What is the difference between cleanser and face wash?

Cleanliness is one of the most important steps of the skincare routine. It helps to clean the pores and rinse excess sebum from the skin. Earlier, we all use a generic soap to clean our faces, which makes the skin dull and dry. But in today’s time, face wash and cleansers have become the most popular. 

Most people consider facewash and cleanser as interchangeable products because both help to remove dirt, and makeup and open the pores of the skin, but how both these clean the face is not the same. There is a subtle difference between cleanser and facewash, before we jump into the difference between face wash and cleanser, we have to understand what is a face wash and a cleanser and what they do to the skin.

What is a Facewash?

The face wash is a water-based product (often gel, foam, bar, or powder formulations) that gets foamy when applied to your skin. They help to combat oil production because they contain more astringent ingredients. It also keeps the skin fresh and clean. It is an effective solution for clear and unblemished skin. Most people use face wash in place of soap because it is not as harsh as soap. 

Due to its foamy and astringent property, facewash deeply cleans pores and sweep away oil.

For people with oily skin face wash can be very effective. But it can be harsh for people with dry, sensitive, combination or normal skin because it removes excess oil from the skin and makes the skin dry. 

What is a Cleanser? 

The cleanser is also a facial care product that cleans the skin and removes dirt, makeup, dead skin cells and other pollutants. They help to unclog the pores in the skin and exfoliate the top skin cells. You can also use cleanser daily. As compared to facewash, the cleanser is richer in texture: think creamy or milky gels, oils, and balms ranging from thick to thin. The cleanser also contains ingredients that help to nourish your skin, balance your complexion and boost your moisture level.

The cleanser is considered as best for skin types like normal, sensitive, dry and combination because it gently cleans the skin without taking away excess oil. Oily skin people can also add cleanser to their skincare routine if they feel tight or dry skin after using facewash. 

The cleanser comes in various forms, there is a difference between their consistencies and way of use. Make sure to use a cleanser which suits your skin type. Gel-type cleansers are considered as best for oily and acne-prone skin because they have a deep cleaning and exfoliating property. Whereas cream type cleansers are considered perfect for dry and sensitive skin because they are typically thicker and moisturise the skin. Most cleansers don’t create foam. 

Difference Between Cleanser and Face wash


Face wash


Skin Type

Oily and combination skin types

Dry and sensitive skin types


Usually well foaming



Gentler than a soap bar

Gentler than a face wash


Less hydrating and moisturizing

More hydrating and moisturizing


In the morning

In the night


Gel-like and foamy

Creamy or milky

1. Skin Type 

Face wash is recommended for oily and combination skin type people because it is deeply clean to remove foreign items from the skin and provide breathing pores. It also helps to dissolve and breaks down oil, grime and dust that cleanser cannot remove from the skin.

The cleanser is recommended for dry and sensitive skin because it has a hydrating impact and makes the skin less sensitive. It also gently cleans the skin without taking away excess oil from the skin. People who spend most of their time out, are exposed to pollution and wear a lot of makeup should use a cleanser to guard the skin.

2. Production of Foam

Face wash produces lots of foam when massaged on the face which is essential for removing dust and keeping the face hydrated and moisturised. Soap also produces foam but it is harsher as compared to facewash. 

Face cleanser doesn't create foam when massaged on the face. The main goal of the cleanser is to get rid of deep-seated dirt and grease.

3. Gentleness

A face wash is said to be softer than bathing soap because it has less pH level than soap. Therefore, soap is harsher as compared to face wash on the skin. Our body's skin can easily handle the soap harshes because it is not delicate and thin as our facial skin. Using soap on the face removes the natural oil from the skin and hence makes it dry. Whereas cleanser is said to be milder than a face wash. 

4. Moisturization

Face wash and cleanser has different moisturising level. As compared to cleansers, the face wash is less moisturising and hydrating on the skin. The main goal of the face wash is to remove dirt and pollutants from the skin. Whereas the main goal of cleanser is also the same but it also hydrates and moisturises the skin.

5. Time of usage

Face wash is recommended for people in the morning when they are getting ready for daily activities or going to work.

Whereas cleanser is recommended in the evening or going to bed because foreign material accumulates on the face during the day time. It is important to remove this dirt and pollutants. The cleanser gently removes these dust particles, makeup etc and makes the skin hydrated and refreshed.

6. Texture

As said before, A face wash helps to deeply clean the pores. The texture of face wash is gel-like or forthy which produces foam when massaged to the face. Whereas the main goal of a cleanser is to hydrate and moisture the skin in addition to cleaning the pores. It contains cream, oil, lotion or powder therefore its texture is creamy and milky. The texture is the main differentiator between cleanser and facewash. 


As mentioned above there are a lot of differences between a cleanser and a facewash. Each one has its plus and minus points. So, Before choosing any one of them you should first find your skin type and also keep in mind which problem you are currently facing. If you don't know your skin type read our article to know your skin type. Also, remember to use facewash and cleanser which are 100%  natural because they make your skin healthy.