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How to Pick a Soap to Wash Your Face

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Updated July 03, 2014

The woman is washing her face.
Michael H/Digital Vision/Getty Images
With all the new skin care products and tools, it can be confusing trying to decide the best way to wash your face. Not too long ago, the only choices you had in facial cleansers were bar soaps and cold creams. Now, entire store aisles are devoted to various facial cleansing options.

The Importance of Facial Cleansing

Facial cleansing is important because the face has so many sebaceous glands that the skin is oilier. In addition, we apply cosmetics and products that create a film on the skin, trapping pollutants from the environment like dust and cigarette smoke. You would think the face needs some aggressive cleansing.

The Importance of GENTLE Facial Cleansing

Before you go scrubbing away all that oil and grime, you should understand how delicate the skin on your face is. The top layer of the face's skin, the stratum corneum, has fewer cell layers than any other part of the body except the genitalia. This thinner layer makes the skin more easily irritated. Also, because the face moves so much and has so many nerve endings, it's easier to notice tightness there. This combination means the skin has the potential to get irritated.

THE Guideline for Washing Your Face

An important guideline to follow when deciding how to wash your face is this:
Use the mildest cleanser that gets rid of oil and residue.

Cleansing Options

Now may be a good time to point out that you shouldn't use the same soap for your face that you use for your body, even if you're using a liquid cleanser for your body. If you're using a bar soap on your body (which you ought to reconsider), don't let that thing get anywhere near your face. Facial soaps are designed specifically for sensitive facial skin, and even the mildest body soap is too hard on the face.

You don't even have to use a soap on your face if you use a facial cloth because the soap is already embedded in the cloth. Other face cleaning tools on the market now including the redesigned Buf-Puf and even a brush that works like an electric toothbrush for the face.

You can learn more about the best soap for different types of faces, but you will rarely go wrong if you use a facial cloth or a non-foaming cleanser to clean your face.

Sources:

Abbas, Syed et al. “Personal Cleanser Technology and Clinical Performance.” Dermatologic Therapy. 17S (2004): 35-42.

American Academy of Dermatology. "Cutting Through the Clutter: Making the Most of Your Facial Cleansing Routine.." Feb 21, 2005.

Ananthapadmanabhan, KP et al. “Cleansing Without Compromise: The Impact of Cleansers on the Skin Barrier and the Technology of Mild Cleansing.” Dermatologic Therapy 17S (2004): 16-25.

Draelos, Zoe. "Concepts in Skin Care Maintenance." Cutis 76S (2005): 19-25.

Ertel, Keith. "Personal Cleansing Products: Properties and Use." Cosmetic Formulation of Skin Care Products. Eds. Zoe Draelos and Lauren Thaman. London: Taylor & Francis, 2006. 54-6.

Nash, Frank, et al. “Maintenance of Healthy Skin: Cleansing, Moisturization, and Ultraviolet Protection.” Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology 6.s1 (2007): 7-11.

Subramanyan, K. "Role of mild cleansing in the management of patient skin." Dermatologic Therapy. 17S (2004): 26-34.

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