In this Article
What is a Cleanser
What is a Face Wash
How Are Facial Cleansers Removed From the Skin
How Are Facial Washes Removed From the Skin
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Facial Cleansers and Face Washes
Skincare Ingredients Worth Avoiding
Skincare Tips for Cleansing
What’s Best, a Facial Cleanser or a Face Wash
Life is full of those little debates we have in our minds. Go for a run or stay in bed for an extra half an hour? Summer dress and flip flops or play it safer with jeans and pumps? An Indian takeaway or a Chinese? Facial cleanser or face wash…?
OK, so the last one might not take up as much of your headspace as some of life’s other small dilemmas, but it’s one well worth considering. Is there a difference between face wash and cleanser?
Perhaps you’ve considered how to clean your face and what to use to do so. Maybe you’re Team Face Wash all the way. Or maybe you’re always on the side of a cleanser.
But if you haven’t ever given it much thought, then maybe it’s time you did. Could your skin be behaving all contrary because you’re using something to cleanse with, that it doesn’t particularly like? Would your skin react better to something different?
Here at Sönd, we’re all about working out what suits your skin best, and getting the most from your skin. Especially so if your skin is prone to acne spots and breakouts, oiliness, dryness or any other condition that means it gets easily stressed out.
So here’s our lowdown - is there a difference between a face wash and cleanser (hint: they’re not the same) and what might suit your skin type better?
What is a Cleanser?
Different skin care brands tend to use different wording when it comes to labelling their products. So sometimes the answer to the question, “is a face wash and a cleanser the same” is difficult.
But as a general rule, a facial cleanser tends to be a creamy lotion that you apply directly to the skin and a face wash tends to be applied to the skin along with water.
Cleansers are also often called cleansing lotions.
What is a Face Wash?
Face washes tend to foam up as they usually contain soap. In fact, facial washes include simple bars of soap. But a facial wash can also be soap free - helpful if you have dry skin, because soap can actually strip the delicate skin of the face of its important oils.
How Are Facial Cleansers Removed From the Skin?
Facial cleansers can either be removed using dry cotton wool or by using water and a clean, damp cloth.
The facial cleansers designed to be removed using cotton wool, and therefore no water, tend to leave a greasy film on the skin. Plus they can leave some of the makeup and dirt they’ve lifted from the skin, on the surface of the skin. Since they’re not being rinsed away, by default, they’re being left behind to a certain extent, along with the dirt they’re meant to be removing.
On the other hand, facial cleansers designed to be washed away using water or a damp cloth are fully removed from the skin, taking grime, makeup, excess oil and dead skin cells with them.
Incidentally, our Rebalance and Reset Cream Cleanser is a facial cleanser that’s designed to do just that. Simply apply our creamy lotion to your skin in the morning and before bed using your fingertips. Gently massage it into the skin in circular motions to stimulate your circulation for a minute or so. Then, use warm water or a clean, damp facial cloth to remove all of the lotion along with dirt, makeup, oil and other skin dulling components.
How Are Facial Washes Removed From the Skin?
A facial wash is usually always removed from the skin using water or a damp cloth to remove the suds plus the dirt, grime and makeup.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Facial Cleansers and Face Washes?
Facial cleansers and face washes pretty much do the same thing - they remove dirt and makeup from the skin. But as we saw above, some types of cleansing lotions can tend to leave behind some product and unwanted grime.
If you have oily or acne prone skin, these kinds of cleansing lotions aren’t going to be best suited to your skin as they can lead to congestion, blocked pores, an over compensation of oil production and acne spots and breakouts.
You’re best suited to creamy facial cleansers like ours that nourish the skin, gently lift away dirt, makeup and impurities and are then rinsed away, leaving behind no residue.
If you have sensitive or dry, dehydrated skin, then you’re also best suited to a creamy cleanser like ours. It won’t strip the skin of its essential oils, it’ll just gently cleanse without leaving the skin feeling dry or tight.
Facial cleansers also tend to be oil based (in a good way, with nourishing, hydrating oils such as the cacao seed butter and apricot kernel oil we use in our facial cleanser).
This means that they work by dissolving oil based dirt, grime, pollution and make up, since oil attracts oil. (Whereas water repels oil, if you remember from school science lessons, oil and water don’t mix.) So creamy cleansers generally give your face a deeper clean.
Face washes and soaps are less moisturising than creamy facial cleansers as they contain soap which foams. Foaming agents and soaps can change the pH of the skin and strip the skin of the oils that it needs to remain moisturised.
They often contain a foaming agent called sodium lauryl sulphate, or SLS. SLS can irritate the skin, even if you have a normal skin type. They can be especially irritating on sensitive or acne prone skin.
Soap contains compounds called surfactants, that break down oils and dirt so that water can react with them to rinse them away when using a facial wash. These surfactants disrupt the surface of the skin, potentially causing it to become stressed out.
Skincare Ingredients Worth Avoiding
Regardless of whether you’re using a face wash or a cleanser, there are some skincare ingredients that can be added to both that are best avoided.
Used as a preservative to keep skincare products fresh, parabens are nasty little chemicals linked to various health problems including breast cancer. This is because they're known endocrine disruptors, meaning that they can interfere with hormone production.
Phthalates are also nasty chemicals that are used by some skincare brands to allow their products to spread across the skin more easily. Also known endocrine disruptors, phthalates are toxins that can interfere with child development and adult fertility. They’re best left unpronounced, and avoided.
Sulphates are a type of salt that are formed when sulphuric acid is mixed with other chemicals. And they’re as scary as they sound. You may have seen sulphates listed in skincare products as sodium lauryl sulphate or SLS. Sulphates are also added in the form of sodium laureth sulphate or SLES.
Both SLS and SLES are derived from the petroleum industry - that’s right, they’re produced as a by-product of petrol… They’re then mixed with plant based ingredients such as palm oil (that’s currently destroying the words rainforests).
They’re used to create foam, which to many of us, is super satisfying. But when you consider how our face cleansers and washes foam, then it’s not so satisfying. Sulphates can cause irritation to the eyes and skin, so they’re really best avoided, especially if you have sensitive or acne prone skin.
A cheap oil that’s used in many skincare products, mineral oil can clog the pores which in turn can lead to spots and acne breakouts.
It’s natural to want our skincare products to smell nice, right? Aim for products with natural fragrances, rather than artificial ones that can cause allergies and irritation in the skin.
Skincare Tips for Cleansing
Once you’ve decided on your perfect cleanser, there are some other tips you can follow to get the most from your product and the best from your skin…
- Go gently and use soft, circular motions with the pads of your fingers to avoid damaging your skin.
- Always rinse with lukewarm, not hot, water - hot water can strip away the natural oils and leave your skin dry
- Cleanse twice a day - once in the morning to remove sweat and bacteria and once in the evening to remove makeup, sweat, dirt, oil, grime and toxins
What’s Best, a Facial Cleanser or a Face Wash?
Can I use both a face wash and a cleanser, we hear you cry! We would recommend avoiding face washes and bars of soap to wash your face with, since they can disrupt the normal skin pH, irritate the skin with their foaming agents and strip the skin of their natural oils.
So, without sounding too much like we love ourselves (although we adore our products and so do our fans!) we’d stick with a creamy cleansing lotion like ours that’s been designed with botanicals and alkalising silica salts to nourish all skin types.
This article is not meant to treat or diagnose. Please visit your doctor for advice about any health concerns you may have.