Cleanser Vs Face Wash: Which is Better?

cleanser vs face wash

Our content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. We pride ourselves on our high-quality content and strive towards offering expertise while being authoritative. Our reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students.


Confused in the debate: ‘cleanser vs face wash?’ Face cleansers and face washes have always been on the debate of skincare because of their different usages for different skin. But which one is better?

We all wash our faces at the end of the day, or sometimes early in the morning, because it keeps our skin clean from dirt and leaves us feeling fresh. After a long day, we often wash our face to remove makeup, remove dirt, remove excess oil from our face, and while a soap bar was what we used earlier, washers and cleansers took their place.

Using a soap bar is harmful to our faces as it is one of the sensitive parts of our body, and while a soap bar does the job of cleaning, it can be very harsh to our skin.

cleanser vs face wash

Soap bars and body washes are known to contain sodium lauryl sulfate, which is a common skin irritant but is not available in both cleanser and face wash, so it is safe to use on the face. Therefore wash your face using a cleanser or a face wash, but which one is the best for you? Cleaner vs. face wash?

There is a lot of confusion as to the difference between a cleanser and a face wash. Most of the time, they are often mistaken for the same thing, but apart from the similarity of removing the dirt from your face, cleansers and face washes are quite different things.

Before we conclude the debate cleanser vs. face wash, let us first understand the function of each.

Cleanser VS Face Wash:

Before we finalize cleanser vs. face wash, let’s first understand what these are.


Cleansers are the gentlest facial cleansers available in the world. While they do the job of cleansing your face, they aim to keep the moisture of your face intact. They, of course, remove dirt, but in doing so, they also hydrate your skin so that you don’t feel dryness in your skin.

It is considered a suitable product for many skin types. Contrary to what many may say or believe, facial cleansers can also sometimes be used by a person with oily skin. When the skin feels a little tight or dry, it helps in smoothing it over.

cleanser vs face wash

The texture of a cleanser is always thick compared to a face wash. The usual textures of facial cleansers are milky, creamy, gel, or even water, which by using does not strip away the natural oil in your face, therefore, keeping the skin smooth and hydrated.

Cleansers are typically suited for people with dry or sensitive skin types, although it is not exactly restricted like that. Anyone can prefer a cleanser over a face wash and vice versa. It all depends on how the skin feels after using it; that matters. If your skin feels great after its usage, then it can be a great addition to your daily skincare routine.

Face Wash:

While facial cleansers are the gentlest form of washing your face, a face cleanser settles on a less gentle side. Some may even call it a substitute for soap as, unlike a face cleanser, it contains sodium lauryl sulfate.

Unlike a typical thick consistency of a cleanser, face washes, on the other hand, are foamy or will lather to a foamy texture when applied to your damp skin. Face washes are made to clear the pores and remove the excess oil on the face when it gets greasy. Some may even say that a face wash is a bit harsh on their skin, but it all narrows down to the type of skin they have.

cleanser vs face wash

A foaming face wash is usually suited for acne-prone skin or a combination of oily skin because it helps in effectively removing dirt that can get clogged in the skin, creating breakouts.

A combination skin type has the option of switching between face washes and cleansers as it suits them best because a cleanser can give them soothing skin, and a face wash can clear their skin. People with this skin type can use both switchings whenever they want.

For oily skin and acne-prone skin, face wash seems the right option because it helps clean the skin, giving it a sort of matte look, leaving it refreshed.


Benefits of Using Face Cleanser:

1. Hydration:

Hydrating the body by drinking plenty of water is important as it helps in fighting the chapped lips and the dryness that comes with dehydration. While drinking water does help keep the skin hydrated from the inside, protecting the skin from the outside is just as crucial. That is where a face cleanser comes in.

cleanser vs face wash

The thick texture of a face cleanser helps in clearing the dirt out while locking the hydration in the skin, keeping it healthy. Using a face cleanser followed by a moisturizer before going to bed will help the skin feel refreshed and clean.

2. Exfoliating Skin:

Exfoliation is the removal of dead skin cells on the top layer of the skin. After exfoliating, the skin will feel a lot more refreshed. Exfoliating the skin will help keep it looking healthy, fresh, and young; it also gives the skin a little healthy glow.

cleanser vs face wash

Gel cleansers are more of the exfoliating skin type. The cleanser’s gel texture helps reach the pores and clean them, resulting in fewer breakouts. Gel cleansers are suitable for all skin types as exfoliating the skin is healthy. Exfoliating the skin helps in many ways, like reducing fine lines, slowing the aging process, and helps in achieving healthy-looking younger skin.

Benefits of Using Face Wash:

1. Deep Cleaning:

A face wash that creates foam when applied to wet skin cleans the face more effectively than a cleanser. After wetting your face, you take a couple of pumps of it and lather it, which creates a foamy texture, and the foamy texture reaches deep into your skin, giving a deep cleaning to your face removing dirt, makeup, excess oil, and all impurities and finally rinse it off with water.

Face washes are often used by acne-prone people and have an oily skin type because it helps with the deep cleaning that helps prevent clogged pores, reducing the number of breakouts. Although some may say that face washes are a bit harsh on the skin, it is not the case for all; dry skin types can stay away from face washes as it is harsh on their skin.

cleanser vs face wash

2. Maintaining Clear Skin:

Face washes, as said earlier, deep cleans the skin leaving it clean and neat. Everyday usage of it helps in keeping the clogged pores at bay and therefore keeping the skin clear. But we should always use a moisturizer after using a face wash or even a cleanser so that the moisture in your face is contained and not stripped away.

Keeping the skin clean and moisturized is important so that you don’t clog it up or dry it to the point of getting wrinkles. Cleaning is as much as important as moisturizing, so use a cleanser that fits your skin type and moisturizes it then and there.

Key Differences:

Here are the major key differences for you to identify between a face cleanser and a face wash as nowadays people tend to call a face wash a cleanser. These differences will help you figure it out:

1. Consistency:

The first difference you will notice between a cleanser vs. face wash is that a cleanser will be thick, kind of like a moisturizer, creamy or milky, or also in a gel consistency whereas, on the other hand, a face wash will be foamy or will lather into foams, as a hand washes. Even with their differences, they perform the same tasks.

cleanser vs face wash

2. Cleaning:

Both a facial cleanser and a face wash have been created to wash your face, obviously, but they have their differences when it comes to that. Washing your face with a cleanser is not 100% effective, but they do get the top layer of makeup and dirt off of your face if that’s what you want.

If you want to reach a bit deeper, nitpicking to get all of the dirt and makeup out, then a face wash will do a lot better job at it than the cleanser. If you have dry skin, then it is good to apply moisturizer after using a face wash as it can be a little harsh on sensitive and dry skin. Although generally, it is quite good to apply moisturizer after washing your face.

Cleanser VS Face Wash:

Finally, now that you know a cleanser and a face wash, let’s get to which is better? Cleanser vs. face wash? It really does depend on your skin type and your comfortableness to cleanser vs. face wash.

Anyone can try both and see which suits them better. Still, statistically, a cleanser has been opted by people with sensitive or dry skin as it isn’t harsh on their skin, and a face wash has been opted by people with combination or oily skin as it helps them keep their face away from a few breakouts.

cleanser vs face wash

So it is totally up to you to see to cleanser vs. face wash debate, but you can also try double-cleansing. This is a method used by many. In double-cleansing, first, you wash your face with an oil-based cleanser and then a water-based cleanser. The first time you cleanse, you clear the makeup, dirt, and excess oil, and the second time you provide your skin with hydration, exfoliation, and treats acne.

Cleanser vs. face wash depends on you, but you can always reach a dermatologist when your skin needs extra care, so you know what is better for you.

Our content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. We pride ourselves on our high-quality content and strive towards offering expertise while being authoritative. Our reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students. -----------------------------------

Any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.


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