Cleansers and Face Wash

Cleansers and Face Wash: Oily skin needs utmost care else skin problems like acne, pimples, blackheads,  whiteheads and blemishes start to show up. The first step in the skin care routine for oily acne-prone skin is cleansing thus choosing the correct facial cleanser for oily skin is important.  There are so many face washes in India for oily skin types. Most of them have antibacterial ingredients like tea tree, Neem, Tulsi, salicylic acid etc. These ingredients along with other ingredients help to eradicate the pimples. They also help to combat the oil production for oil-free skin. Oily skin face wash can be foaming in nature which takes off all the traces of oils, sweat and dirt or they can be gel-based and are good for very oily skin while gel-based face washes are ideal for combination skin types. While both cleansers and face-washes do the basic common job of cleansing your face, a face wash is a foaming cleanser while a cleansing lotion/cleansing milk (or simply called “cleanser”) is non-foaming in nature and doesn’t have to be washed off- and instead needs to be wiped off. Both face washes and cleansers are used to rid the face of dirt, oil, pollution from the face. A cleanser dissolves away excess oil, makeup and grime from the face. These are oil-soluble impurities.  They can be removed by a face wash too, but that might not be 100% effective. The function of the face wash is to remove deeper seated debris and also cleanse pores due to its foaming action. While cleansers are especially good for dry or sensitive skin, for sensitive skin use of gentle face wash just once a day is recommended. For an individual with combination or oily skin, and who doesn’t wear makeup, the use of facewash is useful. 


Many ingredients constitute face wash and cleansers. These additives are used to unclog pores, remove debris and dirt from the skin and condition the skin to flake less and appear healthier. 


Allantoin is used in many cosmetics and skin care products. The Food and Drug  Administration (FDA) permits the use of 0.5 to 2% concentrations in over-the-counter skin protectant products. It is classified as both a skin protectant and a skin conditioner. Skin protectants relieve skin from irritations and skin conditioners reduce the dryness and flaking of the skin making it appear healthier. Skin appears supple after the application of skin conditioners. 

Sodium Laureth Sulphate: 

Sodium Laureth Sulphate, commonly abbreviated SLS, is a cleanser. It belongs to the chemical class of alkyl ether sulphates, salts of sulphated ethoxylated fatty acids. They help to produce foam and make the skin softer. They are typically put in skin products where there is the high mineral content. SLS, which is the main product ingredient in certain personal care products, helps to make something lather. 

Propylene Glycol: 

Propylene glycol is a widely used cosmetic and personal care additive and is an organic alcohol. It has been reviewed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) as safe up to 50%  concentration. This additive is put into formulas to reduce flaking of the skin and to restore moisture. It locks water in the skin and prevents dull dry skin damage. 


Triethanolamine has been reviewed by the CIR as safe and is used in skin care products as a pH control and an emulsifier. It is considered safe up to 5% concentration. As an emulsifier, it makes water-soluble and oil-soluble additives blend by reducing surface tension. As a pH control, it keeps the formula from getting too acidic or too alkaline.


Glycerin can be both a natural product and a synthesized product and is a sugar alcohol.  It is used in many formulas as a skin conditioner, a skin protectant and a humectant. As a skin conditioner, it reduces skin flaking and as a skin protectant, it reduces skin irritations. Its humectant properties keep water and moisture in the skin so that it does not dry out. 

Common Ingredients in Acne Face Wash

Salicylic Acid: 

This beta-hydroxy acid is useful for face wash intended for acne-prone skin. Usually incorporated in 2% concentration, it dissolves sebum build-up and dirt to fight blackheads and whiteheads. This active ingredient can be extremely drying to the skin when overused, so a good moisturizer must always follow. 

Glycolic Acid: 

This alpha-hydroxy acid is derived from fruits. It helps to promote quicker skin cell turnover by sloughing off dead cells. This keeps the skin appearing even-toned and fresh,  and also prevents dead skin from clogging pores and causing pimples. Glycolic acid additionally stimulates collagen and elastin production, which is helpful as an anti-ageing treatment. 

Other ingredients include Allantoin, Glycerin, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, Triethanolamine,  and Propylene Glycol. 

Cleanser Vs Face Wash

Cleansers and Face Wash
Cleansers and Face Wash

Examples of a few Commercial Face Washes 

PCA Skin pHaze 1 Facial Wash: A refreshing, skin-friendly, gentle gel cleanser that effectively removes makeup and environmental impurities while leaving the skin supple and pH balanced. It is an excellent choice for normal skin on the face or body.

Belli Anti-Blemish Facial Wash: A facial wash that leaves skin clear and refined,  without over-drying. Features lactic acid to cleanse and gently exfoliate acne-prone skin.

Bliss Fabulous Foaming Face Wash: Bliss Fabulous Foaming Face Wash is a  two-in-one oil-free face wash. With key ingredients, such as rosehip extract, milk thistle, passionflower, and chamomile, this face wash rebalances the skin. Bliss  Fabulous Foaming Face Wash is cleansing for all skin types.

Cleansers and Face Wash
Cleansers and Face Wash


Foaming: Foaming cleansers can also be quite drying and are recommended for oily skin. Foaming cleansers are the types of cleansers that last the longest because only a small amount of cleanser is required to lather and clean the whole face. Foaming cleansers can be too drying for those with dry or irritated skin. These are available as gels or creams. Cream foaming cleansers contain oils and emollients and may not be as stripping as gel foaming cleansers.

Non-Foaming: Non-foaming cleansers are usually gel or lotion type gentle skin cleansers marketed for those with sensitive or eczema-prone skin. These are mild cleansers that do not foam and don’t seem to clean that much. These do not remove makeup and/or sunscreen. Non-foaming cleansers can be washed off with water or simply tissue off. They can also leave a slight film on the skin. These types of cleansers are good for the morning or those people with dry skin.

Cleansing Balms: Cleansing balms are either cream or oil-based tissue-off cleansers.  They are usually used as makeup removers or by those with extremely dry skin.  Cream cleansing balms resemble thick cold creams, while oil cleansing balms have a  petroleum jelly-like consistency. They are solid at room temperature but liquefy when in contact with body heat. These types of cleansers are useful for removing stage makeup, sunscreen, and other waterproof products. They usually leave an oily residue after tissuing off that can be cleaned with a second cleanser.

Micellar: Micellar cleansers are also known as cleansing waters. They are almost like a cleansing toner. To use a micellar cleanser, one needs to wipe on the cleansing solution with a cotton pad and the micellar particles inside the cleanser allow dirt, oil,  and whatever else to be dissolved by liquids in the cleanser. For those with skin easily irritated by tap water and everything else, micellar cleansers are an extremely gentle option.

Oil Cleansers: There are two different types of oil cleansers. One is a cleansing oil product and the other is called the Oil Cleansing Method.

  • Cleansing oil removes make-up and water-proof sunscreen that a regular cleanser cannot. The cleansing oil is applied all over the face on dry skin, rubbed and rinsed (turns milky white). Emulsifiers in the cleansing oil allow the oil to be washed off with just water.
  • The Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) is similar to cleansing oils except with some slight differences. In the OCM, plain oil (e.g. safflower, castor, olive, jojoba,  vaseline, etc) is rubbed on dry skin, steamed with a warm washcloth (not hot)  and then wiped off. Following up with a non-cleansing oil cleanser is optional.  Or else avoid washcloth and just wash off the oil with a good foaming cleanser afterwards. The OCM allows the skin to be cleaned but also leaves slight traces of oil to moisturize and nourish. The concept behind using oils is “likes dissolve likes” or oils dissolve oils. Oils are also effective in removing water-proof makeup and sunscreen.

Medicated: Medicated cleansers are cleansers in any of the above forms (but usually as foam cleansers) that are marketed for acne-prone skin. The cleansers have either salicylic acid (to help unclog pores) or benzoyl peroxide (to help to kill bacteria) as active ingredients. However, most medicated cleansers are too harsh and should be used as separate acne treatment products after cleansing with a plain but gentle cleanser.

Soap-Free: Soap-free cleansers are cleansers without sodium lauryl sulphate or sodium Laureth sulphate. Cleansers with soap can be irritating or harsh for some.  Others might need to use a soap-free cleanser before getting a chemical peel. Using a soap-free cleanser for a few days before the peel will help to prepare the skin for it and make the peel more effective.

Make sure you also check our other amazing Article on : Cosmetic Excipients
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