Face Wash vs Cleanser | Kokoa Eco Beauty

Face Wash vs Cleanser

What is the difference between face wash and cleanser?

The beauty industry has spoiled us with endless products that we can use on our skin - but which type of products are best for washing our faces?

Both face washes and skin cleansers have the same common role to remove makeup and dirt from your face. However, they both have subtle differences we need to be aware of. Face wash is foaming in nature, usually creating a creamy lather with water which you apply and then wash off to avoid irritation (like soap).

Cleanser on the other hand usually is non-foaming (some are foaming with similar benefits to a face wash - it all depends on the ingredients). It is applied and then wiped off with a damp cloth. It is more hydrating and moisturising than a face wash and tends to be more gentle on the face.

Face Wash vs Cleanser: Which one is best for my skin?

It all comes down to skin types and skincare needs.

If you have oily or combination skin, a face wash is your port of call. This will give your skin a more matte look. A face wash removes debris from deeper layers of skin and cleanses pores more efficiently, it allows a much deeper clean.

A cleanser works well with dry skin as it hydrates as well as cleans. It successfully removes impurities from the skins surface. A cleanser dissolves away excess oil, makeup and grime from your face. These are oil-soluble impurities. They can be removed by a face wash too, but that might be not be 100% effective.

Let’s talk ingredients!

Certain ingredients are beneficial for various skin types and for combatting particular skin ailments. Here are a few to take a look at that you will have most likely seen in your face wash and cleansers.

Ingredients for acne-prone/oily skin:

  • Retinol - Dermatologist, Carol Cheng, states that Retinol is a vitamin A derivative. Its primary purpose is to help get rid of old dead skin cells and encourage generation of new healthy skin cells. It helps unclog pores, prevent acne breakouts and increase collagen production.
  • Salicylic Acid - You may have seen Salicylic Acid crop up on the ingredient list, it is often found in acne - fighting cleansers. It is a beta hydroxy acid which means that it is great for decreasing oil production and getting rid of  dead skin cells.

Ingredients for dry or sensitive skin:

  • Ceramides are lipids (fats) that occur naturally in the skin, they create a strong barrier that are able to hydrate the skin and lock in moisture. Ceramides are found in high concentrations in the top layers of our skin, which help serve as a barrier against the outside environment, protecting us from pollution, dry air, and other irritants. This ingredient is best suited for those with dry or sensitive skin.
  • Glycerin is a humectant, an ingredient that hydrates the skin by attracting water molecules like a magnet.
  • Vitamin C is an antioxidant which can brighten the skins complexion, preserve skin texture, and prevent premature ageing. Suitable for all skin types. 

Check the ingredients to see what works best for you and your skin type.

Can I use both in my skincare routine?

Of course, you can add both face wash and cleansers into your skin care routine.

How often do I apply face wash and cleanser?

Washing your face twice a day is a good rule of thumb.

Good morning, so you’ve been up close and personal with your pillowcase all night… hello dead skin cells, oil and sweat - time for you to be washed away. It is best to use a face wash in the morning for a deep cleanse before starting your day.

It is best to get some cleansing action in, once daily, in the evening after your skin has been exposed to the outside world of pollutants, and other build up which accumulates on your face during the day - a cleanser can successfully dissolve away these impurities and rid your face of dirt.

Give your face and second wash of the day after cleansing, for that deep pore-cleansing nourishment your skin deserves.

Sleeping in your makeup is a skin care no-no. Read more: (Sleeping in your makeup: 5 Skin Impacts Blog)


To use a toner after washing and cleansing to neutralise skins pH. (link to what is a toner blog)

Make sure to check of Kokoa’s African Black Soap Bar AND African Black Soap Cleanser. They are suitable (and beneficial) for all skin types; in a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 91% of African Black Soap users reported that the soap helped improve their skin conditions! 

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