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

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

We know that cleaning our face every day is important, but what are we supposed to be using? You may have noticed both face washes and face cleansers on the market. What is the difference, and which is better for your skin?

Today, we will be dissecting the two.

What Product Is Right For You?

Before explaining the difference between face wash and face cleanser, we want to guide you through the process of selecting the right products for you. When deciding between a wash and cleanser, or any skincare products for that matter, the safest method for selection is to base it on your skin type.

Your genetics determines your skin type though it can be altered with time on internal and external factors. The five different skin types are normal, sensitive, dry, oily, and combination.

Your skin type is based on various characteristics that include your skin’s water content, sensitivity levels, and oil content. These combined factors will result in a specific skin type that influences how elastic your skin is, react to different ingredients, and complexion quality.

For this reason, your skin will have its own distinct features.

 Sensitive Skin 

If you have sensitive skin, your skin is especially vulnerable to external materials and prone to irritation. Sensitive skin has a much higher chance of responding poorly to external fragrances, dyes, and ingredients. 

Visibly, your skin will look red and will be accompanied by an itching or burning sensation.

 Dry Skin 

If you have dry skin, your skin is most notable for its rough texture. In addition to dry patches, your face may be ridden with flaking and irritation. Your skin may look dull and have noticeable fine lines while it feels itchy and tight.

 Oily Skin 

If you have oily skin, your skin probably looks shiny or greasy most of the time. Due to overactive sebaceous glands that produce a lot of sebum, your skin, particularly your T-Zone will be covered in sebum. Oily skin is also prone to breakouts.

 Combination Skin 

If you have combination skin, your skin will look like a combination of both dry and oily skin. Most commonly, there will be visible excess oil on your chin, nose, and forehead, but all other areas of skin will feel dry and may feel rough.

 Normal Skin 

If you have normal skin, your skin is most notable for its lack of distinct features. Normal skin is very balanced and, in turn, feels neither dry nor oily and appears smooth. Other benefits of normal skin include small pores and less breakouts.

 Sensitive Skin 

While you are able to get your skin type identified by a dermatologist or even a trained cosmetologist, there are various methods that you can employ to identify your skin type on your own.

 Start With A Fresh Face 

All methods begin with you washing your face. The idea is to give your skin a fresh start. To achieve this, you must use a quality cleanser that, while effective, is gentle and does not irritate your skin. Irritated skin will equal skewed results. 

Allow your face to air dry or pat it dry. Do not apply any other products to your skin.

Next, decide whether you want to do a day-long test or the shortened 30-minute version. Whether you wait several hours or only half an hour, position yourself in front of a mirror and analyze your skin when time is up. Look to see how your skin has changed since being washed.

  • If your bare skin feels greasy or glossy, you have oily skin.
  • If your bare skin feels tight, itchy, or flaky, you have dry skin.
  • If your bare skin feels shiny on your T-Zone but dry around your cheeks, you have combination skin.
  • If your bare skin feels neither dry nor oily, you have normal skin. 
  • If your bare skin feels tender, burning, and looks red, you have sensitive skin.

       Test Your Oil Levels 

      A second method for identifying your skin type involves testing the oil levels on your skin. Once again, this method starts with you washing your face and providing your blotting sheets with a clean palette. Wait about 30 minutes before moving on to the next step.

      After 30 minutes, use a blotting sheet — or a clean tissue if you do not have blotting sheets on hand — to dab over the entirety of your skin. Pay attention to how much oil is absorbed and what areas of your face contain the most oil. 

      Note that this method is not ideal for identifying sensitive skin but is typically successful at determining all others.

      • If your blotting sheets absorb no oil, your skin type is dry.
      • If your blotting sheets absorb minimal oil, your skin type is normal.
      • If your blotting sheets absorb an abundance of oil all over your face, your skin type is oily.
      • If your blotting sheets absorb oil exclusively from your T-Zone, your skin type is a combination.

          Once you understand your skin type and your skin’s needs, you will have an easier time selecting the right skin care products for you.

          Face Wash vs Cleanser

          Face wash and face cleanser are both used to clean your face. Regardless of which product you are using, you should be using it twice a day. 

          Face washes are more likely to be water-based and contain astringent ingredients like alcohol, witch hazel, and citric acid to combat oil production and tighten your pores. 

          Face washes are also known for their foaming action. This foaming has a greater purpose than solely creating satisfying suds when massaging the product into the skin. It is also meant to deeply clean your pores. 

          All in all, face washes, unless specialized for other skin types, is generally best for men struggling with excess oil. 

          For this reason, those struggling with dry or sensitive skin might want to avoid using face wash as it may remove too much natural oil. This harsh effect can result in tight, dried-out skin.

          Face cleansers are designed to have the opposite effect. Rather than drying the skin, it is meant to hydrate and soothe while it cleans. 

          Cleansers tend to be richer or creamier and are designed using ingredients that can boost and balance moisture levels and nourish your skin without stripping away essential oils. 

          Cleansers’ support to one’s complexion makes it ideal for sensitive and dry skin types. For someone struggling with both dryness and oiliness, using a face cleanser in the morning, but a face wash at night can help to balance your skin and meet the needs of combination skin.

          Those with normal skin types have their choice between the two.

          MadeMan’s The Resetter

          On the topic of facial cleansers, we would like to present to you MadeMan’s The Resetter. Part of what separates The Restter from its competition is that it is a single product designed to combine the benefits of all classic face washes and cleansers. Rather than having to choose between the strengths of face washes and cleaners, you can receive both by using our facial cleanser every morning and every night.

          Like many face washes, The Resetter is water-based and does foam when massaged into the skin. However, we use the natural foaming agent of soap bark to facilitate a deep but gentle cleansing.

          The cleanser does contain all the benefits of a quality cleanser, too. The Resetter uses all-natural ingredients to protect and nourish your skin. 

          Coconut Oil-Infused 

          Amongst these ingredients is glycerin-infused coconut oil, which is full of antioxidants that preserve the skin, create a barrier on the skin’s surface, and reduce dryness by decreasing moisture loss. 

          Sunflower Seed Oil 

          Another beneficial ingredient is sunflower seed oil. This ingredient is a natural anti-inflammatory agent that maintains the skin’s natural barriers, protects your skin from ultraviolet rays, and supports your skin’s ability to fend off pollutants.

          For a complete list of ingredients and their benefits, click here.

          The cleanser was designed with sensitive skin in mind and, in turn, is safe for men of all skin types to use. Regular use of our product will result in clean pores, smooth skin, and a healthy pH balance. As an additional bonus, this product also works as a shaving gel, making your grooming experience more convenient than any other face wash or cleanser can.

          Other Skin Care Necessities

          In addition to using the right cleanser for your skin every day, twice a day, it is also essential for your skin’s health that you use a moisturizer and sunscreen. Though your skincare routine can be far more elaborate than this and include such products as toner, oils, and spot treatments, cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen are the three products that should be a part of every man’s routine.

          Every morning and every night, apply a quality moisturizer to your skin. Though the right face cleanser will be able to support your skin’s moisture balance, it is a moisturizer that will really be able to keep your skin moist and hydrated.

          We suggest trying MadeMan’s The Refresher. Similar to the Resetter, The Refresher is water-based and uses all-natural ingredients like chicory root, castor seed oil, and vitamin C.

          The Refresher contains an antioxidant blend of complex nutrients that promote the natural repair process, fix fine lines, boost natural collagen production, fights redness and uneven skin texture, and nourishes the skin.

          As for sunscreen, you can use either a mineral or chemical sunscreen so long as it has an SPF of at least 30. It is also essential that your sunscreen of choice is a broad-spectrum product. Broad-spectrum sunscreens defend your skin against both UVA and UVB rays.

          UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply and are known for causing premature skin aging, such as the increased appearance of wrinkles and a reduction in elasticity. UVB rays damage the outermost layers of your skin, directly damaging your DNA. They are known to cause most skin cancers.

          Defending against both is of the utmost importance.


          In conclusion, there are benefits to both face washes and face cleansers. The best way to pick between the two is to base it on your skin type. Remember that it is possible to find the right skincare products with both benefits with a bit of research.

          After all, a great face is built with MadeMan. 


          [The sebaceous gland] | PubMed

          Skin hydration: a review on its molecular mechanisms | PubMed

          Sunscreen Application, Safety, and Sun Protection: The Evidence | PubMed



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