Cleanser vs. Face Cleansing Wipes: Which One Is Better

It’s easy to come across countless skincare and beauty products on the shelves of stores while buying skincare essentials. These products range from basic skincare products (like cleansers, moisturizers, and sunscreens) to targeted treatments (such as anti-aging creams and serums) and innovative products (including acne patches, cooling facial globes, face wipes, and under-eye masks).

Despite the myriad of latest products and techniques, cleansing still remains the basic step of every skincare routine. It’s quintessential to choose the right product for cleansing your face. If you’re confused about what’s the best option among traditional cleansers and facial cleansing wipes to keep the skin clear of dirt, sebum, and any other pollutants, keep on reading!

What Is a Cleanser?

Let’s start by simply understanding what a facial cleanser is and what it’s intended to do for your skin. The term “facial cleanser” is used for a skincare product that is specifically formulated to draw out dirt, grime, makeup residue, sebum, dead skin cells, and other types of impurities from the pores, making your skin look and feel clean. Regular cleansing can be helpful in keeping the pores clean and prevent a number of skin issues that arise due to clogged pores

Types of Cleansers

To make sure your facial cleanser suits your skin and yields the desired results, opt for the right type of cleanser. Here are different types of cleansers out there, each aimed for specific skin types:

  • Gel Cleanser - As the name suggests, these are gel-based cleansing products. Gel cleansers are lightweight and gentle. They work the best for those with oily or acne-prone skin.
  • Foam Cleansers - Foam cleansers are also lightweight and usually come in a pump packaging. They create a foamy lather that works to remove dirt, oil, and makeup effectively. Foamy formulas are ideal for combination and normal skin types.
  • Cream Cleansers - This type of cleanser is specially formulated for people with dry, dehydrated, and sensitive skin. Cream cleansers have a thick consistency and contain moisturizing ingredients that cleanse the skin without stripping it of its moisture.

What are Face Cleansing Wipes?

Face cleansing wipes are one-time use cloths soaked in cleanser. They are pre-packaged cleansing wipes that come in a re-sealable container. They are popular as an easy and fast way of cleansing and freshening up the skin. A huge number of skincare and makeup brands have introduced their face cleansing wipes, keeping the needs of their customers in view.

Types of Face Cleansing Wipes

You can choose from face cleansing wipes with different textures, materials, and skincare ingredients, depending on your requirements and preference. Also, you can find face wipes that don’t contain alcohol, artificial dyes, and fragrances. Face cleansing wipes are basically divided into two varieties:

  • Dry Facial Cleansing Wipes - They need a little water to activate, then you can cleanse skin.  
  • Wet Facial Cleansing Wipes - These wipes are already moistened and offer the convenience of use when you don’t have access to water.

Benefits of Using Cleansers

To better understand what is actually better for your skin, let’s have a look at the benefits of using a cleanser in your skincare routine:

  • Balance the Skin’s pH - Your skin has a normal pH between 4.5 and 6.5. When you cleanse your skin, there is an interaction between the cleanser, the skin’s lipid barrier, and the skin’s pH level.² A gel, foam, or cream cleanser that’s free of soap and harsh chemicals works gently to cleanse the skin without affecting the optimal pH level or moisture barrier of the skin.
  • Pulls out Impurities - Washing your face with plain water or rubbing wipes across the skin may not fully draw out impurities from the skin. You need specialized skincare products, like a cleanser, to eliminate all the debris lying in your pores. Cleansers work on a deeper level to remove environmental toxins, oil, makeup, and dead skin that buildup in the pores on a regular basis.
  • Hydrate and Nourish the Skin - Mainstream cleansing products, like soaps and chemical-filled face washes, may make the skin dry, irritated, and dull. Good quality facial cleansers are packed with skin-loving micronutrients that boost moisture level, soothe the skin, and provide nourishment to the skin cells, along with keeping it free of impurities.
  • Stimulate Microcirculation - We all know the importance of proper blood circulation for a radiant and youthful complexion. Massaging the skin with a cleanser every morning and night helps to improve blood circulation in the skin, delivering more oxygen and nutrients to the cells. As a result, you’ll notice an enhanced skin tone.
  • Improve Absorption of Products - A cleanser helps to remove contaminants and dead skin cells accumulated in your pores, making the skin ready to receive the goodness of other products applied afterward. As a result, your skincare products seep deeper and quicker into the skin.

Drawbacks of Using Cleansers

Although most cleansers, especially the ones with natural active ingredients, do not cause skin damage and are considered safe, here are some points to keep in mind to avoid any adverse effects:

  • May Cause Reactions - If you choose the wrong type of cleanser or formula with harsh chemicals, you might cause your skin some damage. However, you can avoid this problem by simply finding a cleanser formulated for your specific skin type and make sure it doesn’t contain harsh chemicals.
  • Inconvenient at Times - A facial cleanser may not be suitable due to two main reasons. First, you need water to use a cleanser. Second, you need to put in a bit more effort into cleansing your skin with a cleanser. These factors are not ideal in some situations, like if you are in a hurry, traveling, or when skincare isn’t at the top of your list.

Benefits of Using Face Cleansing Wipes

Now that you know the benefits and drawbacks of using facial cleansers, let’s have a look at what face cleansing wipes are good for:

  • Cleanse the Surface of the Skin - Face cleansing wipes contain a lower concentration of surfactants that gives it mild cleansing power. The cleansing abilities of these wipes are effective in removing oil, dirt, and toxins from the outer surface of the skin.
  • Dissolve Makeup Quickly - These wipes are designed to dissolve all sorts of impurities accumulated on the surface of the skin, including makeup. So, if you want to get rid of the makeup that sticks to your skin or waterproof mascara without pulling off your eyelashes, cleansing wipes can help you with this.
  • The Convenience of Use - Cleansing wipes are a handy and easy-to-use cleansing product that can be useful on a lazy day, when you want to save some time, or when you’re traveling. You can use them to cleanse your face anywhere, anytime, without any hassle. With wet facial cleansing wipes, you don’t even have to worry about the availability of water.
  • All-in-one Skincare Product - Cleansing wipes are popular for their all-in-one ingredients. Some brands formulate their cleansing wipes with cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing compounds, offering the benefits of three skincare products in one wipe. This feature is particularly desirable for those who are not in favor of spending time on a multi-step skincare routine.

Drawbacks of Using Face Cleansing Wipes

While it might be tempting to swap your regular cleanser with cleansing wipes, here are a few things to consider before making your final decision and settle the battle between cleansing wipes and cleansers:

  • Disturb the Skin’s Integrity - Just like soaps and other chemical-laden cleansing products, many cleansing wipes comprise of harsh chemicals, like methylisothiazolinone, parabens, formaldehyde, FRPs, and ethyl alcohol. These chemicals can also have an adverse effect on the skin’s pH level and outer lipid barrier. This, in turn, increases the possibility of dryness, dehydration, and inflammation.
  • Can’t Deep Cleanse - As we mentioned earlier, cleansing wipes are made with lower levels of surfactants. They are only effective in cleansing the outer layer of the skin. Unlike facial cleansers, they can’t deep cleanse the skin and remove debris buildup from the pores.
  • Can Aggravate the Skin - If you’re striving to manage sensitive and inflamed skin or are suffering from an inflammatory skin condition, cleansing wipes may not be your best option. Face cleansing wipes with alcohol, perfumes, and dyes on their ingredient list are likely to make your skin conditions worse.
  • Bad for the Environment - With the global climate crisis, people are now making more conscious choices regarding the waste produced by the things they buy and use. Unfortunately, most disposable cleansing wipes are not compostable or recyclable, and can remain in our environment for hundreds of years before they fully decompose. So, if you’re an environmentalist, think about the amount of waste piling up with every cleansing wipe you use.

Final Thoughts

We are all tempted to try the latest and trending skincare products to deal with our skin problems and maintain glowing and healthy skin. However, no matter how many new products are introduced into the market, one thing is for sure that cleansing will always remain at the heart of every skincare routine. Your skincare routine is incomplete without this rudimentary yet essential step. When it comes to the debate of cleanser vs. face cleansing wipes, both have their own pros and their cons. Dr. Birnhaum, MD, a board-certified dermatologist says, “Using wipes is better than not cleansing your face at all.”³  However, to avoid any irritation to the skin and avoid build-up or debris left on your skin by using a cleansing wipe, it’s recommended to use a cleanser. Using a cleanser is best for keeping the skin thoroughly cleansed without posing any threats to the skin or the surroundings.

 

Citations:

  1. Hopp, Deven. (2021). ’10 Foolproof Ways to Unclog Pores, According to Skincare Experts’, Byrdie. Accessed November 2, 2021. Available at: https://www.byrdie.com/how-to-unclog-pores-4686861
  2. Cherney, Kristeen. (2019). ‘About Skin pH and Why It Matters’, Healthline. Accessed November 2, 2021. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/whats-so-important-about-skin-ph
  3. Lapidos, Rachel. (2020). ‘Common Facial Cleansing Mistake That Is Wrecking Your Skin’, Well+Good. Accessed November 5, 2021. Available at: https://www.wellandgood.com/do-face-wipes-work/