A recent American study from CeraVe found that 52% of consumers use bath wash or hand soap to cleanse their faces. You could almost hear the screeching of dermatologist’s voices when this was announced.
Let’s be very clear from the get-go, you should never be washing your face with soap! The lack of public knowledge around cleansing was staggering, which is why we are here to help. This is the ultimate guide to cleansing your skin, and we’ll answer all your pressing questions, like how often you should wash your face, the best way to do and, of course, is it a good idea to wash your face with soap or should you avoid it?
Let’s dig in!
What is soap?
Soap is a cleansing agent created by the chemical reaction of fatty acid with an alkali metal hydroxide. Chemically speaking, soap is a salt composed of alkali metal, such as sodium or potassium, and a mixture of “fatty” carboxylic acids.
Soap is designed to lather-up and create a foam texture – this should be your first warning sign that you should not be washing your face with soap. No product should “foam” on your face, especially if you have sensitive skin.
In order for a product to foam, you need a surfactant. This can push your skin to an alkaline pH. Bacteria prefers alkaline which is why it is so shocking that so many oily and acne-treating skincare products are foaming face washes.
Foam products are particularly common in male skincare brands, without the disclaimer that you are putting your skin at risk.
The foaming agents strip your skin and leave it dry and irritated, as soap is designed to remove bacteria and dirt – which is why hand lotion sales have soared during the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, you should not be washing your face with soap.
How Often Should You Wash Your Face?
Should you wash your face every day? This may seem like an obvious question to some, but there are still people out there who think throwing a little water on their face in the morning and calling it a job well done.
Short answer: You should cleanse your face every morning and evening. Cleanse and washing are two very different practices. Cleansers are designed to moisturise and hydrate your skin, as well as clear any dirt from the face. Most soap formulations are designed for the latter, risking the potential removal of natural oil from the skin leaving you susceptible to dryness, irritation and premature ageing.
Using a standard soap or shampoo on your face is likely to disrupt the pH balance, your skin then has to try and undo the damage, that may have already caused an outbreak. It’s simple, only cleansers should be used to clean the face.
Not only is cleansing great for kick-starting your day, but it is also essential for hygiene. As you sleep, your face is pressed against a pillow where you may build up excess oil and sweat.
Cleansing in the evening is non-negotiable: all day long your face has weathered the elements and pollution. If you aren’t washing your face in the evening, you may find that you suffer from increased congestion, spots, blackheads and enlarged pores.
So, how often should you wash your face? Our expert answer: wash your face every single day.
Should I Wash My Face With Soap Or Just Water?
Soap is a cleansing agent created by a chemical reaction of fatty acid with an alkali metal hydroxide. Chemically speaking, soap is a salt. Soap is also designed to lather up and create a foam texture – this should be your first warning sign that you should not be washing your face with soap. No product should “foam” on your face, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Foam products are particularly common in male skincare brands, without the disclaimer that you are putting your skin at risk. But why is foam so bad? In order for a product to foam, you need a surfactant, which can push your skin to an alkaline pH. Bacteria prefer alkaline environments: which is why it is so shocking that so many oily and acne-treating skincare products are foaming face washes. The foaming agents strip your skin and leave it dry and irritated, as soap is designed to remove bacteria and dirt.
Answering your question “Should I wash my face with soap or just water?”: You should NOT be washing your face with soap, and you should definitely not be washing it with soap every day. Soap is harmful to the face, so if it comes down to washing your face with soap or water, you should opt for water without a second thought.
The Problem With Using Hand Soap/Shampoo/Shower Gel To Wash Your Face
It’s the convenient thing to do, slap on some hand soap, shower gel or even shampoo to your face while you’re in the shower and think that your face is sorted. The problem with this is your face isn’t like your armpit, hair or hands: It’s your face, some of the most delicate and thinnest skin on your body. So, using harsh stripping chemicals on your face, that are not designed for facial skin is not going to help with anything from acne, ageing or even enlarged pores. It comes as no surprise when 36% of people had no idea they were harming their skin by using hand soap to wash it.
When you’re washing your face with the likes of hand soap, shampoo or shower gel your skin will feel squeaky and tight. This is not how your face should feel after washing it, it should feel soft and refreshed – this is the number one sign that your face has lost moisture.
Using anything other than a cleanser to wash your face is going to cause more problems than good, especially for people who suffer from problematic skin such as eczema, rosacea, sensitivity and so many more.
What To Look For In A Facial Cleanser
There are many things to consider when purchasing a cleanser, which can be overwhelming. That is why we have broken down what each cleanser does and would be best for you, so next time you’re shopping you’ll know what to look for in a facial cleanser.
The best place to start is by working out your skin type, whether you have oily, dry or sensitive skin and go from there.
It is also important to remember that not every cleanser is equal in its ability to remove sunscreen, makeup or to provide a deep cleanse and it is hard to get skincare brands to be fully truthful with you, so there will be some trial and testing needed. It’s always worth seeing if you can pay for testers before you invest in full to check you like the cleanser.
Take Proverb Cleanse and Shave Mud, for example. It is designed as a 4-in-1 efficient product to shave with and to use as a daily creamy clay face wash. You can use it as a mask or to dab on spots to help calm them, created to help prevent shaving rash, calm red angry skin and promote an even tone and colour. It is an amazing option if you are new to cleansing or are struggling with shaving rash and skin irritation. If you wore heavy stage make-up, however, it wouldn’t be right for a first cleanse; you would need a balm cleanser first and then follow with the cleanse mud.
The smell should also be something to look for in a facial cleanse. A lot of companies will pack fragrance into the product to make it smell nice but you should avoid it. Fragrance and perfumes can irritate the skin as they are filled with harsh chemicals that should not be applied to such thin areas of the skin.
As for the best price for a facial cleanser, it is impossible to determine what a good quality cleanser should cost, focus instead on what ingredients should and should not be present. If you are paying £10- 50 for a cleansing product then make sure it’s not predominantly based on ingredients like aqua, paraffinum liquidum and propylene glycol. If these ingredients are in the top section of the INCI (ingredient) list at that price point, then you have a brand making a big profit on cheap ingredients. Mineral and petroleum-based oils are another very cheap product included in cleansers and so tend to be prevalent: make sure to add these to your list of ingredients to avoid in a facial cleanser.
So, let’s get back to what this post was all about: by now you should know that the answer to “should I wash my face with soap?” is a solid NO. Proverb’s 4 x 4 x 4 skincare regime was designed to be effective and convenient, so you don’t have to resort to bar soap or shower gel when it comes to face cleansing.
Every Proverb bottle has 4 uses: our 4-in-1 efficiency promises to minimise unnecessary bottles and cost, allowing you to properly focus and allow to prep or rewind the day. You can team together the Skin Definition Facial Scrub and Cleanse & Shave Nutrient Mud with our Strengthening Skin Serum and Hydration Pro Moisturiser, giving you a completed four-step program that takes only four minutes in both the morning and evening to drive your skin and mindset to peak condition.