How to Keep Water From Running Down Your Arms When You Wash Your Face

Photo: kei907, Shutterstock
Photo: kei907, Shutterstock

Wait, so it’s not just me? I thought when I first saw this Reddit thread on how to wash your face without making a drippy mess. If you have water in your hands, and your hands are up at face level, water will drip down your elbows and onto your counter or floor. Thanks, gravity. Well, it turns out that not only is this a common problem and not a “me” problem, there are multiple solutions.

Avoid the sink

Personally, I go for the cop-out: I don’t wash my face unless I’m in the shower. My face doesn’t really need more frequent washing than that. If I had a twice-a-day skincare routine, though, this would only be a partial solution.

If I do need to wash my face without showering, facial wipes or makeup-remover wipes are often good enough. But sometimes I still need a full sink washing (to scrub off waterproof eyeliner, say), so let’s consider some other options.

Apply cleanser to your dry face

This one popped up in the comments on reddit, and Lifehacker writer A. A. Newton also swears by it. “Soap suds/wet cleanser suds don’t drip down your elbows but water does,” she says. You can wipe your face with a wet washcloth before applying the cleanser, if you like. This takes care of the lathering stage.

After washing, wipe the suds off with a damp washcloth, rinsing the washcloth repeatedly if needed. Or you can rinse in a more traditional way by combining this method with our next hack:

Keep your face lower than your elbows

Water can’t drip down your elbows if your elbows aren’t down. You can do your entire face-washing protocol while you’re head-down in your sink, or start the lathering before applying water, like we discussed above.

Resign yourself to the dripping, and limit the damage

Maybe none of those sound great solutions to you. In that case, wash your face as usual, but take measures to make the elbow drips less annoying.

First, roll up your sleeves, or just take off your shirt entirely. This method is ideal if the elbow-dripping is pretty minimal and your main complaint is getting your sleeves wet.

Second, you can try to stop the drips before they reach your elbow with a pair of absorbent scrunchies or sweatbands. I guess this one depends on whether you find soggy scrunchies more tolerable than drippy elbows.

The final hack is the simplest one, and it’s arguably also a sign that you’ve simply given up: Put a towel on the counter or floor — wherever the water tends to collect. Pick it up when you’re done, and wipe up any excess. Hey, you do what you have to.

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