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How to Wash Your Face: The Cleanser vs. Face Wash Guide You Didn’t You Know Needed

it cosmetics cleanser versus facewash

Knowing how to wash your face might seem simple enough, but there are a few things you’ll want to consider before jumping into this daily task. For starters, it’s important to use the best cleanser for your skin type, which means understanding the different formulas available and knowing when to use a cleanser vs. face wash. Other factors are critical to know, as well, including how many times a day you should wash your face, the best water temperature, and where cleanser falls in your step-by-step skincare routine.

Cleanser vs. Face Wash: What’s the Difference?

To settle the debate once and for all—and to ensure you’re using the best product for your skin type—let’s dig into the key differences on face wash vs. cleansers.

Face washes are water-based products (often gel, foam, bar, or powder formulations) that get very sudsy when massaged onto your skin. They also tend to contain more astringent ingredients to help combat oil production. The foaming action and astringent qualities of a face wash mean that it really gets in there to deeply clean pores and sweep away oil. For those with oily skin, this can be helpful. However, people with dry, sensitive, combination, or normal skin types might find that face washes are too harsh for their complexion. If you accidentally remove too much oil from your skin, that can result in a tight, dry, or otherwise uncomfortable feeling.

So what is a facial cleanser, then? Well, cleansers also clean your skin, but are usually richer in texture compared to face washes. Think creamy or milky gels, oils, and balms ranging from thick to thin. Additionally, face cleansing products are often formulated with ingredients that aim to nourish your skin, balance your complexion, and boost moisture levels.

Because facial cleansers gently clean your skin without stripping away too much oil, they’re considered an ideal product for many skin types, including normal, sensitive, dry, and combination. Even oily skin types can benefit from using a cleanser for their face, especially if they notice their skin feels tight or dry after washing.

Our Best Facial Cleansers For All Skin Types

Now that you know what a cleanser does for your face and how it differs from face wash, we’d like to introduce you to two of our favorite facial cleansers. Each has its own set of benefits, and you can even use them together.

Confidence in a Cleanser

Old price New price $29.00

Confidence in a Cleanser

Suitable for all skin types, this innovative, foaming formula combines the power of a facial cleanser with the soothing hydration of a skin serum—making it an ideal choice for nearly every skin type. Here’s what you’ll love about Confidence in a Cleanser:

  • Gently removes makeup, oil, dirt, SPF, and traces of pollution.
  • After using, your skin will look vibrant and feel soft and refreshed—not dry or tight.
  • Infused with ceramides to support the skin barrier and help lock in moisture.
  • Contains hyaluronic acid to help attract moisture and visibly plump the look of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Ophthalmologist-tested for the sensitive eye area.
  • Sulfate-free, alcohol-free, and soap-free.
  • Vegan*.

Bye Bye Makeup Cleansing Balm Makeup Remover

Old price New price $42.00
One size available
4 oz / 100 g

Bye Bye Makeup Cleansing Balm

A bit of our cleansing balm massaged onto your skin will melt away all traces of makeup (including mascara), sunscreen, and dirt . There’s lots to love about Bye Bye Makeup Cleansing Balm, which is suitable for all skin types:

  • It’s a lightweight, silky, oil-based balm that applies easily and rinses away like magic.
  • The ultra-hydrating formula makes skin feel touchably soft and smooth. Even though it works to deeply moisturize, it won't clog pores.
  • Infused with vitamin C and rosehip oil to visibly brighten skin instantly and over time.
  • You can also use it as a nourishing, hydrating face mask. Just let it set for 10 minutes before rinsing.
  • Tested to deliver 24 hours of hydration**, which means your skin won’t feel tight or dry after rinsing.
  • Vegan*, non-comedogenic, and alcohol-free.

How to Properly Wash Your Face

How you clean your face depends on the product you’re using.

How to Clean Your Face with a Facial Cleanser:

  1. Apply lukewarm water to your face. Avoid using extremely hot water, which can remove too much of your skin’s natural oils and lead to dryness and irritation.
  2. Apply a quarter-sized amount of cleanser. Massage the cleanser onto your skin for 30 to 60 seconds using your fingers. Don’t scrub or press too hard. The best facial cleansers will work for you!
  3. Remember your neck and jaw. These areas are often overlooked, so don’t neglect them while washing your face. The neck and jaw are also susceptible to breakouts, so removing makeup, dirt, and skincare products from these areas is important.
  4. Rinse and pat dry. Rinse with lukewarm water, then gently pat dry with a clean, soft towel. Again, don’t rub, wipe, or scrub. A light dabbing and pressing motion is all you need.
  5. Don’t forget moisturizer. It’s important to follow up with a serum and/or moisturizer after washing your face. This helps replenish any lost moisture and nourishes your skin with skin-loving ingredients. We recommend using Bye Bye Lines Hyaluronic Acid Serum followed by Confidence in a Cream Hydrating Moisturizer.

How to Use a Cleansing Balm

  1. Apply a quarter-sized amount to dry skin. Unlike using a facial cleanser, cleansing balms must be applied to dry skin in order to work their magic.
  2. Massage onto skin. Gently massage the balm onto your skin for 30 to 60 seconds. Don’t rub or scrub, especially when working around the delicate eye area.
  3. Let it set. If you’re using the Bye Bye Makeup Cleansing Balm, you have the option of letting it set for 10 minutes since it doubles as a hydrating face mask.
  4. Add lukewarm water. Water will emulsify the cleansing balm, transforming it into a milky texture that rinses cleanly.
  5. Gently pat dry. Use a clean, soft towel to gently dab excess moisture from your skin. Don’t rub or scrub.
  6. Moisturizer. Replenish and nourish your skin with Bye Bye Lines Hyaluronic Acid Serum followed by Confidence in Your Beauty Sleep Night Cream.

Pro Tip: You can use Bye Bye Makeup Cleansing Balm as a stand-alone face cleanser if you have dry or sensitive skin. Alternatively, follow it up with our Confidence in a Cleanser for the perfect double cleanse routine if you have normal, combination, or oily skin.

How Often Should You Wash Your Face?

Should you wash your face in the morning? Only at night? Twice a day? Maybe more? How often you should wash your face is one of the greatest debates in the skincare world. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it’s best to limit it to twice a day (morning and night) and to also wash or cleanse after sweating.

Ultimately, the right frequency depends on your skin type. For instance, some find balance in cleansing every evening but only rinsing with water in the morning. Conversely, many find that their skin looks best when they cleanse or wash both morning and evening. In rare instances, your skin might benefit from hitting the sink midday, as well, but usually only in situations where you’ve been sweating.

To make a long answer much shorter: Stick with once or twice daily, making sure you’re at least cleansing every night. If it seems like your skin needs less, skip doing it in the morning and rinse with water or use micellar water instead.

A Few More Face Washing FAQs

Still have a few more questions on how to wash your face properly? We’re answering the most frequently asked questions out there.

  • How do I wash my face to get rid of pimples? Incorporate a salicylic acid product, such as Bye Bye Breakout Salicylic Acid Serum, into your skincare routine. This can be applied after cleansing and before moisturizing.
  • Can I just wash my face with water? Some people find success with only rinsing their face with water in the morning. However, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends washing with a cleanser once or twice per day for healthy skin.
  • How do you wash your face with eyelash extensions? If you have permanent eyelash extensions, use an oil-free cleanser to wash your face since oil can dissolve the glue. Also, avoid pressing or scrubbing around the eye area, and make sure to comb your lashes after washing.
  • Do you wash toner off? No, you don’t need to wash toner off your face. It should be applied immediately after cleansing and before moisturizing.
  • Do you exfoliate before or after washing? This depends on the product. Do not wash off a leave-on exfoliating product unless instructed. Instead, it should be applied after cleansing and toning and before moisturizing. When using an exfoliating mask that needs to be washed off, clean your face first. From there, you can apply the mask, let it set, then rinse and apply your moisturizing products.

Choosing the right product for your skin, and using it only once or twice a day, will help your skin look and feel its best. When you’re ready to level up your skincare game again, check out our guide on how to layer skincare serums (it’s easier than you might think).

* No animal-derived ingredients.

**Based on a corneometer test when used as a makeup remover balm.

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