Face cleansers, face wash and soap which one is best for your skin
CategoriesModern Skincare Tips, what you need to know

Face Cleanser, Face Wash, Soap: What’s The Difference?

Do you realize that there is a difference between a face cleanser, face wash, and soap? You can use them all to clean your face but which is better?

When you understand the difference you can make the best decision for you and your skin. So let’s talk about what they are and how they clean.


What Is Soap?

Soap molecules attach themself to dirt and make it easier for you to rinse it away.  You make soap thru the saponification process.  Where you mix fats and oils with lye to make soap.  

Because of this process, most soap has a pH level between 9 and 10 while the pH level of your skin is 4.5 or 5.  For reference, water is considered neutral at a 7 pH.  So the pH of soap is really too high for your delicate face.

As a soapmaker, there is little you can add to alter the pH, but when you add other ingredients that could alter the pH, then the FDA doesn’t consider it a soap anymore.

When you wash your face with soap, the pH is so high that it disrupts your skin’s barrier and dries it out too much. Soap can’t tell the difference between what your skin needs or not, it just attaches itself to the oils and dirt on your face and washes it away.

So don’t use soap on your face ok, pinky promise?!  Let’s find you something better.


What Is A Face Wash?

Face washes are usually water-based and foam because it has a detergent that cleans your face. 

Depending on your skin type, these can be very harsh and irritating. 

If you have really oily skin, you may benefit from using a face wash with salicylic acid in it because it’s good for your acne. 

Have dry, sensitive skin or rosacea? Then you don’t want to use a face wash because it will disrupt your skin barrier and make your skin condition worse.


What Is A Face Cleanser?

This product is made to clean your skin. 

Cleansers are products where the primary cleaning agent is not detergent-based usually and tend to be more gentle. 

They come in different textures too, you can choose from cream cleansers, cleansing balms, milky cleansers, or oil cleansers. 


What Is The Best Facial Cleanser For Your Skin Type?

Choosing a face cleanser is key to your skincare routine. The best cleanser will clean your skin without irritation and without disrupting your skin barrier or acid mantle. 

What’s a skin barrier? The surface of your skin is acidic to keep bad bacteria away from your skin. 

The big question is whether face wash and cleanser are the same. Although they both clean your face, they are not. 

Face washes are foaming water-based detergents.  While a face cleanser uses oils and other ingredients to clean your face. 

For example, the best face balms rinse clean. So your face should feel clean and won’t feel greasy or dry afterward.

When you understand your skin type and use the right facial cleanser for your face, you will increase your appearance and experience fewer skin issues.


What does my face cleanser have to do with my skin type?

What Does My Skin Type Have To Do With My Cleanser?

When you understand your skin type, you can use that as a guide to purchasing the best product for you. 

You need to choose a face cleanser that doesn’t give you more problems than you already have. 

For example: If you have really dry skin and you’re washing your skin with a foaming cleanser.  It’s going to feel drier especially after you just washed it, so you need to add moisture back into your skin. 

You just cleaned it but you stripped all the oils and moisture out of it in the process.  That is exactly why you should be using a cleanser that’s made for your skin type.

No matter your skin type, you want to be gentle with it and clean without stripping its natural protective barrier.  So get the right one for you.

What Is The Best Way To Clean My Oily Skin? 

With oily skin, if you’re going to just use one product. I recommend something that is a face wash or gel-based for oily skin. 

If you’re acne-prone or suffer from hormonal acne, find a face wash that has salicylic acid in it. 

If your skin gets oily, try the Flora Skinlab Vegan Exfoliating Cleansing Nectar. This foaming gel cleanser helps exfoliate as well as clean. It benefits oily skin because it helps take off the dead skin cells that can contribute to holding the oils on your skin surface.

vegan exfoliating cleansing nectar

Want a skincare routine for your oily skin? Read our article How To Find The Best Skincare Products For You.

How Can I Wash Dry Sensitive Skin?

Use a cream cleanser because it’s going to be super gentle and will clean your skin without stripping any of the moisture from it. 

You need something that will be very gentle because if your skin is dry and you disturb the barrier you’re just making it drier.

Try our Hydrating Cleanser for Dry Sensitive Skin. Formulated just for sensitive skin, we combine six of the most nourishing oils to formulate a nourishing skin cleanser that cleans and never leaves your skin raw or dry.

ultra hydrating cream cleanser for dry sensitive skin

Avocado, Olive, Sesame, Sunflower, Macadamia & Hazelnut are all rich in emollients and vitamins, lubricate the skin, and seal in moisture. 

Shea Butter and Jojoba Seed Oil not only soften but also provide deep hydration. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant to help protect your skin.

have rosacea? how to wash your face

How Do I Clean My Skin If I Have Rosacea?

I like to treat rosacea skin as though it were super sensitive dry skin. 

If your skin gets irritated easily, I recommend you use the same process as sensitive skin. 

Our Hydrating Cleanser for Dry Sensitive Skin soothes even the most sensitive skin. Ingredients include six of the most nourishing oils so your skin is cleaned without feeling dry.

If you suffer from this skin condition, check out our What Is Rosacea article where we go into more detail about how to care for it.


the best way to clean mature skin

What Face Cleanser Should I Use For Mature Skin?

Generally, mature skin tends to be drier. I recommend the double cleansing or two-step method. I find it’s the gentlest for your skin. 

Use our Deep Cleaning Oil Cleanser to remove makeup and impurities without stripping the skin’s natural moisture. This lightweight transforming formula turns milky white when combined with water, cleansing gently, yet effectively.

If you feel like your skin is still oily, follow up with our Brightening Cleansing Water to help take care of any residue that’s left. It’s perfect for even the most sensitive skin. Our soap-free formula leaves your skin clean and hydrated with a renewed brightness. No rinsing is required.

Do you experience hormonal acne? You can do other treatments when you have a flare-up. If you’re always treating your skin as though you have acne, you’re over-treating your skin when you don’t need to.

In addition to cleansers, in our article Anti-Aging Products For Mature Skincare Routines we discuss other top products to include in your skincare routine for mature skin.



Now that you know what cleanser is best for you, let’s schedule a complimentary consultation so we can talk about what you are currently using and design a minimal skincare routine that works for you.

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