Cleanser vs Face Wash: Which One Is The Best For You?


Cleanser vs Face Wash: Which One Is The Best For You?

Your face is the first thing people see when they look at you. You probably pay a lot of attention to your face and skin and with the vast amount of products available in the market, it may be hard to choose the right product for a skin care routine that suits you. 

Do you know the difference between a cleanser and a face wash? When you need to cleanse your skin, you have to choose between the two first before your start. So which is best for you? While both cleansers and face wash are meant to clean your face and ensure that it is healthy, there are many subtle differences.

Read on and find out as we break down the information so you can make an informed decision.


What is the difference between a cleanser and a face wash?

We jump straight in by letting you know the difference between a cleanser and a face wash. 



The cleanser’s purpose is just as the name describes – to cleanse. It is to purify, hydrate and soothe your skin. There are multiple types of textures when it comes to cleansers such as creamy, milky, gel and water based. 

By nature, cleansers are non-foaming. It does not have to be washed off but should instead, be wiped off. This is because a cleanser dissolves away makeup and oil from your face which are oil-soluble impurities. 

Although it generally can be removed by face wash as well, it is not as effective as a cleanser.

Cleansers are also more gentle than a face wash so if you have dry and sensitive skin, this may be better for you.


What is cleaning mousse? 

Cleaning mousse is a new trend in the market. Although everyone would know about hair mousse as it has been in the market for decades, cleaning mousse is not as popular yet. 

Mousse facial cleansers have a cloud-like texture. It will forth up when mixed with water. Just like whipped cream, just squeeze some foam out and apply to your face for cleansing. 

One of the major benefits of cleaning mousse is that it is gentler on your skin. It thoroughly washes your face and ensures any impurities are removed but it is also able to reach deep into pores. 

Try the Natural Amino Acid Cleansing Foam from aspurely skincare. It not only avoids harsh chemicals but includes all the best ingredients to look out for in a cleanser and is derived from amino acids to be very skin friendly.


Face wash

Face wash, on the other hand, is designed to thoroughly clean your pores. Textures for face wash will lather into a foam like substance when applied to wet or damp skin. 

Due to the foaming action, it is easier for a face wash to remove deeper seated dirt. 

It may be advisable to use a cleanser before a face wash if you use a lot of makeup daily so that the oil surfaces are washed away before you get to your real skin.

Face wash is gentler than a soap bar though not as gentle as a cleanser.


Which is better?

You can incorporate both face wash and cleanser into your skincare routine. As everyone has different types of skin, it is important to know your skin type first before committing to any skin care product. 

Although you can use both in your routine, it is better to start your day with a face wash for a deep cleanse and a cleanser before you go to bed to remove the dirt and makeup. Adjust the product you use according to how your skin feels.

With that, what is your skin type? We delve into the…


Suitability for different skin types

Some people have oily skin while others have dry skin. And then, some have a combination of both! 

No matter what kind of skin you have, it is entirely possible to find the best product to be used on your skin.


Face wash or a cleanser for oily skin?

If you have oily skin, it is better to use a face wash. 

Constantly dealing with a slick complexion can be tiresome and one of the best oil-fighting products is a face wash that removes all the excess oil from the deeper layers of your skin. 

A face wash is also better, since its foam is less gentle on skin, leading to less hydration and moisturizing. 

After all, your skin already has enough oil on it. 


Face wash or a cleanser for dry skin?

If you have dry skin, it is better to use a cleanser. 

Cleansers are more hydrating and moisturizing. Therefore, it helps maintain the moisture in your skin and helps with the dryness.

There are certain cleansers whereby you need not rinse your face as you can wipe it off with a damp cloth. This in no way compromises the effectiveness of the cleanser in removing excess oils, dirt and makeup residue from your face.


Face wash or a cleanser for sensitive skin?

If you have sensitive skin, it is better to use a cleanser. 

Cleansers are gentler than face wash and do not foam. The foam is usually the culprit when it comes to stripping away oils. Although you do not want oily skin, your face generally needs a little bit of natural oils for it to be healthy. 

This gentleness from cleansers is also good as sensitive skin needs to be treated with extra care as to not exacerbate any skin conditions such as acne. 


How to use a face cleanser?

Irrespective of the type of cleanser you use, tie up your hair or grab a washable headband to keep hair out of your face first. 

Try to use lukewarm water. Now it’s really time to use the cleanser. Pour or squirt out a coin sized amount of product onto your palm. 

Rub your hands together and then rub upward into your face in an upward swirling movement. We always use upward motions to try to counter gravity and sagging skin. 

Take a moment to savour and massage the cleanser carefully around your face. Be careful to avoid your eyes! Always use circles to get into the different angles around different parts of your face like your nose and across your forehead. We recommend gentle, cleansing massages around the face because the cleanser can get rid of the grime and simultaneously, you are stimulating your face which helps your natural radiance to shine through. 

Now, you can either rinse your face with the lukewarm water or wipe it off gently with a damp cloth. Whichever way you choose, do it at least a couple of times in order to wash it all off. 

You’re all done now! Let us know if that feels invigorating! 

You may want to top off with a toner and moisturizer to further cleanse and hydrate your skin. 


Should I use a cleanser everyday?

Always wash your face at least once a day. Whether you have a combination of dry or oily skin, the amount of dirt, grease and grime found on your skin is more than you think and your skin will definitely benefit from a thorough wash. 


Can I use a face cleanser to clear makeup?

Yes you can. However, only oil based cleansers remove makeup effectively and can remove all traces of it. 

Also, you should probably take into consideration the area around your eyes which is more delicate. It is better to use an eye-makeup remover separately. 

No matter what, always make sure to remove all traces of makeup as part of your skin care routine as makeup can clog up your pores and different kinds of skin conditions can surface if worn too long.


Best ingredients to have in your face cleanser

Watch out for these ingredients and see if the cleanser you are currently using has it so that your skin is glowing:


Glycerin helps to trap moisture in your skin. Particularly for those with dry or sensitive skin, glycerin helps by drawing moisture to the top layer of the skin. 

Added benefits – it slows down aging and reduces appearance of wrinkles. 

Sodium cocoyl glutamate

This ingredient can be found in skin care and hair products. It protects the skin from drying and retains moisture in it. 

Sodium cocoyl glutamate is derived from natural sources so you do not have to worry about it being a harmful chemical. Natural sources such as coconut oil, palm kernel oil and fermented sugar are samples of such sources.

Potassium cocoyl glycinate

This is an amino-acid based cleaning agent. How does it help your skin? It reduces the harshness of stronger surfactants. It is very mild on skin which is best for sensitive skin. 

Olive oil PEG-7 Esters 

This ingredient is derived from olive oil, as the name suggests. It is perfect for conditioning the skin as an emollient. An emollient makes skin nice and smooth. 

Generally, it is mild, not an irritant and non-toxic. 



It is alright to use both cleanser and face wash for healthier skin. One to cleanse the surface and the other to deeply clean your skin. However, depending on your skin type, it may be better to treat your skin in a more gentle way by just using a cleanser. 

You can use a mousse cleanser for even better cleaning. Whichever way you choose, always make sure to use it at least once a day to ensure your face is free from dirt and impurities. Then you’ll have a healthy glow! 

Coreenna Ong

Coreenna Ong

Co-founder and Head of Research

Ms Ong has more than 25 years of extensive experiences in research and development, conceptualization, formulation, and production process development. She is currently the Head of Research and Development at aspurely skincare.

She has authored 2 best-selling Beauty and Wellness books with Marshall Cavendish, Nature’s Spa: DIY Beauty Treatments and Nature’s Treats: Recipes for Wellness, which are currently available in the Singapore National Library collection.

Ms Ong was also a Beauty columnist for Lianhe Zaobao, Singapore's largest Chinese-language newspaper publication, with huge regional presence. As its weekly expert contributor, she shared the latest research and technologies from the Beauty industry, and addressed many readers’ skincare issues and concerns, offered beauty tips, quick fixes and insider knowledge.



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