash them down the drain after 5 minutes. Save your money for leave-on products containing the same ingredients; they’re most effective when they linger on the skin. Look for the ingredients such as sulfate-free surfactants like cocamidopropyl betaine or caprylic triglyceride. Formulas that contain replenishing ingredients like glycerin hydrate at the same time they cleanse.

Make sure the ingredients list doesn’t contain fragrance, which can be irritating; parabens, which are potentially toxic preservatives; or harsh soap, which is drying. Avoid alcohol, which can be abrasive to skin.

Choosing cream, lotion, foaming is a matter of personal preference. People with dry skin may prefer formulas with added moisturizers, like glycerin or shea butter. Those with oily skin may favor a foaming wash that leaves skin feeling super clean.

Learn the two-step technique

Tackle cleansing in two steps.  Take off makeup before you wash your face to get rid of stubborn concealer or foundation. Pay special attention to areas around the eyes and nose. Many cleansers can’t dissolve concealer, sunscreen or foundation completely. Use an oil-based cream, an emollient wipe or a cleansing oil, and rinse with lukewarm water and a dime-size amount of cleanser on your fingers or a clean, damp washcloth.

Debate continues on how often you should cleanse. Should you wash your face every a.m. and p.m. or just once at night?

Some dermatologists say simply splashing your face with water when you first wake up in the morning or skipping the a.m. cleansing altogether is a big mistake. Your skin likely will have leftover skincare product still on it from your p.m. routine. On top of that, think about the debris from your pillowcase that’s been pushed into your pores all night.

Other derms counter that those with very dry or sensitive skin should cleanse once daily in the evening.

If the thought of leftover nighttime gunk is enough to convince you about morning cleansing, don’t overdo. All skincare experts agree that over-washing can dry out your skin and lead to irritation. Common sense should tell you to always wash your face after a workout to prevent breakouts. Excessively oily skin needs cleansing both morning and night.

Apply the two-minute timer

Take enough time to get skin completely clean. The same 2-minute rule you use for brushing your teeth works equally well for glowing skin. Lather up for 60 seconds, rinse for another 60 seconds and then pat skin dry.

Leaving behind tiny traces of makeup or even cleansing product will prevent the amazing and expensive follow-up treatment from penetrating properly. While your skin is still damp, start applying the next treatments. The moisture on your skin can help to pull the next moisturizer or treatment into your skin. If you get distracted and allow your face to dry, simply wet skin again with a spritz of hydrating essence.

Read More: This Is How You Should *Really* Be Washing Your Face