Face Wash vs Cleansers

Our daily routines have increased the amount of "pollution" exposure to our skin. As a result, washing one's face has become something of a necessary habit.

If we rewind the clock by a few decades, people only had access to soap. Or, for the lucky few, various oils and creams (and even mudpacks) to clean one's face.

Today, we are faced with a new problem: one of too many choices! There are face washes, cleansers, balms and more.

But not many people are aware of the differences between a face wash and a cleanser, and consider them the same.

In this latest blog we explain the differences between the two so that our readers will know which to use according to their facial needs.

Cleansers vs. face washes

Cleansers are mild, non-foaming products that moisturize the skin whilst at the same time removing oils and impurities. This moisturizing benefit makes them best for dry and sensitive skin types. Cleansers can be found in cream, oil and powders. Our favourite type is an oil cleanser because it does the work of deep cleaning pores without stripping the skin of its natural moisture barrier. 

Face washes are also designed to remove dirt, although they have a stronger cleansing effect on your skin than cleanser. Similar to soaps and shower gels, face washes lather up as you apply it - helping to remove stubborn dirt from your skin. Gel and foam formulations are the most common types of face washes.

Before choosing a product that matches your skin type, it is important to know the main differences between cleansers and face washes.


  • Non-foaming
  • Contain mild, moisturizing ingredients to nourish your skin
  • Best suited for dry and sensitive skin
  • Include cream, lotion, oil and powder

    Face washes:

    • Lather
    • Contain powerful ingredients for deep cleansing
    • Best suited for oily and acne-prone skin
    • Include gel and foam

      How to use a cleanser

      We advise using a cleanser once or twice a day. This ensures that oils and other foreign bodies that have built up during the day have been removed. This prevents your pores from becoming clogged with dirt, which would otherwise lead to those unwanted blackheads and pimples.

      Cleansing twice daily also hydrates and moisturizes your skin, leaving dry patches softer and smoother.

      Most cleansers need to be rinsed off with warm water. Occasionally they are designed to be applied with a cotton pad and left on the skin to hydrate it throughout the day or night (just the cleanser mind you not the cotton pad). So it is best to check the product guidelines.

      How to use the face wash

      Face washes can be used up to twice daily for particularly oily skin.

      First dampen your skin with some warm water before massaging the face wash onto face. A foam will form which is then used to remove stubborn dirt.

      Be sure to rinse thoroughly with warm water afterwards and follow with a hydrating toner. Otherwise, your skin will be dried out.

      How long should one use a Face Wash Vs. Cleanser

      The second difference stems from the best time to use the two products, which depends on a person's activities. However, in a normal scenario, a face wash is recommended in the morning when a person needs to prepare for their daily activities or work.

      On the other hand, cleansers are required in the evening before sleeping. This is because after a day outside, your face accumulates dirt and other foreign substances which stick to your face. So it is necessary to remove these along with make-up before going to bed, thus refreshing and cleansing your face simultaneously. For the best 2-in-1, use your cleansing oil to remove makeup and cleanse your face in one step. 


      Can you use both?

      Depending on your skin type, cleansers and face washes can be used at the same time.

      Combining a face wash and a cleanser helps prevent irritation if you have oily and sensitive skin.

      Using a face wash in the morning to remove excess oil coupled with a soothing cleanser in the evening provides extra moisture whilst you sleep.

      This method can also be beneficial for those with combination skin.

      Those with dry and sensitive skin types should use a cleansers twice a day.

      Should you use a toner or a cleanser?

      You should use both! Cleansers and toners have different jobs so you need both in your skincare routine. Check out this blog on the cleansers vs toners as a reminder about the difference. 

      Face washes are best for oily and acne-prone skin types due to their stronger cleansing action.

      The foaming action of face washes removes oils that are deeply embedded in one's skin, reducing the risk of blemishes and clogged pores. Look for products that contain the following:

      • Salicylic acid - An effective anti-acne ingredient which exfoliates your pores and dissolves debris.
      • Green tea extract - A natural ingredient that has been found to control oil production when applied to the skin.

        Face washes can be too harsh on dry or sensitive skin and should be replaced with cleansers, which use milder ingredients. Cleansers are great for those with eczema and rosacea.

        Effective ingredients in the cleanser include:

        • Coconut oil - Gentle oil that naturally cleanses and is super hydrating 
        • Glycerin - Moisturizes and supports your skin's natural barrier, preventing moisture loss.
        • Ceramides - Increases hydration and improves the appearance of dry, flaky skin.