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Face Wash Vs. Cleanser: Understanding the Difference

Face Wash Vs. Cleanser: Understanding the Difference

Many people often mistake a face wash for a cleanser, leading to confusion in the world of skincare. However, understanding the difference between the two products doesn't have to be complicated. While both products aim to cleanse your skin, they use slightly different cleaning methods. Therefore, choosing the right skin care product that is suitable for your skin type is crucial. In this blog, we will discuss the difference between a face wash and a cleanser so that you can decide which product is best suited for your skin's needs.

When it comes to skincare, the last thing you want is to use the wrong product that may damage or irritate your skin. Therefore, it's essential to know the difference between a face wash and a cleanser. A face wash, such as Nivea Refreshingly Soft Face Wash, is typically a foaming or non-foaming liquid that is used to remove dirt and oil from the skin's surface. On the other hand, a cleanser is a cream or lotion-based product that is more effective in removing impurities that have penetrated the skin's surface. Understanding the difference between the two can help you choose the right product and achieve healthier, glowing skin.

Difference Between Cleanser And Face Wash

Are face cleansers and face washes interchangeable terms? Not quite. The differences between the two depend on a variety of factors. To help you distinguish between the two, refer to the table below:

  Face wash  Cleanser 
Skin Type  Recommended for oily skin Recommended for dry skin
When to use? Morning  Night 
Foam Production  Well-foaming  Non-foaming 
Moisturisation  Low moisturisation levels  High moisturisation levels 
Texture  Gel like / foam Creamy / Milky

Can You Combine A Cleanser And A Face Wash?

Face wash vs cleanser has been a big debate for skin care enthusiasts for a long time now. Depending on your skin type, you can use both a face wash and a cleanser in your skin care routine. For example, if you frequently come into contact with air pollutants, use a cleanser first, followed by a face wash, to get the particles off your skin.

If you have oily and sensitive skin, incorporating both a face wash and a cleanser into your skincare routine can help prevent irritation. Double cleansing is especially beneficial for those with oily, acne-prone skin or for individuals who wear a lot of makeup, as it aids in removing any remaining residue from the skin.

For a thorough cleanse in the morning, start with a face wash. Throughout the day, after workouts, and before bed, use a gentle cleanser to eliminate any dirt or impurities that have accumulated on your skin. Following this step, you can apply a moisturizer to nourish your skin and a toner to balance its pH levels.

When To Use Face Wash And When To Use Cleanser?

When weighing the decision between a face wash and a cleanser, there are a few key factors to consider. If you have oily, acne-prone skin, it's recommended that you choose a face wash that has a strong cleansing action, such as NIVEA Refreshing Face Wash. Its foaming formula effectively removes deep-seated oils and helps to prevent breakouts and clogged pores.

You may also choose face washes that include:

1. Salicylic acid: A potent acne treatment that aids in pore exfoliation.
2. Green tea extract is a natural substance best known for regulating skin oil production.

Cleansers are best for sensitive skin types. They are gentle and especially beneficial for people with skin conditions like rosacea and eczema. 

Select cleansers that include:

1. Glycerine hydrates your skin's natural moisture barrier and stops moisture loss.
2. Ceramides: improve the appearance of dry skin and increase hydration.

If you have combination skin, you can balance your face's oily and dry parts by using a cleanser and a face wash.
Face washes and cleansers remove excess oil, dirt, and other pollutants from your skin, but their additional advantages depend on your skin type and requirements. Of course, depending on your needs, you could also combine the two to get the best results. We hope that now that you know the difference between cleanser and  face wash, you will make more informed decisions when you visit the skin care aisle the next time you go shopping.


Understanding the difference between a face wash and a cleanser is crucial for effective skincare. While a face wash is recommended for oily skin and used in the morning with well-foaming and low moisturization properties, a cleanser suits dry skin, is used at night with non-foaming and high moisturization characteristics. Depending on your skin type and needs, you can combine both a face wash and a cleanser in your routine for optimal results, especially for sensitive yet oily or acne-prone skin. The choice between the two products should be based on your specific skin requirements. By selecting the right face wash or cleanser, you can achieve thorough cleansing and nourishment, aiding in preventing breakouts and promoting a healthy complexion.


Should I use cleanser or face wash?

Choose between a cleanser and a face wash based on your skin type and needs; face wash removes surface dirt and oil, while cleanser effectively eliminates impurities that penetrate the skin, and using both can be beneficial, especially for oily, acne-prone skin or heavy makeup wearers.

Can I use both cleanser and face wash?

Customize your skincare routine by incorporating both a cleanser and a face wash based on your skin type and needs for a comprehensive cleanse, with double cleansing recommended for oily, acne-prone skin or heavy makeup users.

Which comes first face wash or cleanser?

For optimal results, use a face wash before a cleanser in your skincare routine to effectively remove surface dirt and oil, while a cleanser targets deeper impurities, making double cleansing ideal for oily, acne-prone skin or heavy makeup users.
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