Picking a Soap for Washing Your Face

With so many skin care products and tools on the market today, it can be confusing trying to decide the best soap for cleansing your face. Should you pick a bar soap or a liquid soap? A foaming solution or a non-foaming solution? Or should you go with a facial cloth?

Not too long ago, the only choices that you had in terms of facial cleansers were bar soaps and cold creams. Now, entire store aisles are devoted to various facial-cleansing options. These tips, below, may help you figure out which kind of facial cleanser is best for your skin.

the best face soap
Illustration by Brianna Gilmartin, Verywell

The Importance of Facial Cleansing

Facial cleansing is important because the face has so many sebaceous glands that the skin on your face is oilier than the skin on other parts of your body. In addition, whenever you apply cosmetics or other products that create a film on the skin, those things can trap pollutants from the environment like dust and cigarette smoke.

Wash your face twice a day—once in the morning and once before bedtime. Be sure to wipe off all makeup each night before washing your face.

Being Gentle Is Key

You may have a natural inclination to wash your face aggressively, thinking that it will help get rid of any oil and dirt and keep your face cleaner. But, actually, that's not true.

Before you scrub your face hard, know that the skin on your face is very delicate. The top layer of the skin on your face, the stratum corneum, has fewer cell layers than any other part of the body except the genitalia. This thin layer makes the skin more easily irritated.

How to Pick the Best Soap for Your Face

These are some guidelines to keep in mind as you look through the aisles in a drugstore for the best soap for your face.

  • Use something that's made for the faceFacial soaps are designed specifically for sensitive facial skin. Even the mildest body soap or liquid cleanser for the body may be too hard on the face and may contain fragrances, dyes, or scrubbing materials not recommended for use on the face.
  • Start with something mild: Use the mildest cleanser that gets rid of oil and residue. 
  • Pick something non-foaming: Foaming cleansers look and feel cool, but they contain ingredients that might irritate your skin, especially if you have sensitive or dry skin. 
  • Consider a facial cloth: A facial cleansing cloth has soap already embedded in the cloth. The facial cloth also exfoliates, helping you slough off dead skin cells that may clog your pores and cause acne. Note, however, that using anything other than your fingertips can irritate your skin, so be gentle and do not scrub.
  • Consider your skin type: Some cleansers are designed for dry skin, while others are designed for oily, acne-prone skin. If a regular cleanser isn't working, try something matched to your skin type. If that doesn't work, make an appointment with a dermatologist (a doctor who specializes in treating the skin) for more advice.
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2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Mukhopadhyay P. Cleansers and their role in various dermatological disorders. Indian J Dermatol. 2011;56(1):2–6. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.77542

  2. American Academy of Dermatology. Face washing 101.