Face Wash vs. Facial Cleanser: What's the Difference?

Face Washes vs. Facial Cleansers: Which Is the Best for Your Skin Type?

We’ve all heard of face washes and face cleansers. But aren’t they the same thing? If you’ve found yourself wondering what they are and which one’s best for you, you’re in the right place! In this article, we’ll cover everything from what a face wash and face cleanser is, to how to determine which one’s best for your skin type.

What is a Face Wash?

A face wash is water-based product that gets foamy when massaged into the skin and is used to cleanse skin. Face washes often contain astringents, which allow them to remove deep-seated dirt. Astringents are like toners and are used to cleanse skin, fight oil and tighten pores.

What is a Face Cleanser?

A face cleanser is a product used to remove dirt from the surface of the skin. Face cleansers remove makeup, oils and other dirt that may have accumulated on the skin.

What is the difference between a Face Wash and a Face Cleanser?

Like face washes, face cleansers are products used to rid the skin of dirt. However, the two products serve different purposes and provide different results. The table below highlights the differences between a face wash and a face cleanser.

Which one is better for your skin type?

Each skin type has distinctive characteristics and needs. Some skin types need intensive care whereas others thrive on delicate care. You’ll need to give a lot of consideration to your skin type to determine whether you need a face wash or face cleanser. Here’s a list to guide you:

  • Oily Skin-Face Wash. Oily skin is skin that produces excess sebum. A face wash will work better on oily skin because it serves the purpose of removing dirt from deeper layers of the skin. The astringent properties and foaming action found in face washes cleanse pores and wash away excess sebum.
  • Sensitive Skin-Face Cleanser. Sensitive skin is skin that is more prone to irritations and reactions such as redness or itchiness. Face cleansers work best on sensitive skin because they are mild, work on the skin’s surface and have hydrating properties.
  • Dry Skin-Face Cleanser. Dry skin is skin that doesn’t have enough moisture and is rough, flaky or scaly in appearance. Face cleansers work best on this skin type because they are full of moisturizing properties which can hydrate the skin. They are also mild and so they won’t strip away any sebum but replenish the moisture in the skin.
  • Combination Skin-Face Wash and Face Cleanser. Combination skin is skin that shows characteristics of both oily skin and dry skin. People with this skin type can benefit from using both a face wash to remove deep seated dirt and a face cleanser to hydrate the skin.

Can Face Wash & Face Cleansers Be Used Together?

Depending on your skin type and preferences, you can use both a face wash and face cleanser. This is called double-cleansing and can be done daily or sparingly. Begin with a face cleanser to remove grime, makeup or oil and follow with a face wash to remove any residue. Double cleansing may be particularly helpful to people with oily and sensitive skin.

If you have a normal skin tone or don’t prefer to double-cleanse, you can still add a face wash and face cleanser to your skin routine and use them at different time. Start with a face cleanser in the morning and use a face wash at the end of the day.

Benefits of Face Cleansing and Face Washing

Face cleanser and face wash play another part in skincare and maintaining healthy skin. Sone of the benefits of each include:

Face Cleanser

  • Removes grime, makeup, and other unwanted particles from the surface of the skin.
  • Hydrates the face and keeps it from looking rough, dry or wrinkled.
  • Maintains the smoothness and youthful appearance of the skin.

Face Wash

  • Clears away deep and built-up dirt
  • Helps exfoliate the skin by sweeping away dead skin cells and revealing a new layer of skin.
  • Improves blood circulation in the face by the process of massaging the product onto the face.
  • Helps skin maintain a more youthful appearance.

Frequently asked questions about face cleansing & face washing

  • Which is better face wash or cleanser?
    Face washes and face cleansers are both effective when it comes to cleaning the face. However, they serve different purposes and cleanse the skin differently. Face washes are deep cleansing and better suited for oily, combination and acne-prone skin whereas face cleansers are good for dry, sensitive and mature skin.
  • Should I use cleanser and face wash?
    You can use both products and either one based on your skin type. Using both products, called double cleansing, can be helpful to people with combination skin or oily sensitive skin.
  • Should you use face wash or cleanser first?
    If you decide to double cleanse, begin with a face cleanser. This will remove makeup or any oil and dirt on your face. Follow with a face wash for a deeper clean.
  • Should I use a cleanser or just water?
    You should use a cleanser to effectively get oil, dirt, or makeup off your face. Water alone can’t clear your face of grime but mild products like face cleansers can help do the trick.
  • How do you know if you need a cleanser?
    If your skin feels too oily, dry, or congested, this may be a sign you need a face cleanser. Cleansing is an essential part in maintaining healthy skin and it’s important to cleanse twice a day to rid your skin of dirt and impurities.