If you love convenience, it can be very tempting to skip steps in your skincare routine—or turn to one product for multiple uses. After all, you might wonder, is there any reason why you can’t use body wash on your face? Skin is just skin, right?
Not so much! Our skincare experts generally advise against using body wash on your face for a number of reasons. Let’s get into it, and learn how you should wash your face instead. Washing your face daily is an important step in any skincare routine, after all, so it’s important to do it right.
Like all soaps, the function of body wash is to cleanse your skin. Technically, you can use body wash on your face though we don’t recommend it. Over 50% of female consumers use bar soap to cleanse their faces.¹ As a result, some have experienced itchy, dry skin and irritation due to the damage they can cause to the facial skin barrier.²
The skin is your largest organ, and though it all may look and feel the same, there are certain areas (like your face!) where the skin is more delicate. Cleansers designed specifically for the face include ingredients designed to unclog pores, remove makeup, and help prevent further breakouts.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends cleansing skin as a key part of daily hygiene practices. Cleansers such as bar soap and body wash are great for removing dirt and dead skin cells—but they aren't designed to cleanse the delicate skin on our faces safely. Choosing a cleanser for your skin concerns gives you a better chance of fighting against skin conditions such as acne. For example, cleansers for acne-prone skin should be non comedogenic (without pore-clogging ingredients) and non irritating.³
Research has shown that many ordinary soaps have been shown to damage the sensitive skin on our faces. This could be due to antibacterial properties and harsh surfactants that may also be found in some body washes.⁴
Facial cleansers are generally mild, gentle, and shouldn't contain alcohol or other harsh chemicals. Different types of facial cleansers cater to oily, sensitive, acne-prone, and even combination skin types, so you can pick the right one to help you best reach your skin goals.
Though we don't recommend using body wash or bar soap as a face wash, we also understand that sometimes, it is better than nothing. Some potential pros and cons of using body wash on your face include:
It's convenient: We get the convenience aspect of washing everything all at once in the shower, especially if you’re out of face wash and in a pinch.
Money saver: Skin care products aren't cheap, so if you are on a budget, it is easy to see why some may choose a one-size-fits-all mindset.
Time Saver: This goes along with the convenience factor.
By using body wash on your face, you risk skin irritation, facial dryness, redness, and even breakouts.
If you use the wrong kind of facial cleanser and you experience skin issues, then it can ultimately end up costing more time and money to correct the issues caused.
For those insisting on leaning on the more convenient route, there are some body washes that act as combination products (hair, body, face). Though this is still not recommended, try to find products that are gentle enough for use on the face. The Cleanser by Curology is a popular choice for all skin types. Micellar water is another good option that typically isn’t harsh on your skin. In one easy step, a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser like micellar water can remove makeup and debris, cleanse, and moisturize. You can give our Micellar Makeup Remover a try!
Use lukewarm water
Use a mild facial wash, rinse with lukewarm water, and pat skin dry
Apply facial moisturizer
Wash your face each morning and night, if possible. Also, wash your face after sweating.⁵
Use hot water
Use harsh chemicals
Skip washing your face
Sleep with makeup on
Forget to wash your pillowcase. Washing frequently removes oil, bacteria, dirt, hair products, and more.
Washing your face with a facial cleanser that works for your skin type is an important step of any skincare routine—but it doesn’t stop there. Luckily, Curology is here to help you map out a skincare routine that can effectively help you reach your skincare goals and address your biggest concerns, such as acne, rosacea, and signs of aging.
Curology was founded in 2014 by Dr. David Lortscher, MD, a board-certified dermatologist. Just take a short quiz about your skin, snap some selfies, and one of our licensed dermatology providers will consult with you. If Curology is right for you, we’ll prescribe you a personalized formula with a mix of active ingredients chosen for your unique skin concerns. Your dermatology provider will guide you through the process and answer questions you may have along the way.
The best part? We can tweak your personalized prescription formula over time, and you can always update what’s in your box. Sign up with a 30-day trial* to start your Curology journey now!
Technically, yes, but only in a pinch. Don’t make a habit out of it! Try choosing a facial cleanser designed with your skin type in mind.
Body washes and regular soaps can be irritating and potentially harmful to the skin on your face. This could result in redness, dryness, and itching.
Kinderdine, S.L. and Coffindaffer, T. The evolution of facial cleansing: substrate cleansers provide mildness benefits over leading. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (March 2004).
Mukhopadhyay, P. Cleansers and Their Role in Various Dermatological Disorders. Indian Journal of Dermatology. (January-February 2011).
Mukhopadhyay, P. Cleansers and their role in various dermatological disorders. National Library of Medicine. Ibid.
Mukhopadhyay, P. Cleansers and Their Role in Various Dermatological Disorders. Indian Journal of Dermatology. Ibid.
American Academy of Dermatology Association. Face Washing 101. (n.d.).
Meredith Hartle is a board-certified Family Medicine physician at Curology. She earned her medical degree at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, MO.
*Cancel anytime. Subject to consultation. Results may vary.
Meredith Hartle, DO