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Facial Wipes vs. Facial Cleansers

Facial Wipes vs. Facial Cleansers

Sometimes, it's just much easier to grab a face wipe when you're desperate to go to bed since washing your face requires a lot more effort. Any form of cleansing has got to be better than going to bed with a dirty face -- or worse, one slathered in foundation and mascara. 

The question is, what's really better for your skin: face wipes or facial cleansers?

In this article, we explore the main differences between facial wipes and cleansers so you can make the best decision for your skin from here on out. 



Face wipes, also often known as cleansing wipes or makeup wipes, are essentially cloths soaked with cleanser or makeup remover to get rid of the day's dirt and/or makeup.

Facial cleansing wipes are convenient when you're tired or in a rush because, unlike traditional cleansers, you don't need to lather and rinse. You can simply wipe away the day's cosmetics or dirt with just a few swipes. Besides their convenience, face wipes are usually very affordable. Even from the top beauty brands, you shouldn't pay more than a few dollars for a pack.

On the other hand, dermatologists say these cleansing cloths aren't as effective at removing dirt, oil, bacteria, and even makeup as traditional cleansers. Since they're not designed to be rinsed off, it also means their residue remains on your skin, leaving you vulnerable to redness, sensitivity, and dryness. 



  • Don't require a lather and rinse
  • More affordable than traditional cleansers
  • Travel-friendly
  • All-around convenient

Many people use makeup remover wipes to cleanse their skin at the end of the day. It's fast, convenient, and, for the most part, effective at getting rid of face and eye makeup. 


The Downsides

There are a few reasons why face wipes might not be the best choice for cleansing your face.

For starters, while they do remove some of the grime on your face, they don't get all of it. Because you're not rinsing your skin, you're not getting rid of all of it. As a result, you end up with a buildup of dirt, oil, and dead skin cells which can lead to clogged pores followed by breakouts. 

Since face wipes are formulated with cleansing products, this also leaves your skin vulnerable to irritation, dryness, and sensitivity since you're unable to wash away product.

"A wipe’s limitation is that it requires the skin to be exposed to higher concentrations of cleansing ingredients, without the benefit of being able to rinse them away with water," says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Craig Kraffert.



A facial cleanser is a skincare product used to remove dead skin cells, dirt, oil, and makeup, helping to keep pores clear and prevent breakouts. Cleansers come in different forms including gel, cream, and foam.

Gel cleansers are best for oily and acne-prone skin types thanks to their deep cleaning and exfoliating properties. Cream cleansers are thicker and more moisturizing, making them best for dry skin and sensitive skin. Foam cleansers are lightweight formulas that create a foamy lather when used and best suited for combination skin.

Cleansing is a crucial part of any skincare routine as it keeps skin clean, clear, and more effective at absorbing other products.



  • Removes dirt, oil, and dead skin cells
  • Can help treat skin conditions like acne
  • Effective for removing all traces of makeup -- including waterproof makeup
  • Typically gentler on the skin than cleansing towelettes
  • A vital product in a cleansing routine

Provided that you choose a face cleanser free of perfumes, sulfates, and preservatives, face cleansers are great for promoting clear, clean skin. They should be used at least once a day -- at night, preferably -- to remove the day's buildup of dirt and oil, as well as any cosmetics like makeup. 


The Downsides

Facial cleansers are fundamental in a skincare routine. The only downside we can think of is that they are a little less convenient than makeup wipes. You also need to have access to a sink in order to use one, which also makes them far less travel-friendly.



As useful as facial wipes are for giving your skin a quick clean, they just don't compare to actually washing your face.

"If you have the choice between using the wipe or going to the sink, go to the sink," says Archana Sangha, board-certified physician assistant at Anne Arundel Dermatology. "It’s way better."

Traditional cleansers are great for removing dirt, oil, bacteria, and makeup. Plus, because you need to rinse off the product, you don't run the risk of experiencing skin irritation like you do with face wipes. They're also said to be more effective at removing waterproof mascara. Micellar water cleanser is also a great option for gently removing most types of makeup.

Wipes can certainly be beneficial in certain situations like when you're traveling or too exhausted to wash your face. However, if you want the best for your skin, stick to using a traditional cleanser designed for your skin type.



To get the most from your cleanser, choose a formula made for your skin type -- and pay attention to the ingredients. 

Dry skin? Look for a cleanser containing hydrating ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, or oils (like coconut, argan, etc.). Then pair it with our Hydrate Bundle

Oily, acne-prone skin? Select a cleanser with pore clarifying ingredients such as salicylic acid or glycolic acid. Then pair it with our Glow Bundle.

Sensitive skin? Make sure you choose something hypoallergenic and made with soothing ingredients like aloe. Then pair it with our Smooth Bundle.


So, facial cleansers are a clear winner here. All dermatologists agree that when it comes to choosing out of face wipes or cleansers, traditional cleansers always work the best. In addition to providing you with a thorough cleanse and controlling breakouts, they also minimize your risk of skin irritation often associated with wipes.


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